The Canon R8 is a solid full-frame offering from Canon that fleshes out the middle of their mirrorless lineup. With 4K 60p recording and a 24MP sensor it is a very capable system at a price point that should be within reach for many advanced users. Add in 10-bit and Canon Log 3 and you have a great video camera on your hands that has the features for some real work.
Being a mirrorless and not a cinema camera it is lacking in ergonomics so you’ll want to rig it up if you want to maximize video potential. For a look at some options—some of which might be relevant for other cameras – check out this video from Josh Sattin.
Normally a photo accessory, a folding L-bracket gives you a standard Arca-type quick release on either the base or on the side for switching between landscape and vertical shooting.
The nice thing about this specific bracket is that it has two attachment points for the camera to keep it from rotating. The side piece can even slide out if you need a little more space around the camera.
Every filmmaker needs to have a multi-tool in their bag. SmallRig makes one that is more tuned for filmmaking needs with some hex wrenches and screwdrivers that’ll cover all the common threads you’ll find on camera and rigging components.
Cages are super useful to build out a more serious rig since they add tons of mounting points for accessories.
SmallRig makes some great, well-priced cages and the R8 cage is no exception.
It attaches via the camera’s tripod mount and then has some side pieces to attach to the strap attachment points for extra security. It also has an Arca-type quick release built-in and then there is an array of 1/4”-20 threads, a NATO rail, and more for attaching whatever you want.
Mirrorless cameras are notorious for small batteries and poor battery life when shooting video. You’ll need something more serious for serious video, like a V-mount battery.
SmallRig again comes with the solution in the form of a small V-mount battery adapter that attaches to your camera with an Arca-type quick release.
The plate then has a V-mount attachment point where you can mount a battery and then use the outputs to drive the camera and other accessories.
SmallRig has some compact 99Wh battery packs that are a great pick. They have plenty of outputs to power everything.
Keeping this one quick since it is so personal, but obviously, you’ll need to pick up a lens or two (or three!). If you only can get one a good mid-range zoom will do the trick.
If you use Arca you may already be in luck, but if you instead use a Manfrotto system or similar you may want to attach that tripod plate at this point.
Now we are heading to the top of the cage for mounting some key accessories, like monitors. On the top, there are some 1/4”-20 threads as well as a 3/8”-16 thread with ARRI locating pins.
You’ll have some flexibility on monitor mounts to select but one with some ARRI pins will keep it from twisting and is a simple solution.
Monitors are another area where you have a ton of options. If we are sticking with pure monitors (and not those monitor/recorders) then it is hard to beat the Atomos Shinobi for a solid well-priced option.
There are cheaper ones and more expensive ones and you might lean towards one side or the other.
A more advanced option is instead of screwing the mount in directly you can instead attach a NATO rail. This is a quick-release system you’ll find on a lot of rigs. This cage even has one integrated on the side. A good thing is that the rail is low profile and has pins to prevent things from sliding off.
A good use for that NATO rail is a top handle. There are plenty with the NATO rail attachment. The one Josh picked out has some versatility in how you position it which might be helpful. Top handles are great for ergonomics.
You can mount your monitor mount directly to the handle now. You could screw in the previously mentioned option or get a standard shoe-mounted monitor mount.
If you want something a little newer then SmallRig does have a more advanced top handle with a better NATO rail quick-release system and some cool adjustability with well-placed screws.
Top handles are a must-have in my opinion. It makes it better for low-angle shooting and is more comfortable for longer shooting times. You can also just hold your camera more comfortably even when you aren’t shooting.
The other handle option is the side handle. These will come down to how you prefer to hold the camera but many people love them.
Pick up one with a NATO rail for attaching to the cage and enjoy the top hot shoe for mounting accessories.
This is looking like a fairly complete rig now.
Now it is time to get things hooked up. The first place is going to be power. For the camera, you can go with a dummy battery from a D-tap on the battery pack or you can use the USB-C connection to keep it running.
Josh prefers USB-C since you will still have the camera battery in there in case you have issues mid shot.
The monitor will take a battery directly, but if you have a V-mount rig you can get a cable to run from a D-tap on your V-mount battery into the Atomos battery eliminator adapter plate.
Simple system and will keep the monitor running for a long time.
To use the monitor you’ll need some HDMI cables. A standard micro-HDMI to full-size HDMI cable will do it. Add a right-angle adapter if you want a slightly cleaner setup.
You’ll have a few options for audio and you’ll definitely want something. The R8 takes any standard 3.5mm audio so many on-camera mics or transmitters will work fine.
For an on-camera shotgun mic he goes with the Sennheiser MKE 400 which is a decent and compact choice.
Once you start thinking about adding things like a follow focus or lens support you’ll want to check out a rail system. You can get a baseplate that adds a couple rods to your rig and will take many standard accessories.
R8 Runtimes and Overheating
Now we can talk about the R8 itself. One good question for mirrorless cameras is how they handle long takes.
The R8 has a 2 hours time limit on it for single shots without any heating in the picture. Overheating doesn’t seem like a huge issue in controlled environments but it has potential to struggle in warmer locales.
Working with a fully charged battery in the camera and just recording internally the battery life drops to 87% in 2 hours, 73% in 4 hours, and 66% in 5 hours. That’s very good. When you add an external monitor it will impact battery life as we hit 73% in 2 hours, 44% in 4 hours, and 29% in 5 hours.
A good thing about the quick releases here is that the rig is very easy to break down or rebuild for different shoots where you might not need every little accessory.
Lots of this advice can work with any camera so hopefully, it helps you figure out how to improve your rig.
[source: Josh Sattin]
- Canon EOS R8 Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Foldable L-Bracket for Canon R8 (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Multi-Tool (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Cage for Canon R8 (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Compact V-Mount Battery Mounting System (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig VB99 Mini V-Mount Battery (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Monitor Mount with ARRI-Style Mount (B&H, Amazon)
- Atomos Shinobi 5” 4K HDMI Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Low-Profile NATO Rail (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig NATO Top Handle (Amazon)
- SmallRig Monitor Mount with Cold Shoe Mount (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Quick Lock NATO Top Handle (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Wooden Side Handle with NATO Rail Mount (B&H, Amazon)
- Sennheiser MKE 400 On-Camera Microphone (B&H, Amazon)
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