Camcorder and stills camera rigs can be complex, heavy and bulky affairs. Dutch inventor Mees Baayen has designed a modular camera rig system which breaks down into components that can be carried in the pockets of a user's shirt, trousers or jacket. The robust Ultra kit rigs are so versatile that Baayen says he's still discovering new ways to use them.
The system is being launched by Germany's Novoflex, and will initially comprise four kit rigs. The Ultra offerings start with the basic Solo grip, a curved one piece metal frame with rubberized sides that should help keep the ergonomically-designed rig from slipping out of the hand as users raise the minicam or smartphone above the heads of other concert-goers, or snap low down stabilized stills with a compact camera.
A stills camera or videocam can be mounted on either end via quick release universal end stud and cup connectors and attached to the device via an included camera connector. The 168 g (6 oz) Solo can even be used to give binoculars or a field scope more grip options. The grip is hollow, allowing cables to be pushed through as required, and there are a number of strap guides and bolt holes along the outer edges to cater for the attachment of accessories like mini legs, flex arms, wheels or counterweights.
"All Ultra elements, as well as cameras, devices and accessories, are instantly coupled via Ultra's universal studs and cups (rotational quick-release connectors)," says Novoflex. "Thus, within seconds, anything goes anywhere and at any angle."
The addition of a rod and clamp extends the system to become the 281 g (10 oz) Solo+ kit rig, where the user has the option to mount the camera to the rod as well as the grip ends for more varied stability options. Two grips and a rod make up the third of the Ultra kit rigs, the Duo. It can be split and stored in trouser pockets between gigs, and its claimed ability to noticeably lighten the load during prolonged use has earned it the name of "chill-out rig."
"There's an interesting bonus for photographers: the 'yoke' of the Duo upgrades your ball head to a pretty fluid virtual 3-axis video head," reveals Novoflex. "The same yoke, while rotating in a rod clamp connected to a mono- or bipod, becomes a virtual push-pull or reveal slider."
The rod is long enough to accommodate both a camera and external flash or microphone module in pistol grip formation, as you can see in the photo above.
Connecting two Duo rigs together produces the 898 g (32 oz), steering wheel-like Allround rig, with enough room in the middle for a full-sized DSLR camera. As well as facilitating a smooth handover of the camera to another operator, this rig can also provide a sturdy table-top setup, a table dolly (with the addition of three wheels to the bottom), a four grip tripod with the help of some crossbar brackets and a few poles, or a chest rig courtesy of body straps.
The Ultra system also includes a NATO-standard rail element, which can be combined with rods, grips and accessories for varied rigs, cages and brackets. Users can, for example, create an Ultra circuit slider with 60 cm (24 in) of back and forth travel using two 40 cm rails, in addition to a double slider set between two rails or a self-standing shoulder rig.
"It delivers the impossible by combining numerous support tools for video, stills and nature watching in a single, simplified, stealth, light and minimalistic modular system with unrivaled portability and ergonomics," boasts Novoflex.
Baayen told Gizmag at Photokina 2014 in Cologne, Germany, that the Ultra is being prepped for a possible Q1 2015 release, though pricing is still to be announced.
If you can't wait that long for a modular pocket rig system, you could take a look at the already available Pocket Series from edelkrone.