"I shoot on a variety of cameras from ENG to HDV to DSLR, and enjoy each for different reasons and for different applications.The huge failing of DSLRs has been the handling. They were designed as stills cameras first, to be held against the nose.I love using my DSLRs with a tripod and video monopod, but hadn't really found a good hand held solution (fig rig not bad, front heavy, sore to hold for long periods) stabiliser (great in a controlled environment / indoors, lousy outside if theres a bit of even slight wind) and then there's the rigs that folk buy to hang everything off, their adapted anton bauer block, their zoom recorder, their liliput, their follow focus and rails..I just think these rigs are ridiculous. Follow focus makes sense when you are quite far back from the camera, i.e. an ENG on a pedastol, they make no sense at all for handheld cameras when you can touch the lens controls as easy as scratching your nose. They are cumbersome to use, and slow to change lenses etc. They are designed by folk who cannot have any real-life experience on a pressure shoot. They are not for your runner and gunner.Enter the SM1. Cheap, cheerful, light, compact, simple. It has a camera mount. And thats it!First caveat. This is not for your 7D or for your 5D or 1DX etc.The camera ends up where the viewfinder would roughly be on an ENG camera when used over the shoulder.You will need a DSLR with a flip out screen to make the most of it. This means (at the time of writing) cameras like the GH3, the 600, 650 or 700D or the 60D.If your DSLR does not have a flip out screen look elsewhere.With the camera so close it is easy to reach all camera controls and lens controls. No need for your plastic gears. Simples.In use the mount rests on your breastplate and over your shoulder, it's very stable and with a hand on the lens it's virtually shake free, with wider lenses at least. I shoot with an 11-16 tokina no problem, and an 18-50 Sigma, no problem up until about 30mm (50mm equivalent) and it's comfortable for reasonably long shooting times.CVP recommend adding a quick-release plate, the manfrotto 577 is a good bet as the plate is the same kind as found on the widely adopted 701HDV/501 manfrotto tripod heads, but also as on the superlative Sachtler ACE tripods.I would recommend getting a beachtek or Tascam DR-60D for audio (I would recommend these in any case, regardless of what DSLR you are using)I would also recommend a hoodman type lens hood, as it can be tricky to see the LCD's at some angles in sunlight.At the same time as was buying this the guys in the glasgow shop were unpacking a massive redrock type cage, which cost 25x what the SM-1 cost. We laughed at the differences, horses for courses, they reckoned they hadn't sold an SM1 for DSLR use before, but could see how it could be useful. I can confirm that it has been, just shot some handheld footage of a disability athlete for broadcast. No tripod footprints to get in the way, able to get over the shoulder shots in a way that would be difficult with a fig rig or stabiliser, and letting me shoot at different heights quickly and easily.If you know how to work your lens and can ramp with your fingers then you really don't need a huge rig. The SM1 is far more user friendly and will provide the same stability.If you are confident in your ability and your footage you don't need all the trinkets.One grumble: The amazon marketplace price from CVP is £44 inc. delivery. It seems mad that I need to pay £6 more to collect it in person from a store. Drop the price a bit and these will sell like hot cakes to run and gun DSLR users."
By Paul Russell () - 23rd April 20132013-04-23