Monday, September 30, 2013

New C100 Baseplate by Berkey Systems

As I posted a week or so ago the C100 didn't fit my other rig on the baseplate I had. I did some searching. No I did a LOT of searching. Google image search turned up any number of images but I was being picky.

1. The C series cameras has a high lens center point, so you need a very low baseplate to make all your parts work like matte box and follow focus

2. I wanted a baseplate that had 2 points of locking contact per rod - this stops the rods from turning when you have a single rod attachment like monitor connected

3. great build quality if possible

There were a number of baseplates out there that could work. Some required a bridge plate to mount on adding another $75-$150 to the price. They also shipped from China with 2-4 weeks of shipping which wouldn't work for something happening this weekend !

Google search revealed this baseplate : Berkey Systems - it was made specifically for C series cameras, had 2 points of grab on the rails, all METAL construction, looked great in the pix, had a bottom that worked with my QR tripod plate or Arri baseplate with 17mm offset.

Downside ? one guess, it was pricey compared to the China imports, but !

I contacted Berkey systems. The owner of the company replied to my email a couple of hours later, answered my questions and even gave me 2 video clips to cover me. That's customer service ! Now Berkey Systems probably doesn't come to mind like a few other companies that make camera support gear but they have been around for 20 years ! A lot of what they make is grip gear for gags - rods, rails, joiners, corners to create practical rigs for on set use. However they also have nice collection of camera support items as well. 

In emailing with Brian Berkey he talked about how they go through at least several versions of a product to get it right. This baseplate is a perfect example. It will grab your C series camera not just with the 1/4" and 3/8" threads, but also the 2 locking pins in the base. It fits like OEM gear should ! The fit and feel here are simply great. The top plate is held down with 6 allens so you can change it out, or the 1/4 or 3/8 screws if they every get damaged. You can access BOTH of the attachment screws from the bottom of the unit. The 2 grabbing screws are in fact Allen bolts they custom make. Berkey Systems supplied a ball head Allen driver with the baseplate to make adding this to any camera easy. 

Once you mount the base plate onto the C series camera, its simply love. It fits, its not too big, not too small, it has just enough heft to let you know its there. Using high grade aluminum you'll see the details they added to this. For example each side of the plate can add either a 15mm rod clamp or Arri Rosette compatible mount.

Add a 15mm rod for building a cage, adding a monitor or whatever other gak you need. The Arri compatible rosette is another option for grips or handles. They are easy to add or remove with the supplied Allen bolts. If you look close you can see there is a relief in the machining of the side mounts. This means even if your bolts get loose, the mounts will still stay  locked in place and not let you down. Its this sort of mil spec durable thoughtfulness that lets this thing ask the price it does. Really its not out of line with a few other top end companies asking about the same !

Once I slipped my stainless steel rods through from my old rig, then slid on the follow focus and matte box it was magic. My old set up didn't really make the rods 100% parallel. I always had this odd fight to slide stuff on or off, up or down the rods. This base plate is dead perfect parallel. My matte box mount bracket and follow focus slipped up and down the rods when loose with perfect ease. No more pulling and tugging ! I don't often praise a praise a product like this, so you know this is the real deal, something special and made in the USA.

Finding out that they are based near Minneapolis MN a couple of hours from me was bonus. Given my choice to send my money anywhere, I choose to send it close to home and get some totally first class camera support ! I'm perfectly happy with this product, which happens how often ? right... just get one for your C series camera and you wont' think twice about money more than well spent.