Bright Tangerine’s Drumstix Support Rods are now shipping in significant numbers so let’s take a closer look at these titanium 15mm and 19mm rods.
Drumstix may look similar to other support rods, but what sets them apart from other solutions is that they are incredibly lightweight when compared to aluminium and stainless steel rods.
In fact, Bright Tangerine claims that they weigh around 75% less than a traditional stainless steel rod.
You might be thinking so what, carbon fiber rods are also very lightweight. Well, yes that is true, but carbon fibre rods are not nearly as strong and they have a tendency to bend and flex. Carbon fibre can also splinter and shatter, that is something that won’t happen with titanium or metal rods. In cold environments, carbon also becomes brittle.
The thin wall design makes the Drumstix’ 30% lighter than aluminium rods.
So how much do they actually weigh?
Below you can see how much the different lengths and sizes of Drumstix weigh:
|Ø15mm – 3″||76.2 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm|
3″ x 0.59″ x 0.59″
|Ø15mm – 6″||152.4 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm|
6″ x 0.59″ x 0.59″
|Ø15mm – 9″||228.6 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm|
9″ x 0.59″ x 0.59″
|Ø15mm – 12″||304.8 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm|
12″ x 0.59″ x 0.59″
|Ø15mm – 15″||381.0 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm|
15″ x 0.59″ x 0.59″
|Ø15mm – 18″||457.2 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm|
18″ x 0.59″ x 0.59″
|Ø19mm – 9″||228.6 mm x 19 mm x 19 mm|
9″ x 0.75″ x 0.75″
|Ø19mm – 12″||304.8 mm x 19 mm x 19 mm|
12″ x 0.75″ x 0.75″
|Ø19mm – 15″||381.0 mm x 19 mm x 19 mm|
15″ x 0.75″ x 0.75″
|Ø19mm – 18″||457.2 mm x 19 mm x 19 mm|
18″ x 0.75″ x 0.75″
To put this low weight in perspective, an ARRI 15mm 9″ Lightweight Support Rod weighs in at 74 g / 0.16lb. That makes it 164% heavier than the same sized Bright Tangerine Drumstix rod.
As another comparison, a Wooden Camera 19mm Support Rod (18″) weighs in at 460g (1.02lb). That makes it a whopping 297% heavier than the same sized Bright Tangerine Drumstix rod.
As far as how Sterling Titanium’s weight compares to carbon fiber, a single SmallRig 15mm Carbon Fiber Rod (12″) weighs 34g / 0.08lb. Compared to 60g/0.13lb for the Drumstix.
This low weight certainly helps when you are trying to make a camera package as light as possible. While it may not make that much difference on a big camera package, it certainly does if you are running rods on a gimbal or a drone package where every ounce counts and can make balancing a lot easier without the need to run counterweights.
Why make rods?
I was keen to find out why Bright Tangerine decided to make their own support rods. They told me:
“We’re always looking at ways to make camera equipment as light as possible without sacrificing strength and reliability. We had shooters tell us they were denting the ARRI lightweight aluminium rods in the MAP-2 brackets. And once the rods were dented, couldn’t be used reliably anymore.
Carbon is a bit lighter but flexes a lot more on longer lengths, and stainless steel while strong gets way too heavy.“Bright Tangerine
Bright tangerine spent over a year in R&D for the Drumstix, refining the Sterling Titanium process before the first batch was delivered in March this year.
Surely a rod is just a rod?
If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that support rods vary dramatically. They are certainly not all created equally.
If the tolerances used during manufacturing are not spot on, your 15mm rod may actually be 15.03mm, or 14.93mm. So what? Surely 0.03 of a millimetre isn’t going to make any difference. Well, it does. You have probably used a support rod in the past and wondered why is it so hard to put this accessory that has a 15mm rod attachment on. That’s because if the rod isn’t exactly 15mm, and is in fact slightly larger, you find yourself having to pull that accessory along the rod to get it into place.
Conversely, if the 15mm rod is slightly smaller than 15mm then your accessory won’t lock down correctly and it will move and wobble around.
Ultimately you want a rod that has a completely smooth surface, won’t dent, won’t bend, and will last you a lifetime of use.
Bright Tangerine does have a tendency to over-engineer their products. Sometimes their products take a long time to come out as they want to make sure that whatever ships won’t get sent back because of a problem.
Drumstix are made in their UK headquarters to what Bright Tangerine claims, are exacting tolerances. Those exacting tolerances are as low as twenty microns.
As previously mentioned, they are made out of Sterling Titanium which Bright tangerine claims are the hardest, lightest, and strongest material that can be used to support a camera rig.
According to Bright tangerine, Sterling Titanium also offers superior strength to weight ratio.
Drumstix are beautifully made and they almost look too good to put on a camera. Even the laser engraved etchings on the rods themselves are a nice touch.
If that’s not enough, Drumstix are also backed by a lifetime warranty.
Why not make the rods threaded?
There are quite a lot of support rods on the market that are threaded so you can combine multiple rods together to create certain lengths.
I was interested to know whether this was a consideration when Bright Tangerine was designing the Drumstix. This is what they told me:
“There was a consideration to make them threaded but to make them as light as possible, the wall of the Drumstix was made super thin so there isn’t space to have threads. The joining point can also become a weak point on longer lengths.
All of our 15mm baseplates also have separate front/rear locks so you can combine two 6″, 9″ or 12″ to make long supports without having to have one set of 18, 24″.Bright Tangerine
How do you review a tubular piece of metal?
It’s actually not that hard! You try it out with various pieces of equipment that attach to 15mm rods and you see how it compares to other support rods.
Real World usability
Drumstix just work. They do what any good rod should do and that is blending into the background. Any good piece of support gear should just work and stay out of your way.
If it is doing its job then it should become an invisible part of your camera rig. It’s there, but it doesn’t require your attention.
I used the rods on a variety of setups and with different gear attached. I used a follow focus, a matte box, a lens motor, lens supports, and rosette mounts that go onto rods. Everything I tried worked well.
Drumstix are incredibly lightweight but they don’t flex or move around. I’ve found in the past that when you use very long 18″ rods they have a tendency to flex and move (especially carbon fibre ones). If you are running a FIZ system this becomes problematic because the motors end up flexing and moving on the rods.
The other nice aspect is that accessories that mount on rods slide along and attach firmly. They don’t get stuck as you are trying to move them down the rods and they don’t slip even when they are fully tightened down.
19mm studio rods can be exceptionally heavy once you start moving into long lengths, but I found that the 19mm Drumstix were so light compared to the stainless steel variants.
At the end of the day, good rods are going to last you a lifetime. They are not something you are ever going to have to replace.
The prices depend on the length of the rod you are choosing. What is interesting is that the 15mm rods cost the same amount as the 19mm rods.
The rods come in pairs (set of two), but you can also buy individual single rods if you like. A single 3″ rod for a top-mounted, lens motor for example.
Which size you need will be determined by your use case and camera configuration. A set of 15mm 9″ rods would be good for a small mirrorless or C200 whereas some nice 19mm 18″ rods would be perfect for a large cinema zoom. If you’re using a RED, you also won’t need your rods to be as long for 15mm since they mount to the very front.
Here are the prices of the Drumstix:
As a comparison, ARRI’s 15mm 9″ Lightweight Support Rods retail for $110 USD and Wooden Camera’s equivalent is $80 for a pair.
These prices are pretty good for high-end support rods. Sure, you could pick up some cheap carbon fibre rods for a lot less, but see how long they last. Sterling Titanium rods are going to last you a lifetime. These are not something you are ever going to have to replace.
Nobody else makes Sterling Titanium support rods. The only thing that comes even vaguely close to matching its weight is carbon fibre, but they have weaknesses and inabilities when used as a support rod.
Lock Circle create the Rod Rocket which also uses titanium but they start at $299 USD for a modular set and only go up to 6″ in length when joined.
The Bright Tangerine Drumstix are exceptionally lightweight, well made and they just work. These rods will last you a lifetime and they will still be with you long after your current camera is put out to pasture.
We all love strength and rigidity in our products, but we don’t like it if it comes at the expense of added weight. With the Bright Tangerine Drumstix you can have your cake and eat it too.