Gear Reviews
Photo by Paul Antico








By doing gear reviews my sole intention here is to bring some valuable information to my friends who visit this site. These reviews are solely my opinion of the gear I review. I try to be fair and impartial. If the gear is fabulous, I will say so. However, if there’s something I don’t like about it, you can be sure I will report my findings. So far these reviews have been a lot of fun to do and I hope to continue to bring them to you when a new product comes my way.

IKAN D7W IPS PANEL MONITOR REVIEW from Rick Macomber on Vimeo.

The new ikan D7w IPS panel field monitor is here. First revealed at NAB 2012, this monitor comes with all the bells and whistles you would want packed into a nice 7 inch 1280 x 800 HD screen. It has waveform, vector scope, RGB parade, 4 panel view and priority view. Add to that peaking, pixel to pixel, false color, clip guides and DSLR scaling all with a viewing angle of 178 degrees. There’s 3G SDI and HDMI loop thru, a headphone jack and a mini USB port for firmware updates. I tested a BP-950G battery which lasted about 3 1/2 hours.

I wish the D7w exterior had been designed with the same rubbery skin they used on the D5 so you could grip it better. The new aluminum frame is rather slippery to the touch. If you have butter fingers… goodbye monitor. I found a bit of lag when panning the camera, but it was no worse than what I’ve seen with other monitors and EVFs on the market. The initial boot up time is about 8 seconds and the switching time from SDI to HDMI is also about 8 seconds.

The standard base unit ships with the monitor, ac adapter, DV battery plate and heavy duty cold shoe mount. The Deluxe kit comes with a hard case with foam interior, DV battery, DV battery plate, battery charger, ac adapter and the heavy duty cold shoe mount. ikan also sells a heavy duty replacement battery with a push button life indicator.

After using it for a few weeks now, all in all I can honestly say this is a beautiful 7 inch IPS panel field monitor. The skin tones look great and it has really nice contrast. Even when shooting Canon CLog or BMCC raw, we were able to adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation to give the picture a more pleasing look.

If you purchase the D7w now ikan will throw in a free sun hood. Check with resellers for their current pricing.

Shot with Canon C300 and edited by: Rick Macomber

BTS Shooters: Sean Meehan, Adam Kerchman

In Order of Appearance:
Addison Earle
Andrea Lopez
Eddie Nason
Todd Mahoney
Alison Shipton
Kiara Ana Perico
Mike Kelly
Chris Loughran

Special thanks to Dan Chung for his support. Dan sort of pushed me into doing gear reviews even though I’m not too comfortable in front of the camera! Please visit for the latest in all things related to camera gear and photojournalism.

Soundtrack: “Vibe Ace” by Kevin MacLeod
Hear more at:

Ikan D5 Field Monitor Review from Rick Macomber on Vimeo.














Ikan’s new D5 field monitor has a 5.6 inch IPS panel with 1280 x 800 HD resolution. It’s amazing how fast technology is moving forward. HDMI and HD SDI with loop through capability seems commonplace now compared to just a couple of years ago. The HDMI input on this monitor is also complimented by a 3G-SDI input/output and an audio out jack for headphones. There are four 1/4 20 metal mounting threads on this piece of kit, one on each side for adding accessories or for mounting on an articulating arm.

It has all the standard bells and whistles like false color, color peaking, and DSLR scaling with four options: normal, 3:2, 16:9, or full screen. The D5 also lets you set upper clip levels so they’ll flash purple on any overexposed images. Another nice feature is 1:1 movable pixel to pixel mapping. All of these can be customized into easy to use preset buttons on top of the monitor. The menu button uses scroll wheel design.

You do get some nice power options with this monitor. Ikan’s BP-5 battery plates are compatible with Sony L, Sony BP-U, Canon 900, Canon-E6 and Panasonic D54 batteries. Ikan also makes its own 65 watt hour ultra high capacity IBS-1170 battery that comes with a push button life indicator.

The D5 Field Monitor Basic Kit comes with the 5.6 inch HD-SDI LCD monitor with HD IPS panel, AC Adapter and a DV battery plate. The Deluxe Kit adds a DV battery, DV battery charger, DV battery plate,
an Ultra-Heavy Duty Camera Shoe Mount, a snap on Sun Visor and a soft case. I found little use for the sun visor as it was is too small to actually provide any shade relief to the monitor. Ikan has not yet designed a proper sun shade/hood for this model but they tell me it’s in the works. For now, Hoodman makes one that fits 5 to 6 inch flat panels.

More and more companies are jumping into the field monitor game since the days of Marshall and Small HD. There are many to choose from, but few are quality made. Ikan’s biggest competition in the monitor wars in both price and design is Small HD with their solid, milled aluminum shell. In a promotional video they actually whip one of their monitors against a wall and when they retrieve it… low and behold it still works! I wouldn’t try that trick with the D5, but then again, why would you? For the money, the D5 is fine piece of kit that puts out a darn good looking HD picture.

Review by Rick Macomber
Model: Heajee Leah Kim
Canon C300 cinematographer: Paul Antico

This review first appeared on Dan Chung’s Check it out for the latest gear on the market!


Switronix Torch LED BOLT Review from Rick Macomber on Vimeo.

This is the newest member of the Switronix Torch LED family. It’s called the BOLT.
It’s 1/6th the size of a 12 inch LED Panel and it’s 2 times as bright. No kidding.
It has two dimmers – one for the 32K set of LEDS and one for the 56K LEDS. You can control them
separately or blend both the tungsten and daylight LEDs together to deliver a very bright light with a color temperature of around 41K.

The BOLT draws 22 watts and has 200 watts of light output and a brightness throw of between 40 and 50 feet.
You can also slide the diffusion filter into the included filter tray to soften the light.

It can be mounted on the included ¼ 20 swivel cold shoe mount or it can be configured with an articulating arm on standard 15mm rods. It can also be mounted on a light stand with an adapter for outdoor use.

The TL-F970 battery that was specifically designed for the BOLT is BIG. I’ve run the light on a recent job on a fully charged battery and it lasted a good 3 hours. And it still had juice left at the end of the gig.

The unit also comes with a powertap output on the back so you can power the BOLT with a standard 14.4 volt DC brick battery by plugging in the included powertap cable.

Now the bad news. The battery is BIG. The battery is actually too heavy for the charger to stay plugged into a wall outlet. So plan on charging this battery on a flat power strip.

It can also be easily knocked off the back of the light. In my opinion the battery receiver was poorly designed and the battery does not really lock into place. However I will say that it never fell off while I was using it.

If you purchase the BOLT right now they’ll throw in a free TL-F970 Battery and charger which is usually sold separately for $80.

Contact Switronix or an authorized dealer for pricing.

Model: Taylor Macomber
Soundtrack: “AcidJazz” by Kevin MacLeod


TILTA CAMERA RIG REVIEW from Rick Macomber on Vimeo.

A Chinese company named Team Tilta has designed a new camera rig system that looks like something out of a Terminator film. On par with other top manufacturers in its build quality, its price point kills the competition. And it’s not just a flesh wound, its currently HALF the cost of many rivals! The manufacturer claims their quick release baseplate is made of aircraft grade aluminum. It is solid. It comes with a shoulder pad and a heavy duty VCT-14 compatible quick release shoe that works on standard broadcast ENG tripod plates. Quick locks mount the baseplate to the included 15mm front rails.

If you want to remove the camera from the rig, it’s secured with a single knob that tightens a sliding plate. 
You can add 15mm rails to the back of the rig so you can balance it out with weights when using a heavier camera. You can also easily attach a power solution like a v-mount plate for powering your camera and other support gear.

I have found the included camera plate to be adequately secure when mounting my Canon C300 to the baseplate. My friend Erik Naso came up with a better solution for mounting heavier cameras such as an F3 or Alexa. He replaced the smaller camera plate that mounts the camera to the baseplate with a longer beefier Manfrotto 357 QR plate which seems to lock in those bigger cameras more securely. See Erik’s review here.

While I think this is a great rig I do want to mention one issue. If you use the Tilta baseplate when mounting regular non-height adjustable matteboxes to the rails with cameras like the Sony F3 or FS700 you will find that the lens center might be higher than the mattebox center. Therefore you may have to use a riser block for the rails in order to raise the mattebox to center correctly around the lens. I haven’t tried Tilta’s own mattebox yet so I have no way of knowing if their mattebox has the same problem. I’ve contacted Team Tilta and I’m awaiting a reply from them. Here’s a link to a good blog post by Alister Chapman that talks about the mattebox issue.

*UPDATE on using the Tilta mattebox with Canon C300. Even though the mattebox has a height adjustment, it’s still slightly low and off center of the lens. So you will have to purchase a 15mm rail riser block like this and two additional short 15mm rails in order to use it with an FS100, FS700 or C300. I have still not received a reply from Tilta about this issue.

The Universal Handgrip mounting system works with either 15mm or 19mm rods. I love how they easily clamp on to the rails. The grips are covered in solid rubber for non-slip grasping in cold weather. The handgrip arms adjust to any angle using a rosette locking system and ratchet style locking levers, which makes it easy to tighten or loosen the hand grip arms.

I mounted my Canon C300 on this rig and used the camera’s on-board LCD monitor with a Hoodman HD450 sun shade – rotating the screen upside down and pressing the mirror button to flip the image. Tilta makes a replacement C300 top handle that I didn’t order as I am happy with the Canon supplied one. When I inquired about Tilta’s top handle I noticed it doesn’t have any holes for accessories. I would recommend that Tilta add some 1/4 20 tap holes to their top handle.

The Tilta follow focus hand wheel turns nice and smooth and has two adjustable hard stops for precision focus pulls – love that feature. The unit clamps onto the rails and tightens for a nice secure mount. The gear adjusts laterally by sliding toward the lens gear and locking the large thumb wheel knob. It’s constructed from solid aluminum. It looks and feels much more expensive than it actually is. You can also reverse the gear from front to back using a simple thumb screw – great for Nikon lens users. It comes with a variety of gear ring belts. My only wish is that it shipped with a few different size gears.

There is a catch though – Tilta gear is currently not available in US camera stores and until recently needed to be purchased online via sites like Ebay. Recently that changed because Team Tilta set up a direct sales referral program allowing a select number of users to purchase gear at discounted rates. If you wish to get these discounts you need to approach Tilta to become a Team Tilta member, or be invited by an existing member. Once you are a member you can invite friends to join and each time a friend purchases a Team Tilta product you receive a $20 credit. Team Tilta members are also able to get a one off 50% discount on a purchase if they make a brief (30 second to 1 minute) video providing feedback on a Tilta product they have purchased.

Basically this seems to be a viral marketing campaign where Tilta hopes they can raise the profile of their brand – don’t expect this kind of pricing to last forever.

Currently the promotional price for the Tilta QR Baseplate is $280 US, the Universal Handgrips $280 US and the Tilta Follow Focus $420 US. If you are using a DSLR rather than a large sensor video camera then Tilta also offers a rig called The Runner for $849.00.

So yes I joined the Team Tilta program. But I did this gear review because I purchased the rig, loved it and wanted to impart my thoughts about it to the online community. I believe it’s a quality product for a currently unbelievable price. If you combine these individual kit components the total cost from the Team Tilta program is under $1000 US. Some well known brand name rigs cost more than that without including a follow focus. And if you added their price of a follow focus, it would bring the total price tag to almost $2000 US. This kit is currently a great deal if you are on a budget.

For more on how to become a Team Tilta member contact me here or on vimeo.

You can follow Team Tilta on twitter @teamtilta for more on their latest deals.

Soundtrack: Rock of Dawn by LynneMusic. 
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This and many other gear reviews originally appeared on Dan Chung’s DSLR News Shooter website.

Please check out his informative site for great gear reviews and the latest camera tech news. Thanks to Dan for his support!