Daniel Haggett

London based Lighting Cameraman / DoP

Here is the thing, we started off with a nice chunky Beta SP/Digi Beta/DSR or whatever that sat comfortably on our shoulders.  It was perfectly balanced, had a useable eyepeice and it came like that straight out of the box.  Then we suddenly realised DSLRs produced fantastic images and since then we have been fiddling around with ever stranger rigs to make some weired box of a beast sit on our shoulder.

In this group of weired boxy cameras I include Canon C100/C300, Sony A7s, Blackmagic Design, RED, Sony FS7 etc etc, the list goes on and on.  Decent rigs typically cost quite a bit, there is nothing worse than working with some cheap half-arsed piece of junk, so you end up spending money.  The problem with this is, these days you might only keep your camera a few years, before you need to upgrade, and then that really expensive rig you bought is now useless.

My second big gripe with most rigs is that they mount the camera too high on the shoulder.  Older cameras were build with a curve where your shoulder would go.  Newer cameras have flat bases, mount these on a rig and they are too high: they are both unstable as they are top heavy and the LCD or view-finder is then above your eye.  It might only be an inch too high, but if your head has to look an inch or two up all day long, you will have one big pain in your neck at the end of a day.

At last it seems Zacuto have developed a great product that works on an absolutely massive variety of rigs, and will almost certaintly work with whatever freakish-shaped-box-of-a-camera that comes out in the future. 

This just makes lots of sense.  There are three things here: 1) You aren't mounting directly over the rods. This means you bring the camera slightly lower to the shoulder. 2) The area you can slide the camera backwards and forwards is massive.  This is so useful, both to balance the camera on your shoulder, and even to find decent balance on a tripod. 3) Finally, this can be used on almost any camera out there.  It isn't the cheapest bit of kit, so if I am investing in it, I want it to work on subsequent cameras.

Another feature I quite like is that it can be fixed to a normal base plate, these have been around for years because they work well and hold the camera to the tripod properly. 

There is a whole lot from Zacuto that can be added on to this.  There is the grip relocator for C300/100 users and there is also the Gratical evf.  The Gratical is an awesome bit of kit.  Best of all it can be mounted wherever you need it, so you aren't straining your neck.

The Gratical EVF isn't a cheap bit of kit, but then if you buy an OLED eyepiece from Sony for your F5/55 that isn't cheap either.  The difference being that you can move your Gratical EVF onto any camera you are shooting and it will still work.  Not so with proprietry viewfinders.  There is also now a greater selection with the Gratical Eye.  The Gratical Eye has the same inner workings as the Gratical HD, but has just an SD in and a lemo power connector.  It is therefore a much smaller unit, but with the same quality image.

If you do a lot of shoulder work I'd say this rig is well worth a look.

I am not going to bang on about the features and specs, if you are interested check it out at Zacuto.