Thursday, July 21, 2011

Opteka X-Grip Review

For a while now I have been wanting to design a way to add accessories to my Canon HV 30 & 40 camcorders. I mulled over DIY solutions and could not find a suitable way to attach things without it being cumbersome or it just looked ridiculous.

This led me to study two camera cradles. The first unit I looked at was the Cam-Caddie. It appears to be professional and has several accessories you can purchase to beef it up and attach more components to the system. But I noticed one major disadvantage with this unit, you cannot attach it to a tripod. I understand they are working on a plate to allow this but I could not find it. The next thing I was not happy with was the fact that the base unit does not have a cold shoe. You have to pay extra for the cold shoe bracket.

Though the Cam-Caddie was nice I directed my attention to the Opteka X-Grip. It's sale price was $34.00 and it had a cold shoe. It also can be attached to a tripod. These were the two factors that sold me on this unit. The cam caddie has additional things you can purchase which will work well in attaching extra accessories but by the time you buy all of them, you've spent way more then the X-Grip out of the box.
So, I decided to go with Opteka.

The unit arrived a day earlier than I expected and out of the box it's ready to use.

I made a 20 minute video (below) to show you it's features and attach components to it so you can see how they work.

In the video I recommend getting an inexpensive video bar adapter off Ebay from a Chinese seller. I received it in about three weeks. The bar is shorter than the one for the cam-caddie but honestly I think this may be a good thing as it will wobble less. The bar cost $13.85 with free shipping, much less than the $21.00 + shipping price tag of the caddie version. Though the caddie's version may be more versatile.

I noticed on a YouTube comparison video of the Cam Caddie and the X-Grip that the caddie appears to wobble more when components are attached. The X-Grip wobbles too but appears to be much less in comparison. And though the top handle may wobble, if the system is secure to a tripod or sitting on a flat surface you should not see the wobble in the footage. This wobble could affect attached microphones or lights.

The unit is plastic. If you do not prefer plastic items then you may want to spend more and look for an all metal construction unit of equal construction. For most videographers I doubt the plastic will be much of an issue unless you are aggressive with the system.

I did not purchase this for it's "steady camera" feature, but for the ability to have a system whereby I can attach accessories. I do not know if this unit would be any more stable than simply holding the camera and shooting. I suspect it will offer some stability when shooting but my preference was to have a system where I can attach microphones, lights and such without it becoming a monster impossible to handle.

So far I'm impressed with the X-Grip.

Watch the video below for more info and even discoveries along the way as I opened and tried out the unit. I discuss pros and cons. And I show you the unit with components attached. Some will be consistent with both the Cam-Caddie and the X-Grip. However if you are using a small camcorder and you need the extras, or just to beef up your system, either would be a good purchase.


Bill Mecca said...

My thought would be to mount the camcorder perpendicular to the base so you could use the handle like a camera flash bracket and have your right hand in the grip.

do the feet get in the way of mounting the tripod plate to the tripod? looks like they might.

Not sure I like the flex... carbon fiber or metal would be nicer, but for the price??? ;-)

Michael V said...

Very nice review and examination of the X-Grip, just became aware of this device today, and it was great to see how you had set it up. We were talking about a device like this in our video club meeting (in Victoria BC, Canada) this week...and your video review will help us decide if we'll get one to share in our club. Cheers, Michael

p.s. Will be sending you a note separately to ask a question about your staff@jmlmultimedia e-mail address. Hope you can respond to that.

Reznik said...

Thanks a lot for this clever article , and video, it gave me some ideas.

Anonymous said...

Very well done. Enjoyed your video from start to finish.