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Sandmarc Action Gear Film Rig test: a smartphone essential

Posted on Oct 2, 2019

No matter the level of the shooter or the level of the kit they’re shooting with, all filmmakers appreciate a little helping hand from time to time.

It’s for this very reason that accessories like Sandmarc’s Film Rig are released – much to the delight of smartphone shooters everywhere. These days, there are a lot of them around.

So is this film rig worth picking out from the quagmire of smartphone accessories? I put it to the test to find out. The rig weighs in at 370g (13oz) and measures 9.5×4.75 inches (24x12cm) with a solid aluminium construction, meaning it can fit into a small bag with ease. Also, with no parts to be set up or balanced, the rig is ready to be used in the few seconds it takes to screw in the holder and insert your phone.

This is in keeping with the on-the-go, fast-paced nature of most smartphone shooters. But who are those shooters? And who is this product aimed at? Well, in my opinion, almost everyone! Enthusiasts hoping for better home videos, social media and digital content creators, and even more advanced videographers shooting test footage could benefit greatly from using this rig.

It should be noted that this is not a gimbal and has no balanced stabilising qualities. As such, I was sceptical as to how well the rig could really perform as far as smoothing footage was concerned. But I was pleasantly surprised.

I shot a number of static, but handheld videos for Photography News’s social media channels, then I tested the rig under more challenging conditions. In both instances, the footage was impressively smooth – even without the qualities of a gimbal, the rig just works!

 

As the test footage shows, even running with the rig in an awkward low-to-the-ground position, the rig made the footage smoother to a noticeable degree. I was also impressed by how easy it made filming. I’ve always had an issue with catching my fingers in frame while filming using my phone – I find it too small, thin and awkward to hold, particularly while moving – but this wasn’t an issue while using the rig. I found it much more comfortable to shoot with – more like shooting with a camera than a phone.

Another impressive feature of the rig is its versatility. The rig features a number of anchor points with spare screws to attach accessories, such as a light, a microphone or even a GoPro. While I didn’t make use of this in the short time I had it, it’s not hard to see how this greatly extends the rig’s usefulness.

All in all I really liked this film rig. There was only one small negative I found and that was price. The Sandmarc Action Gear Film Rig retails for $99.99 (UK price TBC), which isn’t overly expensive for someone planning to use it in their work life, but for an enthusiast or general consumer, it feels a little steep.

With that aside, I could see myself buying one if I had plans to shoot on a smartphone more frequently, and it’s a good investment for someone who would use it enough times to get their money’s worth.

For more information, visit the Sandmarc website.

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