Shooting handheld footage with a DSLR can be a shaky process, and using a tripod can limit your movement. Stabilization systems smooth shots by adding support and extra points of contact between the camera and its operator. There are many different styles of DSLR stabilizers that range from DIY rigs to professional systems that cost thousands of dollars.
The Zacuto Marauder is made for run and gun shooters who need a solid camera support that’s also lightweight and easy to transport. The Marauder folds in seconds and is small enough to fit in most camera bags. Zacuto claims it will fit in a pocket, but this is an exaggeration unless you happen to wear cargo pants with giant pockets. Still, the Marauder’s dimensions while folded are remarkably small. It's much lighter than other DSLR rigs at 2.3lb.
What You Get
The Marauder features an articulating handgrip, an adjustable camera support arm and a gunstock with rubber pad. It includes a Gorilla Plate V2 as the mounting platform for your DSLR camera or small camcorder. Other baseplates are available for larger cameras, tripods, or for holding front rods for a follow focus. Use the included 5/32-inch allen key to adjust the angle of the gunstock for a more comfortable position.
The anodized aluminum construction is solid yet lightweight. It looks as good as it feels. The black and red color scheme matches the rest of the Zacuto line of DSLR rigs and accessories. Unlike cheaper plastic competitors, the Zacuto Marauder is clearly a professional piece of gear that will last for many years to come. It’s ideal for shooting documentaries, sports, weddings or other events.
How It Works
The Marauder unfolds by pressing down on the gunstock and swinging it out. Push a red paddle lever to release the camera support arm and snap it into one of two positions. Then press a second red lever to position the hand grip and you’re ready to go! Reverse the process to quickly fold and stash the Marauder.
The camera attaches to the Zacuto Gorilla Plate V2 with a 1/4-inch-20 captive screw. A spring-loaded ratcheting lever on the side of the plate quick-releases it from the rig. The first camera support position is intended for use with a Zacuto Z-Finder or similar optical viewfinders. The second position moves the DSLR further away if you are viewing the camera’s display. The molded plastic hand grip has five different positions and can be further articulated with a ball and socket joint that locks with another red lever.
On the Go
We tested the Marauder using a Canon EOS Rebel T3i with a Zacuto Z-Finder Pro optical viewfinder. Everything unfolded and mounted in seconds. Unlike many DSLR stabilizer rigs, nothing had to be assembled except mounting the camera to the Gorilla Plate V2.
Handheld panning and tilting shots were incredibly smooth. Bracing the gunstock against your shoulder or chest while holding the camera with one hand and the hand grip with the other keeps everything steady. Pressing the Z-Finder Pro against your eye creates yet another point of contact.
Stabilizers add support and extra points of contact between the camera and the operator to smooth out shots.
Using the rifle style Marauder gunstock support feels quite different than over-the-shoulder style DSLR rigs. At first the gunstock felt uncomfortable even with the rubber padding at the end. But after a quick angle adjustment with the allen key, everything felt better. The gunstock has the added benefit of taking some weight off your DSLR and shifting it to your body. Leaning against something solid makes the shot even more stable, turning the camera operator into a human tripod with a wide range of motion.
We also used the Marauder without the Z-Finder Pro for handheld shots while walking. Unlike sled and vest style stabilization rigs, the Marauder is not made for this style of shooting. However, it does help a little when walking slowly. Folding the gunstock out of the way makes it easier to operate while walking, and the added weight of the rig does make shots smoother than those shot without any kind of stabilizer.
The Zacuto team has built an impressive portable rig that looks and feels as professional as their other DSLR rig accessories. The Marauder can replace a tripod or heavier rigs, and its small size makes it ideal for professional shooters who travel often or find themselves in situations where other DSLR stabilizer systems are too large.
All of the articulating points of the Marauder move smoothly and lock into place with no slippage. Nothing on the rig is flimsy or easily breakable. Overall, the Marauder is a worthwhile investment if it fits in your budget. It will certainly fit in your camera bag, backpack, and maybe even your giant pocket. It's one of the most portable DSLR rigs on the market and also one of the coolest.
Materials: Anodized aluminum with molded plastic hand grip
Camera Mount: Captive 1/4"-20 Screw on Gorilla Plate V2)
Dimensions (LxWxH, Fully Extended): 15.0” x 2.5” x 14.0" (38.1cm x 6.4cm x 35.6cm) (LxWxH, Folded): 9.0” x 2.5” x 6.0" (22.9cm x 6.4cm x 15.2cm)
Weight: 2.3lb (1.0kg)
- Solid metal construction
- Easy to fold and transport
- High price
- Gunstock style support not for everybody
Joshua A. Siegel is a filmmaker and visual effects artist.