The Canon Cinema EOS cameras are the most ergonomic camera I have used. So why use a rig for them? Well for a couple of reasons. If your trying to shoot ENG style then holding a camera with no rig can get fatiguing really fast. Try interviewing someone for over five minutes holding the C100 up without a rig. Three minutes in your going to see more jitter because it’s hard to hold up the camera with just your arms for extended periods. That’s the hardest thing to do. Not moving the camera, because you never know when the best sound bite is coming, and bam! As soon as it does your twitching and shaking the camera and the shot looks like…. Yeah you now. Always happens right? Before I go to deep please read my ethics statement at the bottom of this post.
When the shooting situation calls for a lot of longer handholding then that’s where a rig comes in. The ENG camera (Short for Electronic News Gathering or basically what a broadcast news guy uses) is designed for handheld use. Cinema cameras like the ARRI Alexa also have a shouldering friendly design but 99% of the cameras we can afford do not. With the C100 things have changed a bit and we get the best of both worlds. If you need to shoot for long periods of time the C-Shooter by Zacuto is a good choice.
Zacuto usually makes universal products. I can understand that since new cameras these days come out so frequently, but they decided to make this rig for the the Canon Cinema EOS Cameras. They also have special rigs for other cameras as well. Check them out. The C-Shooter comprises of several Zacuto products that come together to create the C-Shooter. All the pieces can be purchased seperatly or you can buy them as a kit and save a few bucks. The one specially designed piece is the ENG Grip Relocator.
The one feature that stands out is the Grip Relocator. Absolutely brilliant! Takes the C100/C300 grip with all the functionality and puts it where you need it. How many times have you fumbled with other rigs because the grip has no controls on them In most cases its just a place to put your hand. The Canon Cinema EOS grip has a bunch of function controls that makes accessing the settings easy and right at your finger tips. Change the ISO, Iris, even the white balance presets. All at your finger tip. No other camera has a grip like the Cinema EOS has and now you can take that control and move it where you need it with the Grip Relocator. I think this is the core of the C-Shooter and if you have a rig already that alone is a great addition that will make your existing system even better.
The Studio Baseplate
One thing stands out about the C-Shooter. It’s simple design makes it very easy to use and is pretty light. The Studio Baseplate is the center piece that the rig builds out from. It has a channel that the rails pass through making it easy to adjust where you want the plate and camera to be. The Studio Baseplate with 12″ rods has four 15mm lightweight holes. Two on each side for mounting monitors, an EVF or other goodies you might need. I tested the rig with the Zacuto EVF Standard Mount (not included). They’re locked down via an Allen screw. Wish it was a tool-less operation but no room for a thumb screw since the baseplate is very low profile. The screw hole pattern on the Studio Baseplate is ¼” 20, 3/8” 16, 3/8” 16, 3/8” 16. To mount the C300/100/500 camera, you will use the 1/4” 20 and the first 3/8” 16 screw holes. The Baseplate ships with one ¼” 20 screw and one 3/8” 16 screw.
One thing to be aware of is if you use a matte box it has to be an adjustable type since the baseplate height isn’t adjustable and isn’t at the standard height settings for rails so if your matte box isn’t adjustable you wont be able to use it. I don’t feel this is an issue since adding more to the front of the rig is only going to cause a balance issue and more weight in the back would be needed for counterbalance making the rig even heavier. A 3.5lb Z-Lite weight sits behind the shoulder pad for counterbalance. If you need more just get a pair of short threaded rods and extend the rails out a little and let physics do the job.
The Shoulder Pad
I like how soft and light the shoulder pad is It slides easily along the rails. Maybe a little to easy but repositioning it is super fast. This isn’t a hard piece of rubber its soft and light.
Using The C-Shooter.
Finally right! The C-Shooter pared with my Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro feels really good on the shoulder. It’s still a little front heavy since the camera isn’t directly over your shoulder but it’s much better than trying to handhold it for longer shoots. I love the Grip Relocator. This part of the rig stands out the most because it takes 90% of the controls with you. No other rig has this and it’s a big deal to get the controls that matter the most right where you need them. One feature that doesn’t work with the EVF is magnification. No problem just use the Zacuto EFV’s magnification.
To assist in stabilizing the camera I found myself using grabbing the base of the Zacuto EVF Standard Mount with my left hand. It felt natural to do so. If you use a follow focus then that would be an ideal place to grab on to as well.
The C-Shooter has a lot of advantages but you need to add an EVF to get it to work as a shoulder rig and also add a EVF holder of some kind if not the Zacuto EVF Standard Mount, so that has to be considered. If you shoot with the C300 the LCD can be used instead since it flips down. I like that a lot about the C300. The LCD is great! I’m farsighted so I would have to wear glasses when using the C300 and LCD screen plus you don’t get that extra contact point when using a EVF to assist in stabilizing the rig. The price for the rig is $999. If you need the Zacuto EVF Standard Mount add another $265. If you already own a rig you like you can add a Grip Relocator for $320. Again I think the Grip Relocator is the bomb!
In the video review at the end I added a test shoot I did with my son singing and playing guitar on a song he is working on learning. He’s a great kid and I’m thankful he was willing to help his old man out.. I was for the most part sitting on a chair shooting with the C-Shooter from varies angles. It worked really well and was able to work really fast. It felt more like a ENG camera than any other rig I have used. I put my C100 with the Canon 24-105 on the C-Shooter. I also used my Zacuto EVF Pro. I turned the image stabilization off on the lens. I think the video looked pretty good. I shot some 105mm tight shots that looked pretty solid.
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*Ethics statement. Zacuto was gracious enough to lend me the C-Shooter at my request. They are a sponsor of my blog but they didn’t pay me or have any expectations of the outcome of this review. Okay. Now that that’s out of the way onward to the hands on review!