When I bought my first Gini rig, they already were really popular with indie/budget filmmakers and since then they have grown considerably, but with the growth prices went up as well, while competitors keep slashing prices to find the their place in this busy market place. But while prices might not be as crazy low as before. Gini rigs are still so much more affordable than rigs by big European and American brands.
EDIT: the Original EXTREME 17 rig that is more or less the one I actually have appears to be $399, which is the same I paid for mine, link below. The reason why I thought the prices went up is because the new ADVANCED version costs $499. If fact they appear to be better value for money, because both now come with a free follow focus, while mine didn't.
So how does it stack up against a lot of other budget brands that came along in recent years? I haven’t used many other big rigs, so I can only talk about my experience; the review is based purely on my own opinion, so judge it accordingly.
When I bought my first Gini rig (not extreme 17) over 2 years ago, I was blown away but the built quality. During last 2 years I’ve used Gini rigs for everything from live events and documentaries to short films and music videos. So have I changed my opinion about the quality in 2 years? Is it true that, cheap price means bad quality? How reliable are these rigs? Let me share my thoughts with you.
I bought this Extreme 17 rig on special offer directly from the old Gini website. It cost me just $400 plus postage costs and customs charges, which is amazing price. Something similar from likes of Zacuto would cost over 2000$. I’m sure the Zacuto is a top quality brand, but for that price, is it so much better? I’m not so sure. With the big brands you pay for the name as well as the quality. I’m not saying the quality is not there, but if you know me, I’m all about value for money and I truly believe that I’m getting better value for money with something like Gini.
I absolutely love this rig and you can see my detailed look at every single part of the rig above. The highlights for me are the handles and the shoulder pad, which make this rig an absolute pleasure to use.
What I don’t like about this rig? To be perfectly honest, there is literally nothing that I don’t like about this rig. I don’t like the original base plate (more about it in the video), which I swapped for the older one I had on my first Gini rig, but otherwise it’s great.
How reliable is it? I didn’t have a single problem with this rig so far; the built quality really is great and answering to my own question above: Cheap price doesn’t mean bad quality.
How comfortable is it? As far as shoulder rigs go, this is great. It feels like a proper rig, it looks amazing. I’ve had so many great comments from people seeing my rig on the shoots. It’s great for getting steady handheld shots with DSLRs, which themselves are not very good cameras for hand-held work. You can evem get decent shots even when walking (see the example in the video). Obviously it’s not as smooth as steadicam, but weight of the rig adds a lot of stability to the shots. You simply can’t shake it as quickly as the camera on it’s own. It’s heavy, but a great shoulder pad and decent balance means that you can have it on your shoulder for a long period of time without getting crazy tired. It’s particularly good for films, music videos, creative work especially if you want to use a follow focus, matte box and other accessories. Such rings are great for this kind of shooting. For documentary or run&gun work it’s a bit too large, heavy and just no necessary. Something like a cheap cowboy rig will do just fine for run&gun work.
So should you buy this rig? It all depends on what kind of work you do. It’s great to look cool with a large shoulder rig, but if it makes your life more difficult and you’re not taking a full advantage of its capabilities, then there is no point to use it. If you’re on other hand want/need to use a follow focus, matte box and other 15mm rod compatible accessories while shooting handheld, this rig is probably one of the best budget shoulder rigs out there.
Little note: I'm not in any way associated with GINI, ...which is a shame because these are really nice rigs and I would to have them all :)