hen I started as a cameraman with a weighty Betacam on my shoulder, I was younger and fitter. Now that I'm less young, and less fit, I very much notice the load of my equally weighty camera (technology just couldn't cure the weight of quality glass), specifically in my lower back and spine. I predominantly film documentaries, news or current affairs, often on the shoulder. I avoided the "Easyrig" style of support due it being anything but conducive to run-and-gun style filmmaking, noticeably needing an assistant to help load or remove the camera after each shot. And when working as a one-man-band, as is becoming the norm these days, we noticeably don't have an assistant.
Then the Ergorig caught my attention. Long story short, I bought one figuring I could test it out and then send it back if it didn't work for me. I never did.
I typically film with a Sony PMWF55, with the Fujinon XK20-120 cine glass. That alone weighs as much as a medium sized dog, before the added matte box with various filtration, audio drop-in, on-camera field monitor, follow focus, rails, and whatever else you might build your camera up with. What surprised me the most on my first shoot with the Ergorig, was that it didn't just afford me more comfort for the duration of the scene I was shooting, but that it allowed me to film comfortably for several times longer while shoulder balanced or handheld.
Like a hiking pack it takes the weight off your upper body, bypasses the spine, and efficiently deposits it straight to your hips via a solid frame that can also give you an extra half inch or so of height as a bonus.
It comes in two sizes for cameramen (at 5'10"/176cm I opted for the small and was able to easily adjust the front and back vertical plates to suit me). Plus a newly designed female model featuring a center clavicle strut with lateral adjustment.
Since getting it, the Ergorig has flown to 14 countries with me. I keep it fully assembled in a pelican case and check it in under the plane. On the road it is ready to go out of the case and takes about three seconds to put on. Wearing it, my range of motion is not limited, and I'm able to jump in and out of vehicles without needing to remove it. It's not a backpack and it's not a full vest, so you won't overheat. Very little touches you other than the belt which is well padded and ventilated.
For larger productions, the Easyrig or a Steadicam might be better suited. Z axis stability isn't something the Ergorig can do in a pinch (the "underslung" attachment does claim to achieve this, although I am yet to use it personally). But for solo operators in fast paced environments, it is a literal game changer. Your spine will thank you for it in about twenty years.
Now, I'm not suggesting that only camera operators over a certain age should consider this. I'm saying that every network should fit out every news gathering "camo" with one. Every camera van should have one. And every freelancer should invest in the longevity of their own posture and make it a standard part of ones kit. I know many colleagues, mostly news camera operators, who suffer from some kind of pain due to a career of lugging a 15lb camera on their right shoulder.
This is an ideal solution, implemented and manufactured extremely well.
To claim 15% off all Cinema Devices products until the end of the year, including the Ergorig, go to cinemadevices.com/ergorig and fill up your cart. Now here is the important bit; on the checkout page, add both the coupon code Ambassador15 to the PROMO CODE box. And then SYPU2DSME5JDFO to the NOTES/REFERRAL CODE box below it, for the discount to be applied.