A camera top handle is an essential tool for any cinematographer or filmmaker who uses their cameras in a cage or rig. Its primary design alleviates the pain when shooting from lower angles.
Videographers and filmmakers can rely on a camera top handle to hold their rigs ergonomically, reducing their wrist and arm stress. In this article, we will explore some of the key aspects of camera top handles, why they are important, and then recommend some of the best camera top handles on the market.
Where is a Camera Top Handle Used?
1. Filming Low Angles
Although a camera stabilizer helps facilitate several shooting scenarios, it is not ideal for all shooting angles. For example, you can’t crouch down and film on the ground to obtain a lower angle. In this scenario, videographers and filmmakers may rely on a camera top handle which provides the perfect balance to hold their cameras while shooting.
2. Moving from One Piece of Equipment to Another
Moving a camcorder or mirrorless rig with rails, a focus system, a microphone, an LED light, and a monitor is a serious challenge without a camera top handle. This is especially the case if you switch between a tripod and a gimbal. You may have to rely on the manufacturer’s handle (or lack of one), which is often too small. In this situation where you are frequently changing from a video tripod to a gimbal, a camera top handle grip is necessary.
3. Mounting Accessories
A camera top handle enables you to fully experience a fully-loaded rig. Once secure in position, videographers and filmmakers can mount multiple accessories to the unit depending on the model.
Doing so changes accessories that could have been an obstacle to important camera settings and even the viewfinder. A microphone, LED light, monitor, etc. are some of the accessories that users can mount unto a camera top handle.
Top 3 of the Best Top Camera Handles in 2022
When looking for the best camera top handle for your mirrorless camera or camcorder, you need to consider accessory compatibility, strength, and the number of mounting holes. Based on the criteria, here are the top three best camera top handles:
SmallRig ARRI Locating Top Handle Lite – 3765
Built for cages with an ARRI 3/8″ -16 locating hole, you’ll find this camera top handle ideal for a mirrorless camera. It’s the lighter version of the higher-end 2165C, but that doesn’t exempt it from being on our list.
This camera top handle enables videographers and filmmakers to mount multiple accessories to the rig itself. At a price of only $29.90, you are certainly getting value when considering some of its standout features:
- Three front cold shoes
- Two rear cold shoes
- ARRI 3/8″ -16 locating holes
- 1/4 “-20 threaded holes
- Net Weight: 124g
SmallRig Universal ARRI Locating Handle – 2165C
If you want the ultimate quality and features, then the SmallRig Universal ARRI Locating Handle is made for you. It’s a higher-end version of the SmallRig ARRI Locating Top Handle Lite, priced at $59.
The SmallRig Universal ARRI Locating Handle is an ideal choice for videographers and filmmakers due to its robust flexibility and adaptability for various accessories. Key features include;
- Quick assembly and disassembly
- Multiple 1/4″-20 & 3/8″-16 & ARRI 3/8″-16 accessory threads
- Three cold shoe mounts
- Net Weight: 137g
As an entry-level product, the UURig R005 encapsulates the basic element of a camera top handle. The camera top handle mounts directly to a camera’s hot shoe and has plenty of 1/4″ and 3/8″ screw holes for mounting camera accessories. Upon review, the unit itself is quite simple in its appearance but still includes the following features;
- Easy mounting
- 3 cold shoe extension mounts
- Multiple 1/4″ and 3/8″ screw holes
Who is the Winner?
When choosing the best camera top handle, consider how you will use the piece of gadget and where the accessories will mount. From our findings, SmallRig camera top handles address these user pain points.
Compared to the straight bar of the UURig R005, both SmallRig camera handles offer better ergonomics when hand-holding. Plus, the design is well-thought-out when mounting external accessories. In addition, the onboard spanner makes SmallRig handles easier to mount and unmount accessories than UURig’s R005.
In summary, think about where the mounting holes are located and if the handle is ergonomic for hand-holding over longer periods when choosing a camera top handle.