CAME Terapin from CAME-TV is an attempt to create an “all inclusive smart rig” for Panasonic GH4, GH5, GH5s or the Sony a7 family of cameras, with a vision in mind to enhance usability and handling for any of those mentioned cameras. Sounds interesting? Keep on reading, as I truly think that this fine product has the potential to shake things up in our DSLR and mirrorless camera market.
CAME-TV was kind enough to send us their latest creation, the Terapin rig. The idea of having a device (smart rig) that can act as a unit to enhance the usability and functionality of a DSLR or mirrorless camera is not new. Personally, I was having fun experimenting years ago, with how to bring my DSLR camera to sit comfortably on my shoulder, in a way that will resemble the usage of a traditional ENG camera – but since then I kind of gave up on the idea and went the other way, minimizing my kit. Commercially speaking, others have tried it too. Out of my sleeve I can think of Pandora and RNG, but if I’m not mistaken, they and other companies had only a limited success, possibly due to different reasons. (Pricing, odd look, not living up to usability expectations, or simply lack of marketing resources). What ever the reason is, CAME-TV identified a certain need and decided to explore this kind of uncharted “smart rig” market by introducing their Terapin rig.
Who is this rig for?
I can clearly see two types of users who might be interested in using such a rig. Those who find themselves on a set working with a DSLR or mirrorless camera and fearing the reaction of their client, when appearing with such a small filming device. And those who are looking to enhance the connectivity of their camera by transforming the consumer type connectors, like HDMI and audio mini plug inputs/output, into something more professional and robust like SDI and XLR.
I have to admit that after opening the box and taking the Terapin rig out, I was quit surprised to see how small, lightweight and actually good looking the rig is. No matter if you choose to get the Panasonic or Sony Terapin rig, both will come with almost everything you need in order to start working with it immediately.
Here is the list of accessories that comes with the rig:
- Monitor or EVF arm (Already connected to the rig)
- Microphone clamp
- 2 mini jack audio cables
- DC cable
- Dummy battery (If you intend on using the rig with the newer generation of Sony cameras, like the a7 III, you will have to buy that accessory separately)
- Handle (To remotely control the camera record button)
- HDMI A-A cable
- HDMI A-D cable
- HDMI “L” shape connector
Assembling the rig:
Assembling the rig is very much straight forward! In the above video I used the Panasonic GH5S camera over the Sony a7 III, mostly because of the former having a swivelled LCD screen. This allowed me to continue using the touch screen and more importantly, comfortably use the camera menu whenever needed. To adjust the position of the camera on the rig or a matte box, you don’t need any tools as it is completely tool-less. The only time you’ll ever need to use anything will be when tightening the camera to the rig itself. Last but not least, in order to enjoy the full functionality of the rig, don’t forget to connect the supplied handle to the camera itself. (In case you are using a Panasonic camera, connect it to the “remote” socket.
For the Sony, I’m still awaiting an answer from CAME-TV in regards to how exactly it should be done and I’ll update this article according to their answer).
UPDATE: For connecting a Sony a7X camera to the supplied Terapin handle and remote control, please do the following:
In the Sony camera menu go to “Setup” (The briefcase symbol) and look for “Remote Ctrl”. Turn this feature “On”. On the Terapin rig, turn on the remote located on the supplied handle.
There are a few of things to note: Most noticeably is the absent of 4K signal output from the built in SDI connector. This is a bit of a let down and I can only hope that CAME-TV will consider improving it on the next revision of their rig. (Current signal output is limited to up to 1080/50). Then, the supplied DC cable will fit Atomos monitors but NOT Blackmagic, for example, so a solution for that must be improvised. Also, the supplied handle will not tighten well enough on the metal rod (metal on metal), so just insert a piece of rubber in order to avoid loose contact. After connecting the camera headphones output to the rig input, adjust the headphones volume in the camera to “max” while having the volume knob on the rig turned all the way to the right. This way, your new monitoring volume will be “in sync” with the camera. If no images appear on the camera LCD screen it can be that the camera’s “eye sensor” is turned on. Switch it off or assign the function “LCD monitor viewing only” in the menu.
Usability and Conclusion:
I really enjoyed using the new CAME-TV Terapin rig. Connectivity is very much straight forward and the rig itself feels comfortable on the shoulder (As long as you don’t use a large heavy lens in the front). The Terapin rig is also responsible for adding a phantom power XLR connection and SDI output to the consumer input/outputs of the Sony a7 family of cameras and Panasonic GH 4, 5 and 5s, transforming them to be a more professional friendly devices. Speaking of the Panasonic GH5(S), the camera looks great on it and more importantly, those two (Camera and rig) fit together like a hand to a glove. (I’m less convinced about using any Sony camera with this rig, as by doing so, one will be eliminating the possibility of using of the camera LCD screen). For $558 you get “a lot of rig” and the list of the enclosed accessories is very useful!
Mind you that in some occasions, when an additional “power hungry” accessory is connected to the rig ( Atomos Shogun Inferno for example), the Sony NP-F type battery might not have enough juice to power them both (Camera and monitor). CAME-TV is planning on selling a NP-F to V-mount battery convertor as an additional accessory and I hope that this will help eliminate the issue, by being able to connect a stronger battery at the back of the rig. I also hope that CAME-TV will consider adding an additional XLR input and an HDMI connector next to the SDI to their next generation of rigs, as this will contribute to even greater flexibility and usability.
Do you use a rig for your daily shooting routine or do you prefer having your camera “naked”. Also, does a “smart” rig – like the one CAME-TV presents – appear as interesting for you to explore? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.