Miguel de Sá

Ulanzi’s new U-rig Metal video review

Smartphone video is getting very popular, as the quality is improving, but isn’t perfect. To make the task easy and to improve the Mobile Filmaking professionalism Ulanzi propose the new U-Rig Metal, video rig. They send me a unit to review it, of course, all in this video is my opinion and Ulanzi agreed that I would be 100% honest.

By exploring and playing with the U-Rig Metal (honestly is a camera cage) I found out that this product has more potential than Ulanzi marketing is stating, for example, photography.

Not so long ago I did make the video Wanna get REAL with Photography? & 5 reasons why and I stand by it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve the Smartphone video and photography. And that is what Ulanzi U-Rig Metal do, help improve the smartphone videography.

Amazon affiliate links, Ulanzi U-Rig Metal
US:
https://amzn.to/2G2VCxE // FR: https://amzn.to/2HIZyoQ // UK: https://amzn.to/2WwiTNw // IT:https://amzn.to/2S3VNzk //ES: https://amzn.to/2WBMkh1

By unboxing the U-rig I can feel the metal and the strong structure, it feels lighter than it looks very familiar in the hands, almost like a really scaled up compact camera. It has one two three four ¼ photography standard screw holes at each side. On top, it has 2 standard camera hot shoe mount. Also on the package has a nice fashionable strap. I did use it for a while but soon I did realize that isn’t my style. The Ulanzi’s marketing says and I coat:

“The Best Smartphone Video Rig in the World!”

– I’ll be the judge of that!

By looking at the package I imagine that my OnePlus 6t won’t fit, because it’s a big phone, and the main lens is the inside one. But it fits fine betwine the spring-loaded clip. The big screw in the front gives extra security, nice touch! ME LIKE. The secret of a large range of smartphone compatibility is the lens mount design. It is possible to attach 17mm or 37mm lens or filters. Ulanzi sends me one wide angle lens to play, but if you are wondering, YES the Apexel 16mm 4K lens are compatible!

On the handheld, It feels fine, maybe to light for my taste… but for that, you can attach a hook on the ¼ screw and ad the preferable weight. But I’m a tripod kind of guy… , the main reason (in my opinion) this is a great video tool is the inclusion of the 37mm screw because it’s possible to add filters there! This is a big thing, on smartphones, the aperture is locked… for a small sensor play with depth of field, it’s not a real thing. But for the video, if you want to have a professional looking video you need to reduce the shutter speed. Because the shutter speed on that video is the double speed of the images per seconds (normally), so if the video is 25 images per second so my shutter speed is 1/50 of a second. And this is how professionals do professional looking videos! To arrive the shutter speed at 1/50 of a second without over-exposing I added two filters, one on top of the other and BUM we got a correct exposure. By the way, I am using the Open Camera app it’s a free app and a very cool one if you want to make professional looking videos on the smartphone.

37mm ND Filter (just a suggestion)
US:
https://amzn.to/2MKcDNR // FR: https://amzn.to/2WyIMfD // UK: https://amzn.to/2WA4cJe // IT: httpshttps://amzn.to/2RYPMnv  //ES: https://amzn.to/2BdFSnC

The 17 mm screw is excellent to add lenses but that begs the question, which lenses are compatible with the 17mm, for example, the Apexel 16mm is compatible, but the Apexel 18×25 zoom lens isn’t, and unfortunately, when we are traveling on the Amazon world we don’t find that is specific diameter on the product description…
The two hot shoes on the top it’s excellent to add lights, microphones or anything else that is compatible. A very good example is the set up that I did use in this video review. That app is PromptSmart Pro and The Script showing on that app follows your voice, it also can record with the front-facing camera.

The good

As you already saw, the build quality of the U-rig Metal is excellent. So let’s jump that, I especially like the way it protects the phone, clip and lock it in place and then have a big metal cage to protect your smartphone is a big deal for me. Now I wonder if I didn’t use my smartphone has a camera more often because I was afraid of scratch or even break it… And that is too bad because modern smartphones have really cool abilities like film upside down and corrected automatically, really cool slow motion features and 100% manual control, a feature that you don’t even find on action cameras. So the next image is a really good example, I don’t have the courage to put my smartphone without any protection (or even my action camera) on this situation. But this rig has really great protection and now I have this really cool skate shoot.

It’s light! I know I just said that I don’t like it light, but you always can add weight!
The 3rd good thing is the ability of addons, so the 1/4 screws and the Hot shoes are awesome to use this with a selfie stick, gorilla tripod, lights, microphones…
Well, you can add lenses on this puppy, but the most awesome thing is the 37 mm filter holder. 37 filter is already somewhat standard, and if your filters are bigger it’s easy to find some adaptor for very cheap. Of course, you must invest in ND filters, especially variant ND Filter, to get the most of the U-rig Metal and make pro-like videos from a Smartphone.

The bad…

But not everything it’s perfect on this bad boy. Let’s start with the most simple stuff, I have really big Led lights and I like to use a really big zoom recorder so the Hot shoes of the U-Rig Metal are too close to each other to use both. I must admit this is a problem of 0.001% of users… but… here we are.
You need to buy a lot of s***. Ok, let’s see: a tripod, ND Filter, microphone, and a bunch of other stuff like lights and so on. But come on!!! if you want to go seriously with the best video quality on a smartphone those things are essential…

Finally the price. It’s around 60 to 70 dollars. You can get something simple phone mount, and you can put it on a tripod (usually), you can get one of those for free when you buy some cheap lenses or other smartphones accessories. And comparing €60 with a free product… But not everything is black and white, so to photograph the Milky Way with a smartphone video tutorial I thought that I needed better equipment to hold my smartphone in the darkness. I bought for around 15 euros an advanced tripod mount and attach it a ball head, this one it’s a hardcore pro one that costs around 25 bucks… And of course, now we are at 40 bucks and no protection on my smartphone… Honestly, if I knew at that time that this kind of product existed, I would directly buy this for 60 or 70 bucks no problem.

Conclusion…

To conclude I must admit that I try to find the end user for this product and I realized that that user is me. Let me explain. A content creator that wants to make professional looking videos easily with a really low budget. Also, I can imagine content creators like makeup artists, guerrilla documentary and journalism, vloggers and life podcasters. I don’t really have a camera dedicated to film YouTube videos so I jump between an action camera, my DSLR, and my smartphone. Even if in the near future I get a dedicated YouTube camera, I have to admit that this camera cage it’s excellence to use my smartphone as a B camera or as a teleprompter or even a secondary screen.
& another thing that I have to share with you before ending this video review, and if you are an experienced filmmaker or photographer, you know where I am going with this.


This camera cage has way more possibilities than what Ulanzi Marketing Team are showing.

The possibility of adding filters unlocks really cool photography hacks. Like for example long exposure during the day, and my favorite, time lapses!

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