GEAR RIGS AND CAGES Getting the rig
right Customising your
camera with essential accessories – like a rig or cage – can make a huge difference to your working life
WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
C ameras nowadays come in all and meant to be used on the shoulder or handheld. Others are small mirrorless cameras or DSLRs, where their use as a filmmaking tool was never a sole reason for existence. Then, there’s an increasing number of hybrids, from large mirrorless beasts like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, to the boxy Panasonic BGH1 – or even a Red. Each type of camera requires accessories to become a production-ready filmmaking machine. Loupes, EVFs, monitors, mics, powerbanks, recorders, time code generators, follow-focus grip, matte boxes, NDs... these are just some of the bits of kit that have to be bolted on. Of course, each camera has its own shapes and sizes. Some are large, traditional-style cinema cameras, built for tripods or camcorders specific role, depending on each job. You won’t want to be bolting on all that kit if you’re being stealthy and handheld while shooting a documentary, for example. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We take a look at the three main types of rigs and cages, helping you navigate the maze of all the bolt-on accessories for your beloved camera.
1. BIG RIGS FOR SMALL CAMERAS
If you are shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and looking to turn it into a real filmmaking machine without any compromise, you will probablywant the flexibility of a larger rail-based system. This is where a baseplate or cage is bolted to the camera, then clamped on top of a set of 15mm rails. The rails can then have lots of other accessories clamped to them, providing a fully usable platform. There are many combinations from all sorts of manufacturers, covering almost every camera and accessory you could need. The base of an excellent system is
the Vocas Handheld kit Pro type P, which has rails, shoulder support, counterweight, handgrips and adjustable camera clamp. This is a compact, handheld shoulder rig, ideal for shooting with compact cinema cameras, while using an external viewfinder or LCD screen at the front. It also works for DSLR or mirrorless cameras if you have an external EVF or separate monitor, as it’s just too close to your eyes to see the camera’s LCD screen without. The kit allows you to fit a matte box to take full-size pro filters and a geared follow focus, or other accessories that can bolt to standard 15mm rails, like an external battery. There is a huge range of accessories, to fully customise the rig to your precise needs. If you don’t want something this large, kits made by companies like Tilta, Sevenoak or SmallRig also work well. As the rails are standard size, you can easily mix and match accessories.
SLIDE AWAY The Vocas Handheld kit Pro type P has rails, shoulder support and adjustable clamps, meaning it certainly won’t disappoint
A SHOULDER TO LEAN ON Rigs and cages offer comfort and stability (above right), especially when shooting with larger cinema cameras. Plus, you can bolt accessories to them
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