ShapeWLB Sumo II review

I guess that most of you guys never heard of ShapeWLB. They are a small Canadian company that builds rigs mostly for pro video camera and are now entering the HDSLR market. They rigs are stable, functional and very affordable. They offer various models but the one that interest us the most is the Sumo II (pro or not).

sumo2-400px

Support

Of all the rigs we have tried, the Sumo2 has to be the most stable (and by far) thanks to its telescopic support arm. Actually, it is the only rig that would stay on my shoulder once I put my hands off the handles. Needless to say, this is a big plus!

arm1-275x123

Even without the support arm, it is more stable than similar rigs (like Cavision) thanks to its “wrap around” shoulder pad and adjustable handles.

Finally, the adjustable handles can be adjusted in less than 2 seconds at various angles to fit your needs.

hand4-250x163

Is it functional?

Of all the rigs I have ever saw and tested, this is the only one you can put on a table or the ground without putting your camera at risk. Its dual handles and shoulder pad form a very stable tripod. Believe me, this is a huge plus! Imagine all the times you have to put the camera on the ground, take in back, etc.. No more worries that it is going to roll break into pieces!

The rig is also extremely versatile: the arm can be used as a handle to get some low shots (fly by style) or as a monopod by resting it on a table/ground instead of your hip.

Believe it or not, I still haven’t said the best thing about this arm! You can remove the end and replace it with anything! Would that be a litepanel, microphone, etc…

Having played with this rig for a while, I would find it hard to shoot anything without a support arm. It is like an iPhone: you never knew you needed one until you have none for a day. Now I need to figure out how I can attach it to my Tactical Shooter.

Is it perfect?

When you compare the Sumo2 to rigs from other manufacturers, the fist thing you notice is its size. Assembled or not, the Sumo take more space because of the handles, shoulder mount and support arm. This is not an issue for most people but worth knowing. It does not mean you can’t carry it around in a bag, it just take more space than a disassembled RRM or Zacuto rig.

Also, it is not as adjustable as rigs built around a rod based system. While I did not hear anyone complain about it, I am sure that some people with troll length arms or other weird limbs proportions might have some issue to find the perfect fit. Then again, if they are that odd, they should be used to it!

The other issue I had with the rig, and the owner told me it was going to be fixed (new handles to be released soon), is that the handles are a bit loose and can wiggle a bit around their rotation axis. It does not affect its usage or solidity at all. It is just a feeling thing.

Price

The Sumo2 has an incredible value. Priced at 499,99$, it is functional straight out of the box and will probably last you for ever. I strongly suggest anyone who needs a shoulder mounted rig to get one of these. The only case where I can see someone looking for something else would be if extreme portability was required. In this case, a rod based system would be more convenient.

All pictures used in this review where taken from ShapeWLB website.

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...
  • http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com Tom Daigon

    I checked them out along with Zacuto , Red Rock and others. What is missing for me is this…when holding the 5D specifically I always want 1 hand on the
    zoom / focus barrel and the other near the record / exposure controls. If I have 2 handles underneath the camera in my hand, I feel like I have to do slow, awkward gymnastics to access the controls that are important to me while shooting.I ended up getting the U Boast Commander and configured it in a uniqe way that replicates the trditional shoulder mount accessability of controls.

  • admin

    Tom: can you send me a picture of your rig. You got me curious now!

  • http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com Tom Daigon

    Sure. Ive got an edit tomorrow but within the next week I will send pix of the rig alone and if I can get them …shots of me holding it in the manner I have described.

  • hugh

    Yeah tom,
    send me the pics.

  • http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com Tom Daigon

    Hey, until I get some time to take photos. Go to this site http://www.idcphotography.com/
    and go to the store. Then check out the older vids on the U Boast Commander. You can configure it a multitude of ways. My is set up in even a different way that really addresses my needs with the 5D. It is well designed and well machined and reasonably priced. And the combination of configurations make it very versatile. No, I am not associated with the company except as a customer.

  • admin

    I know about IDC, I linked to them a while ago. I like Bruce and his approach to rigs. The way he did his follow focus is very original . I just wish I could test it out to see how well it compares to the others.

  • http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com Tom Daigon

    I like his products as well. The follow focus just looks to much like a skateboard wheel so that puts me off a little. It may work great however.

  • http://www.axelcipollini.com Axel

    Hi,
    thanks for your review.
    I’d like to know if is it possible to use the sumo rig also with a viewfinder (hoodman, zacuto, lcdvf).
    It’s seems to me the position for that it’s not correct and maybe you need add something to raise and move the 5D or 7D camera a little left.
    Keep up the good work!

    • admin

      Yes it is possible to use the Z-finder with it. But, as you guessed, you have to use a piece to put it off axis. Shape sells the part, it is just too bad they dont advertise it on the Sumo page. I am meeting with the owner this afternoon for a special project (more on this soon) and will suggest the change to the page or even create a complete HDSLR kit so people wont have to look around for the various pieces.

  • http://www.axelcipollini.com Axel

    Thans for your quick answer. Yes it will be a good idea to sell a complete HDSLR kit and to promote it doing a little video showing how it works!

  • admin

    Ok. It seems the off axis plate is in fact a Manfrotto plate. They told me they would update the page to show it there, if not, just ask for it when you place your order.

  • http://www.axelcipollini.com Axel

    Yes, the question is: is this plate adjustable? With a camcorder adjustability is a minor problem because you can move the lcd or the finder, but with HDSLRs the position should be almost perfect to be really usable. And than every cameraman is different…

  • admin

    Yes it is. I dont know the number of the Manfrotto plate so I cant show you which one it is but it should be on the website soon and you will see.

  • Wingo

    Nice review!
    ShapeWLB does seem quite feature-packed and functional; definitely much higher value than most others.
    Now I’m hoping to know your opinions comparing ShapeWLB to the shoulder-mount rig of IndiRAISpro DSLRsm, which is priced at $369, with carbon fiber rods, should pad, extendable handles, etc.
    http://www.indifocus.com/products_indirailsprodslr.htm
    Thanks!

    • admin

      The DSLRsm looks interesting but it is hard to judge without bigger pictures or even better: actually trying it. I am mostly interested in the built quality and how rigid the whole rig is once set. It could be an interesting alternative, but I still think the Sumo would be better because of the telescopic arm. It really makes a difference.

  • Wingo

    Thanks a lot for the response!
    I’ve almost made up my mind to go for DSLRsm until I saw your Shape review. Your previous blog posts have helped me a lot!
    Have you successfully connected your indiRAILS with Sumo rig?
    [I’d prefer indiRAILS’ carbon fiber rods than Shape Pro’s aluminum rods.]
    The telescopic arm is a genius design, I’m hoping to adapt it to DSLRsm once I get it.
    One more question, how do you like the centered positioning of the shoulder pad/arm on ShapeWLB? [DSLRsm purposely shift it to the right for DSLR camera use.]
    Can’t wait to see pictures/review of your full rig! Thank you!

  • admin

    I use a Manfrotto spacer to move the camera to the left so it is off axis.

    I did not have to use the IndiRails with the Sumo, the Sumo already has a spacer for HDSLRs. You could interchange the rods (after all, they are all 15mm) but the metal rods did not bother me that much.

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