The Armor Mini Rig is a slightly different take on some of the traditional HDSLR cages out there. I’ve been using an Armor Mini Rig that Varavon sent me to check out with my 5D Mark II for a couple of months now. In short, it’s a nice, affordable cage that can be a solid foundation for a decent rig.
Varavon has done a solid job on the design of the cage by keeping access to camera controls while still offering a lot of mounting points for accessories. I can easily grip the full camera grip on the right side thanks to the offset design of the cage, which puts the support bar well to the rear of the camera.
Likewise, on the left side of the camera, all of the ports still easily accessible because the left side of the cage is offset to the front of the camera. There is a 1/4-20 mounting hole on the bottom of the rig to accomodate tripod plates or other shoulder rig mounting plates.
The Armor Mini Rig has two 15mm rod ends on the right side, which accomodate the included handle and other standard 15mm accessories. I pulled a shoulder stock off a Jag35 rig and mounted it to one of the 15mm ends to get another point of contact out of the Armor Mini Rig. This little setup turned the Armor Mini Rig into a formidable little run-n-gun rig.
The Armor Mini Rig integrates with Varavon’s ProFinder, which is a loupe for the camera LCD. It includes a rubber eye cup, baseplate and a padded case. The ProFinder is very effective and provides a great view of the LCD.
The ProFinder is not a completely fixed unit like we see in the Zacuto Z-Finder. The ProFinder has a flip-up top panel that allows you to view the LCD from above the camera, which is helpful for low angle shooting.
My only real complaint with the ProFinder is that the top hatch is a little finicky and can come off completely. This can be a hindrance during transport; however, it’s a real pain when you are in the middle of shooting. Otherwise, the ProFinder gives you a great view of the LCD screen and lets you be confident that you are in focus.
While the ProFinder is available separately with its own DSLR baseplate, the Armor Mini features an integrated baseplate that lets you insert the ProFinder directly into the rig. This convenience takes one more step out of setup and polishes off an already solid little rig. The test unit I received was a little snug in fitting the ProFinder and the Armor Mini; however, it still functioned fine. Speaking with Varavon reps at NAB, I was assured that this indiscrepancy only affected early models. Other units I’ve seen demoed since then did not exhibit this same “tight” fit.
All in all, I really dig what Varavon has done with the Armor Mini and ProFinder integration. The two units work well on their own; however, the joint application of the units makes for a great foundation for an HDSLR rig. I would recommend both units to anyone looking to build an HDSLR system on a budget. That said, if you are looking for an HDSLR loupe alone (without the Armor Mini integration), I still lean toward the Zacuto Z-Finder due to a more solid construction.
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