Written by: Chris Weatherly
If you have any experience with the Sony FS700 you know its design falls short of being ergonomic. Simply put the design is boxy. The Sony design makes it impossible to put the camera on your shoulder. Plus the placement of the LCD screen on the back of the camera is horrible.
Until I got a hold of the Zacuto Shooter Rig for the FS700 I avoided shooting run and gun for the most part. I couldn’t get what I wanted out of the camera due to its limits. Thanks to Zacuto’s design you can get the camera on your shoulder with a counter weight for added balance. Add the Zacuto EVF, which gives you a better image than the Sony LCD screen, and the camera lines up on your should like a proper ENG camera…just like the days of yore.
The Zacuto Shooter includes a grip relocator allowing you to remove Sony’s grip from the side of the camera and place it in a more forward position mounting on a 15mm rail. This creates more balance and still allows the grip to communicate with the camera.
Thanks to the grip relocator I found I could keep the camera on my shoulder and close to my eye for extended periods of time. This saves loads of time in fast moving run and gun situations. The closer the camera is to your eye the less time it takes to recompose!
The major advantages of getting the camera on your shoulder are stability and endurance. Simply holding the Sony at waist level can get exhausting. This technique puts more stress on your neck and shoulder muscles. Thanks to the Shooter, increased stability comes from using more of your body to leverage support. In essence you are using more muscles as opposed to creating more resistance on a smaller group of muscles. The camera is also resting on your shoulder instead of having to lift the camera and hold it in position.
I also found that shooting at waist level is risky when trying to work in low light with a shallow depth of field. You can forget about trying to follow focus in these types of conditions. With the Sony placed on the shoulder panning and tilting are much smoother in a hand held situation. Shooting with shallow depth of field is made easier using the Zacuto EVF. As a result I’m more confident of my focus which requires less takes while shooting. In turn saving time.
There are a couple of draw backs to the Zacuto Shooter. One, it’s heavy due to the fact you’re adding a counter weight. So far I’ve been shooting a half day each time I’ve taken the Shooter out. I didn’t have any issue despite my back being a bit jacked up from years of carrying stills cameras off of my shoulders from my photojournalism days. The second issue I ran into was when holding the camera’s top handle the entire rig is not center weighted. This doesn’t effect your shooting when the camera is on your shoulder, but if you want to hold the camera low to the ground and try a walking shot for example, you need both hands to stabilize the rig. Thanks to Zacuto’s kickstand the camera can be placed on the ground and leveled very easily. This helps with ground level shots, but also puts my mind at ease when resting the camera on the ground. I know it isn’t going to roll over on me and knocking the EVF or microphone out of position.
I was asked by Zacuto to review the FS700 Shooter and liked it so much I purchased the pieces I need to create the rig. I own several Zacuto rigs for various cameras. Because the parts are interchangeable I rarely have to buy an entire new rig. I can piece things together and for the most part by simply changing out baseplates. I’ve had great experience with Zacuto equipment. It’s quality gear and backed by a lifetime warranty. I also love the fact that it’s made in the USA.
If you need to get the Sony FS700 off a tripod and do handheld work I highly recommend the Shooter.
*To get more information on the FS700 Shooter rig and other Zacuto rigs for the FS700 , please visit, http://www.zacuto.com/sony-fs700.