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Shoulder rig for a mirrorless camera - how not to go overboard?

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Hello there.

 

First post here, though I've been visiting the forum for a long, long time as a non-participating viewer.

 

Recently I managed to lay my hands on a sweet Helios 44M-4 and that finally made me think seriously about getting a shoulder rig.

 

However, looking at them I began wondering if this isn't too much for my small, mirrorless (a6300) setup. I do not use (nor do I plan to) external monitor, LED lights, anything - apart from occasionally mounted Zoom H1 / some Rode mic. My heaviest lens is 18-105, but even then the whole setup weighs just around 1kg.

 

I really crave for an organic, natural, handheld look many short videos / ads feature, though I realize they've been filmed with a proper cameras + cine lenses, whose weight prevent getting micro-jitter shakes, + Easy Rigs and gimbals, etc.

 

Is this even possible to achieve this pleasant, immersive handheld feel with such a feather-light cameras?

 

Do you have any recommendations / experiences you are eager to share?

 

Does it make sense to look for something like Tilta's shoulder rigs with counterweights, Z-brackets and top handles or just let it go and get something like Revo's rigs (image)?

Being able to have a follow-focus system would be nice, since rotating focus rings with hand will ruin everything..

 

Thanks for reading,

Greetings.

 

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How long are you takes on average? 10 seconds, 10 minutes. Tripod, shoulder rig for long stuff, Gimbal for short stuff. None of the shoulder rigs I have Ever seen help much because a camera like you have has not enough total weight to it to steady very well. Old ENG cameras were pretty crude and weighed 22 to even 25 pounds with dual batteries hanging off of them, But if you look at the big time press core they are still using 18 to 20 pound cameras and that is for stability, not just for looks. Pretty impossible to get that on a 6 pound rig.

Plus they are using a B4 lens, and small sensors that has pretty much Everything in focus all the time.  But they can zoom in big time and get separation if they need it. On 12x to 20x lenses not that hard to do.They are a 2/3" or a 1" sensor, so easy to get that look.

They invented Tripods and Fluid Heads for a reason, and that is why movie studios use them most of the time. If this stuff was easy everyone would be doing it for a living.

But if you have a lens with IS in it and learn to walk toe to heal with knees bent it can be pretty good for short shots. But since the lens you have isn't stabilized, ehh hard to do handheld. Maybe moving up to the A6500 with IBIS in it would be a better, cheaper way to go? Better camera overall also. But easy to spend your money. :blush:

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My shots usually last 10 to 30 seconds.

Sometimes I shoot timelapses, but for these tripod is a must.

 

52 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

Pretty impossible to get that on a 6 pound rig.

I was afraid to hear this. 

Gimbals are not for me; since they are an electronic devices, they're more prone to fail than a simple rig / tripod / monopod. Neither am I a huge fan of the results they give - it lacks the authenticity, immersiveness, naturality.

 

53 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

Maybe moving up to the A6500 with IBIS in it would be a better, cheaper way to go?

From what I've seen, a6500's IBIS is okay for taking photos but it tends to overcompensate during shooting video which results in even more unnatural, mechanic micro shakes.

And I did upgrade my camera - I had used a6000 for 2 years and changed it for a6300 in December.
( :

 

Thanks for taking your time.

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I have been using the rig in the attached photo lately. To make the rig more stable, you should position the weight as spread out as possible. Putting the powerbank on the end of the rods makes a big differenc, and it's also nice to have it powering the camera. The mid handle is in the centre of gravity which makes it better to handle. I attach the front handle when I want to shoulder mount it. All together the pieces cost about $150 from eBay

20180316_185503.jpg

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2 hours ago, UncleBobsPhotography said:

I have been using the rig in the attached photo lately. To make the rig more stable, you should position the weight as spread out as possible. Putting the powerbank on the end of the rods makes a big differenc, and it's also nice to have it powering the camera. The mid handle is in the centre of gravity which makes it better to handle. I attach the front handle when I want to shoulder mount it. All together the pieces cost about $150 from eBay

This looks legit! I really like it, since it allows to rest one hand on a camera and turn on/off recording or fiddle with settings.

Where do you put a shoulder pad if I may ask? Do you just move the power bank and then attach it?

 

One more thing: unfortunately, my replies will be delayed - they need to go through the moderator before they get posted.

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For small/light without a gimbal I like what Uncle Bob did above, only I'd have the option for a chest pad or something for another point of contact when you want added stability. I also like the twin offset handle config pictured below, though the a6300's rolling shutter, that could be tough without a stabilized lens. You don't have to spend Redrock cash either, but they have lots of rig sample photos to get ideas from. The other option is a gimbal.

Chris

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Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.55.03 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.55.43 PM.png

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If you want something light and mobile that will give you nice natural motion, and aren’t planning to use a cage, cinema lenses, monitor and all the rest, I don’t think you could do better than to get something like the Glidecam. Shoulder rigs and easy rigs are great for keeping a camera steady and for small sweeping motions, but with practice, a handheld stabilizer will give you much more freedom of movement. 

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In addition to the above advice, another option I have opted to go with is a Job Gorillapod (I bought the largest one, I think it's called the 5K?).

It's a small tripod with bendy legs, and is a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none.  If you're familiar with Casey Neistat it's what he uses on his hand-held rigs.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRW2VpWtHVHcDi5mJ9GyIZ    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQNcOxstv0H48HCqpTM_MI    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTLml0oL1hU_3_GUU7k8d-  images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQKwFWXnkfem8XWemm9CAA

It can be used:

  • as a very short tripod (~30cm tall)
  • if you bend the legs so they're together it works as a handle
  • if you have a bullhead you can adjust it so the legs go straight out behind the camera horizontally and it's a crude shoulder rig
  • if you have the legs coming back at you then you can have them make two points of contact with your chest, with your hands making three
  • if you put one leg towards your chest you can shape the other two out to the sides in a W shape and they become two handles - one on each side of the camera
  • a variation on the above is that the leg coming back goes over your shoulder making it a shoulder rig with handles
  • it's grippy so it can be wrapped around trees, poles, etc
  • etc etc etc

It won't do any of those things as well as dedicated rigs, but it's probably the most flexible rig you can get.

You said you didn't want to go overboard - this will give you some extra stability but will also ensure you aren't going too far!

My other suggestion might be a monopod.  Super stable if you're stationary, and if you're walking then it makes a decent counterbalance a bit like a glidecam.

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jonpais, I've had a chance to borrow a glidecam from a friend and see, how does it feel. I do realize one needs a great skill to get satisfying results from it, but to me using a glidecam for an extended period of time was really tiring.
I cannot imagine myself running a whole day with it and having enough strength at the end of an event to keep it steady. 

What's more: I do prefer well-executed handheld look over buttery smooth glidecam / gimbal shots.

 

kye, this little thing surely is a good idea I didn't even consider.
Will take a look at it. ( :

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So, to sum up: there is not so much to gain from an offset rig with a counterweight, when it comes to a feather-light camera without any extra accesories. 

Did I get it right? 

 

Gorillapod seems like a nice option, but wouldn't it be a bit slippery / wobbly? There is nothing that sets it properly in place, nothing to prevent it from moving on my chest / shoulder. 

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Rent one and check for yourself.

A shoulder rig isn't just  about holding your camera..

You have 4 points where your body is connected to the camera, 2 hands, shoulder and your eye. This allows movement and a look you don't get with anything else.

You can attach a follow focus and pull focus without shaking.

You won't use it all the time- it's a tool for special scenes like a Steadicam or Dolly, you only use it when needed. (Or if you do like an event all day long)

If you like the feeling of your rented rig, don't buy a compromise- no gorilla pod and no rig with one handle or anything that costs less than 200 $ (new), you will get pissed of because of screws getting loose and things like that.

You always can atttach weight to a rig, but i recommend doing this after all is set up and you can balance it right.

 

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Just now, heart0less said:

Hahahahha, that's a nice one. 

 

Will you mount it on a tripod? 

Believe it or not, I actually tried shooting with this contraption on an easyrig when I realized it was completely impractical. Yes, next time, tripod. 😂

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4 hours ago, heart0less said:

Gorillapod seems like a nice option, but wouldn't it be a bit slippery / wobbly? There is nothing that sets it properly in place, nothing to prevent it from moving on my chest / shoulder. 

Each 'bubble' on the legs have a rubber ring around them and they're surprisingly grippy.  Combined with the fact you can bend it however you'd like it can do an ok job.

The most significant issue is that as everything is flexible and there's no way to lock things down (there is no tighten adjustment) if you put enough force on something then it will move.  I don't think you'll run into this problem if you get a large enough one (this is why I went with the largest model) but you can't expect it to be completely rigid either.

3 hours ago, Dude_ger said:

Rent one and check for yourself.

If you like the feeling of your rented rig, don't buy a compromise- no gorilla pod and no rig with one handle or anything that costs less than 200 $ (new), you will get pissed of because of screws getting loose and things like that.

Great advice.  Rigs are personal and depend on what you're shooting and how you are approaching it.  

@jonpais what a great rig - reminds me of the contraption I've built for my next family holiday...

IMG_0791.thumb.jpg.42c97f7e2d182b471acb4cd33dd894a2.jpg

It has the XC10 and Rode VMP+ pointing forwards and the GoPro and Rode VideoMicro pointing backwards so that I can get shots of myself included in the video.  Including the GoPro also means that I can do things like time lapses (eg, if we stop to eat by a nice view) without having a separate rig.  I'm also taking my phone with the a phone gimbal for those wide panning shots that I can never get smooth handheld.

Time will tell if this rig is genius, ridiculous, or both!

@heart0less view this as a sign of what NOT to do!

 

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7 minutes ago, heart0less said:

What do you think about something like this?
It goes for around 20$. 

The only thing that worries me is the build quality.
 

It’s all plastic with a tiny bit of rubber and metal, but in my experience, it’s built to last. Maybe indestructible. 😬

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