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“Magic arms received quite a bit more magic.”
Released in the summer of 2021, the Spider Crab lineup by iFootage brings the company into new territories. And it's their first foray into the magic arms space, a subdivision of articulating support arms. The Spider Crab lineup, featuring four magic arms and a telescopic arm, aims to deliver a durable and modular rigging solution for adding support equipment. And they're ready to mount anything from a smartphone or GoPro, all the way to a full-blown cinema camera like the ARRI Alexa Mini.
Traditionally, rigging camera equipment is tricky, and it's somewhat of a small artform within its own right. When looking at these tools, you have to factor in many elements, namely the payload rating, connecting threads, and construction. And these are just some of the aspects that combine to determine their long-term reliability. Sadly, though, there's also a slew of cheap unreliable articulating arms on the market, further complicating the task. But, with this release, iFootage not only enters the space with a premium offering but simultaneously comes swinging with something new. But how does it stand up? Let's find out.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the iFootage Spider Crabs?
Build Quality & Design
The five arms central to the Spider Crabs lineup all revolve around a high-quality anodized aluminum alloy and stainless steel construction. And the stainless steel is strategically placed around the ball and elbow joints, critical areas that often fail first. As such, this combination provides exceptional strength, rigidity, and durability that's ready to last. But like most magic arms, each arm locks at both the central elbow and the end joints through a single wing knob. But, unlike most, there's no sagging or drooping over time since they feature a large metal rosette for a powerful grip even at the maximum vertical payload of 6 kg (13.22 lbs).
And the arms hold in the exact position they're placed. Combined, the construction here is markedly improved over a cheaper articulating arm, as most use aluminum alloy and plastic alone. And the design of each arm is quite comprehensive and fairly premium amongst rivals.
But the models in the lineup do vary slightly in design. Let's cover these differences.
The MA lineup features the MA 3-4 and MA 5-6. These are the larger articulating arms, measuring 8 in (20 cm) or 12 in (30 cm) respectively when extended. The added size lets iFootage capitalize on the design, however. In this case, they've added two quick-release heads with buckle locks at each end, letting you quickly attach accessories. Both are identical, too, so that you can use them interchangeably. Each mini head of this mount also features a 3/8" spring-loaded screw with ARRI locating pins to prevent twisting. But push down to reveal a 1/4-20" connector – great flexibility. There's also a thick rubber D-ring that adds more friction to prevent twisting. And these particular design decisions are what makes this lineup special amongst the competition. Most magic arms offer a standard connector thread or a basic clamp at each end. But, here, you get a full-blown quick-release system, giving you immediate access to attach accessories without hassling with unscrewing the entire arm. So no more rotating the whole monitor or mic to connect it. Far more covenant.
There are also a few notable security features present. In this case, the mini head locks automatically when inserted into the housing. And the buckle itself is also quite secure and merely folds for tightening as a secondary lock. But the head also features an extra push-in lock as a fail-safe. And this redundancy and dual locking system adds safety to prevent an accidental fall when opening the latch.
Overall, the design here is well executed, thorough, and fixes several flaws of most magic arms. And it's a welcomed addition that greatly improves the versatility and general functionality of this product.
Next, there's the Spider Crab LT range. This is the smaller lineup consisting of the LT 2-3.5 and LT 4-5.5.
These smaller articulating arms measure 5.5 in (14 cm) and 9.5 in (24 cm), respectively. But they bring the same basic functionality, just a slightly different specialization. The main difference is the mount design. So rather than use a quick-release mount, they offer a fixed cold shoe mount with a 1/4-20" connector. The head also unscrews completely, revealing a 1/4-inch thread underneath. Thus, this range is designed to mount accessories closer to the camera or rig. And the shorter length and cold shoe make them ideal for monitors, small lights, and microphones.
Lastly, there's the telescopic Support Rod, the SA-32. This accessory comes with a quick-release grab clamp that’s ready to mount to a tripod leg, light stand, or stabilize a slider.
With the Spider Crabs system featuring five total arms, you can attach virtually any accessory to a camera or support rig. These include support tools like monitors, recorders, and microphones. But, it also extends to adding a b-cam for a second angle or redundant recording, or larger tools like battery-powered lights. But, iFootage also has a slew of extra accessories to increase the versatility even more. Namely, they offer vacuum pump suction cups, available in two sizes. And it’s an ideal tool to attach the Spider Crabs to cars, say the windshield or a building window. Surprisingly, the larger model is also rated for a rig of 30 kg (66 lb), making it ideally suited for attaching a cinema camera like the ARRI Alexa Mini. iFootage also includes a phone holder, available in several colors, that swivels from portrait to landscape. And the holder pans and has a top-mounted cold shoe to attach a microphone or small LED light.
Overall, this system is quite modular and adaptable to a wide range of possible use cases. And it's ready to tackle small projects like a talking head setup for YouTube, all the way to filmmakers working on a blockbuster production. It's extremely unlikely that most creators wouldn't find them helpful. So the only real question is whether or not you have a current need for support and rigging equipment. If you do, then these are ready to tackle some fairly demanding and complicated jobs.
The only potential con that some users will see with this lineup is the price point. And initially, we felt that way ourselves. But, we've analyzed the market, and we can indeed confirm this lineup is competitively priced amongst similar articulating support arms. Now we're assuming you factor in payload rating, construction, and thread support. If so, you'll find the Spider Crabs fairly central amongst the market. But, considering the high-end build offered here, each of the Spider Crabs provides enormous value. So while $100 seems steep for such an accessory on the surface, this is the true market price. But, it's important to highlight this finding, so you're aware.
It's hard to find any real faults here. The Spider Crabs are a fully fleshed and genuinely innovative product amongst this crowd. It's a system that solves many key headaches that plague support equipment, namely payload rating, rigidity, and long-term dependability. Most tools fall short in one of these areas. But, iFootage has solved all of these challenges while also adding superior quick-release functionality and a slew of complementary accessories. And while this style of support tool isn't particularly new to the market, they've found an interesting way to add something unique. So, if you're in the market for support tools, this is currently the best platform to date.
Which Spider Crab Should You Buy?
The Spider Crab MA and LT ranges have particular uses, so it's important to know your use case beforehand. With their combined 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch threads along with the quick-release system, the MA arms are ideal for mounting larger accessories, say a b camera. But, they also provide the most versatility to add other accessories too. The LT arms, on the other hand, are perfect for added accessories to the camera itself. A great example is adding an external monitor or a field recorder. While the telescopic arm is perfect for situations where you want extra reach and want to boom an accessory. It's also great when you want to attach the magic arm to a surface that doesn't offer a connecting thread, like the column of a light stand. Each of these tools has its use case. But for many, the MA 5-6 and a grab clamp is the perfect suit.
The Spider Crab line brings outstanding durability, functionality, and flexibility to this category. And it now stands as the current benchmark in this space.
Build Quality & Design: ★★★★★