Review: Flashpoint DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle

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Once you become serious about capturing video with a DSLR, you realize that just hand-holding the camera isn’t always going to deliver the quality you need. Without the benefit of a tripod, a camera rig and access to focus controls becomes critical to make the most of the DSLRs video capability.

Though such rigs offer a practical solution for improving the performance of the camera when it’s hand-held, such rigs and their various accessories can be prohibitively expensive. The Flashpoint DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle ($599.95)promises an affordable, but ruggedly built rig which offers the videographer on a budget a viable choice.

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Pros and Cons

Pros

Complete bundle is available for an affordable price

Follow Focus clip on system adapts for wide variety of fixed and zoom lenses

Dual rail provides maximum stability and support

Quick release plate make for fast and easy attachment/removal of camera

Cons

Does not include instruction manual (though assembly if pretty straight-forward)

Z-Connector needed some lubrication in order to probably mount on rail

Gear Used

Canon 5D Mark III

24-105mm f/4

Hoodman Custom Finder Kit

Ergonomics

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The bundle begins with the Flashpoint DSLR Shoulder Rig II and features dual 15mm carbon fiber rods which serve as the foundation of the system. It has a maximum length of just above 30 inches.

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To adjustable handles with comfortable handles provides for solid and comfortable handling when the bundle is hand held for long periods of time.

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It includes a camera-quick release plate on an assembly which can slide up or down the rods for proper positioning.

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The Flashpoint Follow Focus Pro II includes a large knurled focusing ring, which control a gear system for controlling focus on most fixed and zoom lenses. The included clip on belt encircles the lens’s focus ring and its teeth engage with the gear mechanism.

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Small focus detect screw arms allow the focus ring to have a physical stop point from the lens minimum focus distance to infinity or anywhere in between.

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The Compact Pro Matte box features adjustable barn doors to reduce flare.

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It includes rotatable filter holder which can accommodate 4-inch filter including neutral density filter and circular polarizer.

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A firm but relatively comfortable shoulder pad provides stability with shooting run-and-gun.

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The Flash point Z-shape Connector provides the ability to offset the extension rails and shoulder pads or to attachi an external monitor or external digital audio recorder.

Build Quality

The bundle’s carbon fiber construction delivers a rig which is relatively light weight as compared to some of the camera cages offered by other manufacturers.  Though, I wouldn’t want to bare the weight of a full kit including camera and lens all-day, it delivers a package that can be easily controlled and managed, especially if you are working solo.

Ease of Use

Though the bundle didn’t come with any instruction manuals, the four main components were easy to assemble by referencing their respective boxes. The attachment of the Z-Shape Connector did require some WD-40 in order to push it along one of the rods, but otherwise, everything was easy to assemble and configure.

As I do not have the benefit of external monitor, the ability to offset the rear rods and shoulder pad allowed me to utilize the Hoodman Custom Kit finder for achieving critical focus and framing.

The follow-focus mechanism worked smoothly and accurately. However, it took some adjustment of the right hand grip to achieve a configuration, which allowed me to hold the rig with my right hand, while the left wracked focus.

I worked primarily with my 24-105mm zoom lens. Though it can be configured to work just as easily with prime lenses, the time it took to switch out lenses while shooting in the documentary style that I’m accustomed to was unwanted. For a short film or feature, this would likely not be an issue as you would have ample time between set-ups. But for me, once I configured it to work work with my zoom lens, I was committed to work with it.

Conclusions

If you are photographer who works with their DSLR sans tripod, the Flashpoint DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle provides some big benefits at a modest price point. As well as improving overall stability when working documentary style, the bundle offers the versatility of adding additional accessories including an external audio recorder, shotgun microphone, filters and an external monitor. At a relatively low cost, the bundle delivers versatility for the good price.

Order now from Adorama.

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