The EasyRig – Review

I’m sure I once had a client describe me as ‘simple, brutal but effective’. To this day I take it as a compliment, what other choice do I have? It’s certainly how I like my kit as I’ve mentioned before. This year, more than any other I’ve had the good fortune to encounter some ‘revolutionary’ new equipment, such as the game-changing LitePanels, equipment that you simply can’t be without. Most recently I’ve started to embrace the EasyRig.

Now I’ll admit, when I first saw one I thought it was an affectation. In a typically blokey way I thought, ‘pah, ridiculous’. That was until, like all cameraman of a certain elegant maturity, my back gave out.

About six weeks ago it was announced to me, in a manner befitting Colombo, that as part of the series I’ve been shooting we would be replicating an escape from Dartmoor Prison, ( James Mays ManLab ). The ‘one last thing’ in this instance was that it was to be staged as a genuine breakout and we were to cross the moors on foot evading trackers. Having only recently recovered from some fairly serious physical issues by ‘those’ directors, ( you all know the type, the ones who think shooting 9 hours of footage a day is normal ), I was more than a little apprehensive.

Knowing it was always going to be a slog I decided to swallow all my youthful pride and hire an EasyRig.

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews you’ll see some really positive initial reactions. This review is no different, my only complaint is that no-one told me about this sooner! Actually I have a second complaint but we’ll come to that in due course.

For anyone who’s ever had a camera on their shoulder for too long it is THE solution, effectively rendering the camera weightless. It’s not cheap but it only needs to extend your career by a few days to pay itself off. Obviously theres no magic involved, the camera isnt actually weightless, but the weight is redistributed down through your hips, therefore taking pressure off your spine.

At the time of writing this review I’ve used one on 3 separate occasions and what strikes me every time is how lightweight the rig is. We were shooting on an Sony XDCam 800 which meant an EasyRig 2.5, the V3 is for heavier cinematography such as Red Cam or Alexa’s, or of course if you’ve bulked up a regular ENG camera with Wevi’s and other transmitters. I’ve used both but prefer the 2.5 which harnesses across the chest. It feels a little more open, ( and tends to disguise any ‘paunch’ that a waist harness might accentuate – we’re cameramen, what do you expect? ). It may well be my imagination but it feels slightly more manoeuvrable than the V3 too. Oh, and on the topic of vanity there is a nice little pocket in the chest for your mobile as you never know when that next job might come in.

One thing I really don’t like is that the tension on the suspension cable that supports the camera is really snappy. If you don’t have an assistant it can take a little getting used to holding open a taught hook while pulling down on a tight cable and holding up a camera in your other hand ( use a tripod ). If you get any of that action wrong the cable tends to snap back right up past your ear, eyes and face. It’s alarming, but when your eyes are your assets, it’s frightening.

Also, if you’re hiring one in it’s worth bearing in mind that the clamp that goes across the camera handle needs to be tightened once it’s in place. It’s not obvious and tends to slip otherwise.

The most liberating thing I was able to do was run across a wet and uneven moor doing tracking shots backward and forwards. While trekking across the moor was far easier with the EasyRig on things got a little more complicated once we got into the woods. Although the suspension arm only sticks out over your head by a few inches its significant enough when you’re ducking through the undergrowth and I came home with a few bits of tree and other extra camouflage. All joking aside, it did cross my mind that the EasyRig could have a future in military applications.

What I can tell you with great confidence is that after 8 hours out on the moors I felt far fresher than I do on most days. It’s a great piece of kit and in terms of investment ( and based on UK rates ), it only needs to go out about 20 times to recover it’s purchase price.

My 2nd complaint, as you so kindly asked, was that I ached for two days in some obscure parts of my back, they were opposite to all the usual places which I think is good – and that can’t be bad.

If you need to hire one I’ll be buying one as soon as I can.

Sean

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