As you are probably aware, video is a big trend in the professional photography realm right now. Nikon, Canon and Pentax are all producing DSLRs that can record very high quality video. Many photographers are taking this convergence of technology as an opportunity to expand their creative horizons. And, whether you like it or not, video in DSLRs is here to stay.
For those of you wanting to get the most out of your DSLR’s video recording capabilities, you need to treat it a little more like a proper video camera. That means, you need to keep it stable and be able to obtain critical focus. Certainly, a tripod or monopod is a good way to do that. But what if you want to be a little more mobile? There are plenty of solutions for that as well.
Zacuto was one of the first manufacturers to offer a dedicated mobile video solution for DSLR owners. Zacuto’s selection of DSLR video kits have grown to include more entry-level kits. I got a chance to check out some of the more affordable Gunstock Shooter Gorilla Kits at Imaging USA this week and have to say that they are pretty impressive.
There are 3 basic Gunstock Gorilla kits: the Rapid Fire, the Quick Draw, and the Tactical Shooter. All the kits are based on the same basic mount system, with the Quick Draw and Tactical Shooter adding a more complete setup.
The Rapid Fire kit uses the basic quick release mount and connecting rods to attached a gunstock, which allows you to have a more stable hold on your camera. The Rapid Fire is easily adjustable for your own comfort. You can angle the gunstock up and down in order to the get the right height and slide it in and out on the rail in order to get it to the right distance to comfortably meet your eye in the Z-Finder. The Rapid Fire kit retail price is $580; however, B&H and Adorama have it for less.
The Quick Draw forgoes the gunstock in favor of a handheld grip system. It is also customizable for grip positioning with the same concepts in mind. The Quick Draw retails for $715. Again, B&H and Adorama have it for less.
The Zacuto folks spent a a little while walking me through these kits and they really do make handheld video possible (and practical) with DSLRs. While the Tactical Shooter was the most complete kit and provided very solid control over the camera, I found the Rapid Fire to be a very powerful tool – particularly considering that it is half the price.
One final thing that I need to point out. All of the above photos show the Zacuto Z-Finder V2 attached to the rig. This device is not included in the kits; however, it is an essential device for achieving critical focus in video. The Z-Finder mounts over your DSLR’s LCD screen and provides a 3x magnification of that high-res screen. It is easy to see what’s in focus with your eye in the Z-Finder. It has a no light-leak eyecup to make sure you see nothing but your video. It also offers a diopter adjustment for those of you who want to take offer you glasses and get the full benefit of the eyecup. The Z-Finder retails for $395, and can be found at B&H (currently, about $20 less at B&H) and Adorama.