CPM DSLR Mounts Reviewed

Shooting video with digital single lens reflex cameras is becoming more popular every day, and traditional tripods aren’t always ideal for all today’s shooting demands, so CPM designed several alternatives to make shooting a blast for the lone wolf producer. These mounts build on the idea that by custom fitting a camera mount we may protect our camera, become more mobile, and ultimately gain more creative freedom. CPM sent us four units to check out, we didn’t review the DSLR Aviator Cage Kit – pictured unassembled – so you could see how the products are delivered.

DSLR Cubed Cage 3.0

Beginning with the smallest model, the Cubed 3.0 adheres to the unifying concept of keeping the videographer mobile, though the handles on either side of the camera feel like you’re operating a spotlight, the concept is simple – move with the camera and dictate the capture. A third grip is located above the camera and makes pie out of low panning.

The design is straightforward, and that may be the best approach to using the Cubed 3.0. Compositions from eye level are natural choices with the Cubed 3.0, which keeps perspective shots easy. There is little room for customizing the Cubed 3.0, but the simplicity is one of its attractive traits.

The Cubed 3.0 does leaves room for improvement, however, and the two models that follow demonstrate attention to two unique trip-ups. There is difficulty in reaching the DSLR controls since the skeleton of the Cubed 3.0 kept our hands from the camera. The plate is closed on the bottom making it just one step harder to secure the camera to the plate and we found that tightening a square fastener is strange. Camera stability is still based on the user’s skill, so movements along the horizontal or vertical axis require two steady hands and may take some warming up to. The Bulldog is one step up from the Cubed 3.0 and the biggest advancement is the area of stabilization – an extension with a shoulder pad that rests naturally on the shoulder.

Bulldog Shoulder Shooter Kit

The Bulldog Shoulder Shooter advances the grips of the Cubed 3.0 by sliding below camera level, and they remain adjustable until tightened. This single change allows an operator to get a good grip at almost any angle on the vertical plane. The Bulldog has a horizontal top grip, and if the shoulder rest is dismantled, it would function much like the Cubed 3.0.

One piece can finish a puzzle and that piece is a small attachment placed above the grips. It is just a few metal parts forming a ball and socket joint and allows operators to attach a light or small accessory, a possible substitute for the camera’s shoe. Do account for the size of the attachment though, because the accessory is likely to unbalance the somewhat symmetrical Bulldog. There is no kickstand, so you may not want to set the camera down, and as with the Cubed 3.0 we had difficulty reaching the camera controls, it may require reorganizing parts.

Attaching a camera requires careful maneuvering since the plate is a tight squeeze and you need to be careful because the gold bolt chips easily. The biggest problem for the Bulldog is the viewfinder’s location – at arms length and on level with the chin.

Topping CPM off is the Sidewinder, which immediately benches the Bulldog Shoulder Shooter and puts the camera directly in the operator’s line of sight.

Sidewinder Advanced Offset Shoulder

More space in the camera cavity makes accessibility a minimal issue and the only good element missing from the previous models is the ball and socket joint attachment from the Bulldog Shoulder Shooter. We find it to be a real joy to shoot with the Sidewinder since the drawbacks of the Cubed 3.0 and the Bulldog have been downplayed. However, the kickstand is really lacking on the Sidewinder, which is more off balance than the Shoulder Shooter, and ultimately the bulk did reduce the amount of angles we could capture.

Since more parts have been added, set up time and difficulty increase. Sharing the operation of the camera is tough as adjustments such as height may involve tools and moving pieces.


Conclusion

As a whole, the CPM DSLR supports are great concepts. We found that the most complete realization for videographers is the Sidewinder, and while the crowd that chooses the Cubed 3.0 or the Bulldog may be slim, those that do, will get a unique tool that will be fun to construct and use. All materials are lightweight and allow for ambidextrous construction.

Sidebar: What is a Lone Wolf Producer?

A “Lone Wolf Producer” is a single operator who typically must perform all tasks of a production, including recording video, directing cinematography and audio, and may need to carry extra tapes, lights and anything else necessary for the shoot. He or she will also be responsible for conducting any interviews, setting up tripod(s), camera(s) and lights as well as capturing and editing all footage.

A sensible method to keep costs down, complications do come easily since there is no assistant to act as a test subject or simply hold equipment while making an adjustment. Capturing audio is extra difficult for interviews since an on-camera mic is a must, and when dealing with any attachments there is sure to be some tangling of wires. Not to be completely overwhelming, being a Lone Wolf can sometimes speed up production, allow for adaptation and be very satisfying.

Tech Specs – DSLR Cubed Cage 3.0

Weight: Aprox. 4 lbs.

Dimensions: 12.25″x14″x11″ (Approximately – depends on setup)

Materials: Carbon fiber rods, carbon filled polycarbonate

Price:$560

Tech Specs – Sidewinder Advanced Offset Shoulder

Weight: Aprox. 7lbs.

Dimensions: 22.25″x12.25″x16.5″ (Approximately – depends on setup)

Materials: Carbon fiber rods, carbon filled polycarbonate

Price:$1,220

Tech Specs – Bulldog Shoulder Shooter Kit

Weight: Aprox. 6.5 lbs

Dimensions: 26.25″x12.25″x13.25″ (Approximately – depends on setup)

Materials: Carbon fiber rods, carbon filled polycarbonate

Price:$650

Strengths

  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Customizable
  • Guards camera
  • Fun to handle

Weaknesses

  • Bolts and other pieces can easily be loosened and lost
  • Little room to operate camera and add attachments

Summary

Fun to build and use, these mounts allow for customization, mobility and may replace those boring tripods.

CPM

13325 Rousby Hall Road, Ship Point Research Park

Lusby, MD, 20657

www.cpmfilmtools.com

Jackson Wong has a B.A. in Communications Design: Media Arts and naturally studies many forms of media, with a preference for sports broadcasting and Foley.

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