Manfrotto Fig Rig Camera Stabilizer Review

Shooting handheld has a certain look. Not the lazy camera guy look but a certain documentary/news kind of feel. Maybe you want to add some tension with the camera so it kind of has a little shake to it. Or you need to walk with the subject but not in a smooth floating Steadicam way. Or maybe you have to shoot a walking dialog shot in profile. Well thats what I had to do and I needed a rig to do it with.

I considered using the AF-100 on a shoulder rig but the twisting and walking sideways thing didnt look very promising. I remember watching a BTS video from the movie “The Raid” They used an AF-100 fully decked out with PL cine lenses and a Fig Rig. The shots they got where pretty impressive and they did some very interesting things to get them. One was an action shoot with the Fig Rig on a rope and the camera follows the actor who jumps in a hole in the floor to the apartment below. The hand off was great! You have to check it out. It’s in the BTS video below. If you like crazy martial arts flicks you need to see The Raid. It’s crazy good high impact no holds bare… You get the idea. See it!

I was convinced this was the way to go. I ordered one from Amazon with one day shipping. It arrived the day before my shoot. That’s crazy. I had to put it together quick and test it out. The good thing about the Fig Rig is it’s basic. Not a whole lot to setup. It comes with a Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter w/Sliding Mounting Plate. I used my larger Manfrotto 357 Rapid Connect Adapter with Sliding Mounting Plate 357PL since it’s what I use on another tripod and works as well with my Tilta Base Plate.

The basic setup I used was the AF100 with a Lumix 20mm Pancake Lens. I attached a SmallHD DP6 with a Noga arm and used the SmallHD batteries. Those batteries are the best. Easily lasting a full day and I have two. I moved very fluid with the talent even up and down stairs! Ok that did require many takes but it was doable even with two other gripes shading and bouncing light! I was walking blind up eight steps counting them and hopping not to fall on my ass! Very cool to pull off with the rig.

The lenses I used was a Lumix 20mm Pancake and the new Lumix G X 12-35. Both worked perfect. The push to focus feature on the AF-100 works very well when you use it with the focus zone function. Push the button and wait a few seconds until it locks and roll.

The Fig Rig was designed by the British filmmaker Mike Figgis. He used his own creation then partnered with Manfrotto to manufacture a version to the masses.

Mike Figgis’ films using the Fig Rig:

2003 – Cold Creek Manor (Feature)

2003 – Freeway Conversations & The Museum of the Imperfect Past (Valencia Biennale Installation)

2003 – Red, White & Blues (Documentary)

2002 – The Battle of Orgreave (Documentary)

2001 – Hotel 2000 – About Time 2

Here is a nice PDF for the Fig Rig

The Fig Rig is a great tool to have in your kit. If I need to go handheld I will go with the Fig Rig again.

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