I provide honest ratings and reviews on tech, toys, and consumer home goods that I've purchased and used. Reviews are based on hands-on testing and personal observations. All opinions and comments are my own.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Fotowelt Shoulder Rig Camera Stabilizer Review

Fotowelt Shoulder Rig Camera Stabilizer Review

Buy it at Amazon: Fotowelt Shoulder Rig Camera Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Basic shoulder rig that stabilizes video shots, preserves some natural motion, light and comfortable.

The shoulder rig arrives disassembled so there is some assembly required though the unit does not come with instructions in the box. You'll receive the shoulder pad, camera platform and rails, handle grip mounting bar, and two rubber hand grips. The unit does not come with any counterweights, so I highly recommend that you buy them separately to use with the rig. All the components are made from machined aluminum that is durable but still lightweight. On the bottom of the camera platform are two standard mounting screw holes for 1/4" and 3/8" so you can mount it to a tripod. The blue thumbscrew locks are made of plastic and twist easily to adjust the platform up and down or forward and back along the rails. All the rods are 250mm in length and 15 mm in diameter.

To assemble the unit, first decide which shoulder you're going to use it on. Since the pad is tapered, if you'll be using it on your left shoulder, the narrower side of the channel in the pad should face the left; it'll be the opposite for your right shoulder. You may need to flip the bars around so the male threaded ends face front so you can attach them to the bars on the camera platform. When fully assembled the shoulder rig weighs 2.75 lbs.

The mounting plate measures 3"L x 1.5"W. On the mounting platform the camera is adjustable forward and back by 5/8" in either direction. The thumbscrew has a bubble level in it, but I'm not sure how it's useful because it can only tell you if you're level with the bars positioned vertically (sideways), which won't be the case when using this rig. For me the crossbar was a bit narrow, and I would have preferred a wider grip but I'll probably just end up adding a 6" bar to extend the grip. When comparing footage shot with the shoulder rig versus simply filming freehand, the shoulder rig footage is a lot smoother. It doesn't remove all motion like a steadycam or gimbal but a lot of the shake from your hands and small movements are eliminated.

If you combine that with your camera or lens image stabilization, you can typically get a fairly smooth shot if you move slowly and with small steps. This does take a bit of practice and overall, the motion that remains looks natural and puts your viewer in the scene, giving a sense of presence and realness to the shot. Panning is also more fluid and easier to control. You'll also be able to add other accessories like a follow focus and matte box. Keep in mind the size of the rig is small and meant to be portable so it may not accommodate every single accessory on its frame. One thing you might want to add is an angle bracket to offset the camera so that it's more in front of your face rather than off to the side.The rig itself is lightweight and the shoulder pad is comfortable but for heavy setups and extended shooting, make sure you use counterweights to take the stress off your arms and back to avoid fatigue.

Buy it at Amazon: Fotowelt Shoulder Rig Camera Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]
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