I remember for a lifetime the desire of gear, hardware of filmmakers, instigated by the manufacturers of camera props, the possiiblity of attaching, adding pieces to one’s camera, “upgrading” it according to them, often putting what they might need, filling and surrounding the camera with anything and everything and then using them for the run-and-gun style… that is, the guerrilla style that is supposed to be grounded in simplicity.
Curious how in parallel fields, such as photography, this kind of Rigging has never caught on, photographers add a cover to the camera, sleek, a larger button … at most a battery grig to increase the range of the camera during prolonged shots, but nothing over the top.
The No. 1 excuse I hear from people who want box cams is :
they want to customize it, because they need the cam with the components arranged differently … mah … mostly because I usually hear this kind of excuse used by people who have no real experience with multiple cameras, if it’s okay with a phone and an SLR, but have never used real cameras, shoulder cams or those kind of cameras where the ergonomics are studied for DECADES and everything is designed to make people work in a certain way.
In fact as soon as I see a rig of these characters I can notice three uncomfortable things :
– weight balance: the structure is not designed to distribute the weight as one moves, walks, or simply holds it on an in hand, causing wobbles and/or problems after a short time that one uses the camera, never mind then the idea of putting it on a gimbal, since weight distribution and monitor position are critical for handling on that type of product.
– ergonomics: the buttons to push, the wheels to turn to control focus, aperture, and zoom are not usable by the same hand.
– transportability: almost all rigs I have seen are prone to damage when transporting the camera because the structure and wiring are not protected and if placed in duffel bags, flycases etc anyway they will risk hitting and damaging camera connectors and other equipment.
Excuse number two is :
if they have to mount it for special shots e.g
- camera car : a rig to mount any camera on a car, stable, costs from 200 to 500 euros, and you mount cameras for several kilograms, no need to put a box cam, and in most cases a bigger camera is also more stable. however all these rigs have a mount for a tripod head and so you mount what you want.
If you have to make a light rig, you use action cams like the latest gopros, or like the blackmagic micro studio cam g2, to stay on the light side.
- drone cam: this is the meaning that makes me laugh the most … because the people who say that don’t have a license, don’t know what it means to fly a drone nor what the logic is to fly it.
To have a drone that lifts a 300-400 gr camera you have to spend several thousand euros, you have to do it professionally, you have to have spent as many euros for licenses for large drones, insurance etc., not to mention that the camera would fly almost blind, while since there are with lesser expenses drones with cameras that record even in raw, with total control, hassemblad optics, it is ridiculous to even think about it … but admitting you want to do it, it means that there are no budget problems.
The number three excuse is that the camera is not suitable for their type of shooting, so they have to make it from run and gun to shoulder cam, adding shoulder strap, side monitor, handles, hang various cables, more elements from the battery to power the products
- from box cam to shoulder cam means spending a lot of money add powering many connected elements, monitor/viewfinder, microphone, audio recorder, radiomicrophone; mount a shoulder strap and magic arms to bring monitor in front of them, often too close causing eye fatigue.
- connecting multiple products to a battery puts you at risk of what is known as ground loop; when connecting multiple devices to the same battery you risk short-circuiting and frying hdmi and sdi connectors like nothing.
- in the end if the camera is not born to be shouldered it becomes difficult to have a good weight balance, which will result in a camera that is difficult to balance on the shoulder when moving around, when changing focal lengths or focus, when you have to shoot for an extended time.
So in short, those who want a box cam to change the rig and adapt it to more situations and save money instead of buying more cameras will end up spending more on accessories and outlines; those who want to change the nature of the camera will end up with a camera that never has the buttons in the right place, so they will lose time (vital for run-and-gun people) in looking for controls and/or changing settings; those who want to place it in special places will find that they will still have to add at the very least a video transmitter to see its outputs with the rig and will find that it is no longer economical to make these kinds of choices…
my real impression is that those kind of people who love box cams are like those friends who were always behind modifying the scooter, applying mods and bragging about the specs more than using it to get around, now for me it’s all good, everyone does what they want with their equipment and their money, as long as they don’t become obsessive to make you change your choices, to justify theirs ;-D
For everyone else, who has no budget problems, box cams are perfect, because they will be the chambers for what they need, while for other operations, they will use other chambers, because each chamber has its natural environment of action.
An example :
Red Komodo, perfect lightweight, versatile. just the camera body is 6k, then added a monitor, proprietary mounts where to record and two or three other trifles, you get to 10k no problem. so if you have spent 10k on a specific camera it is not a problem to spend more on a second cam more comfortable to put it on your shoulder.
Sony Fx 3, perfect, versatile, lightweight, just the camera body is 4.7k, then add external monitor, external recorder for raw, and we get to 7-8k without problem
Panasonic Lumix DC-BS1HE, light, versatile, good sensor, only the body 3.4k, to add then external monitor and/or external recorder for raw, and we arrive without problem to 5/6k
just to mention well-known brands of box cams of a certain level.