Well I gave in and ordered one. I’ve been looking at these for a while and asking around heard nothing but good stuff about them. I hadn’t purchased one before now because I felt the entire shoulder mount was a bit too tall with a little too much flex (more on that later), but I needed something now and have not finished my own design yet.
I ordered my mount from CVP in the UK who stock most of the Tilta range and it arrived next day. On opening the box I found the good looking mount and a pair of short 15mm rods for the rear of the mount and a longer pair for the front.
The camera attaches to the mount via a very small quick release plate with one 1/4″ and one 3/8″ screw. This plate was really designed for DSLR’s and it has a number of locating pins for various DSLR’s that can be unscrewed when not needed. As a result the plate is very small only a couple of inches long and the wedge that slots into the quick release plate on the main part of the shoulder mount is only about an inch long. In my opinion this is too small for a video camera. A bigger plate would be more secure and much more stable. Once you have attached the quick release plate to the camera it can be slid onto the shoulder mount from the rear. Now there’s a small problem with this as if you have a battery adapter or other accessories mounted on the rear of the shoulder mount you can’t slide the camera in and out of the QR mount. Don’t panic though because if you loosen of the the locking screw for the QR mount enough you can actually slot the camera into the mount from the side.
The shoulder mount is very good looking and overall nicely designed, but the quick release platform makes it quite tall. Once mounted, the cameras were reasonably stable but there is a small bit of flex in the QR platform and the QR plate to camera mount. With the camera mounted it was time to add all the other stuff I need. For both cameras I like to use my gorgeous Alphatron EVF. On the FS700 this is mounted using a bracket that I fabricated which comes off the handle mount. On the F3 it’s mounted to another home made bracket attached to the Genus F3 top cheese plate.
Using the short rails on the rear of the mount I used a Genus cheese plate to mount a V-Lock battery plate and on the FS700 a NanoFlash and for the F3 either a Gemini or Samurai. The NanoFlash is a great match to the FS700. As the camera only has an 8 bit output a 10 bit recorder isn’t necessary and the compact file size that you get with the XDCAM codec means less to backup and archive as well as lower per minute media costs. You also get the ability to do timelapse with the NanoFlash and it has cache record.
On the F3 the Gemini is my recorder of choice for ultimate image quality, but when I don’t need uncompressed the Samurai does a great job.Hopefully the ability to record DNxHD on the Gemini will come soon as then I could use the Gemini for both compressed and uncompressed. I’ve still not decided on which batteries I’m going to use with which camera but the Genus cheese plate has so many mounting holes that I can fit pretty much anything to it.
One top tip is that if you need to attach things securely but on a temporary basis you can use some special velcro like tape called 3M Dual Lock. It’s very strong and objects attached with it snap on and off. Once attached it will hold quite considerable loads very securely.
At the front end I tried various lens options. On the FS700 the first combo I tried was one of my MTF B4 adapters with a Canon 16x broadcast zoom lens. This is a great setup for news and documentary shooting.
You still get your nice shallow depth of field, but you have a proper servo zoom. The matte box in the photo’s is a Genus Elite. I had to set the 15mm rail supports on the Tilta mount to very close to their highest position to get the correct 80mm lens centre to rail distance. When I adjusted the rail mount I noticed that the set screws had left a quite considerable mark and depression where they were originally set. The Aluminium used in the construction of the shoulder mount is quite soft, so don’t over tighten things. When using the broadcast zoom you use the zooms hand grip so no need to add any extra handles to the rig. For DSLR lenses and PL Mount lenses however a pair of handgrips can be useful. In this case I used a pair of Genus handgrips from a Genus shoulder rig.
Moving on to the F3, the F3 body is quite a bit taller than the FS700, so the lens center is also higher. As a result I found it impossible to reduce the distance between the lens center and the rods to the correct 80mm spacing. As a result I was unable to use my Elite Matte box as I don’t have a riser for this (it’s set for 80mm). So in order to use the Tilta shoulder mount with the F3 I’m going to have to use a riser block for the rods. I always suspected the hight of the mount might cause problems. What I’m going to look at is doing away with the quick release bracket and mounting the camera directly to the shoulder mount. Another issue the QR bracket creates is that if the camera is mounted slightly pointing left or right, the only way to adjust it is to either remove the camera from the shoulder mount and adjust the QR plate, or use brute force to twist the camera to where you want it. Neither of which is really ideal.
The Tilta shoulder mount has an integrated VCT-14 wedge at the front with a small shoe at the rear that connects to the back stud on a VCT-14 quick release plate. This makes it fast to mount and detach from a tripod, but unless you already have one, you will have to buy a VCT-14 compatible tripod plate. Overall it’s well constructed and I think it’s the best of the bunch in this price range, but it’s not perfect and you may need a riser for the front rods.