Zacuto Gorilla DSLR kits reviews (part 2.3: Tactical Shooter)

Welcome to the last section of the part 2 of the Gorilla rigs review. Due to technical issues with one of my 5DMrkII, this review will not contain the video I had planned to shoot for it (sorry!).

Meet the Tactical Shooter

The Tactical shooter is the big daddy of the Gorilla set. With it, you can create a Quick Draw (review) or a Rapid Fire (review) according to the needs of the moment.

Adjusting the Rig

By default, the Tactical Shooter suffers from the same rotating issue as the Quick Draw has we have already talked about in its review. This time, instead of rotating around the wrist, it rotates around the shoulder (at the point of contact with the gunstock). I have tried various ways to counter this behavior: inverting the position of the gunstock and the handle or placing them at various distance and angle from the camera and after about 20 minutes of fumbling around, I found a comfortable position for me. I cannot underline this last point enough. More so than with the two other rigs, this one needs to be perfectly adjusted to your body, especially the position of the handle relative to the gunstock. Once your arm is locked in, you want the gunstock to rest in perfect position, if not,  you will get tired too quickly and the rig will keep rocking back and forth.

Thankfully, once you have figured your ‘perfect setting’, it takes only a few seconds to setup the rig.

Using the rig

The Tactical Shooter works exactly like the Quick Draw and has the same benefits with the bonus of having another point of contact (gunstock) for added stability. Of the three rigs, I found it was the best for executing follow focus since its many points of contact reduce any movement created by the lens focus ring rotation.

After using the rig a few days, I developed a new handling technique (that is where I wish I had my other 5D to make a clip…). Instead of shooting with the left hand on the lens and the right on the handle, I put my left hand on the handle and my right on the camera. I found this position very comfortable for when I don’t have to follow focus. I just press the AF-ON button to initially set my focus, then press the SET button to start recording. No time wasted and holding the rig from the very top (camera) and bottom (handle) adds a lot of stability.

I have used the rig with various lenses, from the 17-40L4 to the 70-200L4IS. While it is easier to shoot with the shorter lenses, I never had any issues with longer lenses. You just have to be aware that longer lenses move the center of gravity of the rig in front of the handle hand and adjust your body position accordingly.


If you can’t pick between the Rapid Fire and Quick Draw, pick this rig. While not two times better than the two others (but almost twice the price), it is still better (from a stability point of view) and it gives you the flexibility to have the rig of your choice where ever you go. Also, this rig can be modified a little bit to be drastically better! More on this soon.

What about the Z-finder?

This rig works incredibly well with the Z-finder. With it, the rotation motion is almost totally cancelled and follow focussing is super easy thanks to all the contact points as mentionned above. If you buy the rig, do yourself a favor and get the Z-finder!

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

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  • Rod

    Great, sounds good.

    Now i’ll just go rob a bank to fund my purchase of Aluminum tubes and clamps!

    In all seriousness, if they priced this for half the price they would still make a killing and they would sell many factors more units.

    I’m just pointing out the obvious :)

    I’ll stick to a homebrew kit for the time being!

    • admin

      Zacuto prices have been talked and debated about a lot. They would probably sell a lot more products, but would they still be able to be in business? Would the be able to shoot all their webepisode? Would they go the extra mile to give incredible customer support? They have to factor these things in their prices while DIY solutions dont.

      I am currently working on a product for the 5D and I can tell you the price of design & testing is many times the cost of the raw materials. I will have probably investing 2000$ in the research and testing before selling the first item. Knowing I will probably sell around 200-500, it means I have to sell my product at least 100$ while the cost of the raw material is probably around 25$. And I am not even taking into account the cost of my time!

  • stefan

    I am thinking bout buying a tactical shooter but not sure yet (price sucks!). Do you think a follow focus would be a great thing with your setup? I’d like to buy the Zacuto mini baseplate and add a FF (together with a Z-finder).
    Do you have pictures of your setup? Just curious!
    You write a lot bout the setup but I miss the pics…

    • admin

      I know… since my second camera is in repair, I only have one 5D so it is kinda hard to take picture or video of the rig. I am testing a 7D this weekend with my friend, I will try to get some clips.

      I dont think the Gorilla rigs were designed to work with a FF in mind, it might add too much weight in front of the center of gravity. That is why Z has added a counter weight at the back of the Gunstock rigs. Then again, I could be wrong, I have not tried it since I dont have a base plate that would fit.

      Would it be useful? It depends of what you shoot. Most of the stuff I do involves shooting sequences of 2-5 seconds. No need for a FF there. But if you want to shoot fast action or longer shots, the FF will be very useful. If I had to make a choice between a FF and the Z-finder, I would pick the Z-finder.

      Come back to the blog once you get your rig, I am designing an accessory that fits perfectly with the Gorilla rigs ;-)

  • Stefan

    Why u think u can’t use a zfinder and a FF at thr same time? Bloom does that all the time together with a tactical AND a matte box. So the point of gravity should be no big deal. But does such a miniplate fitt on tactical or rapid fire – don’t know.
    Just shot the first time with a FF and an letus adapter and this was really a nice workflow.
    I guess first I need to get my 7D, some lenses and a zfinder first.
    I’ll back for sure. Curious what you building there. If its a cheap Zacutoesque thing – count me in.

  • admin

    I meant if I had the choice to buy either a FF or a Z-finder…

    And no, I am not making a Zacuto clone, I am building the missing accessory to all the rigs I have seens so far. Should have been done a few days ago but I cant find a nut of the correct size and I have visited way too many stores…

  • Mike

    Yes Zacuto is expensive but their gear is top notch and they treat their customers very well. We are working on a new doc series all shot on DSLR and Mandy gave us some great discounts. And remember, you get what you pay for.