Tiffen, Rycote, Zacuto, D Focus and Letus all teasing new products for NAB

By site editor Dan Chung:

This year it seems that manufacturers are teasing more products than ever online ahead of the NAB show. Here are a few of the more interesting looking products that the manufacturers won’t give the full details on just yet. They just love whetting out appetite…

Letus35 have been teasing an Anamorphic adapter for the iPhone. It looks similar to their one for the GoPro Hero3+. I’m reliably informed they have some other very interesting bits of kit coming at the show.

Letus iPhone Anamorphic lens adapters

Letus iPhone Anamorphic lens adapters

Rycote have a new range of windshields coming out, but they won’t say exactly how they differ from the old ones just yet:

Next generation of Rycote Windshields to be launched at NAB from Rycote on Vimeo.

Zacuto, not content with unleashing the Gratical HD EVF and Control grip systems were today teasing a new mini rig for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. It looks very sweet.

Zacuto's BMPCC mini-rig

Zacuto’s BMPCC mini-rig

Tiffen are promoting their new 4K diffusion test film. This certainly looks interesting and the results are impressive. Seems like they may have some new filter products too:

Tiffen Diffusion Test – Teaser from The Tiffen Company on Vimeo.

D Focus systems, makers of popular low cost follow focus and matte boxes have been teasing the D Cheese, some kind of simple cheese plate that attaches to a cold shoe. Looks interesting for simple rigging. I’m guessing it will be pretty inexpensive like the other D Focus gear.

The D Focus D Cheese with rod and follow focus attached

The D Focus D Cheese with rod and follow focus attached

The Newsshooter team will try to check them all out next week.


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Posted on April 5th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Audio, Camera support systems, Filters | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Shooter’s dream setup? We get the lowdown on Zacuto’s new Gratical EVF, Control Grip and VCT14 compatible shoulder mount

By technical editor Matt Allard:

First Look at the Gratical LT and Gratical HD EVFs from Zacuto from Zacuto on Vimeo.

As a news and documentary shooter, the camera lives on my shoulder a lot of the time. So I’m excited to see the new products Zacuto have just given Newsshooter the low-down on.

Most large sensor video cameras are designed in a way that leaves a lot to be desired for hand-held shooting. They are usually unbalanced and don’t make proper provision for shoulder mounting.

Only the Arri Amira, with its adjustable shoulder pad, has a design that actually works. Sony comes close with the F5/55 but none of the current third party shoulder rig designs are truly comfortable and balanced on my shoulder. A poorly balanced system does not handle so well and can cause early fatigue. In extreme cases, it may even cause injury over time. There is a reason the ENG cameras were designed the way they were.

There is also a serious lack of high quality electronic viewfinders (EVFs) on the market.  My OLED EVF for the F55 is spectacular but I can only use it on that camera or its sister F5. I’ve got so used to the resolution and clarity that I really struggle going back to lower quality EVFs to with other cameras I use. For me it would be far better to have one high quality EVF that works on all cameras and has a degree of future-proofing should I change system.

The other gaping hole in the market is for cine style lenses that feature a zoom rocker. There are the Fujinon Cabrio lenses which have an ENG-style servo grip – but they come at a very steep price and each lens in the range has its own servo. There is currently no option on the market that can be swapped between various lenses. With large sensor cameras like the Amira, F5/55 and the new Panasonic 4K Varicam being pitched by makers to broadcasters as dual purpose ENG/Cine look solutions, there is a huge need for servo zoom control.

Zacuto has been paying attention and its new products address all the needs I’ve just listed above. We’ve been given early access to information on the new line-up, so here it is:

The VCT Universal baseplate:

Zacuto VCT Universal baseplate

Zacuto VCT Universal baseplate

The new Zacuto VCT-14 base plate and shoulder pad system is exactly what a lot of news and documentary shooters have been looking for. The Sony VCT-style locking system is widely used by broadcast shooters all over the world. Strangely there are very few third party VCT-14 compatible shoulder mounts out there – only Movcam and Shape to my knowledge. Unlike the others, the Zacuto sversion incorporates a sliding dovetail on top of the VCT plate so you can rapidly position the camera for perfect balance. Just release a lever and slide the plate forward or back to adjust the weight distribution. This is very important when changing lenses or camera configurations as your centre of balance will always change.

zacuto vct 2

Also important, the baseplate tries to keep the camera as low down as possible on the shoulder – a lower centre of gravity meaning greater stability. The baseplate is only 1.4 inches from camera base to shoulder.

The system features light weight 15mm rods which are height adjustable. Most baseplates are camera specific, but Zacuto has made this one universal so it can be moved from camera to camera. This can save you the cost of buying multiple plates for every camera you own, or buy in the future. It also features a 4″ low profile soft gel shoulder pad. If it is anything like the one of the Recoil system then it will be very comfortable. Arri style rosettes can be added to the baseplate if you have accessories that mount that way.

The Gratical EVF:

The Gratical HD EVF

The Gratical HD EVF

Solving another problem is Zacuto’s new range of OLED EVFs, which Newsshooter previously reported on.

The Gratical EVF will come in two flavours both using new micro-OLED technology. The more expensive Gratical HD offers a 1280×1024 pixel resolution (which can display a 1280×720 HD image in 16×9 and additional info on top and bottom of the display). The lower cost Gratical LT offers 1024×768 pixel resolution (which displays a 1024×576 image in 16×9 with additional info).

Pixel-to-pixel focus checking, waveform, vectorscope, histogram, peaking, zebras and false colour are all offered. Audio meters are also included and the ability to load and create custom Lookup tables (LUTs). These give the operator a gamma adjusted version of the image, that makes it easier to focus and view when shooting in Log or RAW modes.

To ensure there is virtually no image lag Zacuto have opted for a FPGA dual-core processor. Older EVFs can have a several frame delay which can be extremely annoying. The optics in the EVF have a built in -1 to +4 adjustment range and Zacuto’s anti-fog coating.

Custom cables will be available for a range of cameras such as the Sony F55, Alexa, Red Epic/Scarlet and Canon C300/500. These will plug directly into the camera’s dedicated viewfinder ports and display the same info as the manufacturer’s native display would. On a Canon C300 for instance this means you should be able to engage the camera’s own focus magnification function using the button on the control grip. There are HD-SDI and HDMI in and out options as well, with a facility to cross convert between the two if needed for wireless transmission or additional monitors on set.

Having a high quality option that can be swapped between all the different cameras is a fantastic. Most people overlook the EVF or viewfinder, but for me it’s one of the most important pieces of kit I own. Think about it: it’s how you perceive and view everything you shoot. Would you buy a cheap pair of glasses at a gas station or prescription glasses from an optometrist? Sure, both will work, but I certainly wouldn’t be trusting my eyes with gas station glasses. EVFs are the same. Up until now just about ever third party EVF has been a real compromise. Most are based on screens designed for smartphones. We haven’t had a chance to use the Gratical HD yet, but on paper it looks to meet a lot of my requirements.  

This is not going to be a cheap EVF, but if Zacuto’s quality rivals or beats the almost $5000 US Sony DVF-EL100 OLED EVF then it will be a serious contender.  A high quality EVF is worth its weight in gold.

The Control grip and Z-motor:

The last new product we have details on is the Zacuto Control grip and servo zoom motor. This is another product Dan previously reported on and I’m very excited about it. There are a lot of times where I would kill for a servo zoom. 

Zacuto contol grip and motor

The system is in two parts, control grip and motor unit. The grip runs off a single Canon LP-E6 battery or an optional power tap adapter. There are two seven pin Lemo connectors which can be hooked up to two separate motors – one for zoom and one for iris. The is also a ten pin Lemo connector that allows camera control using dedicated cables. In the grip there is a Microprocessor controlled unit that is software upgradable. In addition to a start/stop trigger there are five programmable buttons and a full menu control joystick (similar to the one on the Canon C300 handgrip)

The motor is compact in design and mounts to 15mm rods (19mm rod adapter optional). It is said to be powerful enough to drive all standard cine lenses. There are three different torque settings per motor.

I’m lucky because I already have a couple of large sensor Sony Servo zooms that work with my Sony FS700 or F3. The compromise is that these lenses are not optically as good as Cine glass or even some pro stills lenses (although many of the latter are not parfocal and so don’t hold focus through the range). I want the ability to put a servo zoom control on a quality zoom lens such as the Zeiss 28-80mm or 70-200mm Cine Zooms (which I’ve been using this week). The Fujinon Cabrios are way out of my price range. Putting the Zacuto system on a Zeiss Compact zoom comes out much cheaper and I can use it in on any zoom lens that has cine gears.

It is also mountable anywhere, so you are not limited to having the servo zoom control right on the lens itself like an ENG lens or Cabrio. Having the grip right on the lens works well for broadcast cameras, but with the modern crop of digital cinema cameras with smaller lenses this would mean placing your hand and arm in an awkward position. 

bad posture 1

Even a Fujinon Cabrio on a F55 is not well balanced unless you load up the rear of the camera with accessories for weight. The servo zoom and lens placement just isn’t far enough forward to be comfortable for me. Zacuto has identified this problem and thought carefully about how to solve it. Kudos to them.

good posture

I look forward to checking out these products at NAB and I think they will meet the needs of a lot of higher end news and documentary shooters.


Full disclosure: Newsshooter is an affiliate partner of Zacuto

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Posted on March 29th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: Camera support systems, Lenses | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zacuto’s new lens support system with a twist – for Canon CN-E and Zeiss CP cine lenses

By site editor Dan Chung:


Zacuto Lens Supports for Canon and Zeiss Lenses from Zacuto on Vimeo.

In the build-up to the NAB show there are plenty of new product announcements. The latest from Zacuto will interest users of Canon CN-E and Zeiss CP cine lenses. Their new custom lens support provides a solid mounting to rails that prevents the lens from twisting when used with a follow focus – this is particularly a problem with DSLRs and Canon EF mounted lenses, but can still be an issue with cameras like the C300. The new support differs from others available thanks to its ‘hook and foot’ system that allows for rapid changes while remaining very secure. This is one product that I want certainly want to check out for myself at NAB for my own CP2 lenses.


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Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Lenses, Zeiss | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zacuto take a ‘first look’ at the Panasonic GH4: Steve Weiss teases Zacuto motorised zoom controller system

By site editor Dan Chung:

First Look at the Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Zacuto from Zacuto on Vimeo.

Our friends at Zacuto have been playing with the Panasonic Lumix GH4 and the accessory DMW-YAGH grip/HD-SDI expansion pack.

Notable observations include the increase in resolution of the rear LCD even though it is the same size at the GH3’s. The existing Z-finder for the GH3 will work but with the greater resolution it will offer a much improved image. They also go into detail about the features of the DMW-YAGH and also the different codec options the camera offers. The Panasonic rep was also keen to stress just how editable the internal 4K recordings are on less powerful computers.

The big news from the video isn’t actually from Panasonic at all. Steve Weiss teased a new servo motor control handgrip from Zacuto that works with a stills or cine lens. It will offer similar zoom control to a conventional ENG lens (or indeed the Fujinon Cabrio). It won’t be directly mounted to the lens like a Cabrio and so I imagine the grip needs a rig or at least rails to mount to a camera. Weiss said it will also offer menu controls, start-stop and magnification functions for various cameras. This is a product I have been wanting to see made for several years. The Handizoom, a previous product that also offered servo zoom with stills lenses, never came to market and so we look forward to seeing Zacuto’s product at NAB 2014.

The GH4 rigged on Zacuto's Marauder rig

The GH4 rigged on Zacuto’s Marauder rig

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Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, Camera support systems, Lenses, Panasonic GH4 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Video review: Swedish Chameleon SC4:Large rig

By Newsshooter contributor Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou: review: Swedish Chameleon SC4 Large rig from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

As a Swedish documentary shooter based in China, I was fascinated when I was asked to review the Swedish Chameleon SC4:Large rig. Made by my fellow countrymen in Stockholm, these rigs have gained popularity on the Swedish production scene. I felt duty bound to check it out.

The design of the flagship SC4:Large is unique thanks to its weightless counterweight system. Comprising a back rod and waist-belt, it keeps the camera out in front of the operator while doing away with the need for heavy weights. This is a neat trick and it certainly means that you can operate for long stretches and remain comfortable. The ability to take both hands off the rig and have it just stay on your shoulder is certainly useful in run-and-gun situations. The drawback of the system is that it can take a while to assemble when you get to your location – you can’t just roll up and start shooting – but in my mind this is a small price to pay for saving your arms and back.

The SC4:Large kit

The SC4:Large kit

It can also be used without the back rod system as a more traditional rig and thanks to a clever dual dovetail system the camera and follow-focus system can be detached quickly from the rest of the rig and docked to a tripod instead. This is a great idea.

The camera mounting plate has been well thought-out and has a dual screw mount to prevent it coming loose or twisting from side-to-side.

The follow focus and camera mount dovetail of the SC4:Large in tripod mode

The follow focus and camera mount dovetail of the SC4:Large in tripod mode

The follow-focus system is based on a belt drive and is designed primarily with autofocus stills lenses in mind. It can be positioned in a way that allows you to focus while keeping your hand on the handgrip, unlike most other rigs that require you to let go (notable exceptions being Zacuto’s Tornado and Edelkrone’s Focusplus). The makers are certainly thinking about practicality here. The belt works well enough when properly tensioned on most stills lenses but I did find a tendency for lenses with looser mounts to pull a bit towards the follow focus if you over-tension it. Various different belts and gear sizes are available for different sized lenses.

The SC4:Large suits DSLRs and cameras like the Canon C100 very well. I didn’t get the opportunity to test it with anything larger though.

The SC4:Large with Canon C100 and Nikon D800

The SC4:Large with Canon C100 and Nikon D800

After a few months’ use I can say that this system really works especially well with a DSLR setup where you are using a LCD loupe like the Zacuto Z-Finder or LCDVF-e, or simply relying on the camera’s back screen. If you prefer a monitor or an EVF then the advantages of having the camera out in front of you are far less.

Would I buy this rig for myself? At the $2045 US price it has some serious competition from rigs like Zacuto’s Recoil/Tornado combo. I would need to try out other competing rigs first before committing to one, and I would always recommend that prospective buyers do the same. The Swedish Chameleon SC4:Large would certainly be on my shortlist though.

You can see more and buy the SC4:Large from the Swedish Chameleon website.

Additional camerawork by Jia Li and Seth Coleman.

Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou is a videographer from Sweden now based in Beijing. Previously working for a publication that investigates the Swedish Armed Forces, she now shoots documentaries, concerts and promotion videos. She is based in China. You can see more of her work at


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Posted on January 26th, 2014 by Li-Lian Ahlskog | Category: Camera stabilsation systems, Camera support systems | Permalink | Comments (2)

Clinton Harn and Matt Allard look at Movcam’s Blackmagic cages for Dragon Image

By site editor Dan Chung:

Movcam Cages for the Blackmagic Design Cinema & Pocket Cameras from Dragon Image on Vimeo.

It’s no secret that our technical editor Matt Allard is a fan of Movcam’s range of camera rigs and cages. He recently sat down with Clinton Harn at Australian dealer Dragon Image to look at Movcam’s cages for the Blackmagic’s BMCC and BMPCC.

The Newsshooter crew also recently took the Movcam BMPCC cages for a test drive during our coverage of Inter BEE in Japan. We had two BMPCCs in Movcam cages and they did an excellent job of turning the diminutive camera into a production tool.

The Newsshooter crew setting up their Movcam caged BMPCCs for Inter BEE

The Newsshooter crew setting up their Movcam caged BMPCCs for Inter BEE

Also worth checking out is this video from Dragon Image where Clinton and Jason Wingrove examine some of the other gear in the Movcam lineup:

MOVCAM systems for RED Cameras, Canon 1DC and more from Dragon Image on Vimeo.


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Posted on November 21st, 2013 by Dan Chung | Category: Blackmagic design, Camera support systems | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2013: F&V Moves into Camera Support World with Introduction of New BMCC Cage

By @Jonah_Kessel:

IBC 2013: F&V Movies into Camera Support World with Introduction of New BMCC Cage from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

LED lighting specialist F&V has jumped into the camera support world with their first product being a cage for the Black Magic Design Cinema Camera. The lightweight but durable aluminum cage can be used with an attratice wooden handle and has a variety of mounting points surrounding the camera.

The full kit for the BMCC sells for 439 euro. On display as well at IBC was prototype shoulder systems for a variety of cameras.

Find more about F&V here at their web site.

Video shot and edited by Li-Lian Ahlskog, Jonah Kessel and Scott Karlins.

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Posted on September 17th, 2013 by Jonah Kessel | Category: Blackmagic design, Camera support systems | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2013: Vocas Universal baseplates and shotgun microphone mount solution for rig mounted cameras

By technical editor Matt Allard:

IBC 2013: Vocas microphone mount solution for Sony F5/F55 from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Vocas have shown a simple yet clever mounting solution for on-board microphones attached to a rig. The lack of options for mounting on-board microphones on these cameras has been problematic for shooters like myself. The mount was shown on a Sony F5/F55 configuration but can be adapted to a wide variety of cameras.

Vocas also displayed their new universal baseplate that we first saw as prototype versions in Beijing at the BIRTV show. The finished version allows a wide variety of cameras to be used on the same baseplate. Check out the video below to see more options:

Vocas Shoulder Base Plate for Sony PMW-F5 & F55 from Vocas on Vimeo.

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Posted on September 16th, 2013 by Matthew Allard | Category: Camera support systems, IBC show | Permalink | Comments (0)

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