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Note that I also posted this review on the product page for the Camtrol Grand with the remote control mounting bracket - it's the same product just without the optional bracket, but since Amazon doesn't link their product pages I thought it would be helpful to post the review here as well.

There are two basic issues faced when shooting video with lightweight camcorders or DSLRs: one is that a relatively lightweight camera tends to introduce some wobble and shake; two is that it's often hard to get a good grip on a small camera that meets the needs of a specific shooting style. The Camtrol is designed to address both problems, and does a good job of it. In a nutshell, this is a highly versatile camera mounting system that helps to stabilize and control a wide range of lightweight cameras, and hold them in whatever position or configuration that's appropriate for a particular shooting situation.

First of all, the Camtrol is designed to be a flexible camera mount that can be adjusted for almost any shooting style. Standard camcorders have a grip along the side that's designed for holding the camera up to the eye or right in front of the chest. It can get fairly awkward to hold the camera in any other position for a prolonged amount of time. The problem is exacerbated with DSLRs, that are simply not designed for handheld movement, but for holding in front of the eyes while standing still or for mounting on an immobile tripod.

The Camtrol allows you to mount and handhold the camera - whether camcorder or DSLR camera - in a number of different positions, optimal for low angle, high angle, following or dolly shots. It's got several flexible ball joints, that can be secured in position with a twist, but can be reconfigured to reshape the mount in several different possible positions. (See the attached video for some configuration examples, that shows my Canon Vixia HFS10 on the mount.) For full control, you can mount a wireless or wired remote to the handle so that you can adjust zoom or focus and other controls on the fly. (The optional mounting bracket is sold separately, here). Even if you just want to hold it in front of your chest or eyes, you can configure the Camtrol for a very stable two-handed mount that is much more stable and easy than holding the camera directly.

With your hands directly on the camera, any movement or shake in your hands is translated directly to the image - and this effect is heightened when the camera is zooming. So one way that the Camtrol helps avoid wobble and shake is by separating the camera handle from the actual body of the camera. In addition, the Camtrol aims to give users control over center of gravity and increase the moment of inertia. That is, it allows users to balance and control the weight of their camera relative to the specific shooting configuration they've chosen. The thumb screw camera mount fits into a groove on the mounting plate that can be moved around so that the camera is perfectly balanced in the center. Just by virtue of having the camera on the mount you are adding weight, which increases the moment of inertia and makes it less susceptible to wobble or wiggle. Of course that also means your camera is heavier - but that combines with the adjustable handle which means that you can support that weight as you like. It's much easier, for example, to carry weight below you with your arms extended than to lift weight above you. (With a steadicam, for example, you've got to either have a lot of arm strength or mount the entire system around a waist support.)

The little legs at the bottom of the mounting plate allow you to place the camera on a flat surface between shoots - something you can't do with many other stabilizing mounts. You can rotate the legs up in case you want to put the whole thing on a tripod for a different kind of shot - you can secure a quick release plate below the plate for that purpose.

A lot of thought, obviously, went into making the design of the Camtrol both simple and flexible. It's a very solid build, and easy to adjust and configure for specific needs. It would be ideal for shooting video with a DSLR camera, and useful for a number of shooting situations with a standard camcorder, especially action shots or shots where you'd really need a secure grip in positions other than right up to eyes or in front of the chest. (Note that I was allowed by the company to try and test one of these for the purposes of this review).
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