Johan Hellsten demonstrates his new Easyrig Vario 5 Strong for camera payloads of 30 – 55 lb.
A year ago at NAB, Johan presented Vario 5, an adjustable version of his wildly popular Easyrig. For the past year, he and his crew in Northern Sweden have been busy working on a new, heavier payload model.
At NAB 2016, they introduced the Vario 5 Strong. It supports camera packages from 30-55 lb (14-25 kg). The original Vario 5 model supports payloads of 11-38 lb (5-17 kg).
The Vario 5 and Vario 5 Strong share similar technology. The adjustable tension system is patent pending (take note: USA 15/054 832, EU 15157184.1 and China 201610102236.5. Serious Swedish patent attorneys are on alert and standing by.) I mention this because shamelessly crude copies have been flaunted by companies with names that sound like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. But when you’re balancing a camera package weighing upward of 35 pounds with the price tag of a Maserati Quattroporte, you don’t want the entire thing dropping onto your toe because its inferior steel spring snapped and you were too cheap to buy the real deal.
Easyrig’s Vario 5 Strong is made in Sweden using, among other things, SKF ball bearings, Lesjofors springs and gas shock absorbers. These prominent Swedish companies have been making quality components since 1907. Johan Hellsten and his team have been building Easyrigs in their factory in Umeå, Sweden since 1994.
As a cameraman for Swedish news, Johan realized that handholding heavy, badly-balanced cameras would quickly shorten his shooting career. So Johan invented Easyrig. Think of it as a backpack with an adjustable arm that curves above your head. A retractable and tensioned cable takes the weight of the camera. The camera is neutrally buoyant. It’s brilliant. Many cinematographers agree; more than 8,000 Easyrigs have been sold worldwide.
The key to the Vario 5 Strong is the new internal adjustment system that allows for changes in the weight of the system. Let’s say you change lenses from a lightweight prime to an almost Hubble telescope sized zoom. The Vario 5 Strong is easy to adjust.
Video by George Leon