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We recently had a chance to work with the new Tilta rigs from ikan and found them to be well thought out, well crafted, and to provide improved physical handling for many of today’s HDSLR, digital video, and cinema cameras. With the rise of the large LCD viewfinder, single sensor, and shrinking electronics, camera manufacturers are moving away from the classic shoulder-mount configuration of the past.
This shift to producing a button-covered box that is little more than a lens mount, sensor board, viewfinder, and recording module has resulted in cameras that often pose a new ergonomic challenge. While we can lament the passing of the shoulder-hugging shapes and elegant rounded angles of cinema cameras of the past, there is no denying the market for the seemingly endless numbers of cages and rigs that have popped up to support these hard-to-hold cameras.
ikan is now proudly distributing Tilta rigs and cages for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Sony F5/F55, Sony FS700, Sony F3, Canon C100, Canon C300/C500, RED Epic/Scarlett, and the RED ONE cameras, as well as matte boxes and follow focus units. The first rig we will cover is the DSLR rig, as it also includes accessories that can be used with the other cages/rigs.
The Tilta DSLR Rig is a shoulder-mount rig, built so you can support your HDSLR or camcorder on your shoulder while shooting. However, the rig is really much more than just a shoulder mount. It is a complete-accessory shooting package that includes a mounting platform, 4 x 4 carbon fiber matte box, follow focus unit, 15mm rods, handgrips, cage, top handle, monitor mounting arm, lens support, and a rolling hard case. Just add your own DSLR or other camera, and you are ready to go. Flexibility is key with this rig, which has so many features and components that work together to enhance the shooting experience. You can configure it in many ways, from a stripped-down, bare-bones support for run-and-gun shooting to a documentary or full-blown feature film setup.
The platform consists of a sliding baseplate and a dovetail plate. The camera mounts on the sliding baseplate, and there is an adjustable metal brace for locking a DSLR in place and preventing it from twisting on the plate while you are shooting. This brace is removable, so you can use cameras other than DSLRs. The sliding balance plate attaches to the dovetail plate, which features spring-loaded safety catches to keep the baseplate from accidentally sliding off while balancing the camera on the tripod or your shoulder.
The dovetail plate also features a V-lock mount for attaching to an available tripod with an appropriate fitting. The V-lock mount has 1/4"-20 and 3/8”-16 threaded holes so you can attach your own quick-release plate and use it with your current setup. Behind the V-lock is a durable foam shoulder pad. Contoured to fit on the operator’s right shoulder, it is adjustable so you can position the camera where you want it, and it provides a good solid resting point on your shoulder. The dovetail plate also includes 15mm LWS rod clamps at both the front and rear. Both rod clamps are vertically adjustable, and this is especially important with the front clamps, where adjusting the rod height allows you to use standard rod-mounted lens accessories with virtually any camera.
The carbon fiber matte box is what I would call a fully loaded matte box. It is well thought out and provides what I want in a matte box—solid construction, functionality, and it doesn’t get in the way of my workflow. It mounts on 15mm rods, it has two rotating 4 x 4 filter stages, and includes the filter trays. It also has a swing-away feature, which is great for fast lens changes. It has removable top and side flags, and the flag attachment points are adjustable and lockable, allowing you to set the flags precisely at the edge of frame for maximum flare protection and then lock them in place. Another convenient feature of the top flag is that it folds in half to save space when packing the matte box away, and the side flags have extension wings to eliminate any gaps between the top and side flags. The matte box comes with lens adapters and “Nun’s Knickers” to prevent light from behind the camera from flaring the lens.
The follow focus is a bit more than just your basic follow focus. This unit snaps on and off the rods with a spring-loaded clamping mechanism, so it is easy to add or remove without having to remove any other gear from the rods. The follow focus features a conical marking disk, and the hand wheel incorporates the industry standard accessory socket for cranks and whips. However, what I noticed immediately were the two adjustable hard stops built into the follow focus. These are very useful when you are working with lenses that feature unlimited rotation. The hard stops can be engaged or disengaged if not needed, and each stop has a different finish, making it easier to distinguish one from the other. The finish may seem trivial, but there is something very satisfying and comforting about working with a nice piece of kit where the little details are thought out.
One detail I did not notice at first was a small thumbwheel screw on the back of the hand wheel. This is for variable-tension adjustment of the follow focus. You will probably use this mostly with those endlessly spinning lenses that have little to no resistance. I found the tension adjustment to be smooth and gradual, and it didn’t bind the unit at all. Overall, the follow focus is a very adjustable unit. The mechanism slides in and out along the bridge, allowing you to work with a variety of lenses up to 84mm in diameter. Also included are a set of five flexible, removable lens gear straps with a 0.8 pitch to put gear teeth on any of your lenses that don’t have focus-gear teeth. The follow focus comes with three gears: 0.8, 0.6, and 0.5 pitch, so you can interface with cinema lenses, ENG lenses, and Fujinon Lenses. It is also available separately as a kit that comes in a fitted hard case.
Another notable feature of the DSLR rig is the handgrip system, which mounts on either 15 or 19mm rods, features kipping (spring-loaded) levers with ARRI-style rosettes, and consists of two handgrips, each featuring three points of adjustment. Using the rosettes as the articulating points makes this a very adjustable yet solid-feeling handgrip unit. As with the follow focus, the handgrip unit snaps onto the rods, so it is easy to position and reposition the handgrips without having to remove any accessories you may already have mounted on the rods. The handgrips are comfortable and have the Tilta name impressed into them, which improves your grip. Solid, secure, and adjustable—just what I look for in a handgrip system.
The included curved arms attach to the rig and provide a cage exterior for mounting accessories. They also provide a platform for mounting 15mm rods above the camera, great for attaching the monitor arm or other rod-mounted accessory, such as the included rod-mounted top handle. The curved arms are repositionable, and the entire rig is generally flexible, so you can use it with cameras other than DSLR-style cameras. Rounding out the kit is the hard-shell rolling case, featuring custom cut-out foam inserts for the entire rig.
Also from ikan are Tilta cages for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Sony F5/F55, Sony FS700, Sony F3, Canon C100, Canon C300/C500, RED Epic/Scarlett, and the RED ONE. These all feature Tilta’s precision machining, provide 1/4"-20 accessory mounting points, and allow you to mount accessories on the rig without stressing the camera’s body. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera rig is specifically designed for that camera’s unique form factor. The cage leaves room around the sides of the camera for accessing its connections and SSD slot so you don’t have to remove the cage while working. The rig incorporates ARRI-compatible rosettes and includes two wooden handgrips, one with a built-in record/stop switch. It includes a sliding baseplate and two dovetail plates. It features top-mounted rod brackets, a removable top handle with a safety catch, additional accessory mounting points, and two cold-shoe accessory mounts.
The Sony FS700, Sony F3, and Canon C300/C500 rigs all feature form-fitting armor cages with 1/4"-20 accessory-mounting points that allow full access to all camera functions. The rigs also include a sliding baseplate with ARRI-compatible rosettes, both a five-inch and ten-inch dovetail plate for mounting the rig on a tripod, and a top-mounted rod system with removable top handle. The RED Epic/Scarlett and the RED ONE rigs feature both 19mm and 15mm rods on the bottom and 19mm rods with a top handle on top.
The Tilta matte boxes and follow focus systems feature the same precision machining and attention to detail that highlight the shoulder rigs and armor cages. In addition to the follow focus included in the DSLR kit, Tilta also makes a single-sided follow focus for cinema-style lenses. It features a direct drive to minimize backlash and to allow use with more lenses, it includes three different lens drive gears, and it also fits on both 15mm and 19mm studio rods.
Furthermore, a dual-sided follow focus is also available from Tilta. It clamps onto 19mm rods or onto 15mm rods with the included adapter. It features two hand wheels, one for each side, and an extension piece so that the right hand wheel can clear the matte box. This unit also features a direct-driven focus drive and five different lens drive gears. All three follow focus units include a whip and a crank. The matte boxes share the same lightweight design features and solid construction and finish that define Tilta products. Carbon fiber and aluminum construction, swing-away design for faster lens changes, anti-reflection inserts, and lockable hinged flag mounts are among the features these matte boxes share. The two 4 x 4” versions mount on 15mm LWS rods, while the 4 x 5.65” matte box mounts on 19mm studio rods. Available as 4 x 4”, 4 x 5.65”, and a 4 x 4” version without the side flags, and also available as kits with an 0.6 ND filter.
When considering a camera cage and accessories, the form, fit, and function of Tilta’s new camera cages, support systems, and accessories from ikan are very impressive. They are designed with care, are well crafted, and built to work seamlessly with industry standard accessories, so you can use Tilta with those accessories that you already own and not worry about everything working together.
We hope you’ve found this review of Tilta camera rigs and accessories useful. For more information about these products, stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, or speak with a sales professional over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.
|Filter Type||4 x 4"||4 x 4"||4 x 5.65"|
|# Rotating Stages||2||1||2|
|Total # of Stages||2||2||2|
|Dimensions||9.9 x 6.6 x 3"
(25.1 x 16.7 x 7.6 cm)
|9.25 X 6.50 X 2.88" (23.5 x 16.5 x 7.3 cm)||15.5 x 12 x 14"
(39.3 x 30.5 x 35.5 cm)
|Weight||2 lb (.9 kg)||2.2 lb (1 kg)||N/A|
|Gear Pitch||0.5,0.6, 0.8||0.5/78T, 0.6/64T, 0.8/38T, 0.8/43T, 0.8/64T||0.8/38T, 0.8/43T, 0.8/64T|
|Rod Mount||15mm LWS||15mm LWS, 19mm||15mm LWS, 19mm|
|Weight||5 lb (2.3 kg)||N/A||N/A|