If you shoot video at a serious level, you’ll likely need to use an external, mic, lights and maybe an external monitor. You might be able to put a shotgun mic on the camera’s hotshoe, but then you might want to position and point it separately. Light of any size don’t work well on a hotshoe and bring the same lack of positioning control, and external monitors are the same.
Ultimately, you can’t fit up to three separate devices on a single hotshoe, quite apart from the control you might want to use over their positioning. So clamps and accessory arms are a near-essential part of a videographer’s kit-bag – and these gadgets are useful for stills photography too.
And even the best camera rigs need some help mounting accessories. The best cinema cameras often come with mounting points on the body, like the new Sony FX30, but you can never have enough clamps, support arms, and mounting points, even with these.
The Veo CP-65 Accessory Kit is a great way to get started. Each item is available individually, but if you don’t have any mounting accessories at all, this kit comes with three essentials: a Veo CP-65 Clamp with mounting holes for accessory arms, a multi-jointed VEO TSA DLX L Tripod Support Arm and a VEO SPH Smartphone Holder with Arca Swiss base and mounting holes of its own.
If you don’t need such a heavy-duty clamp or such a long support arm, there’s a cheaper CP-46 kit which still comes with a small clamp and support arm, and the same VEO SPH Smartphone Holder.
VEO CP-65 Clamp
Jaw width: up to 65mm
Mounting holes: 2 x 1/4”, 1 x 3/8”
Maximum load: 2.5kg
VEO TSA DLX L Tripod Support Arm
Folded length: 67mm
Maximum extension: 290mm
Maximum load: 3kg
VEO SPH Smartphone Holder
Smartphone width: up to 90mm
Ball joint rotation: 360° rotation, swivel +/- 40°
Mounting: Arca compatible base, 1/4” and 3/8” thread in base, cold shoe
We’ll look at each component separately because the are available individually and you might want to buy them that way. And we'll starting with the CP-65 Clamp, which is likely to be the mainstay of your accessory mounting system.
VEO CP-65 Clamp review
The VEO CP-65 can clamp on to objects up to 65mm in thickness (hence the model name) and has swivelling pads to handle circular objects like tripod legs or flat surfaces like desk or table edges.
It’s beautifully made and finished, and clamps with grip of iron (or whatever material it’s made out of). There are two standard-size 1/4” mounting points, one at the back, one on the top, and one 3/8” hole for accessories that use the larger size.
VEO TSA DLX Tripod Support Arm review
This is like a miracle of miniature engineering. It has two sections with a rotating pivot in the center, and a fully articulating ball joint at either end – and all three are locked in position – and very firmly – by a single locking nut at the center.
You release the locking nut to fold it down for storage, or adjust the position of the attached accessory to a huge range of angles, directions and positions, then lock everything in place by tightening it again.
At either end of the support arm, on an articulating ball joint are the mounting screws. These come with an extra twist (or rather without an extra twist) by using a bayonet plate that works with other accessories in the Vanguard mount system to prevent any swivel even when they’re not fully tightened.
This support arm is impressively rigid when locked, though it needs to be screwed into the clamp very tightly to remove any trace of play. I did use a supplied hex key a couple of times to get some extra leverage. There’s a hole in the knurled wheel that’s perfectly positioned for this. At full extension and carrying heavy objects, it can get knocked out of position and need tightening, but putting a mid-size light at the end of a support arm is asking a lot.
Some Vanguard tripods and others have 1/4” mounting points build into the tripod ‘spider’ so you may not need to use the clamp (above).
VEO SPH Smartphone Holder review
I’ve used a lot of smartphone holders, and while they all do the job well enough, most are just plastic gadgets with spring-loaded clamps. The Veo SPH Smartphone Holder is in a class above. The metal finish oozes quality, the Arca Swiss Base is so useful for attaching your phone straight on to a compatible tripod, and there’s a 1/4” (and a 3/8”) mounting point if you want to use the accessory arm instead.
The clamp jaws fold out for use, and are tightened by a screw to give a really secure grip. There’s a ball joint at the back for quick angle adjustments and to switch between horizontal and vertical orientation. The locking nut, though, does require pretty strong fingers to lock the ball really firmly; otherwise a quick twist will keep the phone where you positioned it but not prevent you pushing it into a different position – which may have been the idea.
The Vanguard VEO CP-65 Accessory Kit is not cheap, but the engineering, design and built quality are obvious from the moment you take it out of the box. You could probably find some low-cost equivalents on Amazon for a fraction of the price, but they would probably be a fraction of the quality too.
The Veo kit is easy to set up and use, exceptionally rigid, remarkably versatile and looks like it might last a lifetime. And if you’re going to be dangling accessories that could cost hundreds on a set of clamps, brackets and support arms, you want them to be good!
• Best video lights
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• Best external monitors