The CameoGrip is a Bolex style pistol grip that can be mounted in a variety of ways, including directly to the bottom of a hybrid camera.
It can also be mounted onto rails as a handgrip for handheld shooting, attached via the included rosette adapters. With a third party clamp, you can also attached it to a pan arm on a tripod. A threaded tap on the bottom of the grip allows mounting directly to a monopod or other camera support.
The CameoGrip has two programmable buttons on the side and a mini joystick for zoom control plus a record trigger. These features can be programmed and updated with software. Unfortunately, the software wasn’t available prior to this review so I wasn’t able to try it out myself but I’m told that when released it will be customizable. Different cameras will have different options available but the goal here is to make it as versatile as possible. Firmware and settings are updated via the USB port on the side.
CameoGrip Compatible Cameras and Controls
Cameo wants the grip to be compatible with many cameras. To communicate with them it uses a Hirose 8-pin connector on the back of the grip. The cable comes in two models for now, namely a LANC and a Sony Multi-Terminal port. Functions include run/stop, zoom control and iris control with LANC cameras and other functions that can be assigned using a software interface over USB. LANC is the most common.
- Sony FS5
- Sony FS7
- Sony Alpha series with Multi-Terminal port
- Canon C100
- Canon C100 MK II
- Canon C200
- Canon C300
- Canon C300 MK II
- Panasonic EVA-1
- (2)x Axis joystick for controlling any (2) of zoom, iris or focus. Depending and camera and lens compatibility
- Run/Stop button to start/stop recording
- (2)x programmable buttons
- (1)x 8-pin Hirose connector for connecting to the camera
- 16” Hirose 8pin male to Multi-terminal
- 20” Hirose 8 pin male to 2.5mm Male LANC
The Joystick controls zoom on the horizontal axis and iris on the vertical axis. These functions can be reassigned to either axis or disabled through the configuration software.
Zoom functionality works on most lenses with a zoom motor, and iris control will work with most lenses that have an electronic pairing for this function.
The Canon Compact-Servo 18-80 and a 70-200 can be controlled with the CameoGrip. Also, the Chrosziel Zoom Servo Drive originally for the Fujinon MK lenses, Fujinon XK lenses, Zeiss LWZ and the Heden VLC-1L LANC controller with the appropriate motor is compatible with most of the same lenses as the Chrosziel motor system. The key is to program the CameoGrip for the specific camera and lens setup so it functions the way you want it to.
For testing the CameoGrip I used three cameras: a Sony a7 III, a Sony FS7, and a Canon C300 MKII. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to source a Canon Cinema zoom lens to test that functionality.
The FS7 has a lot of features on the stock grip and is fairly comfortable to use. The FS7 stock grip includes a zoom rocker and mini joystick, 3-programmable buttons, start/stop and iris dial. The Sony lenses that are compatible are the FE PZ 28-135, PZ 18-105, 18-200 and 16-50.
With the CameoGrip attached the pre-programmed functions are magnification for focusing and menu. Once in the menu, the controller doesn’t have any functionality. It would be great to be able to use the joystick to toggle up and down and change camera functions. This can possibly be added in software but again I didn’t have the software to make any custom settings.
The mini joystick surprisingly is touch sensitive. The zoom speed can be controlled as well as easing in and out. It does take a little practice since the range of the joystick is very short. The recording trigger starts and stops recording.
The question here is whether the CameoGrip is a better option than the stock grip that comes with the FS7. I would be hard pressed to swap it out since the FS7 grip offers a lot of functionality and in my testing I couldn’t really see any additional functionality added by the CameoGrip.
Canon C300 MKII
For the C300, the Canon Compact-Servo 18-80 and 70-200 lenses are compatible. Also, the Chrosziel Zoom Servo Drive that was originally for the Fujinon MK lenses can be controlled.
With the C300 MK II, I didn’t have the proper cable to try it or the hardware to mount it directly to the camera. The C300 doesn’t use a standard ARRI Rosette and I feel the stock grip is a better option. In a handheld rig with a grip extension that includes an ARRI Rosette, the CameoGrip could be used but you will need the proper cable as the Canon uses a larger connector than LANC.
Sony a7 III
On the Sony a7 III, the record trigger does just that. If you don’t have a compatible zoom lens attached the joystick can be used for Clear Image Zoom and with a Sony FE PZ 28-135 attached the mini joystick allows you to zoom. One of the grips function buttons was set to take a photo but this feature doesn’t work if you are in video mode so a warning will pop up on the LCD. The other button wasn’t programmed. I definitely liked having the CameoGrip when using the A7 III as it helps stabilize the camera in a more comfortable way.
As I mentioned above, if you don’t have a compatible zoom lens the joystick can control Clear Image Zoom. This is a very cool feature on the Sony cameras to get a tighter shot with very little image loss. The noise level is also magnified when using Clear Image Zoom so it’s not recommended for high ISO situations.
Panasonic EVA 1
While I didn’t test the Panasonic EVA 1 I think this camera will have more benefits due to the camera’s grip lacking a zoom rocker or mini joystick. With an adapter like the LanParte Arri Rosette Adapter for AU-EVA1 grip, you will have full control of a compatible zoom lens.
The CameoGrip is an interesting device that can be used in a lot of different ways and that’s a good thing. I personally really like the Bolex style of shooting with the a7 III. This configuration helps stabilize the camera and I feel I have a better grip for steadier shots.
As a grip for a larger camera like the FS7, I’m not so sure if it’s better than the functionality of the original grip that you get with the camera. But of course for cameras that don’t offer a zoom rocker like the Panasonic EVA 1, the CameoGrip gives the user options for full lens control and I feel that’s where it is best suited. As I mentioned before you should note that for the EVA 1, you will need additional hardware to mount the CameoGrip as it doesn’t use a standard ARRI Rosette.
A plus is that the CameoGrip can be used with several different cameras as well as mounted to a tripod handle for a more relaxed way of shooting. If you are on a podium shooting an event this will be a lifesaver not having to hunch over your lens to zoom in. A downside is if you want to use it with several different cameras on the same shoot you will need to have a laptop on set to make changes to the function buttons.
I would have liked to see even more customizable buttons on the grip as well as a number by the button which would make it a little easier to remember. The price is a little high at $799 USD but it’s versatile and with the ability to be updated with software and potentially expand on compatibility with other cameras and lenses it’s definitely worth investigating particularly if your camera wasn’t supplied with a first-party grip.
Pricing & Availability
AbelCine has a video from NAB 2018 with an overview of the CameoGrip.