If you’re not careful, indie filmmaking can be an expensive habit. Even when shooting with a DSLR or compact camcorder, camera support (tripods, shoulder-mount rigs, stabilizers, etc.) can add thousands to your budget. Known primarily for their audio products (boom poles, shock mounts, bags, etc.), K-Tek has been dipping their toe in the video waters by releasing a couple of video support products like the Norbert DSLR frame and Tadpoles for action cameras. Their recent release, the ProShot, is a 4-in-1 camera rig that can function as a monopod, a shoulder-mount rig, a low-angle Hi-Hat and a camera stabilizer. The device was invented by Lee Snijders, a cameraman who had the idea while shooting reality TV.
At first glance, the ProShot looks like a monopod, but there are some key details that separate the two. At the base of the ProShot is a 3.8-pound Hexweight that can be used to position the camera in several different ways. There are also two handles that screw into the top that perform different functions of stabilization and control. At the top of the ProShot lies a camera head (not a fluid head) that lets you mount a camera weighing up to 20 pounds.
As a monopod, the ProShot is super-effective, but at over six pounds, it’s much heavier than a typical monopod. The handles let you pan more efficiently than with your hands on the camera, and the Hexweight’s wide and round base rotates smoothly on the ground. It would have been nice if the ProShot extended to a taller height (4 feet, 8 inches at full extension), so if you’re interviewing a tall person, you’ll need to tilt the ProShot’s head up and lock before shooting.
The ProShot can work as a decent shoulder rig, especially for camcorders that are difficult to operate handheld for long periods of time. The heaviness of the Hexweight helps counterbalance the camera rig nicely, and there’s a soft neoprene cushion around the lower end of the ProShot to cushion your shoulder. It doesn’t have a beveled contour that molds to your shoulder, but the handles help you balance and distribute most of the weight, and you can also adjust the length of the rig.
Perhaps most interesting is the ProShot’s Stabilizer mode, in which you hold the rig upright, adjust the head and hold the handles with your palms up. Although it’s not a gimbal device, because of its weight and the ability to counterbalance, you can capture smooth shots at waist or chest level. It helps to have an articulating LCD screen on your camera since it generally will be lower than eye level. It also can get a bit heavy, so a long walk-and-talk shot may be difficult.
For low-angle static shots, you can use the ProShot like a Hi-Hat by resting the handles on the floor or a flat surface, as well as the end of the Hexweight. The big difference between a Hi-Hat and the ProShot is that Hi-Hats contain a 75mm bowl that allows you to attach your fluid head to create pans and tilts. But if you need a static ground-level shot, this mode will make do.
Each ProShot includes K-Tek’s swivel/tilt monopod head and removable baseplate. The ProShot is also compatible with both camcorders and DSLRs because it includes 1⁄4-inch and 3⁄8-inch camera screws. If you want to attach additional camera accessories, you can purchase a 15mm rod upgrade kit separately.
The MSRP on the ProShot is $849. For this price, I wish a video head could have been included, although this would have increased the cost. It’s important to remember that because of its 4-in-1 versatility, the ProShot can save you some dough—not to mention carrying around extra gear. I really like this gadget!
Contact: K-Tek, ktekbooms.com.