So, a couple of months ago I was gearing up to do two weeks of shooting on VH1’s Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party followed by four weeks on the feature Electric Love. All six weeks were going to involve a heavy amount of shoulder shooting, and I started researching rigs to take much of the weight off my shoulder and disperse it across my entire back.
The industry leader for these sorts of rigs is the Sweden-based EasyRig. However, with an EasyRig 2.5 coming in around $3,000, I wasn’t interested in spending that sort of dough. Looking around on eBay, I found a product called an EasyRig 8-18KG, with no manufacturer name. These are knock-offs made in China, and they even ripped off the EasyRig logo (and the real company has a warning about these products on their site)! But at $600 – quite a difference – I decided to take the plunge and order one for myself to see how this knock off really performed.
Pulling it out of the box for the first time, I was surprised at how small the vest itself was. It comes folded up in a case and takes only a second to put together. The product itself only has a few adjustments that can be made: the straps on the vest to fit your body, the tension on the string that connects to the piece to hold the camera, and a small knob to adjust how far away from your body the camera hangs.
Unlike a real EasyRig, the Chinese knock off does not have the ability to raise/lower the arm that sticks out above your head, but it was a good height for me and I didn’t miss this feature.
After using it for the past two and a half months, all I can say is that the Chinese knock-off has performed admirably. It’s held my camera well – a fully built out Canon C300 MkII with all AKS, EVF, and battery system, weighing in between 20-25lbs. I’ve also used it with a lighter Sony FS7 build (around 12lbs). At full tension it holds the camera basically wherever I place it, but unlike a true EasyRig it doesn’t fully lock in place. Meaning, at full tension, I can use my hand to physically bring up or lower the camera. Honestly, I prefer it this way, as the tension still works and the camera doesn’t drift from the height I set it to unless I manually move it.
The clip and the cord that hold the camera seem very secure and not ready to break or fray after 2.5 months of use, and I’ve been comfortable letting my camera hang with no hand on it. The movement is smooth, and I don’t fear that the whole system will fail on me.
I wish that I could move the camera back a little more towards my shoulder, but it’s not terrible – the shoulder plate on my camera is a bit far forward from where I’d use it if I was to go shoulder without the EasyRig, but since I’m not switching between operating with/without it’s not an issue.
Overall, this is one of the best uses of $600 I’ve ever spent. I wouldn’t trust it with a heavier camera, but in the 20-25lb range, it’s a lifesaver.