Posts Tagged ‘grip’

Hands-on with the Fujifilm X-S10: Small camera, great grip

16 Oct

Hands-on with the Fujifilm X-S10

Meet the Fujifilm X-S10 – a camera the company is calling a cross between an X-T30 and its older X-H1. That basically means that here we have a compact camera with the best APS-C size sensor Fujifilm has to offer (from the X-T30 / X-T4) but with a really nice, sizable grip and in-body stabilization inspired by the X-H1.

In the time we’ve had the X-S10, we have to admit we’re impressed. We think it offers a lot of bang for the buck, and its simplified control scheme will appeal to a lot of users, including those upgrading from older DSLR cameras in particular.

Sensor, performance, and look at that grip

The X-S10 comes with the same 26MP X-Trans sensor we’ve seen in a handful of Fujifilm’s other cameras, and that’s a good thing. It offers excellent noise performance and very fast readout speeds, which help boost autofocus performance and video capability. Based on our preliminary testing, we’d expect autofocus performance to be essentially on par with the X-T30 / X-T3 / X-T4 cameras, which is to say, darn good.

Video specs are solid too: You can record up to 4K/30p, 8-bit files internally. If you use an external recorder, you can boost that to 10-bit 4:2:2 files, which is handy for people who want to do some post-production work on their clips.

Burst speeds are great for a camera of this class. You can shoot at up to 8 fps with the mechanical shutter, and up to 20 fps with the electronic shutter (and a further 30 fps with a 1.25x crop). Unfortunately, we don’t yet know the buffer depth of the X-S10 (how long you can shoot bursts before the camera slows down), but we’ll be testing this when we get a final review sample.

And lastly, check out that grip! It’s generous and comfortable, and makes handling the X-S10 a breeze with lenses big and small. But although the X-S10 feels incredibly solid in your hand, it doesn’t come with any claims of weather-sealing.

New stabilizer

The X-S10 is equipped with an all-new, compact stabilizer unit built specifically to fit inside the camera’s smaller body. It tops out at 6 stops of shake reduction with stabilized lenses, and varies from 5 to 5.5 stops with unstabilized lenses.

Those figures mean that with a 50mm-equivalent lens, you should be able to handhold images with a reasonable degree of success at shutter speeds of 0.6 seconds or even slower.

Control scheme

But where the X-S10 really stands out – among Fujifilm cameras, at least – is right here. Most Fujifilm cameras are covered in ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, but not this one. This one uses a mode dial, customizable control dials under your forefinger and thumb, and a third customizable dial on the left shoulder of the camera.

While manipulating those manual dials on other cameras could get you into a ‘program auto’ mode, on the X-S10, that’s made much easier by just rotating the mode dial to ‘P’. Fujifilm is banking on appealing to a different subset of users with the X-S10; a group that either sees no need for dedicated dials for exposure parameters, or those coming from other cameras with this style of control scheme, which is basically ubiquitous among entry-level and mid-level DSLRs.

Fujifilm has also said that the full Auto mode has been tweaked to give users a bit more control over autofocus and image quality parameters while also automatically choosing a film simulation mode depending on the scene. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the X-S10 has a built-in pop-up flash which you trigger with the small switch on the far left, and the top plate is also where you’ll find customizable ISO and movie record buttons. The ‘Q’ button brings up the camera’s customizable Quick Menu on the rear screen or in the viewfinder.

Control scheme

The rear of the camera is fairly spartan. You get a customizable drive-mode button on the top left, a customizable button just to the right of the EVF, the requisite Playback, Display / Back, Menu / OK and AEL and AF-ON buttons as well as an AF joystick. We actually find that, overall, we prefer the control scheme on the X-S10 to, say, the X-T30; we collectively thought the X-T30 was a bit cramped, and we’d knock the joystick by accident all the time. On the X-S10, there’s plenty of room for your grip hand and the joystick is perfectly placed.

The rear screen is touch sensitive, and as you can see, is a side-hinged design, which may appeal to video shooters more than a simple tilting design. At the top of the camera is a fairly middle-of-the-road 2.36M-dot EVF, which does at least offer a great refresh rate and good contrast.


Along the side of the X-S10, we see a 3.5mm microphone port as well as USB-C and micro-HDMI ports. The USB-C port can be used for data transfer, it can charge the battery or you can also attach an included dongle adapter to plug in a pair of headphones for audio monitoring while shooting video. However, based on your usage, it’s worth being aware of the fact that the positioning of the ports may get in the way of the fully articulating screen.

Battery and storage

Power for the X-S10 comes from the standard Fujifilm NP-W126S battery pack, found in a number of its other cameras. Battery life is rated by CIPA for 325 shots if you’re primarily using the rear LCD, but we’d expect far more than that in normal use, especially if you watch your Wi-Fi use and keep the pop-up flash popped down.

One small disappointment is that the single SD card slot is only UHS-I compatible, so you won’t gain any speed benefit from UHS-II cards. It’s not a huge deal on a camera at this level, but considering how fast the X-S10 can shoot burst images, it would have been nice to see the faster slot included.

Hands-on with the Fujifilm X-S10

And that concludes our short tour of the Fujifilm X-S10. While it may not be a revolutionary camera, it looks like a really well-rounded model at a good price, and one that may tempt new users into the Fujifilm ecosystem.

What do you make of the Fujifilm X-S10? Let us know in the comments.

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Video: How a video production company turned an ambulance into the ultimate grip truck

13 Apr

What do you do if your average vehicle isn’t enough to safely transport all of your camera gear and other equipment? Well, if you’re the team behind North Dakota-based video production company Threefold.

In the two-minute video recently posted to YouTube, Caleb from Threefold walks through the team’s custom grip truck, which is actually a 1995 diesel E350 box truck that was purchased for $ 7,000 and served as an ambulance in its previous life. From custom shelving and mounting solutions to 2000W inverters and custom charging solutions, the van has nearly everything you’d need for on-location storage, charging, repairing and more.

Sure, it might be overkill for most, but when you need a purpose-built solution, DIY is the way to go. You can find more of Threefold’s work on their YouTube channel.

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Sony releases new wireless shooting grip for select mirrorless cameras

14 Jan

Sony has launched the GP-VPT28T, a new wireless shooting grip designed to work with a number of Sony cameras. The grip, which also serves as a tripod, uses Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly control the shutter, zoom and more on compatible cameras.

Specifically, the grip can trigger both photo and video capture, control zoom on compatible cameras, and trigger a custom setting using the dedicated ‘C’ button on the face of the trigger. There’s also a ‘Lock’ button to ensure you don’t accidentally trigger the camera.

The grip is dust-and-water-resistant and works with the following Sony cameras: a9 II, a9, a7R IV, a7R III, a7 III, a6600, a6400, a6100, and RX100 VII.

The GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip With Wireless Remote Commander is set to ship this month in North America for $ 140 ($ 180 CAD).

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ShutterGrip 2 wireless smartphone grip aims to offer camera-like ergonomics

09 Jan

The team behind smartphone accessory ShutterGrip is back with an updated version of the product called ShutterGrip 2. The new iteration of ShutterGrip has been refined to offer improved ergonomics and appearance, adding a metallic finish and a non-slip grip.

In addition to its built-in selfie stick, the ShutterGrip 2 features a threaded 1/4-inch tripod mount, integrated hex wrench for tightening the hinge, a cold shoe for mounting accessories, support for both right- and left-hand usage, as well as vertical and landscape modes for different shooting styles.

ShutterGrip 2 is compatible with Android smartphones and iPhones using Bluetooth 4.0. With an assumed average of 500 button presses per day, the ShutterGrip 2’s battery will last for six months of continuous use or 18 months in standby mode using a CR2032 button battery. Despite its various features, the device is compact at 190mm x 76mm (7.49in x 2.99in).

The ShutterGrip 2 is compatible with the iPhone 5 and newer models, as well as the Samsung A6+ through the flagship Galaxy S10 and Note 10 handsets. Eary bird units are being offered to Kickstarter backers who pledge at least $ 35; shipping is estimated to start in February 2020.

Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.

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The Shuttercase 2.0 is an iPhone camera case with battery grip, mechanical shutter button

05 Sep

Last year Shuttercase unsuccessfully attempted to collect funding for the original Shuttercase iPhone camera case. Now the company is back with a redesigned version that is called Shuttercase 2.0 and already available for purchase.

The Shuttercase 2.0 is aimed at iPhone photographers and movie makers who prefer the handling of a traditional camera over smartphone ergonomics for image and video capture. The case comes with a mechanical shutter button and a replaceable camera handle with a leatherette effect cover. The handle also contains a 3000mAh battery. In addition the case offers a mount for all current Moment smartphone lenses.

The modular design – lens mount, camera handle with battery, leatherette cover and thumb rest are all removable – allows you to use the battery pack when taking pictures with your iPhone and removing it and other components and leaving them at home for normal smartphone use. It also sets the Shuttercase apart from competitors such as the Pictar camera grip or battery packs from Mophie and others.

The Shuttercase 2.0 with Moment lens mount is now available for several iPhone models on the Shuttercase website for $ 78.99. An additional battery pack will set you back $ 28.99.

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Sony announces a new RX100 III Video Creator Kit with grip, SD card and additional battery

02 Jul

Sony has announced its new RX100 III Video Creator Kit, a product bundle that combines the RX100 III with Sony’s VCT-SGR1 grip, a 64GB SD card and an additional NP-BX1 battery.

Like most video creator kits, the RX100 III Video Creator Kit is designed to be an all-in-one solution for creators looking to get their foot in the door with a simple Full HD video setup.

At the heart of the RX100 III is Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor, capable of recording 50Mbps 1080 / 60p video through the F1.8-2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm lens. Combine those specs with the 3-inch tilting screen and the ability to control both image capture and zoom with the VCT-SGR1 Shooting Grip and you have yourself a solid vlogging setup.

Sony says the RX100 III Video Creator Kit will retail for $ 799.99 and will begin shipping July 2019. However, the kit is currently available to pre-order at Adorama for $ 798 and is listed as available at B&H for $ 699.99.

Press release:

Sony Launches RX100 III Video Creator Kit

The RX100 III Video Creator Kit Provides the Perfect Video Setup for the Run-and-Gun Creator

SAN DIEGO — July 1, 2019 — Sony Electronics, Inc. today introduced a powerful new tool for vloggers and video creators with the launch of the RX100 III Video Creator Kit. Based around the award-winning compact camera, the Cyber-shot RX100 III, the Video Creator Kit provides an all-in-one kit for video creators.

The Kit features the RX1000 III, with a 180º tiltable LCD screen, 1” Exmor R sensor, BIONZ X processor and 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Lens. The bundle also includes an innovative remote grip that doubles as a mini tripod, a 64GB SD Memory Card and an extra NP-BX1 battery to keep you shooting longer. The RX100 III’s video creator kit has everything you need to take your content on the move.

“Empowering creators is critically important to Sony,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics.“We want to make it as easy as possible for them to realize their vision, to capture content in new and different ways.”Manowitz added, “An excellent all-in-one solution, the new Video Creator Kit is a convenient tool that will encourage many aspiring creators to go out and shoot.”

Fast, Sharp Lens

The DSC-RX100 III sports a fast, sharp F1.8-2.8 Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 24-70mm zoom. With such a versatile range of perspectives between wide-angle and medium-telephoto, it’s perfect for all kinds of videography with beautifully defocused, high-bokeh backgrounds. A premium multi-layered T* coating also dramatically reduces ghost and flare caused by light reflection.

Full HD Video Recording

The DSC-RX100 III records HD movies in the XAVC S format and saves files as MP4, allowing for extensive record times. With 50Mbps Full HD (1920×1080) up to 60p high-quality video recording, XAVC S* enables beautiful video recording with minimal compression noise even in scenes with a lot of movement. The RX100 III also records in AVCHD and easily shareable MP4 HD video.

Versatile Shooting Grip

For the ultimate creative freedom, the RX100 III Video Creator Kit includes the VCT-SGR1 Shooting Grip, which allows control of capture and zoom functions directly from the grip and integrates with the RX100 III for ease of use and dynamic filming styles. The ergonomic design is comfortable for both left- and right-handed use, and the pop-out legs convert it into a mini-tripod.

Innovative Design

With a fully-tiltable 3” (1,229K dots) Xtra Fine™ LCD Display it’s possible to check and monitor composition and settings during the entire shoot, thanks to the ability to flip the screen 180º to face the subject, perfect for selfie-style shooting of both still images and video. WhiteMagic™ technology dramatically increases on-screen visibility in bright daylight. The large display delivers brilliant-quality still images and movies while enabling easy focusing operation.

The pop-up EVF viewfinder features an OLED Tru-Finder with a ZEISS T* coating, designed to dramatically reduce reflections that can interfere with composing and viewing stills and videos.

Performance and Image Quality

The backside illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, advanced BIONZ X processor and fast-F1.8-2.8 aperture lens combine to allow for incredible speed and low light versatility for stills as well as beautiful HD video.

The RX100 III features a large 1.0” Exmor R® CMOS image sensor. The back-illuminated technology doubles light sensitivity — a great help when shooting in dimly lit environments. Enjoy reduced noise in your videos and photos, even when capturing night landscapes or indoor scenes.

Full HD Video Capture

The RX100 III captures video in HD in the XAVC S format, allowing full HD recording at a data rate of 50 mbps with low compression, resulting in excellent video quality. The RX100 III can also capture 120fps at 720p, and a dual-video-recording capability allows the camera to record in XAVC S/AVCHD along with MP4 files.

The RX100 also features Intelligent Active Mode, which uses Sony’s frame rate analysis technology and 5-axis image stabilization to dramatically reduce the effects of camera shake when capturing video.

Connections and Sharing

Connect the RX100 III to an external monitor/recorder via HDMI® simultaneously for a bigger view of what you’re recording. The shooting info display can be turned off for an even cleaner view and to capture uncompressed video at much higher bitrates (depending on external recorder and settings). Frame rates include 24p, 60p and 60i.

Connectivity with smartphones for One-touch sharing/One-touch remote has been simplified with Wi-Fi®/NFC control. Easily and instantly transfer videos and photos to your smartphone for sharing with friends and family on social media. In addition, the camera can be controlled remotely using the free Imaging Edge app giving you greater creative freedom.

Pricing and Availability

The RX100 III Video Creator Kit will begin shipping in July 2019 for approximately $ 799.99. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

Exclusive stories and exciting content shot with the RX100 III can be found at, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony’s Alpha™ brand.

Images taken with the RX100 III can be found at the Sony Photo Gallery and footage from the camera at the Sony Camera Channel on YouTube. For detailed product information, please visit Sony’s Compact Camera information page.

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Blackmagic announces a new battery grip for its Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

10 Apr

Blackmagic Design has announced the impending arrival of the Pocket Camera Battery Grip, a new battery adapter for its Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K) that dramatically increases the battery life and adds a bit of extra grip for when handholding the 4K camera.

The Pocket Camera Battery Grip features a carbon fiber design with non-slip hand grips and a slide out tray that trades the BMPCC4K’s usual LP-e6 battery for two L-series batteries, increasing the battery life to up to two hours of continuous shooting on a single charge. When a charge is needed, users can charge the batteries inside the grip using the camera’s 12V DC connection.

As with other battery grips, the Pocket Camera Battery Grip attaches to the bottom of the BMPCC4K and screws into the integrated tripod mount using a tightening dial. The LP-E6 battery door on the BMPCC4K even gets a cozy place to hide in the grip so it doesn’t get misplaced for when you need to switch back.

The Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Grip will be available in August 2019 and is currently available to pre-order at B&H for $ 245 USD.

Blackmagic Design Announces New Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Grip

New camera grip attaches to any Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and holds 2 L-Series batteries for over 2 hours of non-stop shooting

NAB 2019, Las Vegas, USA – Monday, April 8, 2019 – Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic Pocket Battery Grip, a new battery adapter that features a slide out tray designed to hold two L-series batteries. This allows customers to power external flash disks or run the camera for over 2 hours of record time before charging. Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Grip will be available in August from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$ 245.

The Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Grip will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design NAB 2019 booth #SL216.

Designed for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, the new Pocket Camera Battery Grip lets customers replace the camera’s standard LP-E6 battery with two L-series batteries so they can shoot for over 2 hours on a single charge. It’s perfect for anyone that needs to shoot for extended periods of time. Featuring a unique carbon fiber design, non-slip hand grips, and a slide out tray that holds 2 L-series batteries, the Pocket Camera Battery Grip also makes it easier to hold the camera on longer shoots. L-Series batteries are standard batteries used for a variety of professional lighting equipment, so they’re readily available. Customers can even charge the batteries in the grip via the camera’s 12V DC connection in between takes.

Unlike traditional external battery packs that hang off the side of the camera, the Pocket Camera Battery Grip has a unique design that makes it part of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Simply remove the detachable LP-E6 battery door cover from the camera, slide the pocket grip in and lock it into place. There’s even a storage slot built into the grip for the battery door cover. Because the Pocket Camera Battery Grip becomes part of the camera, customers get larger non-slip hand grips that make holding the camera even easier. Best of all, there’s no extra gear hanging off the camera so customers still have a compact camera that can go anywhere.

“The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K has been received incredibly well by our customers because it’s not a dumbed down consumer product, but it is a true digital film camera with incredibly advanced features generally only found on the most expensive cameras available,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “The new Pocket Battery Grip is exciting because it lets you power external flash disks allowing customers to record to the disk used for editing. It will even power the camera for over 2 hours on a single charge. As it’s designed to integrate into the cameras design, it’s more comfortable to hold the camera on longer shoots. Unlike regular external battery packs that hang off the camera, the Pocket Camera Battery Grip is integrated into the cameras design itself, so it doesn’t add a lot of weight and it fits perfectly!”

Availability and Price

Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Grip will be available in August for US$ 245 excluding duties from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

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The Adonit Photogrip is a multi-use camera grip for smartphones

10 Oct

Stylus maker Adonit has launched a new product for mobile photographers, the Adonit Photogrip. As its name suggests, the Adonit Photogrip is a grip that attaches to smartphones, allowing for more camera-like operation and ergonomics of your smart device.

Additionally the Photogrip can be converted into a mini tripod and a detachable Bluetooth shutter remote can be used at a distance of up to 10 meters. In self-standing mode the Photogrip positions the smartphone in portrait orientation for comfortable video chatting or live-streaming.

The internal battery provides power for 20 hours of continuous use or 72,000 photos. A full charge from completely dead takes approximately 40 minutes.

The Adonit Photogrip is compatible with Apple iPhones running iOS 5.0 or newer, and Android devices with version 4.3 or newer of the Google OS. The remote shutter requires Bluetooth version 3.0 and the Photogrip can be attached to any smartphone with a 4.5-inch or larger display. It comes with a carry pouch and neck strap in the box.

The Adonit Photogrip is available now for $ 39.99. More info is available on the Adonit website.

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Review: Grip Gear Movie Maker 2

02 Sep

Grip Gear Movie Maker 2 | $ 130 | Buy now

In 2018, almost every one of us has a camera that can film HD or even 4K video. Videos can be uploaded to Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, or Instagram with the click of a few buttons. What once was reserved for filmmakers or TV productions with giant budgets now is available in everything from full-frame DSLRs to GoPros to the smartphone in your pocket.

So how do you make your videos stand out in a sea of cats flushing toilets and grandmas dancing the funky chicken? A whole accessory segment has grown to try and help you do just that. External microphones, add-on wide/tele lenses, and gyroscopic stabilizers can all polish up your footage and give your videos a far more professional feel (even if you’re just filming your kid’s piano recital). But what if you want something that will stand out even more? The Grip Gear Movie Maker might be what you are looking for.

What is it?

The Grip Gear Movie Maker is a compact (claimed to be the world’s smallest) motorized motion control slider/dolly. It’s aimed at smartphone or GoPro photographers, but has a 750g/26oz weight limit high enough for most mirrorless cameras and even a few smaller DSLRs as well.

Having a tool like a slider gives video-makers access to some of the most iconic shots in cinematography

For those not familiar, a motorized camera slider is a set of track, single in this case, frequently double in larger rigs, with a motor mount designed to allow a camera to be attached. The motor allows the camera to move along the track at very precise and consistent speeds. Having a tool like a slider gives video-makers access to some of the most iconic shots in cinematography. Tracking, dolly, and push-in shots are some of the foundations of scene building and emotional communication. Adding them to your videos will make them stand out in a way that an add-on wide angle lens never could.

In use

Setup for the Movie Maker is fairly easy. The slider track itself is a modular design that clamps together with each section of tracking being about 12in/30.5cm long. This both allows easier transport and gives you the option to purchase additional sections. The motor unit slides onto the rails and has a small ballhead with a standard tripod screw, and a spring-loaded smartphone holder is also included.

Power is supplied by an internal rechargeable battery giving a claimed run time of up to two hours. The battery’s micro-USB charging port also allows the use of a USB battery pack for far longer run times. The track has three pairs of adjustable feet that allow basic leveling on uneven ground. They also offer the ability to wrap around something like a pipe or fencepost to allow the camera to move vertically. More importantly, there are 1/4-20 and 5/8 tripod mounts on the bottom of the track.

How does it work?

While the rails and connecting/mount hardware are aluminum there is unsurprisingly a lot of plastic in the Movie Maker’s construction. You definitely don’t feel like you are holding a high end device – but at $ 130, you also aren’t paying for one either. The little ballhead is of middling quality and care needs to be taken when connecting the rails to make sure there is no gap between the sections of plastic teeth. But overall, construction is just fine for the intended purpose and price-point. The Movie Maker also breaks down into a surprisingly small package. While packing for a family vacation, I tossed everything into some extra space in my suitcase and took it along with no trouble.

Mounting is both a simple affair and a bit limiting. While the adjustable feet do allow some tolerance for uneven ground and vertical mounting, they’re also not all that large or strong so you won’t want to rely on them if you are using a camera at the top of the Movie Maker’s weight limit.

The lightest travel tripod I had in my closet held the Movie Maker quite well

Perhaps more importantly, you’ll quickly find that using the feet pretty much locks you into low angle shots. You’ll be forever dragging tables across the room or trying to set the unit up on a car hood in order to get your camera off the ground. The answer to this is going to be the tripod mount. This gives you far more options to find the optimal height and placement for your shot. And given that the whole unit doesn’t weight that much and doesn’t work with heavy DSLRs, you don’t need much of a tripod at all. The lightest travel tripod I had in my closet held the Movie Maker quite well (assuming that you aren’t filming in a windstorm).

That said, the design of the Movie Maker’s tripod mount is somewhat frustrating. In an effort to offer both 1/4 and 3/8 tripod mounting options, the mount is a 3/8 thread with a 1/4 adapter nut screwed into it. This would be fine except that for those of us using standard 1/4 tripod screws (most everyone), this means that there is very little surface area to prevent wobbles or twisting as the camera is on the far ends of the track. I ended up using gaffer tape or zip-ties occasionally to keep everything steady. A better design would have had the 1/4 screw go directly into the Movie Maker and include a 3/8 adapter for those who want one. As is, I would probably rig up a tripod plate with a 3/8 screw if I were going to be using the Movie Maker regularly.

Controls for the Movie Maker are quite simple. In fact, there are only four buttons: two that control starting/stopping/direction and two that increase/decrease the motor speed. There are nine speeds to choose from, the slowest being a VERY slow crawl and the fastest being moderately quick. There is even a handy guide printed on the track that tells you how long the motor will take to cross the whole track at each speed. I would prefer to have seen a few more speeds on the “fast” end and I’m unsure how many people will find the slowest speeds to be useful. Generally though, the speed range works just fine for most purposes.

One thing worth noting is that, unlike with higher-end sliders, there is no option to pan or tilt the camera while it is running on the track – it is locked to whatever angle you set the ballhead at. On a Hollywood production, this would be a significant limitation. But on a slider at this price-point, it can easily be forgiven.

With just a few exceptions, the footage is generally outstanding

With just a few exceptions, the footage is generally outstanding. Using the same camera, I’m not sure that you would be able to tell the difference between a shot on the Movie Maker vs one done on a slider that was three times the price. But about those “exceptions” – the first is that the camera’s microphone can pick up motor hum, especially at the faster speeds. The motor isn’t loud, but it isn’t silent either. The second is something I alluded to earlier: gaps in the plastic teeth. When assembling the rail sections, you need to make sure that there are no gaps where the plastic teeth come together. If there is a gap, you will see a noticeable bump as the motor unit tries to crawl across it.

The final exception isn’t the fault of the Movie Maker at all, but it is something that must be mentioned given that Grip Gear is positioning the Movie Maker as a tool for “mobile filmmakers”. When using a tripod, gimbal, or other external stabilizer, your camera’s internal optical image stabilization system must be turned off. If left on, it can introduce vibrations on its own just due to the way that these systems operate. The late Canon guru Chuck Westfall described the situation like this:

“The IS mechanism operates by correcting shake. When there is no shake, or when the level of shake is below the threshold of the system’s detection capability, use of the IS feature may actually *add* unwanted blur to the photograph, therefore you should shut it off in this situation. Remember that the IS lens group is normally locked into place. When the IS function is active, the IS lens group is unlocked so it can be moved by the electromagnetic coil surrounding the elements. When there’s not enough motion for the IS system to detect, the result can sometimes be a sort of electronic ‘feedback loop,’ somewhat analogous to the ringing noise of an audio feedback loop we’re all familiar with. As a result, the IS lens group might move while the lens is on a tripod, unless the IS function is switched off and the IS lens group is locked into place.”

This is bad enough for still images, but it is even more noticeable when shooting video. Most mirrorless and even many compact and action cameras offer the option to turn their OIS systems off. However, this becomes more tricky for smartphones. Some Android phones and software appear to allow the user to turn off OIS, but you will need to verify this for your own phone.

Far worse is the news for owners of iPhone models 7/8/X. As far as I have been able to tell, there is no way to disable OIS on an iPhone. This makes the Grip Gear Movie Maker somewhat frustrating for millions of phone owners. As I mention above, this isn’t Grip Gear’s fault and iPhones have the same issue with gimbals, tripods and other stabilization devices. But it’s also an important issue that can’t be ignored.

Some Extras

There are a few extras that give the Movie Maker additional functionality. The first is that the motor unit can be removed from the track and with the installation of an included mount, turns into a motorized head for panoramic images or time-lapse video. While fairly basic, this works surprisingly well.

Sadly, due to the use of the motor to drive the camera rotation, it is impossible to use the panoramic functionality and the slider at the same time. While understandable, especially at this price point, it’s kind of a bummer because timelapse slider videos can be really neat.

The second extra is something Grip Gear calls a Micro Dolly. It is essentially a small three-wheeled platform that uses the motor unit from the Movie Maker for power. It is a small unit, and the wheels are made for smooth terrain. But even so, in the right location you can get essentially endless dolly type shots.

Additionally, the two “steering” wheels can rotate allowing the Micro Dolly to run in various size circles. I could see this being useful for portrait, product or even unique timelapse videos.

What’s the bottom line?

All told, this is a clever and inexpensive kit that does what it claims to. You can get some unique video shots that are unlike what you see 500 times a day on your friends’ social media posts.

Are you going to make huge dolly shots with two feet of track or a little rolling cart on a table? No, you aren’t. This isn’t for Hollywood films, it’s for phones and GoPros. It would make a fun birthday/holiday gift for someone you know who enjoys making short videos for YouTube or Instagram. I could also see it being an easy way to add some style to videos for Kickstarter projects or Etsy sellers.

Would I put it on the top of my list of “most useful video accessories”? No, probably not. But is it in the running for “best value in a fun video accessory”? Absolutely.

What we liked:

  • Price
  • Unique shots
  • Creativity

What we didn’t:

  • Subpar tripod mount
  • Weight limits
  • Weak ball mount
  • Interaction with phone OIS systems that can’t be turned off

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Meike’s new battery grip for the Sony a9 and a7R lll comes with a wireless remote

19 Jan

Accessories manufacturer Meike has released details of a new grip it will be selling for the Sony a9 and a7R lll bodies that can hold two batteries and double as a remote control.

The Meike MK-A9 Pro Battery Grip is designed to make vertical shooting more comfortable, and comes fitted with a shutter release, two custom buttons, an AF button, a joystick and two control wheels as well as its own on/off button. In addition though, the grip functions as a wireless radio remote receiver when it’s used with the remote controller that comes with the kit.

Operating on 2.4GHz radio signals, the grip can be instructed from a distance of up to 100m, and offers functions beyond simple triggering. The unit can also work as a timer, an intervalometer, and as a Bulb trigger for extended exposures.

The grip comes with a two-battery insert, but not the batteries themselves. It will begin shipping on January 31st, and will cost £95/$ 120 on Amazon. For more information, see the Meike website.

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