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Rig for Sony A7s - Tips?


Gregormannschaft
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I'll be shooting a documentary in the next few months and am looking into grabbing a shoulder rig that's gonna cut down on any camera shake from doing handheld work. I wish I lived in the US as they have a Manfrotto Sympla rig that looks great, but getting it shipped to Germany makes it mega expensive.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/999925-REG/manfrotto_mva525wk_sympla_lightweight_shoulder_mounted.html

Looking on Amazon here is a bit of a nightmare, there's a million branded shoulder rigs branded with names you've never heard of and with hardly any reviews out there from places you'd trust. Does anyone here have a setup they could recommend? Particularly looking at one for the Sony A7s, something thats small, easy to transport and lug around.

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I recommend piecing together your own rig. It is often cheaper and allows you to customize everything exactly as you like it. Of course, it's hard to know exactly what you need until you're able to actually use it, but a modular rig will allow you to add and change everything as you go. I'm a big fan of SmallRig - they do have complete rigs available, but they also have every individual part you'd ever need (mostly). 

The key to building a good rig is making sure it's balanced well. You'll need a counterweight at the back, otherwise it'll hurt your arms almost as much as handholding the camera. Those big brick batteries are great for this because they can also power your whole system, but a normal weight will work fine. There are many available with 15mm connections. 

If you have an external monitor/EVF, it's best to position the camera on your shoulder (for good balance) and have the monitor in front of you. If not, you should be able to position the EVF of your A7s right up to your eye. You'll need some sort of offset to do this.

Here's a list that could get you a simple, but versatile rig:

A few different sections of rods (length is definitely subject to personal liking):

http://smallrig.com/2pcs-black-15mm-rod-w-m12-thread-40cm.html

http://smallrig.com/2pcs-black-15mm-rod-w-m12-thread-20cm.html

http://smallrig.com/2pcs-black-15mm-rod-w-m12-thread-15cm.html

Shoulder Pad:

http://smallrig.com/shoulder-pad-1485-15mm-railblock.html

Mounting Place (best to attach some sort of quick-release to this):

http://smallrig.com/smallrig-tripod-mounting-plate-to-balance-long-length-front-heavy-camera-packages.html

Handlebar clamp:

http://smallrig.com/c90-15mm-handlebar-rail-clamp.html

2x handles:

http://smallrig.com/smallrig-15mm-rod-handle-rubber-red-ring.html

A counterweight (not sure if they'll ship to DE for cheap, but you can find all kinds on BH and Amazon by searching 15mm counterweight):

http://www.amazon.com/Flashpoint-Counter-Weight-15MM-Rods/dp/B00N5FQPN8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433427650&sr=8-1&keywords=15mm+counterweight

 

All this costs under $300 USD and is a great starting point, IMO.

 

 

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I recommend piecing together your own rig. It is often cheaper and allows you to customize everything exactly as you like it. Of course, it's hard to know exactly what you need until you're able to actually use it, but a modular rig will allow you to add and change everything as you go. I'm a big fan of SmallRig - they do have complete rigs available, but they also have every individual part you'd ever need (mostly). 

The key to building a good rig is making sure it's balanced well. You'll need a counterweight at the back, otherwise it'll hurt your arms almost as much as handholding the camera. Those big brick batteries are great for this because they can also power your whole system, but a normal weight will work fine. There are many available with 15mm connections. 

If you have an external monitor/EVF, it's best to position the camera on your shoulder (for good balance) and have the monitor in front of you. If not, you should be able to position the EVF of your A7s right up to your eye. You'll need some sort of offset to do this.

Here's a list that could get you a simple, but versatile rig:

A few different sections of rods (length is definitely subject to personal liking):

http://smallrig.com/2pcs-black-15mm-rod-w-m12-thread-40cm.html

http://smallrig.com/2pcs-black-15mm-rod-w-m12-thread-20cm.html

http://smallrig.com/2pcs-black-15mm-rod-w-m12-thread-15cm.html

Shoulder Pad:

http://smallrig.com/shoulder-pad-1485-15mm-railblock.html

Mounting Place (best to attach some sort of quick-release to this):

http://smallrig.com/smallrig-tripod-mounting-plate-to-balance-long-length-front-heavy-camera-packages.html

Handlebar clamp:

http://smallrig.com/c90-15mm-handlebar-rail-clamp.html

2x handles:

http://smallrig.com/smallrig-15mm-rod-handle-rubber-red-ring.html

A counterweight (not sure if they'll ship to DE for cheap, but you can find all kinds on BH and Amazon by searching 15mm counterweight):

http://www.amazon.com/Flashpoint-Counter-Weight-15MM-Rods/dp/B00N5FQPN8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433427650&sr=8-1&keywords=15mm+counterweight

 

All this costs under $300 USD and is a great starting point, IMO.

 

 

​Nick, this is brilliant, thanks a lot for putting it together.

I had a look at their complete setups which helped in working out the individual parts needed. Have emailed them about shipping and at this point looks promising. Thanks again.

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They also have a few cages designed specifically for the A7s that may be of interest. I don't personally use a cage, but may start soon for easy mounting of accessories (mic/audio, monitor, etc.), which can be particularly useful for quick switching from shoulder rig to a tripod.

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They also have a few cages designed specifically for the A7s that may be of interest. I don't personally use a cage, but may start soon for easy mounting of accessories (mic/audio, monitor, etc.), which can be particularly useful for quick switching from shoulder rig to a tripod.

​Yeah I looked into cages but don't use an EVF or follow focus so at this point I think a rig would be a better option.

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​Yeah I looked into cages but don't use an EVF or follow focus so at this point I think a rig would be a better option.

​Definitely agree that a shoulder rig is a better starting piece. A cage is something that you could eventually work into your rig as your list of equipment grows. A good quick release system would allow you to pop the cage off your shoulder rig and onto a tripod/monopod/whatever in a matter of seconds. It's not so useful or desirable for people who prefer a more lightweight/minimal setup. I myself prefer to at least have the option of a built-up rig in case the gig calls for it.

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