In recent years, HDSLR cameras have taken the world of video production by storm, offering a remarkable one-two punch with high quality photos and crisp HD video. In order to meet the demands of this new hardware, companies have been developing products designed specifically to help new HDSLR users maintain the smoothest video-production experience possible. We are reviewing two such products from the folks at iDC Photo Video – the Run & Gun Kit, and the U-Boat video cage.
Run ‘n Gun
The iDC Run & Gun Kit actually packs in two pieces of equipment that compliment each other nicely. There’s a sturdy viewfinder for a better view of the video you’re shooting, and a follow-focus that attaches just underneath it. It’s important to note that the Run & Gun Kit is made specifically for Canon’s popular EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D camera models, and will not be compatible with any other HDSLRs. Because the 5D and 7D are slightly different in build, each one has it’s own version of the kit – be sure to check which camera you’re buying for. It’s also worth noting that the viewfinder and follow-focus included in this kit can each be purchased separately, if you should want to go that route.
A Clearer View
Regardless of which camera you have, assembly is identical for both sets (for this review we used the EOS 7D version). The base plate is screwed into the bottom of the camera with the included Allen wrench, and the viewfinder then slips over the LCD screen and is held in place by two small screws protruding from the base plate. The viewfinder lock is stable, but we did find that shifting the piece around a little roughly would cause it to come loose. It’s not as sturdy as some more directly-applied models, but as long as you aren’t too rough it should get the job done fine. The viewfinder is built with sturdy rubber, and the eyepiece is soft and fairly comfortable.
Next up is the follow-focus, which screws into the viewfinder base plate with little hassle. The follow-focus plate has three different slits into which you can screw the wheel segment of the setup, according to the type of lens you are using. IDC promises that the follow-focus is compatible with most lenses, and seeing the multiple ways you can adjust the wheel position seems to keep to that promise – we were able to find the correct configuration for our Canon lens within minutes. It should be noted that all of this assembly is extremely smooth and intuitive – there are no odd screws in strange places or cumbersome, awkward parts to cobble together. IDC seems to have a good eye for design, as all the pieces are designed in a simple yet highly serviceable way.
When it comes to using the follow-focus, simplicity of design is once again the name of the game. Loosening a small screw allows you to freely slide the focus wheel nearer or further away from your lens, so you can keep it slightly detached when not working, then quickly slide and lock it back in place when you’re ready to shoot again. The wheel edge is lined with a hard rubber that sticks well to the focus ring. Testing its gripping power, we found that the wheel worked smoothly and didn’t lose friction even with some sharper twists. You can also hook up a speed crank to the wheel if you want even more control.
The best part about the Run & Gun Kit is that it doesn’t lie about its name – with its simple, unobtrusive design and fairly light form factor, you really can run and shoot to your heart’s content with a setup like this. The entire kit only adds about a half-inch to the bottom of your camera, and the parts never feel overly cumbersome. Don’t worry about losing tripod functionality either – there are multiple tripod-accessible screw holes on the bottom of each base.
A Cage Without Restraints
The iDC U-Boat is a camera accessory cage. From lighting to microphones, accessory cages let you mount all manner of video gear into one compact, portable space for your shoot. This U-Boat is compatible with any camcorder or HDSLR within 5-inches tall and 6-inches wide.
Out of the box, iDC’s cage requires a bit more assembly than the Run & Gun set, but not much more. There are no more than five large pieces, and everything screws together in a flash. A slim piece is then attached to the bottom of your camera, and the camera slides and locks into a quick-release bracket on the bottom of the cage. The beauty of this system is that you can fairly quickly slide your camera in and out of the cage, without having to deal with the screws associated with a direct-mount cage.
The U-Boat itself, again, feels sturdy and well-built, which is always reassuring – especially with an important product like this that will be supporting hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. Along the top of the cage are a grand total of 14 holes where you can attach mounting points for your various accessories. Slipping cold mounts in and out was fast and simple. The U-Boat is also tripod friendly, so you’ll be able to move your entire camera setup on and off a tripod with minimal effort as shooting conditions change. The main aim of this cage is clear: speed and efficiency. It seems to hit that mark quite well. There are no more than five large pieces, and everything screws together in a flash. A slim piece is then attached to the bottom of your camera, and the camera slides and locks into a quick-release bracket on the bottom of the cage. The beauty of this system is that you can fairly quickly slide your camera in and out of the cage, without having to deal with the screws associated with a direct-mount cage.
The U-Boat is fully compatible with the Run & Gun Kit, and the mount can also support a separately purchased shoulder brace for better stabilization during handheld shooting.
An Elegant Solution
IDC is a serious contender in the world of HDSLR equipment. With reasonable prices and sleek, ergonomic designs, the Run & Gun Kit and U-Boat cage should be considerations for HDSLR-using video producers who are looking to step up their game.
Tech Specs – Run & Gun Kit
iDC Viewfinder Assembly: Customized Hoodman 3.0 Loupe with Quick-Release L Bracket & iDC System Mount.
iDC Standard Follow-Focus Assembly: Ships with Black Wheel.
- Compact and intuitive
- Sturdy build
- Compatible with a large range of lenses
- Viewfinder can come loose if you are too rough with it.
Tech Specs – U-Boat Quick Release
Includes: Bogen Quick-Release Assembly for your camera, form-fitting black-anodized aluminum Baseplate, black-anodized aluminum Top Bridge Plate, black-anodized aluminum
Balancing Block with built-in cold shoe, three non-slip Grip Handles, all necessary tools and hardware for mounting.
- Sturdy build
- Plenty of space to attach accessories
- Quick release allows for smooth attachment and removal of the camera on the fly
The iDC Run & Gun Kit is a simple and effective way to refine your control with Canon’s HDSLRs. The U-Boat is a highly portable cage that can adapt to a wide variety of situations.
iDC Photo Video
Prescott, AZ 86301