The SmallRig shoulder rig isn’t simply a product you buy off the shelf; it’s the result of many components selected for the user’s needs to create a custom rig. In this review, I’ve selected the parts for use with a Canon EOS R5 C and designed it as a universal rig that will suit both mirrorless and DSLR users.
Working out all the needed parts can be challenging, especially if using a rig is new to you. In this review, I aim to cover the quality, handling, and parts you will need to build your own rig.
Looking at the constructed rig as a completed whole, the quality of the SmallRig parts is exceptional, and once you’ve bolted everything together, there is little to fault with the quality or weight of this rig. What really stands out when you compare this against more traditional rigs are the number of mounting options and the ease at which the rig can be adapted.
Ultimately the Smallrig shoulder rig is an excellent and affordable solution for improving the handling of mirrorless and DSLRs when filming. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and provides a steadier and more ergonomic shooting experience than simple handheld filming. It also allows for more creative uses of the camera, such as low or high-angle shots. The Smallrig shoulder rig is an excellent and affordable solution for improving the handling of mirrorless cameras when filming. It offers plenty of customisable options once you figure out what you need.
Plenty of customisation options
Stabilises handheld shooting
Working out options can be confusing.
What is the SmallRig Shoulder rig?
The SmallRig camera rig is a mounting system that supports cameras and other photo or video equipment, including mirrorless and DSLRs. It can include a combination of cages, handles, plates, and other accessories that allow you to customise your setup for specific shooting needs and different cameras. The rigs you can build are designed for stability and convenience, and SmallRig offers base kits and all the parts needed to construct your personalised version.
I’ve wanted to look at a SmallRig shoulder rig for a while, the issue has been that there’s no single kit that fits exactly what I want, but then this is rather the point. Base kits are available, and while these will get you up and running, you’ll quickly discover that you’ll soon want to accessorise, adding a battery, monitor mounts, filters and more to meet your exact needs.
Therefore in this review, I’ve selected the parts that I wanted to create my perfect rig for a Canon EOS R5 C with 24-70mm and ATOMOS Ninja V, and after a few swaps and changes of parts, I’m pleased with the results.
This review looks at the parts that make the whole shoulder rig, each available individually and assembled into what you see here.
Basic Shoulder pad
Side Flag Kit
V-Lock Mount Battery Plate
15mm LWS Rod Support
Shoulder Pad with 15mm Rail Clamp
SmallRig Multifunctional Modular Matte Box |
As you see, there are quite a few component parts.
As the SmallRig Shoulder Rig is of custom construction, I’ll run through each of the parts individually, starting with the 15mm Rods. These carbon rods are for the core of the rig and are essentially the base that all other parts, such as the camera, monitor, filter, battery and plates, attach to before attaching.
The shoulder pad I’ve opted for is the Shoulder Pad with a 15mm Rail Clamp. The basic premise is that it can help reduce fatigue when carrying a camera for extended periods with the weight supported by your shoulder. This particular version offers plenty of padding on the foam shoulder rest, 15mm rail clamps to attach to the rods and a selection of 1/4 and 3/8-inch threads. This slots onto the rails.
On the back of the shoulder pad, I’ve bolted into place the V-Lock Mount Battery Plate with a Dual 15mm Rod Clamp. This mounting plate is used to attach a V-Lock battery; it features a built-in safety latch, preventing the battery from slipping off the clamp. The plate also has a built-in D-ring for attaching a camera strap for easy carrying. The plate is designed for use with batteries of up to 7.2V and 3.2Ah.
The baseplate slides onto the 15mm rails and enables a quick-release plate or camera to be directly attached to the rig. It features 1/4 and 3/8-inch threads on the top and four tightening levers that enable the base plate to be moved easily back and forth on the rails.
The Handle Kit is a set of grips designed to help stabilise and control the camera rig. The kit includes a top clamp that attaches to the rails, two side handles and adjustable grips. This allows the user to mount accessories such as lights, monitors, and microphones to the top section of the handles for more comfortable filming.
The 15mm LWS Rod Support System slots onto the end of the 15mm rails and supports the Multifunctional Modular Matte Box that holds the Matte Box. It features a movable height attachment that helps securely hold the Matte Box once in place.
The SmallRig Multifunctional Modular Matte Box controls lens flare and the amount of light entering your camera lens. It bolts onto the LWS Support System and clamps to the lens using an adapter. It’s designed to fit a wide range of lenses and offers a variety of mounting options. It also provides a range of adjustable flags to control further the amount of light entering the lens and the ability to add multiple filters.
The SmallRig VND (Variable Neutral Density) slots into the Multifunctional Modular Matte Box and enables you to control the amount of light passing through the lens to the sensor. It’s used for videography to control exposure and create a shallow depth of field. It allows the user to adjust the light entering the lens by rotating a ring on the filter.
Once you have all of these parts, it’s just a case of bolting them all together, with the final result being surprisingly sturdy and lightweight.
Build and Handling
Once you’ve put the rig together, the entire thing is surprisingly lightweight despite the number of parts used. It’s also notable how decent the quality of everything is with CNC machining used to create a functional yet highly ergonomic design. What stands out is the number of mounting options that the rig gives you with loads of 1/4 and 3/8-inch threads.
Writing this review took a while to create a functional rig that handled and offered everything I wanted. I recommend two additions, a quick-release plate to make life easier and an accessory arm. I used one from another manufacturer, but SmallRig makes a good selection of quality options.
The build quality of all the parts is good, and once assembled, the rig is as good as any I have used. They should pad offers excellent support for this size of the rig, and if extending the rig for larger cameras such as the Sony FS7, then the larger SmallRig Shoulder Pad Pro, link below, is well worth a look. https://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-shoulder-pad-pro-2837B.html
When it comes to handling, there are a few things to note. The first is that the handling of the camera is instantly elevated. Still, a monitor is needed to properly see what’s going on due to the camera’s position. A monitor such as the ATOMOS Ninja V fits very neatly onto the top section f the arms.
The arms themselves provide plenty of adjustment, and while the groups are relatively simple, this is exactly what you need, and they feel very hard to wear and comfortable to use.
What makes a difference to the use of the camera is the all-in-one nature; it brings back some of the convenience of a dedicated camcorder to a mirrorless or DSLR camera. With the V-Lock plate mounted at the back, this provides the Canon EOS R5 C with ample power and the Matte Box and VND enable a fast way to control the light so that large apertures and shallow depth of field can be easily achieved.
While using a rig can feel a little faffy, once you have constructed your ideal solution, the difference it makes to your filmmaking is huge just by making everything easier and more accessible.
I have to admit that while I have used rigs in the past, I have always held back from using them full-time, partly due to cost and partly due to the complex nature of deciding on exactly the parts that you need.
SmallRig doesn’t make it that easy for you to purchase an off-the-shelf ready-to-go solution, and it’s only after you start to use the rig that you realise why. Rigs are very personal, and every person has an opinion about where to start and what’s needed.
However, the base rig that SmallRig offers is an excellent place to start, and while it may not provide you with the more advanced handles or carbon rails, it will get you started and enable you to figure out exactly what it is you need.
Now that I have the rig, parts of it are a near-permanent feature, and I will buy shorter rails to create a compact video rig for the R5 C, mainly to hold the SmallRig V-Lock batteries required when shooting video.
Ultimately, the SmallRig shoulder rig is essential for shooting video with a mirrorless or DSLR camera. The main challenge is sorting out which parts you need for your particular camera and filming requirements.
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