The Flashpoint All-Inclusive DSLR/DV Cinema Rig is a bundle of the Flashpoint DSLR Shoulder Rig II w/Rails & Quick Release System, Flashpoint Matte Box System II and Flashpoint Follow Focus Pro II w/clip on system. From a features and usefulness for the price perspective, this bundle is eye-catching.
Here is a look at the overall kit (camera and lens not included of course):
For handheld video quality, the next step up from the bare camera is a video rig. A video rig makes holding the camera steady a much easier task - for a variety of reasons including the wider grip making hand motion less noticeable and the optional addition of a third point of stabilization via the shoulder pad.
Here is a look at the Flashpoint DSLR Shoulder Rig II w/Rails & Quick Release System:
The 3-section 15mm carbon rods/rails are the foundation of the rig. Configure the length you need - from 8.5" up to the full 31" including the end plugs. Another 12" (extendable) rod is used for the rubberized handgrips.
The camera mounting base plate and the handgrips, mounted in any orientation you want (forward/backward, downward/upward, tilted/straight, narrow/wide) attach to the rails at the position you desire - locking the rails into place. The molded shoulder pad slides over the rails and threaded end caps close the tubes.
The camera (DSLR or video) attaches to the provided large quick release plate using one of two screws. The attachment screw not needed can be removed by first removing the captive rubber plug. With camera attached, the quick release plate slides into the camera base plate and locks into place with a thumbscrew. The camera base plate has a safety button to prevent the plate from sliding out unexpectantly.
While designed for handholding, the entire Flashpoint rig can be attached to a tripod via threaded inserts provided.
While video autofocus (Canon's Movie AF) is just now arriving on DSLR cameras, manual focus still rules for quality video. Using the camera's focus ring can work for video manual focus, but a follow focus unit will give better, smoother results.
Following is the included Flashpoint Follow Focus Pro II w/clip on system:
Wrap the gear band around the lens focus ring and tighten it down with the thumbscrew. The follow focus system clips over the rails under your lens focus ring and locks into place. The follow focus gear is then adjusted so that it makes contact with the gear band.
A large, very smooth knob is then used to drive manual focus. Stops are able to be set to control the range of focus used.
The third major component in the Flashpoint All-Inclusive DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle is the Flashpoint Matte Box System II as seen below.
The adjustable, lightweight matte box is designed to block unwanted light from hitting the lens - and allows use of standard 4x4" and 4x4.5" glass filters via dual removable ABS plastic filter frames. The matte box slides over the rig rods, adjusts for height and locks into place aligned at the end of the lens being used. One of three neoprene donuts (48mm, 64mm, and 74mm) fit into the back of the box and over the end of the lens (see image #4).
When Adorama asked me to quickly evaluate the Flashpoint All-Inclusive DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle (provided to me), I was skeptical of the quality a full rig at this price point would have - as I am a bit of a quality enthusiast. I was assured that this rig was much improved over previous models and that I would be happy with it.
And I have to admit, they were right.
I was able to find a couple of weaknesses. I don't feel that the quick release plate clamp and thumbscrew are large enough - with a significant amount of pressure, I can move the plate even when locked down very tightly. The tightness is adequate, but I'd like to see a more substantial locking setup.
Another weakness is the follow focus system's rod lock. I fear that I may have slightly stripped this lock (not an uncommon problem for me) - don't put too much pressure on this one.
Sliding components over rod joints is not a smooth task, but of little consequence after the setup is completed.
No instructions are provided (I know - we don't read them anyway), so you need to use the pictures and video (below) to figure out installation. I actually read the boxes and was modestly humored - on the matte box's box, you can read about "flagsand" and "aluminium". :)
Otherwise, this is a good rig. I was able to properly setup a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens with no problems encountered. The handles have a quality feel. The follow focus works very smoothly. The entire system feels solid. The configuration versatility is great. And the rig looks great in black with blue knobs and handles.
All of these qualities at the price point this bundles sells at ($270.00 less than the sum of the three components' already low regular prices) makes the Flashpoint All-Inclusive DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle a very good value. I'm not saying that the Flashpoint rig betters or equals those made by Redrock Micro, but the Flashpoint is far more affordable - and adequate for many needs. The review-time $100.00 off sale makes it additionally attractive.
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