I’ve used many different camera support systems over the years utilising both 19mm rods and 15mm rods. The newer, lighter cameras, especially the most recent Super35mm cameras really don’t need 19mm rods for most applications, so for these I’ve been using 15mm rods. I have a large container full of different camera brackets and support plates. Some are better than others. Most work OK and do what they are supposed to do, but even though they are all built around the 15mm diameter, 60mm spacing rod standard there is no real continuity of design or interchangeability amongst the camera support plates. You buy the bits for one camera and that’s the only camera it fits.
I’ve seen and used elements of the Element Technica Micron system before at various trade shows and events and I’ve always know it to be well made and well thought out. So when asked if I would like to try some of the components out on my own cameras I said yes. The Micron system is based around the same 15mm rods, 60mm apart standard of just about every other 15mm bracket or clamp on the market. The big difference though is that this really is a very well thought out integrated modular system. Parts from the bracket for one camera will normally work via a simple adapter, riser or shim plate on another. The same shoulder pad fits all the mounts and cleverly snaps on and off magnetically in most cases.
The key part is the Micron Bridge Plate. This is an adapter based on the Arri Bridge plate system but scaled down to a size more appropriate for todays lightweight cameras. The bridge plate attaches to the camera via an adapter plate or shim plate that ensures that the 15mm rods are at the correct height relative to the lens. This means that even when swapping from camera to camera your matte box or other 15mm rail accessories will all be at the same, correct height. It also means that if you have several different cameras (as I do) that you can use the same bridge plate on any of them. All you need is the correct shim or adapter plate for each camera.
When mounting on a tripod the bridge plate is slid on to a Micron dovetail rail, again this is a scaled down version of the original Arri dovetail. Using the dovetail allows you to quickly and easily balance the camera even if the centre of gravity of the system is a long way from the cameras centre. It also means that if you have several cameras fitted with the micron system swapping between them is simply a case of sliding them on and off the dovetail. When swapping lenses if you need to re-balance the camera you simply slide it along the dovetail. A small lever on the bridge plate turns about a quarter of a turn to lock everything very securely in place while a small spring loaded stopper prevents the camera from accidentally sliding off the dovetail.
The quality of the machining and the finish of the materials are excellent, this system exudes quality. The fit between parts is extremely precise and this means that there is very little flex or wobble. As a result even though the rods are only 15mm they are incredibly ridged and secure. This means that they will work well supporting all but the very heaviest of lenses. The rods supplied with the mounts are some kind of turned, very hard chrome alloy, incredibly stiff, but still remarkably light weight.
As well as the base plate parts the Micron system also includes a range of camera top plates, handles, lens supports, viewfinder brackets and adapters. The same handle fits all of the micron range and the view finder brackets etc. attach to the same handle. The handle, called the “Manhandle” is covered in mounting threads as well as one fore-aft and one side to side mounting for a 15mm rod. If you have a Sony F5/F55 then you can add a mounting spud that accepts the Sony viewfinder mount on the ManHandle.
If you have a Sony F3 you can even get a replacement side panel that removes the hand grip and zoom rocker and replaces it with an incredibly tough and sturdy side panel covered in mounting holes for accessories.
The F3 top plate allows you to remove the original F3 handle and rear viewfinder, replacing them with a sturdy cheese plate style top. Like this the F3 no longer feels like a cheap camera, it transforms it into a robust film making tool. Oh, if only Sony had done this with the F3 in the first place. Now I can mount my external recorder on the side of the camera securely and rigidly. If you choose you can use just the top plate and keep the standard Sony side plate with hand grip.
Even Sony’s new PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras are already supported. There is a custom shim plate for the F5/F55 that puts the bridge plate at exactly the right hight and then adds mounting points for the shoulder pad. For the top of the camera there is a top plate that adds even more mounting points than already supplied by Sony as well as giving you the option to use either the standard Sony handle or a Micron Manhandle. A “spud” adapter then accepts the Sony viewfinder bracket.
I am very impressed by this system. The main reason is because it is a system, it’s not just a random collection of mounting plates and brackets but a decent modular system. The ease of balance with the dovetail, the amazing rigidity along with the beautiful quality makes the Micron system stand out from the crowd.