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Spiderbrace Shoulder SupportSolid support for prosumer cameras
While cameras like the Sony PD-170, Canon XL2, and the most recent Sony Z1U, Canon H1, and Panasonic HVX200 produce a great picture for an affordable price, the small size of these units make shooting off a tripod almost impossible. Without a shoulder support, even the steadiest shooter, will eventually end up with a shaky shot or a very tired arm. Even though there are shoulder braces available for your particular camera, they tend to be pricey. The Spiderbrace shoulder support system fits most prosumer cameras, and has a price point that makes it a must have.
Ive seen all sorts of solutions for prosumer shooters. From weird metal contraptions that wrap around your shoulder, to units that have a rod that attaches to your belt, and even a crazy set up that you wear like a backpack and it hangs over the top of your head. These might work in some situations but they are a hassle to ?put on and appear to restrict movement. Then there are the shoulder mounts from the camera manufacturers. A quick look at online resellers reveals that a Sony shoulder mount for the Z1U rings in at $265. While it may seem inexpensive compared to the cost of your camera, the initial shock sours the mouth and causes many to think ?Eh, Ill just use a tripod or stand really still when shooting from the hip.
Then I got an email recommendation from a reader who told me to check out the Spiderbrace (www.spiderbrace.com). Made out of PVC plastic, this shoulder support system fulfills my three primary requirements; lightweight, comfortable, and inexpensive.
The PVC parts are covered in padded foam and when it first comes out of a box, it looks like something that should be on a bike instead of a support for your camera. I purchased the Spiderbrace 2 that has two front handles for maximum support and fits cameras from the Z1U, PD-170, HVX200, GL2, and so on. For those with a Canon XL1/2 or the H1, check out the Spiderbrace 1.
There are two screws on the mounting area that fit the mounting plate holes on your camera. I only need to use one screw for my camera, but the slight distance between the two allow you move the camera slightly further away or closer to you for ease of use. Connecting the camera to the Spiderbrace only takes a moment (30 seconds max) to connect and in a weeks worth of shooting, I had no worries of the camera coming off unless I wanted it to.
Because of the lightweight design, there is almost no added weight to the camera, which makes it easy to take this support with you on whatever shoot you go on. Because of the design, you can actually use the Spiderbrace as a low tripod for ground shots.
With just the camera attached, you can look through the eyepiece of use the LCD screen if you so desire. When using the PD-170 on the Spiderbrace, it was a bit awkward to look through the eyepiece, but I think that is more a comfort level issue than a flaw in the design. If you have a fully decked out camera complete with matte box and rod support system, youre going to have to readjust how you use the Spiderbrace. With the rod system for the Z1U that I use, the camera is actually pushed back further on the brace making the eyepiece inaccessible, but brings the LCD viewfinder closer to your face. A simple attachment of a LCD shade hood like those from Hoodman solves that problem.
When I used the matte box setup with the Spiderbrace, it felt like a second unit film camera solid and firm.
The biggest problem with the Spiderbrace is there might still be an unstable shot when you move your hand from the grips to the record button or the focus ring. If you want to keep your hands on the grips all the time, you might want to attach a LANC controller for easy thumb access.
At $64.95 the Spiderbrace is the inexpensive solution for those looking to shoot from the shoulder. Solidly built, and particle for nearly all the prosumer cameras out there, I give this a Strong Buy Recommendation.
Stephen Schleicher is a well known writer, visual effects artist and media guru! You can see more of Stephen at
www.majorspoilers.com and www.stephenschleicher.com
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