This is the second iteration from smallrig on the quest for the perfect VCT shoulder mount support.
I will not spend too much time on the first version as it’s not available anymore, but plenty of things where just simply not working. So, let’s see what this one has to offer.
The first obvious characteristics is the price point. Clearly, one of the cheapest on the market for now.
This is a clear advantage. When trying to design your rig, you are stuck between very cheap pad and the way more expensive from Zacuto or ARRI; nothing in between.
At about 180 USD now, it will be hard to beat if you compare the 600 USD for a VCT universal plate from Zacuto which is the closest similar product.
Price is not the only selling point and weight will be my second request. This unit is just about one kilogram, which is nice. As you can also remove one rosette and the rod tub support, you can even make it a bit lighter depending on your needs.
The Zacuto VCT universal plate is also on this range (a bit lighter).
I think Smallrig could even be lighter if they were using a open honeycomb on the left side. It’s plenty of metal where we don’t need so much. Rigidity may be an issue, but this unit is not design for the super heavy setup anyway as the front rod support are hold only by 2 screws.
Don’t put your Zeiss large zoom lens in this position for perfect support….
So, what do you get for such price and weight?
2 x 15mm rod mount on the back to put counterweight or battery pack.
2 x 15mm rod mount on the front that you can also adjust in height depending on your lens and mate box package. This is great option!
SmallRig also have nice black 15mm rods on their shop.
I did not get why thy put 6 screw in the front sliding rod support, but provided only 2 crews. I think you will feel safer by adding 2 extra screw to make sure your lens is secured. Again, I don’t see this unit for super heavy setup anyway.
On the center, a full and very long sliding plate to put almost any camera size and shape on the market is a very nice design. The locking mechanism is in the center so it can slide and still be locked. The travel distance is 15 cm compare to a 20 cm for the Zacuto. it’s still quite enough to balance any lens you will be putting in front without any need to unscrew the plate under to camera. There is also a safe lock button to make sure the camera will not travel alone in case the locker is getting loose. I may just think the locking mechanism should be at the same side than the locker to make it easier to play with only one hand.
The full assembly feel very solid and is all in aluminum. Smallrig have upgraded the rod mechanism to larger and longer one to tight it even better than before. The big logo on the back is a bit overkill and smaller fount will be my preference.
The 2 rosettes system can be unscrew as well as the front rod adjustment. My dream is one day to get the same Allen screws size for both, but let see this for iteration 3! With the rosette mount, it still possible to put in a bag and quite stable on a table when you can’t put it back to your VCT plate.
The sliding plate is surprising higher than the Manfrotto you could have been putting in. I’m not sure why they came out with this design, a thinner plate will make more sense for me as you always keep all as tight as possible. I’m talking here of 2 extra millimeters, nothing to kill for. But one clear advantage here over the competition is the possibility to switch from shoulder to tripod (to a slider for example) without any need for unscrewing anything. It’s just nicely fit than Manfrotto 501 standard, making also let painful if you lose the plate or to get more option with so many plate actually able to fit this unit.
The plate is with some rubber pad to make sure it will be firmly locked down on your camera.
The pad is a complete new design from the first version and look stronger too. it’s very soft, with some foam pad, very close to the some expensive model from the competition. It’s a bit weird to see that they did not design it in a asymmetrical way as your shoulder is not flat there but as the foam is quite soft, it will still fit all morphologies. Next upgrade will be to go for gel as described here!
It’s also enclosed with some kind of fabric which act like a grip on your clothing helping to keep in position all day long.
The downside is that the pad is a bit too big and will be hitting the floor first. On a rainy day, just be aware of it. It’s also touching the VCT plate, so make sure to not get stuck on the mechanism when locking and unlocking. This is very small details and I actually like the fact that the foam is quite deep. The top of it is a solid plastic to make sure it will not move and rain will not get in.
Cheap, unique offer at this price actually
Strong enough for any rig you may think of if you have to get it on your shoulder
comfortable on your shoulder
Long plate for plenty of setup position
Standardized plate to switch from tripod to shoulder in an instant
A bit heavy
Foam is a bit too thick and touch the floor
Highly recommended, I have been tried many different cheap or expensive alternative and no one came close to this one
The full setup with the camera and EVF will be on my blog soon!
I have paid for this item, and Smallrig did not offer me anything in exchange for this review, yet 😉