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Zacuto Stuff

Zacuto Z-finder, RRS MPR-73, RRS B2 AS II clamp, and Sachtler FSB-8 head all playing nice together.

In my April Fools post I wrote that Zacuto USA was buying Really Right Stuff, becoming a new company called Zacuto Stuff. That, of course, is not true but for many making the transition from shooting stills to shooting HDSLR video it is a goal of sorts. Not to make the companies merge, but to get the equipment to play nice together.

Most professional still photographers have been using RRS equipment for years. It’s rock solid and beautifully made. RRS’ L brackets are the way to go – you can easily switch from vertical to horizontal without realigning your tripod head and RRS’ anti-twist design keeps the camera where you want it.

Arca-Swiss Cube and Ball Head with RRS quick-release clamps added.

Adding video into the mix complicates this setup a bit but there are ways to make it work so that you can have the video accessories you need and move the camera from platform to platform with the same ease of shooting stills.

Zacuto’s Z-finder is de rigueur for shooting video when you need to keep your eye to the camera’s display, focus, and shoot. If you are handholding and that’s all you are using then you are good to go. But if you want to make it all work so that you can handhold, shoot on a tripod, or move to a shoulder rig, then some pre-shoot engineering needs to be overcome.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Z-finder, base plate, RRS rail, RRS clamp, fluid head.

If you are using an older Z-finder which attaches to a frame glued to the camera’s display you could continue to use an RRS L bracket. It’s more than you need (since you don’t need vertical for video) but it would work fine. Zacuto’s newer Z-finders require a base plate, either the Gorilla Plate or the DSLR Baseplate. They cannot be mounted beneath an RRS L plate. So, you need to mount an RRS plate underneath the Zacuto plate.

To solve this connection dilemma I have been using RRS’ MPR-73, a 73mm rail which can be screwed into the 1/4″-20 socket on the Zacuto plate. What’s great is that it comes with a small flange which will prevent the MPR-73 from twisting. The MPR-73 has four pairs of holes for placing the flange and that combined with the flexibility of the 1/4″-20 screw position will allow you to brace the flange against one of the inner recessed edges on the bottom of the Zacuto plate.

With this type of setup you can quickly move the camera almost anywhere and have a consistent, reliable, and extremely fast method of locking it down. If you remove the Z-finder you do not need to remove its base plate, saving you setup/breakdown time. All you’ll need to do is get RRS’ Quick-Release Clamps to place as needed on tripod heads. If you are moving to a Zacuto shoulder rig or similar the MPR-73 will not interfere and you can use Zacuto’s lock-down knobs as usual.

Kessler Cineslider with ball head and RRS quick release clamp ready for use.

11-14-11: Stopping Short of Rails, adding a long lens with a lens collar into the mix.