Tag Archives: Plate

Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.

DSC05096-1024x681 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
My lovely Vocas shoulder rig.

I’ve been using various shoulder mounts for my F5 over the last year. They have all worked well for me. But at CabSat in Dubai I was lent a Vocas shoulder mount and handles to use with one of the F55’s I was using on the Sony booth.

Now, I’ve come across Vocas many, many times before, they are not new players in this arena and thier products have always looked to be well thought out and well made, but when I put the F55 rig on my shoulder and my hands wrapped around the beautifully carved wooden handles I just fell in love with it. When you use a camera day-in, day-out, how it feels in your hands or on your shoulder is really important and it’s amazing how a great shoulder rig can make using a camera a much more enjoyable experience. A bad rig will make using the camera a miserable chore.

DSC05098-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Another view of my Vocas F5 rig.

So what is it about the Vocas rig I like so much? First of all it’s a fully modular system so you can buy just the bits you want or need. Many of the parts will work with other systems. Initially I just got the shoulder mount and hand grips, but after using these for a short while I realised I also wanted to replace the existing top plate and somewhat uncomfortable carry handle that I had been using with the Vocas one, so I added the top cheese plate and carry handle to my rig this week.

DSC05099-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
One of the delightful to hold Vocas wooden hand grips.

The thing that got my attention when I borrowed the rig back in March was the comfort of the handles. The carved wooden hand grips were developed in association with Cam-A-Lot, one of the larger high end cinematography rental houses in Europe. So they know their stuff and know what camera operators want. The design is simple but beautifully executed, a carefully shaped handgrip with an Arri style rosette. The top of the grip has a notch/extension that your thumb wraps around making your grip really secure, this won’t slip out of your hands by mistake. You don’t have to hang on to these handles, your grip is secure even with very light pressure. Your fingers wrap around smooth grooves in the front of the grip and it’s hard to explain, but it just “feels right” and wood is much nicer to hold than plastic or rubber (Vocas also make leather hand grips).

The hand grips are then attached to some extension arms and these arms then attach to the base plate. Again the design of the arms is really simple, but sometimes simple is really effective and these arms are really really light, yet very, very stiff, the quality and finish of the alloy used is excellent. You can join any Vocas arm to any other Vocas arm to create different angles and lengths and there is a range of different arms of various lengths and offsets to choose from. I’ve ended up with one short straight arm and one longer offset arm. Using these two arms I can configure the rig several ways.

DSC05090-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
A single Vocas hand grip on a short arm used to create an ENG style rig.

Using just the short arm I can place the right hand grip up alongside the lens for a very secure and very comfortable single handed ENG style shooting rig. There is no need for the strap that you have on the hand grip of an ENG lens. The wooden grips are so easy to grasp and so secure that you just don’t need that extra strap around the back of your hand. I could use the longer offset arm, mounted on the right side and offset to the left to place the hand grip under the lens for an alternative single handed rig.

DSC05100-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Two handed configuration with two Vocas grips and arms.

By using the short arm on the right, angled down and the longer offset arm on the right angled down I can create a two handed rig. One thing I did find is that if you mount the single arm sections that I have on the rosettes on the shoulder mount the handles are quite close to your body. If you prefer your hand grips a little further away from your body you have a couple of options. Either double up on the arms joining two together to make a longer articulated arm, or do as I did and add the 15mm rail bracket that has a rosette at each end to mount the handles from the rods (Vocas also do a 19mm system). The rail bracket has a very neat quick release catch, so it’s a breeze to fit.

DSC05104-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Underside of the Vocas PMW-F55 base plate.

But what about the shoulder mount that all this is hanging from? The one I have is the Vocas standard PMW-F5 and F55 base plate. Now, this doesn’t look anything special, but looks can be deceiving. This very comfortable base plate weighs only 600g. That’s quite a lot lighter than my previous base plates and lighter than the Sony equivalent. It’s a VCT-14 compatible plate so snaps in and out of the very common Sony quick release plate quickly and easily. If you don’t want VCT-14 compatibility the silver part with the VCT wedge in the picture above can be replaced with a flat plate for mounting directly on to tripods or other mounting systems.

DSC05076-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.The base plate can be slid forwards and backwards relative to the camera body to help you achieve perfect balance. The mounting screws run in a slot with deep shoulders that make the plate very ridged and secure. The comfortable soft shoulder pad can also be moved forwards and backwards within the base plate giving you further flexibility. On the sides of the base plate are a pair of Arri style rosettes and at both the front and rear there are holes for the usual 15mm rods.

DSC05082-1024x681 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.Moving on to the top of the camera….. The comfort of the carry handle is so important, especially when the camera is rigged up with weighty accessories and heavy batteries. The last thing you want is blisters on your hands from a bad handle. So after experiencing the comfort of the hand grips I decided to add the Vocas top cheese plate and handle.

DSC05089-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
The Vocas handle and top cheese plate for the F5 and F55.

The handle has a very nice wooden grip insert which makes the camera very comfortable to carry. You also get a pair of posts to take a standard Sony shoulder strap. Oh Joy! Sony take note: please include provision for a shoulder strap on all your cameras, they are very useful! The top cheese plate is well… a cheese plate with lots of mounting holes for all your accessories. It’s very slightly raised from the top of the camera body to avoid inhibiting any cooling of the camera. The handle takes a mounting bush for the F5/F55 viewfinder that can be placed either at the front of the handle or on the rear. This is handy for film style shooting from behind the camera rather than to the side. You can also use a pair of 15mm rods attached to the handle that run above your lens if you need to mount a Matte Box from above or add extra items like follow focus motors. Integrated into the handle is a pair of cold shoes for accessories such as a camera light. If you have a very heavy lens, like perhaps the new Canon 17-120mm or a Cabrio then the handle can be mounted facing forwards to get better balance.

DSC05101-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Vocas side cheese plate that protects the viewfinder connector.

The last part of the kit is the optional side cheese plate. This serves two purposes. The main one for me is to protect the rather vulnerable viewfinder connector that sticks straight out from the side of the camera body. With a list price of just 95 Euros, this is a really wise investment (if you don’t use a cheese plate etc why not get one of my plastic viewfinder connector protectors that I sell on ebay). The other purpose is to provide yet more 1/4″ threaded mounting points on the side of the camera. I think it also looks cool! A small observation is that the rather flimsy connector still protrudes beyond the cheese plate by about 15mm, so bash it into a door frame walking through the door way and you could still damage the end of the connector. So I’m going to add a 1/4″ bolt to one of the threaded holes in front of the connector. This will stick out a bit and further protect the connector from damage.

So while a shoulder rig might not be the most interesting part of your camera kit, it is one of the most important. It’s what connects you to your camera, or what connects your camera to your tripod. If it isn’t comfortable, your camera will feel awkward. A bad rig might compromise your shots or shooting style, so getting the right rig is important and I can highly recommend Vocas as a supplier of shoulder rigs and associated support equipment. If you get the opportunity, do try the wooden hand grips. They are a bit more expensive than most plastic or rubber based hand grips, but they are just so nice to hold. Using this rig is a delight, I love my PMW-F5 and this rig makes it very easy and comfortable to use.

FYI. The Matte Box is one of the new Alphatron Matte Boxes. A review of which will be on-line very soon. It’s nice! The follow focus is an Alphatron ProPull, a great little compact follow focus with adjustable end stops for fast focus pulls. The lens is a Samyang Cine Prime. Based on a DSLR lens but with pitch gears and smooth aperture adjustment. Great image quality and T1.5.

 

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Bottoms Up! New Base Plate Assembly for the PMW-F3 from Transvideo.

IMG_1253-300x224 Bottoms Up! New Base Plate Assembly for the PMW-F3 from Transvideo.
Transvideo base plate for the PMW-F3

A package arrived in the mail from Transvideo the other day. In it was one of their rather nice base plates for the PMW-F3. This plate isn’t simply a plate that it is attached to the bottom of the camera. It is in fact a complete replacement for the bottom end of the PMW-F3. Transvideo are best known for their superb high end monitors, robust, built to last monitors you often find on movie sets as they they offer a range of highly accurate calibration tools and fully calibrated displays not found on many lower cost monitors. In addition Transvideo’s 3D monitors are the monitors of choice for many 3D productions and stereographers as they offer special monitoring options that allow for very accurate measurement of 3D offsets and geometry.  This new base plate is a bit of a departure from Transvideo’s normal product lines. I suspect it’s come about because Transvideo’s 3D expertise led them to realise that one of the PMW-F3’s biggest issues for 3D is that the standard base plate isn’t particularly stable which can adversely affect alignment when used on a 3D rig.

IMG_1258-300x224 Bottoms Up! New Base Plate Assembly for the PMW-F3 from Transvideo.
Side view of the Transvideo base plate.

This is a problem not only for 3D but also for use with long and heavy lenses as the camera can wobble and flex on the tripod. The two 1/4″ threads on the F3 are far from ideal and the third thread at the back of the camera is offset from centre making it hard to use. By replacing the original very thin base plate of the camera ( it is is really, really thin) with this much more robust base plate you spread the loads imparted on the tripod mounting points across the entire bottom end of the internal chassis of the F3, not just the 4 teeny tiny screws that hold the sony tripod mount in place. Fitting is very easy, 8 small screws are un-done to remove the original Sony base panel, which simply lifts off and then the new Transvideo plate, complete with beautifully CNC machined cooling slots simply attaches in it’s place. Now my F3 has a perfectly flat base with both 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads (hooray!!) as well as a large number of M4 threads towards the outside. Now I can fit standard Arri accessories without having to fudge together different plates and screws to make them fit.

IMG_1257-300x224 Bottoms Up! New Base Plate Assembly for the PMW-F3 from Transvideo.
Rear view showing machined cooling vent.

Frankly this is how Sony should have done this in the first place, but well done to Transvideo, now my F3 is really starting to feel like a proper camera. The only very minor down side is that you loose your serial number plate as this is attached to the original Sony part. The fit is superb and it looks great too. The list price is €265.00. 10/10.

As well as the base plate I also received a little finger tab that attaches to the Sony PL mount. this little wing tab makes it much easier to remove and attach PL mount lenses as you can grip the lens with one hand and push the tab with you thumb to release the locking ring. It’s only a small thing but it makes the F3’s PL mount much more user friendly.

For more info on Transvideo products, click here.

 

Juice Designs EX1R base plate. Curtis does it again!

juiced-ex1r-3-300x214 Juice Designs EX1R base plate.  Curtis does it again!
Juice Designs EX1R CNC Base Plate

I had one of Juice Designs base plates on my EX1 and it was fantastic. It never came off the camera and gave me the confidence that any loads exerted on the base of the camera were spread over the entire EX1 base rather than the weedy single 1/4″ screw hole on the bottom of the EX1. When the EX1R arrived things were somewhat improved as now instead of one weedy 1/4″ thread there are two weedy 1/4″ threads. Great you think, two is better than one, but the little postage stamp sized plate that has the tripod mounting holes is attached to the EX’s chassis by 4 teeny tiny screws. These have a tendency to work loose over time and can break quite easily if over stressed. If you really load up the tripod mount you can fracture the casting or worse still the chassis of the camera. If all that isn’t bad enough the other issue I have with my EX1R in particular is that the tripod mount casting is very slightly proud of the base of the camera, so when its on a tripod (or my 3D rig) it wobbles about quite a bit as there is only about 1 square inch of metal in contact with the tripod. Clearly none of these are desirable and that’s where the Juice designs base plates come to the rescue. The EX1 version is attached to the base of the camera in four places. The obvious 2 are the normal pair of 1/4″ tripod threads. The other two are a couple of small screws that normally hold some of the plastic camera body parts on to the chassis. By spreading any loads across much more of the base of the camera the tripod to camera interface will be much stronger. In addition the camera is now rock solid on my tripod and 3D rig. If anyone is thinking of using an EX1 or EX1R on a 3D rig a base plate like this is not an option, it is absolutely essential!

juiced-ex1r-2-300x168 Juice Designs EX1R base plate.  Curtis does it again!
Juice Designs Accessory Arm and Cold Shoe

The base plate is machined from a single piece of aluminium and anodised black. It is clearly a well though out design with nice curves that make follow the contours of the camera, indeed it looks like it really is park of the camera. It even has small recesses in it to clear some of the lumps and bumps that are on the base of the EX1R. At the rear of the base plate there is a small cut out area that allows you to add an optional bolt on accessory arm or “wing”. You can use the arm to attach devices such as the NanoFlash or Radio Mic receiver. The arm is supplied with a cold shoe mount which can be attached in a variety of positions making it very flexible indeed.

It took just minutes to fit the plate. It comes with all the screws that you need plus a couple of allen keys. You will need a small jewellers screwdriver to remove two small screws from the base of the EX1R. This is a high quality product that should help protect you investment and make the camera more stable, so highly recommended. See Juice Designs web site for more information.

juiced-ex1r-1-300x202 Juice Designs EX1R base plate.  Curtis does it again!
Accessory Arm and Cold Shoe