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Handles, Plates, and Rods

Note – 2016/07/10: Please see my new post, Handles, Plates, and Shoes, for new options on handles, plates, and shoes for the C300.

Canon C300 in the field with a Wooden Camera C300 Top Plate, NATO Plus Handle, and with a Dinkum Systems French Flag mounted to the handle's 15mm grip via Zacuto Zud. Princeton, NJ. July, 2014.
Canon C300 in the field with a Wooden Camera C300 Top Plate, NATO Plus Handle, and a Dinkum Systems French Flag mounted to the handle’s 15mm clamp via a Zacuto Zud. Princeton, NJ. July, 2014.

Last June I wrote about trying out *Zacuto’s C300 top plate and handle and it not being a good fit for me. Since then I have found that Wooden Camera’s C300 Top Plate and its NATO Handle Plus is a perfect match for how I work.

Wooden Camera’s Top Plate connects to the camera via the C300’s cold shoe, where Canon’s OEM handle would normally tie in, and despite having only one point of contact it is extremely solid. Unlike Zacuto’s C300 Helmet it is squared off, making it possible to front mount a vertical cold shoe. This adds a point to attach the C300’s monitor if you don’t want to use the handle or if you want to keep a lower center of gravity.

Canon C300 with Wooden Camera Top Plate and NATO Plus Handle. Front vertically mounted cold shoe to mount the C300's monitor as needed. Pictured left & bottom right is a SmallRig cold shoe. Upper right is a Wooden Camera cold shoe. The Wooden Camera cold shoe is beefier mounts better to the top plate due to a heavier duty allen wrench screw. The SmallRig cold shoe is longer providing a better hold for the monitor shoe. Princeton, NJ. August, 2014.
Canon C300 with Wooden Camera Top Plate and NATO Plus Handle. A vertically mounted cold shoe is attached to the top plate as an option for mounting the C300’s monitor. Pictured left & top right is a SmallRig cold shoe. Bottom right is a Wooden Camera cold shoe. The Wooden Camera cold shoe is thicker and it tightens down better. The SmallRig cold shoe is longer providing a better hold for the monitor’s foot. Either way you need some Loctite. Princeton, NJ. August, 2014.

Wooden Camera’s NATO Handle Plus is attached via a NATO rail to the top plate. It can  be added or removed quickly, much faster than Canon’s OEM handle. Wooden Camera’s handle can also rotate 360 degrees, it has a built-in cold shoe, and a 15mm rod clamp. It is very comfortable to grip and both the cold shoe and the rod clamp have proven useful. Compared to Zacuto’s handle its a good deal smaller and being all black it calls much less attention to itself.

Where the NATO Handle Plus falls short compared to the Zacuto is in gripping Canon’s OEM Monitor. The Wooden Camera handle is not C300 specific as is Zacuto’s, it does not have its own cold shoe tie-down so you must use the one on the monitor’s foot. I have not found this to be an issue, even doing two-minute long handheld shots where I’m running with the camera, but if you need a handle which will grip the monitor through thick and thin then Zacuto’s would be the way to go.

Two Canon C300's on set, both kitted with Wooden Camera C300 Top Plates and NATO Plus Handles. The Sound Op said, "Wow, I love these. So, may tie-in points." New Providence, NJ. October, 2014.
Two Canon C300’s on set, both kitted with Wooden Camera C300 Top Plates and NATO Plus Handles. The Sound Op said, “Wow, I love these. So, may tie-in points. Perfect.” New Providence, NJ. October, 2014.

I have the used the NATO Handle Plus’ 15mm clamp to hold a Dinkum Systems PRO French Flag on numerous assignments. With lenses like the Canon 17mm TSE, which does not have a lens hood, it can be a lifesaver. Similarly, if the camera is on a slider or a jib then shading a lens this way works well and frees you from doing it manually. To hold the french flag I added a Zacuto 15mm 1/4″-20 Zud to the french flag’s 1/4″-20 screw.

On the C300 I find I often set the NATO Handle Plus just to the right of center. This compensates for the weight distribution of the camera which favors the right because of the C300’s hand grip.

It should be noted, too, that the Wooden Camera handle and top plate are cheesy; both provide a mix of 1/4″-20 and 3/8″ holes. The handle also includes 15mm and 19mm rod openings.

Back in November of 2011, I wrote about doing my best to avoid getting tied down with a base plate and 15mm rails when filming with a DSLR. I wanted to keep things as SLR like as possible. A great goal, especially for someone coming from the stills world, but one that is not always feasible. In the past week I have had to work with a teleprompter kit (the Pad Prompter) and mounting it has meant expanding my kit to include a base plate and rods.

After surveying what was available I found myself coming back to Wooden Camera. My goal was to keep the cost and weight down, to keep it compatible with my Kessler Kwik Release clamps, and to have some degree of future proofing should I ever need to use it on a different camera. I have learned too many times that going cheap often means buying twice so, for me, the choice came down to Kessler’s K-plate, $150, and Wooden Camera’s C300 Fixed Base, $399 (but cheaper at B&H and if you have a business discount as little as $341.)

Wooden Camera C300 Fixed Base with 15mm rods. Princeton, NJ. January, 2015.
Wooden Camera C300 Fixed Base with 15mm rods. The attachment screws are within a removable metal tongue which can be changed to match the camera being used. Princeton, NJ. January, 2015.

The K-plate’s advantages are price and that it has a Kessler/RRS rail built in but compared to the Wooden Camera Fixed Base it is bulky, heavy, and it requires a tool to adjust the rods. The Wooden Camera Fixed Base is much more compact, weights about half as much (0.6 lbs vs. 1.1 lbs.), has 1/4″-20 holes underneath to add a Kessler/RRS compatible rail, has rod clamps, and it should be future proof. Its design makes the camera connection via a replaceable metal tongue which sets the camera screws and guides exactly as needed to match a particular camera. As with all Wooden Camera products, it’s very high quality.

Really Right Stuff MPR-113 rail mounted beneath a Wooden Camera C300 Fixed Base. Princeton, NJ. January, 2015.
Really Right Stuff MPR-113 rail mounted beneath a Wooden Camera C300 Fixed Base. Princeton, NJ. January, 2015.

As much as this review is about my settling on and liking Wooden Camera’s top plate, NATO handle, and C300 Fixed Base, I find myself drawing from all of the manufacturers mentioned. Just mounting the camera is a sandwich of sorts. The Wooden Camera base plate has a Really Right Stuff rail attached which mates to a Kessler Kwik Release.

Pad Prompter inaugural run. Canon C300 with a Wooden Camera NATO Plus Handle, Top Plate, and Fixed Base; RRS Rail, and Kessler Kwik Release. Ewing, NJ. January, 2015.
Pad Prompter inaugural run. Canon C300 with a Wooden Camera NATO Plus Handle, Top Plate, and Fixed Base; RRS Rail, and Kessler Kwik Release. Ewing, NJ. January, 2015.

Update – 3/22/15: *Zacuto has updated their handle to include two 15mm rod ports and a cold-shoe lock. It allows for mounting the C300’s display with each of the display’s cold-shoes (horz. & vert.)

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