I guess that most of you guys never heard of ShapeWLB. They are a small Canadian company that builds rigs mostly for pro video camera and are now entering the HDSLR market. They rigs are stable, functional and very affordable. They offer various models but the one that interest us the most is the Sumo II (pro or not).
Of all the rigs we have tried, the Sumo2 has to be the most stable (and by far) thanks to its telescopic support arm. Actually, it is the only rig that would stay on my shoulder once I put my hands off the handles. Needless to say, this is a big plus!
Even without the support arm, it is more stable than similar rigs (like Cavision) thanks to its “wrap around” shoulder pad and adjustable handles.
Finally, the adjustable handles can be adjusted in less than 2 seconds at various angles to fit your needs.
Is it functional?
Of all the rigs I have ever saw and tested, this is the only one you can put on a table or the ground without putting your camera at risk. Its dual handles and shoulder pad form a very stable tripod. Believe me, this is a huge plus! Imagine all the times you have to put the camera on the ground, take in back, etc.. No more worries that it is going to roll break into pieces!
The rig is also extremely versatile: the arm can be used as a handle to get some low shots (fly by style) or as a monopod by resting it on a table/ground instead of your hip.
Believe it or not, I still haven’t said the best thing about this arm! You can remove the end and replace it with anything! Would that be a litepanel, microphone, etc…
Having played with this rig for a while, I would find it hard to shoot anything without a support arm. It is like an iPhone: you never knew you needed one until you have none for a day. Now I need to figure out how I can attach it to my Tactical Shooter.
Is it perfect?
When you compare the Sumo2 to rigs from other manufacturers, the fist thing you notice is its size. Assembled or not, the Sumo take more space because of the handles, shoulder mount and support arm. This is not an issue for most people but worth knowing. It does not mean you can’t carry it around in a bag, it just take more space than a disassembled RRM or Zacuto rig.
Also, it is not as adjustable as rigs built around a rod based system. While I did not hear anyone complain about it, I am sure that some people with troll length arms or other weird limbs proportions might have some issue to find the perfect fit. Then again, if they are that odd, they should be used to it!
The other issue I had with the rig, and the owner told me it was going to be fixed (new handles to be released soon), is that the handles are a bit loose and can wiggle a bit around their rotation axis. It does not affect its usage or solidity at all. It is just a feeling thing.
The Sumo2 has an incredible value. Priced at 499,99$, it is functional straight out of the box and will probably last you for ever. I strongly suggest anyone who needs a shoulder mounted rig to get one of these. The only case where I can see someone looking for something else would be if extreme portability was required. In this case, a rod based system would be more convenient.
All pictures used in this review where taken from ShapeWLB website.