Crowd-funded projects mix excitement – because they can represent genuine innovation – and frustration – because things take a long time to make it from idea to reality. They don't usually present the chance to get you shot, but this one, by Stockcam, definitely does!
• You could consider a stabilizer with camera controls like the Ronin RS3 Mini.
The offering is available for early birds at Indegogo, but Stockcam has also created a page to look for early enthusiasts for the gun-shaped camera cage.
OK, we can see some conceivable advantages to the design when it comes to holding the camera steady with the shoulder rest, and there are places for fill lights or microphones to easily be attached. There are mounts for a couple of lenses in the adjustable shoulder rest, There is even a tripod mount.
It might even actually make a lot of sense. After all, guns are designed to be steady when aiming. Guns, though, tend to be associated with another purpose, and here is where we run into a problem. One heavily exaggerated by the Stockcam campaign images which don't exactly steer away from the soldier look!
Size-wise, the 'gun' is 500mm long, a similar length to the legendary AK-47 popular with terrorists (at least in 80s movies), rather than the longer but more accurate M4 that US soldiers use today, which is about twice as long again.
That makes sense – here the 'scope' (or camera) is the key component, and the butt provides the stabilizing element resting on the photographer's body. The thing is, through the eyes of a nervous law enforcer, will that be obvious? Or will it cause panic in public places? It looks very gun-like, and a slightly chunky-looking scope isn't dissuade a nervous officer (and people get nervous when you wave a 'gun' around).
In the US alone, law enforcers shot and killed 1,097 people in 2022 – a trend that is steadily rising. That's just the police. What about worried folk trying to protect their property? We live in a time of heightened concern and there are plenty of armed citizens in some countries, including the US.
Holding this in your hands is essentially handing someone an excuse to walk away from a 2nd-degree murder (manslaughter) inquiry with no punishment. In 2014 at 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, was shot by a police officer because he had a toy gun. There were other aspects, but in the inquiry it was noted that the toy didn't have an 'orange tip' that would make it easy for the police officer to see that it was a toy.
Guess what, nor does the Stockcam. In fact, it is needlessly gun-like. Instead of a safety switch, it has a similar switch to choose focus modes. The shutter is, of course, connected to a trigger. And it is called "Fun and engaging" by its designers. That just feels a bit wrong.
So it's a tool, being marketed a bit like a toy, that might get you shot. Still, I bet it feels somehow more powerful and important to hold it than a traditional rig!
By all means, give it some thought, or be proud to be a photographer and choose something from our best camera rigs guide.