Dinkum Systems developed flexible mounts, clamps and lens shades for photo and video producers, based on Loc-Line modular hose technology. Loc-Line products were originally applied in the machine tool industry only, but innovative developers like Dinkum Systems expanded the use of this strong and chemical-resistant “ball-in-socket” system to the photo and video studio as well as on the road. Dinkum Systems’ offering is quite a complete line of products and the system itself is extremely robust.
For those who don’t know Loc-Line (http://www.loc-line.com/about.html): it’s a segmented system of strong plastic joins that you can click-connect to potentially form a hose or an arm. The advantages of the material used and the joining concept is twofold: you can bend and twist a Loc-Line system easily, but it won’t break and you can change the length of the arm by adding or removing joints. The disadvantage is that it requires quite considerable force to join and disconnect the segments.
One method that works well for me is to place one part of the system that I’m trying to join in one of the reinforcement corners of my B&W video case (a Pelican or a HPRC case will have those as well), place the other segment in the right position — joints properly lined up — and use my full weight to force the ball in the socket. If that doesn’t work, you can slightly lubricate the joints.
I received two “Packs” from Dinkum Systems that together cover most of their product range: the dSLR Pro Pack and the Pro Pack. Both come in a handy canvas storage bag. The dSLR pack includes a large clamp with about five joining segments, one convertibe ¼-20” to ⅜-16” mounting arm with five segments and a small clamp on top, and the dSLR lens shade.
The Pro Pack comes with a large clamp with about five joining segments, a small clamp with about five segments, one convertibe ¼-20” to ⅜-16” mounting arm with five segments, a ¼-20” arm with five segments and a large videocam lens shade.
Except for the dSLR lens shade, which has small segments to save weight, all of the joints, clamps and mounts are interchangeable. This allows you to use a Dinkum Systems pack for mounting LED lamps, GoPros, microphones and portable sound recorders, (not too heavy) dSLRs and small videocams, video monitors, flash lights, large reflectors, speedlights, etc.
Experiencing the Dinkum Systems dSLR Lens Shade
I first tried out the dSLR lens shade with my trusted Sony Alpha 700 and heavy Zeiss 24-70mm lens. The Dinkum Systems Lens Shade has a hotshoe/screw thread combination, so in theory you can just mount it on top of your camera’s hotshoe or if you have the camera mounted in a cage, use the screw thread. On the Alpha 700 with a hotshoe converter on top the shade worked well. It was lightweight enough not to damage or even move the converter shoe, while its benefits became clear too.
You can bend the segments to move the shade out of the way completely or have it ‘hang’ on one side, which is great when taking photos in portrait mode. When holding the camera in portrait position, the original butterfly lens shade wouldn’t work well. With the Dinkum Systems Lens Shade it was a matter of relocating the flag to get rid of the les flare.
Mounting video equipment
One of the major features of the Dinkum Systems products that appeal to me is that you are free to combine segments and components (clamps, mounts…) as you wish. For example, I tried mounting two off-camera speedlights in really cramped locations. The smaller clamps just fitted and the segments allowed for enough flex to position the flash heads where I wanted them. I could do the same with an Akurat Lighting LED videolamp with a heavy Sony NP-F970 battery mounted.
In fact, after I tested every conceivable device that I could mount, taking care the material wouldn’t be damaged in case of a segment breaking or disconnecting, I can safely say I now even trust my Atomos Ninja Blade with two Sony NP-F970 batteries mounted, clamped onto a Camtrol Prime 22 stabilising platform. The Dinkum Systems arm is more secure and stable than the standard articulating arm I had screwed onto it before. In addition, I can remove it when I want without having to use any tool at all.
I also briefly tested the large Pro lens shade. That one is big enough to cover most ENG camera lenses but it uses the standard segments of the other Dinkum Systems arms. The lens shade is attached to the ¼-20” arm and screwed in place on the camera’s accessory shoe. The bigger segments allow for a more rigid positioning of the shade. If you would like to keep the ¼-20” screw permanently in place, Dinkum Systems has a separate accessory for this as well.
Experience with even heavier equipment
I tried one large clamp with a 1.5kg heavy studio microphone hanging on three segments and attached to a thick wooden shelf. The combination didn’t budge. In fact, the one thing that didn’t work was stabilising the Sony Alpha/Zeiss 24-70 lens and vertical grip with two batteries — for a total of 2.53kg — on a five segments arm. The weight was too much for the joints to hold the camera in position safely. However, that changed with two segments: in this configuration, the large clamp held the camera with no problems in an upright position.
The smaller clamps did equally well, but are limited with regards to the thickness of the surface to cling them onto. As you can combine the large and small clamps with any number of segments in-between, you can also use them as fasteners for backdrops or large reflectors. I didn’t try it out, but given their clamping power it must work with most materials used in photo/video production.
I like the Dinkum Systems gear very much. It turned out to be extremely rigid and stable. To be honest, I feared it would behave like the first generation Joby Gorillapod Focus (they’ve fixed it since) I tested some years ago: it cost me dearly to repair the Zeiss lens as one of the Gorillapod’s legs bent under the weight of the camera, which fell on a hard floor, lens first, from about one metre.
The Dinkum Systems clamps don’t give way, nor will the joints losen or break — not even under this camera’s weight. The camera will simply “hang” with the lens acting as a lever, but it won’t fall.
In a word: I trust the Dinkum Systems product range with all of my gear. I love the flexibility it allows for and the expandability of the system beyond the Packs — which are pretty complete, by the way.
If you have ever worked in confined spaces or like to have a complete portable studio with you including mounting solutions, then carrying the lightweight Dinkum Systems arms and clamps with you is a good idea.
The dSLR Pro Pack costs approx. €89.50 while the Pro Pack costs about €152.00.