portabrace 2I was among the first wave of early adopters — and posted a series of video tests here — of the new Atomos Shogun 4K video recorder and high-resolution monitor. It was a rocky product launch to be sure, with some problems left to be fixed until later (and we recently got a big one, with more to come). But some issues couldn’t be fixed with firmware updates, from battery life to build quality to the lack of any sun hood. Atomos plans to make good on battery life by sending out free bigger replacements to everyone who registers, and as for build quality, lots of “pros” came out of the woodwork, claiming that their million-dollar clients wouldn’t gamble on them with such a plasticky product in their kit. (Yeah, right.)

photo by Stefan Czech
photo by Stefan Czech
But as for needing a sun hood, no argument there. I get the problem: it’s a touch-screen, and just like on smartphones, a matte screen isn’t an option, thus severe reflections off the glossy screen is a big problem especially in sunlight. From the pictures at right, you can see the official Atomos Shogun sun hood that’s coming soon, and it looks as conventionally practical as any other. No surprises there. It will do what it does best: folding down very compact, staying taut, and screwing firmly at just the right spot into the top threaded hole of the Shogun.

portabrace1But options never hurt. One recurring theme I’ve noticed among Shogun users is gratitude for that killer included case, combined with the reality that it’s too big to justify lugging around on every shoot. Answering that, and ahead of the official Atomos sun hood, Portabrace has begun delivering their own. Bonus points: it doubles as a soft protector case, with the company’s high standards in quality and weather-proof touches to give you peace of mind.

portabrace7I wanted to love it, then my heart sunk when I got it, then I got past its design problem and made it work. What? In the picture at right, you’ll see how the Shogun looks when you simply slip it into the Portrabrace and pull the velcro straps around the Shogun at all the points of contact. We have a problem. portabrace8Zoomed in, you can see how the Portabrace’s actual frame for the monitor is cutting off the bottom of the screen. This is especially a big problem because of the way that the AtomOS interface is laid out, with all of the controls right there at the bottom.

portabrace9portabrace10But I’m keeping this thing. Here’s why: at left, pay close attention to those little velcro strips that were made for each other. They sort of suspend the Shogun into position. When you bring them together into position just naturally, you do get that screen crop problem. But if you really jam them across each other (past even their respective lengths, seen at right), you finally get enough tension to shove the Shogun up into the right spot for an unobstructed view. That’s the ticket.

portabrace3portabrace4What else to say? We all know the Shogun gets hot, and its last-minute design addition of heat piping requires the top vents to be free and clear. Portabrace thought of that, with a flap you can see coming up at left, then tying down via velcro at right. It’s nice (and necessary), but the onus is on you: if you forget to open it up, you could have a problem. Be careful! It’s yet another thing to add to your long checklist in the field.

portabrace6Last few things to mention are ports, ports and ports. Portabrace has taken an especially (over-)simplified approach here, by creating velcro-squeeze-gaps into which you can access them. It’s not a sturdy or solid-seeming pathway in, but one nice effect of so much velcro is that it partly behaves like strain relief, as you’ll be smooshing it down around all those incoming cables. There’s so much velcro on this thing, that if you’ve got some weird fetish for the stuff, you’ll be in paradise. Meanwhile, if anyone yells “quiet on the set!” and you’ve still got a cable to plug in: uh oh.

portabrace5Same for the battery on the back; and thankfully that access point is “tailored for plus sizes” as it leaves room for a NP-F970 size battery too.

You can buy the Portabrace Shogun Sun Hood at introductory pricing of $79 direct from the manufacturer, or from B&H Photo and Video.