Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

Two Small Accessories With A Big Impact

Okay, I admit I must be a little OCD when I am getting excited about camera accessories that reduce camera clutter. But with the shrinking size of all cameras (especially with DSLR's) it seems that cameras have gotten more convoluted and cumbersome than ever. The new battery plate and top handle from Letus seek to alleviate the mess that comes from these ergonomically challenged cameras. Read on for details on how they will benefit your camera rig ...

It can be said of cameras today that they are "all glass and no ass." Whether it is the small Blackmagic Digital Cinema Camera, a DSLR, or even the Red Epic, these tiny cameras are among the many missing parts is the top handle. As soon as any of these cameras are outfitted with the proper accessories to make them actually work in a commercial or narrative film environment, they need a solid, reliable way to pickup and hold the camera. Just about every camera accessory maker out there provides a top handle solution, and a lot of them have some kind of quick release design. This is also true of Letus' first offering in the MCS line up.
Original MCS Top Handel
While it is a clever design, it adds extra weight and height to the rig that I have found to be unnecessary. Is the convenience of a quick release nice? You bet. But realistically, I want something that is going to be rock solid and not come off - no matter what. The quick release system has four potential points of failure: the top dovetail, the top clamp to rails, the top quick release clamp, and the top handle. The likelihood of any of these failing is very slim, but more parts equals more potential. Furthermore, I always leave my top handle on. I haven't come across a situation yet where I have needed to quickly remove or attach the top handle. This is why I'm excited about the new hard mounted top handle.

New MSC Hard Mounted Top Handle
The new handle screws directly on to all of the existing Letus cages, and the slot design allows it to work with any other third party cage or accessory that takes 1/4" 20 screws. And the new design has cut the number of parts in half- down to two. (The top handle, and what I call the baseplate- the part that has the slot). This makes me feel a lot more secure (pun intended) when I have to rig a camera to a car, or hang it over a roof ... Attaching the handle to your cage is simple, but it does take a tool, and it is not as quick as the old version. But hey, I only need to do this once, as it is going to live on my Blackmagic Cage. :) I'm also grateful for the reduction in weight and size. Every ounce adds up on these camera rigs - sleeker and slimmer, that's how I like it. :)

New (on left) VS Old (on right)
Massive amounts of cables, and multiple types of batteries, are another Achilles heal of this small camera revolution. To help cut down on the multiple types of batteries, I prefer to power as many accessories as possible off of one larger battery. This often means an Anton-Bauer battery & plate with a D-Tap port. That is fine if you only have one accessory to power. Most of the time there are at least 2, if not more. That means you have to use a D-Tap Multi Port, which leads to something like this:

Anton-Bauer Plate with Multi-Port
Now there is yet another bit hanging off of the camera, just waiting to get caught on something. Not an elegant solution, which is why I've usually gone with multiple batteries types for different accessories. But now, with the new Letus plate, I have access to 4 D-Tap connection points! :) I can power my LCD, EVF, camera and I still have one extra port for an additional accessory if needed. And my OCD is appeased as the mess of cables is cleaned up.

The new Letus Battery Plate (Attached to the Letus Cheese Plate)
The common Anton Bauer solution offers 1 unregulated power supply, and when combined with the multi-port (for a total of 4 ports) it adds up to $182. The Letus plate which offers 4 unregulated ports sells for $120. And they also offer the option of adding one regulated (5v / 8.4v / 9v / 12v) port for $160, or two regulated ports for $200. Not to shabby if you ask me. :)

So if your camera rig could loose some size, weight, and is in need of better cable management, I recommend getting these accessories from Letus. (I have included more pictures of the battery plate attached to the cheese plate below). Contact either Letus or Letus Direct to find out more about these products.

Until Next Time - Get Out There And Shoot!
Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

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