O-Grips, the unique multitool handgrip system, stands out among the new OConnor offerings ($1,600 list). A modular, sturdy design unlocks extensive configuration options, making them my favorite O-series tools, and one of my picks for this year’s most innovative cinema developments. With a few twists and an occasional Allen wrench, subtle or dramatic position adjustment from the traditional handgrip to straight out, up and everything in between is possible. I tried single-jointed, with a half sphere of stepless articulation, while the double-jointed version extends articulation to a complete sphere, adding many more support options, including infinitely stackable configurations by adding modules. After my first test shoot, fears gave way to glee. The ease with which I made micro and macro adjustments, increasing my flexibility and creativity, was significant, always settling as a very solid anchor once locked. Designed not only with the DSLR in mind, O-Grips are very stout, with a single-handle, ball-joint, 44-pound payload capacity. Beyond handgrips, the modular design with articulating ends makes them the strongest articulating arm for hardware mounting to be found with 3⁄8-threaded ends (one female end, one male end). Connect O-Grips together or to any standard 3⁄8-mounting point (though not tool-less; they require a 5mm Allen wrench). My favorite is underslung—add a monitor to an end if desired. The versatile O-Grips rod bridge is the only one I’m aware of supporting the three industry-standard rod spacings—studio 19mm, studio 15mm and lightweight support (LWS) 15mm.The O-Box WM is a two-stage mattebox for the 16:9 full-format sensor, allowing 18mm lenses (and wider, in cases) accepting 4×4 and 4×5.65 filters, one with 360º rotation, with a third 138mm round filter in the bellows. The studio 19mm, studio 15mm and LWS 15mm rods and clamp-on attachment are also supported. Priced competitively at $1,400 ($1,100 street), accessories include a unique top-mounted “cheese bar” (for mounting a monitor, etc.), side flags, retaining brackets, a bottom bracket and flag, universal mask set and step-down rings to 80mm. Saving the best feature for last, O-Grips complement the O-Box with side and bottom (pistol grip) mounting points, made possible thanks to OConnor’s nearly unbreakable, yet lightweight proprietary composite material.
The O-Focus DM is a direct-drive-gear, compact, double-sided follow focus with cine specs optimized for still photo lenses increasingly used in today’s cinema, while not excluding cine lenses. A 15mm LWS bridge is included (15mm/19mm studio rod bridge optional), and though nearly one-quarter the price, the DM borrows many CFF-1 ($4,500) features. Adapting to the still photo lens, a toothless friction wheel eliminates cumbersome toothed gear lens rings, simplifying lens changing, now a painless procedure—a slide of the dovetail support does the trick. Simple, yet elegant, DM operation is smooth and solid. Further accommodating still lenses, the O-Focus DM has a gear ratio of 1:0.75, the lowest available for short-throw still lenses, which means that each 360º rotation of the handwheel translates to a 270º drive-gear rotation. Hard stops on the handwheel compensate for the still lens’ endless rotation, giving accurate feedback of focus position, especially useful for the solo shooter and focus puller alike.