By technical editor Matt Allard:
Many broadcast news shooters like myself use a professional tripod like a Sachtler 18 or 20P fitted with a VCT-14 quick release plate to attach the camera. The VCT-14 is great because it provides a very quick to detach, strong, yet stable connection between camera and tripod. It also the industry standard; if you rent or borrow an ENG tripod it will likely come with a VCT-14.
Regular ENG cameras already have the necessary mounts on the bottom of the camera to work with this system but it is hard to find a good baseplate for smaller cameras that works. If you are using a DSLR, Canon C300, Sony FS100/700, Sony F3 or a RED you will know it’s not so straightforward to use them with this type of tripod system. You can of course remove the VCT-14 plate and use a regular quick release, but this is a major pain for most ENG shooters I know, who would rather keep to the same system.
Jeff DeMaagd over at DM-Accessories has come up with a good solution. Its VCT-LP-RM Long Plate Mount is designed specifically for the VCT-14 quick release system and engages the wedge and the tail stud of the VCT-14.
This is a solid plate that offers a vast array of mounting holes as well as the ability to screw in 15mm rods into the front and back of the plate. With so many mounting points it enables this plate to be used with just about any camera you can possibly think of.
I tested this baseplate with my FS700 and attached it to an Edelkrone Modula rig. It worked really well. It gave me a very solid base to mount the rig to and made it very easy to go from tripod to hand-held in a matter of seconds. The only drawback is that it might not work with all rig configurations – it limits where your shoulder support can be located due to the length of the plate. Luckily, on the Edelkrone rig I was able to put it in the exact spot I needed. I found this particular product did exactly what it was designed to do: it was solid, well made and kept the rig and camera secure without twisting while they were mounted on my tripod.
Sadly, I did not get to test it out with the optional screw-in 15mm rods as they were not available at the time. The height of the rods is not adjustable so I am not 100% sure how well this would work in lining up a matte box or follow focus if you mounted your camera directly to the plate – I’m pretty sure a height adjustable mattebox would be the only option. DM Accessories also makes a shoulder pad and other parts that can be integrated to work with this plate.
There are other VCT-14 compatible options out there but they are normally tailored to work on particular cameras. This plate is very flexible and can be swapped around to work with multiple different camera systems and configurations; whatever camera you get in future, this plate is likely to work with it.
Here is what the DM Accessories website has to say about the plate:
VCT-LP-RM is highly engineered and precisely machined from a single piece of aluminum for high strength and minimum weight, and anodized for high durability and scratch resistance.
This plate is compatible with all DM-Accessories reinforcement plates and shoulder kits. It is also compatible with any device with a 26mm wide x 42mm long four hole rectangular bolt pattern for 4mm or smaller flat head screws, as well as any device with a 23mm wide x 30mm long three hole triangular bolt pattern, using 4mm or smaller flat head screws.
The weight of VCT-LP-RM is 13.1oz / 370 grams.
The rod spacing is 60mm and it will accept rods with a 12mm thread.
You can order the VCT-LP-RM here.
Full Disclosure: The VCT-LP-RM plate was supplied for review and evaluation to dslrnewsshooter by DM-Accessories.
About Matthew Allard, Aljazeera Senior Field Cameraman, Kuala Lumpur:
Matt has been a Camera/Editor in TV news for more 20 years, previously working for both Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia. Twice Network Ten Australia’s cameraman of the year as well as being a Walkley Finalist for outstanding camerawork in 2006 (for coverage of the Cronulla Race Riots) and a Logie Finalist for outstanding news coverage 2006 (Bali 9). He is a multiple ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society) award winner. His Sword Maker story that was shot on a 7D won the prestigious Neil Davis International News Golden Tripod at the 2011 ACS Awards. He has covered news events in more than 35 countries, from major sporting events to terrorist bombings. Based out of the Kuala Lumpur broadcast centre in Malaysia he is an avid user and follower of new technology, shooting stories on HD broadcast cameras, the Sony F3 as well as new Canon DSLRs.