Redrock Micro: Running Man Nano DSLR Rig Review

© Matthew Jonas 2010

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Redrock Micro about my previous post on the Microfinder Accessory. We exchanged several emails and they informed me that an updated version of the Microfinder Loupe Accessory was available. Long story short, I have a review unit of the new finder accessory and of the Running Man Rig. Today we are going to look at the Nano rig. Later this week we will look at the updated loupe accessory.

The one problem that I had with many of the HDSLR rigs that were available was that they were very impractical for the type of work that I do. Most of the systems were built around a rod system with a matte box and shoulder support which are heavy, cumbersome in size and don’t allow me to switch back to shooting stills easily. Redrock Micro must of been listening to their customers when they debuted the Nano rigs at NAB. You get many of the benefits of stabilization without the extra weight and extra cost.

The setup above is what I have been using for the last couple of days to shoot stills and video. It’s made up of a Canon EOS 7D, EF 16-35mm f2.8L wide angle lens, a Sennheiser MKE-400 mic with windscreen, a Rycote hot shoe extension, an audio recorder (soon to be replaced with a Samson Zoom H1 recorder, if it ever arrives) and Sennheiser wireless lav mics.

What’s included with the Running Man rig:

  • nano DSLR Baseplate
  • 4″ Rod Clamp
  • microMount without stub
  • 8″ Rod Clamp
  • microBrace Body Pad
  • microHandGrip

Things I like about the Running Man rig:

It’s lightweight. When I am working I usually carry at least 2 camera bodies each with a lens and a waist pack with extra batteries, a strobe (or 2), memory cards and audio gathering equipment. The last thing I need is another heavy piece of equipment on my shoulder. The Running Man weighs basically the same as another short lens.

It’s well made. I have had my concerns about HDSLR accessory manufacturers quality control in the past. I would have no problem using the Running Man everyday on assignments. It’s built out of machined aluminum and painted to last. I don’t see a single problem with the build quality of the system. All of the quick release levers stay tight and all of the rods are very rigid.

It looks professional. This may not be as important to some people but I can’t stand accessories that look like they were pieced together from the dollar store, especially the hard edged, unfinished, erectors-set-looking “rigs” (you know who you are). I am a professional press photographer and looking professional can help out with credibility in some situations.

The price. This is one of the cheapest options for a setup like this. Companies like CAVision and Zacuto offer similar setups but their prices are higher.

Things I don’t like about the Running Man rig:

At the time of this posting, there are no options to mount the camera to a tripod with the Nano Baseplate still attached. This is a minor problem for me and I understand that the system is really designed for run and gun shooters. It would be nice to see a quick release mounting option though.

I know I will probably get a lot of complaints about this one but I am on the fence about the color of the grips and quick release levers. The blue is easily recognizable as Redrock Micro gear. This is great for product recognition but also makes shooting discretely somewhat difficult. I answered a lot of questions about the setup while I was shooting last weekend. I see that there is an option for black grips and levers but it comes as an additional cost to the package. It would be nice to see a “black out” option for all components. Like I said before, its not that big of a deal. I could go either way on this.

And now on to the photos and video.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

In the Running Man Nano Rig configuration, the 8 inch grip rod is used to connect the microBrace to the 4 inch grip rod clamp.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

The 4 inch grip rod connects to the 8 inch grip rod above and is also the point in which the micro grip and micro mount are connected.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010

The microMount is used to connect the Nano DSLR Baseplate to the 4 inch grip rod.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010

You can see in the image above that the Nano DSLR Baseplate features a set screw to keep the camera from rotating. There are 4 different set screw holes and 2 different size set screws to accommodate a wide range of cameras.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010

The Microbrace Body Pad and the microHandgrip become the additional points of contact to help stabilize your camera. Both are wide and covered in  rubber to ensure a positive grip on the rig.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

The completed rig without the camera is shown above. Its very sturdy feeling and is easily and quickly adjustable. The entire rig, with the exception of the connection between the baseplate and camera, is quick release. The levers themselves feature a spring loaded mechanism so that they can be repositioned without loosening the connection. This allows the levers to be tightened or loosened regardless of what position they are in. It’s a handy feature that many reviewers have overlooked.

© Matthew Jonas 2010

The Nano DSLR Baseplate is connected to the camera so that it allows the battery door to be fully accessible. Changing batteries with the rig attached is easy.

Conclusion:

Would I buy a Running Man rig for daily work? Yes (and I plan to do so). Would I recommend the rig for other photojournalists who are shooting stills and video on assignment? Absolutely. There was a serious gap in the HDSLR rig category for run and gun shooters who needed to stay mobile. In my opinion that gap has been filled. If I were only shooting video, I would bring a tripod but the fact is that there are fewer and fewer assignments where that is the case. The Running Man allows you to shoot stable video and switch back to shooting stills without disconnecting the rig. If you were to pair the Nano rig with a good image stabilized lens, such as the 24mm-105mm f4L, shooting tripod-stable video would be a snap.

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17 thoughts on “Redrock Micro: Running Man Nano DSLR Rig Review

  1. How would you compare the Redrock rig with the equivalent Zacuto rig? I have just bought a Z-Finder Pro x3 and have asked Redrock whether their base plate would work with the Gorilla plate of the Z-Finder – they said not, but I can’t see why not. Any ideas on this? I like the look of the Nano rigs and it seems a shame that the two items cannot co-exist in some manner.

    1. I think that the Redrock Rig is a lighter, less expensive, more simple rig. I haven’t had any hands-on time with the Zacuto rigs…yet. I think that if you used a Redrock microMount in place of the DSLR nano baseplate you could use the Z-finder Pro with it. I believe the Z-finder has a 1/4 20 screw mount on the bottom. If not I believe there is an option to get a tripod mounting plate for the Z-finder. Honestly the more I used the Redrock rig for shooting video, the less I have used my Hoodloupe 3.0. The Redrock nano rig positions the camera pretty close to your face. I find that I feel much more engaged with my subjects if I am not using the Hoodloupe.Thanks for checking out the blog!

      1. So have you had much time to use the Running Man rig yet? I use Nikon and for the video I’ve been looking for a good, but not a bank busting rig. This looks pretty good. Thanks for the links to the Think Tank bags too.

      2. I put in several hours of shooting when I had the evaluation rig. I have not purchased my own yet due to the fact that I am shooting with a dedicated video camera and primarily using a tripod with a a fluid head now. With that being said, the difference in the way your hand held video looks is amazing. Pair the Running Man Rig with a good image stabilized lens and your video will look tripod smooth. As for Think Tank Photo, I can’t say enough good things about the quality and construction of their products. I own a ton of them and just recently purchased one of their Retrospective series shoulder bags to replace an old Domke. I will probably post a short write up after I have had time to use it. Thanks.

  2. I use Nikon camera’s so they need extra help! But really all the HDSLRs do. The new D7000 with a VR lens on the running man might work. The Think Tank bag with the laptop slot is just what I’ve been looking for. Some good links on your blog.

      1. I have the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR and a 17-55 2.8 and just got a 18-200vr when I don’t feel like carry much around. Works pretty good really. Right now I’m using a D300s and D200. I might get the D7000 but not in a big hurry just yet.

    1. That is basically what I did. I used this http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554141-REG/Manfrotto_323_323_RC2_System_Quick.html because I already had a bunch of RC2 compatible gear. The only drawback is the added height from the quick release plate. I would like to see a quick release that incorporates the Nano DSLR BasePlate to easily switch between tripod and rig. The other option is to substitute the Nano BasePlate for a microSpud. Screw the microSpud directly into the RC2 quick release instead of using the Nano DSLR BasePlate. Thanks for reading!

      1. Thanks! I’m just glad I’m not crazy. They made me feel a little foolish for asking something like this – I am still not sure the reason for the miscommunication. No matter, you answered my question. I am also considering the Cinevate Simplis Solo as it has quick release. Only downside is the shoulder stock doesn’t have two pivot points like the redrock does.

        I’m in Denver and really enjoy your blog. Thanks again!

      2. You are not crazy. Using a rig or a tripod is not always the way I want to shoot. Getting the camera off of a rod system and on to a tripod is not always simple. The new Cinevate rigs do look nice. The shoulder stock is the only thing that I don’t like because you can’t shorten the length between you and the camera like you can with the RedRock units. Thanks for reading!

      3. Good point about the Cinevate. I contacted them and they said that because of the four pivot points on the articulating shoulder stock (on the dual only), and the three different length of rods they include, you can effectively adjust the length however you want. I’m torn between a Redrock Running Man/Letus Hawk VF combo and the Zacuto Striker/Z-Finder Pro combo (with the sale Zacuto has right now they are roughly the same price). I like the Hawk better as a VF, but think I would like the Striker better than the Running Man, and have been far more impressed with Zacuto’s customer service. Have you had any experience with the Redrock customer support?

  3. Why not just buy some aluminum brackets, some bolts, borrow a drill and hacksaw and make your own for $5.00, custom tailored to your body?

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