Monday, August 4, 2008

Camie's with her new shoe.

The entire system in its modular state.

Zacuto Z-LWS(Light Weight Support) is Zacuto rail support solution for 2/3" ENG camera as well as the JVC GY-HD and Canon XH series. It retails for $ 850.00, I know, but this is Zacuto and not Cavision. The Z-LWS is built as solid as their universal base plate system. Everything is made with industrial strenght materials and the finishing is just superbly done.

Both Plate system side by side. Funny how the Universal Baseplate with a more intricite design only cost $560.00 compared to the more simplistic nature of the Z Universal LWS (Light weight Support) $850.00.

The main plate is a one piece CNC anozided alluminium that is extremely solid and very well built. The package also includes a Double Z-Release Mount that is detachable, so you can mount it either left or right hand side of the camera or take it compeltely off the plate. With a Micromount III, you can mount the Double Z-Release Mount on a normal 15mm rails and use it for other purpose (HD monitor ...etc). The Double Z-Release itself retails for $142.00. I can see mounting a heavy HD monior with a battery with the Double Z-Release Mount and keeping all that mass near the center of gravity of the tripod.

After all the hard work, finally she has new shoe and a little Follow Focus.

The rods can also be adjusted vertically to accommodate your Follow Focus or Mattebox to fit into the lens that you use on your camera. They are also adjustable horizontally (say if you have to mate your Folow Focus to your len's gear ring). The Zacuto package also comes with a pair of 8" silver lightweight threaded rods. The entire system with the Double-Z Release Mount weights 22.4 oz.

Without the double Z-Release Mount: 17.2 oz

Using the Z-Release mount with Zicro mount III on a differnt rail.

One unique feature of this plate system is that it is a universal plate; able to fit Sony, JVC, Panasonic or Canon camera. This might as well be the last plate that you would ever need to buy for your 2/3" ENG camera. The kit also comes with 2 different set of screws for the different camera brand. The bottom of the plate has a clear guide to the position of the screws for the different camera brand. The Zacuto screws for the Panasonic is nicer and beefier than the stock Panasonic screws. They are also longer than the Panasonic's OEM screws.

OEM panasonic screw (mid) zacuto Panasonic screw (right).

Vertical & horizontal adjustment on the rods. Notice that the Double Z- Release Mount is mounted on the right side of the plate.

Overall the installation process is easy but you do have to be astute as the screws are really tiny and the threads are really fine. Just like when removing the original Panasonic plate, you do not want to strip any thread. Overall, the Zacuto universal plate feels solid and firm on top of the Panasonic tripod plate. There are no wobbles, no side to side flex or any screws that got loose. The only other competition to the Zacuto Universal plate is the German made Chrosziel Plate system, retailing around $610.00. The Chrosziel design is very fundamental though, with what looks like a single bolt vertical adjustment on the rods and it doesnt come with any mounting device like the Zacuto Double Z-Release Mount. The Chrosziel is also camera specific and I have heard of complains on the Internet that it was a little bit too thick, as it was designed primarily for the Panasonic Varicam.

The naked bottom of the Hpx500 with its OEM plate extracted.

The different mount for S (Sony), P (Panasonic, J (JVC), C (Canon) and the tripod plate

Plenty of room in the front for switch/button access.

The Double Z-Release Mount horizontal adjustment.

Zacuto expensive? yes, extremely well built? yes, lifetime warranty? yes, universal fit? yes. Lastly, you can be sure that 5 years down the road when you sell this thing on ebay, you will get 90% - 80% of your money back. Anything Zacuto will hold its value for a very very long time and it is an universal solution and not camera specific system.

The final setup, like many, Camie is still waiting for her RedRock shade.

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