Zacuto Gorilla DSLR kits reviews (part1)

Now that I have a tactical shooter, I can finally do a full review of the three Gorilla gunstock models offered by Zacuto: The Rapid Fire, The Quickdraw and The Tactical shooter (which is a combo of the two). Hopefully, by the end of the review you will be able to figure out if you want a Gorilla rig and most importantly, which one will fit your needs.

This review is going to be spread over a few posts because I want to cover the product in details and answer any potential questions you might have. Also, I want to use some exterior footage and recently the weather has not been collaborating at all.

The review is going to be spread over 3 articles:

  1. Overall design (today)
  2. Which kit is the best for me?
  3. Stability test

Overall design

Zacuto Gorilla rigs are deceptively simple. When you open the box you might wonder why you paid so much for just a few clams and pipes. Well, let me tell you this: for what you are getting, these kits are cheap! I have tested a few other rigs and none are as well designed at those from Zacuto. Lets see why…

First, everything can be adjusted and, most importantly, once set stays in position. I cannot stress how critical this last point is. I have seen a lot of people doing DIY rigs where the adjustments would move as soon as some pressure or torque was applied. The clam system used by Zacuto secure the adjustment while using minimal strength to lock. I have loosened and tighten the clam over an hundred times so far and they are still as good as on day one.

Just to show how sturdy these clams are, I did a quick test using my heaviest lens and shook the rig like crazy. As you can see, nothing moved.

I have been talking to a few people who hoped to create their own gunstock rigs and these adjustment clams have been the most problematic area: they could not find a way to make these attachment secure and easy to adjust. To ‘solve’ the issue, they minimize the number of adjustment and/or require tools to secure them in place. Zacuto went the opposite way: they put clams everywhere and have them secured with the twist of a lever. It is also possible to use an Allen key but I never had to (see Steve comment).

clams

I personally think that such level of customization is critical to (1) ensure a perfect fit no matter what your body type is and also (2) to adjust the rigs according to the lens used. While this last point is not as critical as when balancing a Steadicam, moving the center of mass of the rig at the right spot insure maximal stability and comfort.

The camera plate

The camera is held in place with a Manfrotto 394 RC4 camera plate. While it looks good and maximize the surface of contact with the camera, it is not a plate format that I use anywhere else. I had to screw/unscrew the plate every time I wanted to put the camera on a tripod. Minor annoyance, but for someone like me who likes to standardize everything, it sucks.

My solution was to install a Manfrotto 323 RC2 plate on top of the other plate and slide the arm down a bit (told you that it was convenient to be able to adjust everything!) to compensate for the height difference and voila! Problem solved (at the cost of some added weight).

plates

Gunstock and handle

These pieces are light, solid and have a nice rugged texture so you know they are never going to slip from your hand. To reduce weight, Zacuto made them hollow and this can double up as attachment points if you have a carabiner as demonstrated in the product presentation video. People with big hands might find them a bit small and should consider getting the Zgrip Upgrade kit.

Loyal to the unlimited adjustability principle, they both have an adjustment knob that can move the piece on a circular angle of about 90 degrees.

Overall design impression

As I stated in my original review of the Rapid Fire, these rigs are very well made: sturdy enough to endure the most demanding assignments, light enough to be carried in your bags and once disassembled, take minimal space. The disadvantage of their light weight is a lack of stability and smoothness compared to heavier rigs as we will demonstrate in the third part of the review. We are currently exploring ways to add weight to the rig to fix this issue.

In our next review, we are going to assess the differences between the three rigs to help you figure out which one would fit your needs.

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://zacuto.com Steve Weiss

    Wonderful review…
    I’d like to claify one thing. The allen screw is not for further tightening. The way our system works is that we tap lever hole to an exact depth. Then we put the screw through the lever and screw it down in and bottom it out at the end of the whole. The point is that when you use the lever the end of the screw keeps the lever captured and it can never come off. The way the levers work is all of the action is done in a 1/4 turn. 1/4 to tighten, 1/4 turn to loosen. When you tighten you are actually bending the aluminum, where it is slit, around the rod. It’s way stronger then screws and can’t come undone. That’s why we use levers for everything, you don’t need tools, it stronger & quickly adjustable. Thank you for this very in-depth review.
    Steve

  • admin

    Thanks for the clarification Steve! As I said, I never had to use an Allen key, the lever are doing a perfect job as it is!

    Mandy: I use the 323 plate on all my photography gear, so it was just easier to add one on the Gorilla rig instead of retrofitting everything else. But for someone starting from scratch, it is definitely the way to go!

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com/ Zack Jones

    Very interesting. You sure are brave shaking the hell out of your camera like that in the video. I can’t wait to read the rest of the review.

Facebook

Twitter

Google Plus

YouTube

Google Plus

Follow Me on Pinterest
  • Perseid Meteor Shower at Ward Charcoal Kilns NV by ACWaddington on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Nocturnal lines by Alonso Díaz on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Passing Storm by Gil Folk on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Sam Luna by Dean Bradshaw on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Irene by Oleg Sharonov on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Flowers in the night by Takk B on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Just fire! by Artem Fomichev on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Nanpu Bridge by Paul Reiffer on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • Road to Nowhere - Supermoon by Aaron J. Groen on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013
  • happy campers by Darren Pearson on 500px

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2013