Rycote made waves in the studio world recently with their universal shockmount, which improved on the ageing 'cat's cradle' design using innovative 'lyres'. Those not involved with video production may be unaware of the fact that Rycote also manufacture products for assisting with on‑set sound capture, from wind shields to boom poles. One of the latest additions to the range is the Universal Camera Kit, which is designed to provide shock protection and wind shielding for a shotgun mic, fitting into a standard shoe mount.
In order to test the kit, I headed to a windy Brighton beach and mounted the Camera Kit, shotgun mic and Zoom H4N recorder atop a Canon 550D. Mounting of both the mic and Zoom H4N was made possible by a shoe‑mount extender included with the kit, a very useful addition indeed! This extender is a very useful accessory in itself, and it's great to see it included with the kit, as I've already found a use for it when mounting two lights on the same camera!
The kit comes in two versions, for mics of around 14mm and 18mm in diameter. I used a Sennheiser ME66 shotgun (18mm kit), which is around 32cm in length when fully assembled with the K6 battery‑powered preamp. With the wind shield attached to the mic, there was a little sag, though nothing too drastic, and I found that sliding the mic little further back tackled the issue. Having an assistant point the mic at me and give the camera a few bumps, it was tested without any wind shielding, with just the jammer, and with both jammer and shield in place.
Performance can't be faulted: the kit holds the mic sturdily and reduces handling noise and wind noise (with the correct accessories fitted) in equal measure. Not only is the shock mounting exceptional, wind reduction from the included jammer and shield is top‑notch. What's really impressive is just how many situations the kit is right for. Rather than electing to sell all of the accessories separately for maximum profit, Rycote have decided to create a go‑to solution for camera mounting a shotgun mic. Much like the Universal Shock Mount before it, the Camera Kit feels very well‑built and solid. It does exactly what it's designed to do, and does it very well indeed. J G Harding
£132 including VAT.