Tilta BS-T03 Shoulder Mount with the PMW-F3 and NEX FS700.

Tilta Shoulder mount

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.

Small Quick Release plate.

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.

FS700, NanoFlash and Alphatron EVF om a Tilta Shoulder Mount.

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.

My simple viewfinder bracket

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.

Convergent design Gemini on the back of the F3 rig.

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.

2/3″ B4 lens on the FS700via the MTF adapter.

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.

The F3 showing the need to use a riser to get the rods to the correct hight.

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.

Genus hand grips and the FS700 kit lens.

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.

25 thoughts on “Tilta BS-T03 Shoulder Mount with the PMW-F3 and NEX FS700.”

  1. Hi Alister,

    same problem here… a shame that we can’t mount the F3 directly onto the Tilta with the transvideo flat base plate for the F3… Maybe Tilta should add some more holes underneath the quick release plate element….

  2. You mentioned doing away with the quick release bracket and mounting the F3 directly to the shoulder mount. Just wondering if you achieved this, sounds like the ideal solution.

    I enjoy your contributions.


    1. I’m looking into it. It should be possible but it will require a shim between the Tilta mount and the camera because of the step up to the Tilta tail piece at the rear. I’m getting in some 5mm nylon sheet as this is lighter than aluminium to make a spacer. It also means drilling some holes in the top of the Tilta mount.

      1. I took my F3 to Hague Camera Supports who are based just half a mile from my home and explained the issue of lining up the Tilta BS-T03 Shoulder Mount bars with a matte box.

        I wanted to mount the camera directly onto the Tilta shoulder mount without using the supplied sliding plate. Without the sliding plate, the bars would line up with the matte box and as you said Alistair, it removes the flex/wobble.

        Hague made a few measurements then took the shoulder mount into their factory to be modified. Ten minutes later the job was complete.

        Everything now lines up correctly and the shoulder mount is fastened to the bottom of the F3 with 3 x ¼-inch screws; it’s very secure and wobble free.
        Basically they opened the front base plate hole to ¼-inch then drilled a second ¼-inch hole and by chance the third hole lined up perfectly.

        Hague told me that they are quite happy to carry this mod for anyone that’s interested. They will charge £40 + carriage. http://www.cameragrip.co.uk

        I’ll send you a couple of pictures of the mod Alistair just to make things a little clearer.
        Pete Burns

        1. Thanks Pete. But that must mean that the camera has to sit in front of the raised tail piece? Unless you have a 5mm spacer the raised tail piece must limit how far back you can mount the camera.

          1. I tried the camera mounted further back ‘over the raised tailpiece’ but found that moving the camera back 2.5-inches obviously made the front stick out 2.5-inches which then interfered with the positioning of the follow focus, especially with lenses shorter than my CP.2s.

            Additionally; I felt the shoulder pad was then uncomfortably to far forward. By chance, the gap over the raised tailpiece allowed easy removal of SxS cards; no need to move the battery plate for card removal. Obviously lots of ways to achieve the same goal but this camera position suits my needs; whatever works.

            Kit used: O’Conner O-Box WM Matte box, Cinevate Durus Follow Focus 15mm and Zacuto Zwiss plate with IDX V battery mount and an Alphatronic EVF.

            Cheers Alistair.

    1. Yes, that’s a Tilta part but it adds nearly £60 to the cost of the shoulder mount. In most cases you don’t need a riser for the FS700 but when set at the correct height the 15mm rods can will no longer slide in under the camera as designed. It’s not a big deal but means you must have rods of the correct length for you application.

      You can use cheaper riser like these: http://www.cinegearpro.com/rig-components/lanparte-4-hole-rod-raiser-15mm-rod-clamp.html

      It’s a shame because if you could simply attach the camera directly to the shoulder mount you wouldn’t need these extra bits and the whole system would be lighter and more stable.

  3. Alister, I’ve heard Tilta has been developing a somewhat beefier baseplate than the BS-T03 for heavier cameras like the F3. Have you heard or seen anything about it? It seems the Tilta website went private somehow. Marketing really isn’t their thing, apparently.

  4. Hi Alister.
    That was an interesting setup for the FS 700, especially using that 16x broadcast lens. May I ask what sort of focal lengths you are able to work with on that combination? Is it just an adaptor and is there a crop factor?

    1. When using the MTF B4 to FS700 adapter you need a broadcast zoom that has an extender/doubler. This provides a 2x focal length increase. Then the adapter itself has a further optical set that gives 1.45x focal length increase. Combined you get a 2.45x increase so if you lens is an 8mm to 128mm (as in the Canon J16) then you get approx 20mm to 314mm. Basically you get almost exactly the same field of view as you would if the lens was on a 2/3″ camera, without the doubler.

    1. If you use an external EVF, because the shoulder pad is part of the base plate the whole rig does end up shorter.

  5. I had an old manfrotto QR plate that fits perfectly into the Tilta baseplate and made solid connection. I mounted it with an F3 and Red One and it was usable. I’m not sure which model it is and I haven’t got a clear answer from Manfrotto yet, but it’s slightly wider then the 503,504,509 plates. I also reversed the QR (the knob was right next to my head) which allowed me to slide the cameras on more easily. This still doesn’t solve the problem with the camera being too high though.

    1. I tried a couple of Manfrotto plates but because the ones I had were a different width to the Tilta plate the cameras ended up slightly off centre so don’t line up with the rods correctly.

  6. Fantastic to meet you at IBC this week.
    Love the Arizona lightening clips on your site.

    Very excited about all the kit you recommended for my new FS 700.
    Couple of quick questions if you have a moment 😀

    I am sold on the Tilta rig base plate but you mentioned on your blog you mention that it may not be completely rigid or robust or a bit high.
    I would love to use the Sony V14 quick release plate with it and wondered how good the whole set up actually is in the field?

    I am also sold on the Alphatron (no surprise) and want the Element Technica mounting for it http://elementtechnica.mybigcommerce.com/evf-mini-clutch-for-alphatron-kit/. Do I also need to buy the Element Technica top handle or will it somehow attach to the Sony top mic mounting?? Does it adjust forward and backwards?

    Thanks very much for your in depth help so far. I definitely should have been at IBC for more than 2 days!

    1. It was good to meet you too. I think you have to get the Element Technica handle as the viewfinder bracket attaches to that.

  7. Hello Alister. Thanks for your review.
    Can you confirm I could remove the QR assembly?
    I would screw a Scarlet directly from underneath, but I can’t see from the pictures If It’s possible. I’d order the “C300” version as 15LW on the Scarlet need to be raised as well.
    Many thanks again.

    1. Yes, you can remove the quick release platform. You would may need to drill some new holes in the main part of the mount to attach the camera.

  8. Hey, i’m looking forward to buy a Tilta Rig, but i do concern my Miller DS20 head won’t combine with the Tilta V Plate….

    how will this work?

    1. The T03 is designed to work with an industry standard VCT-14 quick release plate which you would need to purchase separately. However there is a 1/4″ and 3/8″ mounting hole under the front part of the shoulder rig if you are keen to use it without the quick release plate, but to be honest it really works best with the VCT-14.

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