Perhaps the ideal backpack for the Sony PXW-FS7 camera… but not by choice. Meet the Think Tank Airport Accelerator.
It’s pricey, but it’s roomy. Very much adjustable, but at the same time – not the best in terms of comfort. Most importantly – if fits the Sony FS7 and could go on an airplane as carry-on luggage. Few other bags would allow you to do that with the ease of the Think Tank Airport Accelerator. Read on for a balanced quick review, showing not only the positive sides, but also the negative.
Behind the scenes photos, courtesy of my friends and mountaineering companions – Petrus and Marie (thanks, once again!).
The Manfrotto 244Micro is a very compact and lightweight friction arm which is likely to become a popular purchase, especially among DSLR video shooters. At a total weight of 220g and a total length of ca.15cm it’s easy to see why – it’s practically pocketable while at the same time offering interchangeable attachments (using a clever and reliable mounting system). Being a Manfrotto product, it is expected that the price will carry a little extra “badge weight”. Currently, it sells for anywhere between €60-85, depending on the configuration. As of lately, various kits are also made available. For example, in combination with the 386b Nano Clamp, which is actually where I often mount mine on.
The materials used to build the friction arm are solid, but the design leaves a little more to be desired when it comes to demanding use.
The DJI Ronin-M is a brushless gimball targeted at DLSR shooters. It’s the smaller brother of the DJI Ronin and comes at about half the weight and a much lower price tag.
Part of the reason for the savings, perhaps is the fact that it doesn’t come with a carrying case (and it doesn’t have as many accessories either). While the build quality of the gimball itself is pretty decent, it does have a few cables that could be perceived as fragile. Especially if you plan to lug it around in a backpack. The controls of the remote also stick out quite a bit.
Currently, there are very few offerings for carrying cases. It’s a pity that DJI doesn’t even offer a case as an optional accessory. I’d gladly pay €200-250 for a Peli-style case with properly cut out protective foam.
Several of the Ronin-M’s first users have naturally turned to Peli/Pelican itself and their cases with pluck foam. The Peli cases are legendary but their pluck foam is rather expensive and not as durable in the long term – especially if you have areas with thin walls.
Perhaps the best custom offering at the moment is the intelligentUAS case (product page here), which is based on the Peli Storm iM2600 case. Being a case with a custom interior it’s rather expensive but more importantly – it carries one major flow: the Ronin-M is on the top tray.
The Peli Storm iM2600 case is widely available (discounts are to be found as well!), so I decided to build my own interior out of hard foam – pretty much the same stuff that intelligentUAS is using for their model.
Keep reading to see the layout of my Ronin M case interior and the reasoning behind it.
The Manfrotto 386b, also known as Nano Clamp is a stylish. lightweight accessory holder which I can imagine would find its place in a lot of videographers’ bags. It’s ideal for use as a holder for field monitors, external recorders or other small(ish) accessories. It weighs only 126 grams and Manfrotto claim it would hold up to 4kg of load. It’s pricier than its competing products (mostly knock-offs) – ca. €45 (at the time of writing – Jul/Aug 2015) and is not serviceable – the only part which you could easily remove is the plastic handle.
I bought the Manfrotto Nano Clamp mainly to mount an external recorder and monitor (Atomos Ninja Blade) to a DJI Ronin-M brushless gimball. Unfortunately, the clamp failed to perform (miserably) on my very first shoot. The friction pads on the clamp have low quality glue which softened badly at ambient temperatures of ca. 26°C and under a load much lower than the stated maximum.
This resulted in the need to tighten the clamp a bit too much, which in turn broke one of its joints. The friction pads simply fell off. After a little under 2hrs of use, this is what I had in my hands:
I also have a Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp and it boasts a much better build quality. I’m becoming more and more disappointed by the new line of Manfrotto products. The looks are there, but it seems to come at the price of durability and easy maintenance. I used to recommend Manfrotto products to everyone, but now I’ve stopped and I’ll likely avoid buying any of their new models.
Continue reading to learn how I managed to fix and make the Nano Clamp even more durable.
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