The CowboyStudio Shoulder Support Pad for Video Cameras -- Is it Good? Product Review
Having worked in the film/video industry for about 20-years, I've had my experiences with camera mounts. Some are great. Some... well, just plain suck. This device is quite innovative and may just be the answer to getting the jitters out of a shot without the weight of a steady-cam.
Back in the day (at least when I was in the industry) a steady-cam was something like a human-sized cage that the camera-operator would strap on. It pretty much encompassed the camera-op's entire body, with the camera mounted in front (or back or side--depends on the shot) and counter-weights. While awesomely effective, it was also heavy. I recall being on a shoot where the poor camer-op threw out his back while doing multiple shots going up and down a staircase. The shots looked great. He was a trooper.
With cameras getting smaller, while maintaining quite a bit of effieciency, steadycam type mounts have also gotten smaller. And the CowboyStudio Shoulder Mount is a great example of this technology.
I wish I'd had this when I was a young, spry camera guy (But to be fair, I did more Key Grip work than anything). This thing is quite awesome. It allows for hands-free camera operation, gets rid of many of the shakes caused by vibration that tend to happen in shots, weighes less than 3-pounds, and can support cameras of up to 13-pounds. To me, that sounds like a win-win scenario.
While made of plastic, it is quite a sturdy little support unit. And though not necessarily designed for larger individuals, it works quite well. And the key is the price: just shy of $26.00.
But, you get what you pay for. Some users have complained about pinching (though to be fair they blame themselves and not the unit--it's just kind of too small for some people). Others have stated that it picks up on the breathing of the user--which adds a certain vibration to the video. That's actually easy to visualize given the size of the support pad and the way that it mounts on the body. It is designed to be light-weight, so it is inevitable that you will get some motion out of it.
Some users have complained that it is not possible to shoot at any angle other than "straight ahead." Well, given the design of the mount, that is something of an issue--but to be expected.
But at least it's not a giant body harness. I've used some very small "steadycam" devices in my time. Note the quotes around that word. Most of them involved little gimbal devices that were quite difficult to keep steady and upright. While they worked, they did not do what needed to be done because they sort'a flopped around due to the difficulty in counter-balancing the camera. It was sort of like balancing a bowling ball on a pen, but with a counter-balance weight on the bottom that was nigh on impossible to... well, to counter-blance.
The CowboyStudios Shoulder Support Pad kinda takes a lot of that balancing problem out of the equation due to it's mounting design. Check this out:
Makes sense. For the price--egad! That's a decent little stablizer. While I'm sure you won't get the same free flowing movement of a Steadycam, you'll definitely get some of that shake out of the camera. And for amateur and low-budget productions... well, $26. That's all I need to say.