It’s April, which means that once again, the National Association of Broadcasters trade show (NAB) has taken over Las Vegas. Amongst the various other film, video and photography-related gizmos that have been unveiled this week is an interesting new product from Manfrotto. Known as SYMPLA (for SYstem Moving PLatform), the modular camera rigging system can be configured in seconds, without tools, to accommodate a wide range of of DSLRs, camcorders and accompanying lenses.
The steel-and-aluminum SYMPLA rig can be mounted on a tripod, supported on the shoulder, or even held like a steering wheel using the optional FigRig attachment.
A camera is affixed to the rig’s rods (or rails, if you prefer) using one of two available quick-release mounting plates. The Fixed Plate offers standard fore and aft movement, while the Variable Plate can also be moved vertically and laterally – among other things. This allows users to line the camera up precisely with a matte box, or to comfortably align the viewfinder with their eye.
The Universal Mount can be used to accommodate items such as shotgun microphones or lights. It will also accept the two types of SYMPLA rubber-coated supports – there’s a flat support for providing stability to the underside of a camera, and a curved support designed to cradle long lenses.
Handles are also available, which can be used in either a pistol-grip-like configuration during hand-held shots, or on one or two arms for tripod-assisted shooting. They are mounted on ball joints, allowing them to be rotated 360 degrees to fit the needs of the user, then locked into position. Remote control units can be mounted on them, allowing users to control functions such as zoom, focus, iris and record without having to reach up to the camera.
Other SYMPLA components include a flexible matte box, a rubberized shoulder support, and of course, extra rods.
Prices will vary quite a bit, depending on which components are chosen by the buyer. However, for people who don’t want to pick and choose, Manfrotto does offer three ready-to-go systems. The Shoulder Support System, which includes two handles, a shoulder pad and a Variable Plate, will set you back US$1,150. If you’re working on a tripod and want to block out stray rays of light, the Flexible Mattebox System can be had for the same price. Wildlife photographers, paparazzi, and other telephoto photographers, on the other hand, might want the Long Lens Support System. It’s priced at $1,050.
Some of the other possible configurations can be seen in the video below.