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Jag35 Offset Shoulder Rig for Canon 5D

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    Jag35 Offset Shoulder Rig for Canon 5D

    I was hired to shoot a documentary for 10 days in rural India. The story: follow 3 families affected by HIV/AIDS. Camera of choice: Canon 5D Mark II. Because it was a run-and-gun documentary, I used my Canon zoom lenses (didn't want to risk the chance of missing some natural action while fumbling for the right prime lens). Next to the lenses, the most valuable asset I had was my new Jag35 Offset Shoulder Rig with Zacuto Rods (and Z-Finder ready: meaning the quick plate in the Jag35 cage has mount points for the Z-Finder mount). I wanted to share my experience with the Jag35 rig because I have seen very little reviews on it's use in the field.


    (Find all the photos I make reference to here: http://picasaweb.google.com/runswith...eat=directlink )
    (Photos of the rig in action: http://picasaweb.google.com/runswith...eat=directlink )

    I had ordered the rig a month before the job in hopes to test it out and set it to my liking prior to my departure. Unfortunately, due to an unannounced back order, I waited three weeks for the rig to arrive in the mail. Leaving me with a week to get a feel for the new toy. Right away I noticed some issues in construction. Most notably, nearly all the threaded holes were tapped about 5 degrees off center (see photo).

    This error included the top plate of the cage and the locking nut for the cage's quick plate. I promptly contacted Jag35 and requested a cage without errors. They sent out a new cage right away, however, without much improvement. The top plate on the new cage had simply been re-threaded over old crooked threads; obviously making the threads weaker. A bolt would thread 5 degrees off center or straight, depending how you started the thread (see video). Luckily, the new lock down nut was threaded correctly and I just swapped it out for my old one. The day before my flight, I sent the new cage back to Jag35 after swapping the better of two poorly crafted parts. Again, I wrote to Jag35, asking them for send me a properly threaded top plate (I'll come back to this later).

    Additions:

    After reading, Ron Risman's review, I figured it valuable to purchase and add on the Manfrotto 577 QR Plate. On the top plate of the cage I added a 1/4-20" screw and a smaller #6-32 screw (with a #6 wing nut) to attach my H4N Zoom and a mic mount respectively. (See Photos)


    Adding on the Manfrotto 777 QR Plate ends up being the most handy aspect of the shoulder rig (it is a surprise that Jag35 doesn't offer this as an optional add on but they do offer their rigs with Zacuto rods). When switching from the shoulder rig to the tripod (and vice versa), it is important to make the change quickly. For about $50, the Manfrotto quick plate is an essential addition to the Jag35 Cage (especially for me, considering the Manfrotto quick plate fits my Sachlter FSB 6 fluid head).

    Despite the issues with the cage, I managed to make it work. I picked up some some short 1/4-20" screws and some #6-32 screws from Home Depot. One 1/4-20" screw placed from underneath the top plate was my mount for the H4N Zoom (easy spin on and off). The #6-32 screw with a wing nut (for easy on and off) held on my shotgun shock mount.

    Performance:

    In my ten days in India I encountered rain, floods, mud, humidity, high temperatures, a day at the beach, a parade, interviews and elephants. Out of all the elements listed, the humidity and the high temperatures affected the shoulder rig the most. A few of the jelly Jag35 stickers fell right off (not a performance issue). The locking nuts for the rods suddenly required a lot of effort to turn. However, the biggest problem was with the Loctite Jag35 uses on the 1/4-20" lock down screw on the bottom plate of the cage. I'm still unsure if it was the humidity or how often I was unscrewing the lock down nut to remove the the cage's quick plate. Over the course of a few shooting days, that 1/4-20" screw had worked out the Loctite and locked itself up against the cage's quick plate - making it impossible to remove the camera from the cage. (see the photo where I attempted to put it out without tools and this video). Two days later a local found me a pair of needle nose pliers to fix the issue (forgot my Letterman).


    Despite its issues, the Jag35 Offset Shoulder Rig held up quite well. It is comfortable but not exactly balanced (especially you've got a zoom lens on the camera). I enjoy using the Zacuto Z-Finder and found it perfect for shooting outdoors on a sunny day. As it relates to the shoulder rig, I found it easy to adjust and set the rods to the right position for your eye. Regardless, you get a really steady shot for a fraction of the cost of a Zacuto rig. Well worth the investment as long as your are willing and able to fix the issues.

    Jag35 and replacements:

    As I mentioned earlier, I asked Jag35 for a correctly threaded top plate for the cage. Upon my return from India, I found it waiting for me in the mail. Sadly, the replacement plate they sent me is a joke. None of the smaller holes were threaded, one of the 1/4-20" holes was not threaded and the rest of the 1/4-20" holes are threaded crooked by a few degrees. How many requests for a top plate does it take to get a quality one?...I'll let you know.
    www.joshsgibson.com

    #2
    Can't say much about the jag rig, cause I don't own one. But very, very nice BTS pics. of your shoot. Look like you guys did a really good job!.

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      #3
      I was thinking of getting some Jag35 stuff

      mmmm not so sure now

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