Posted on by Tycho Smith

Camera rig – DIY or Buy?


If you use a DSLR camera to take professional photos and videos, having a good DSLR shoulder rig is very important. DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras are much smaller and lighter than the traditional filmmaking tools.

While there are many advantages of the small and light cameras, there are disadvantages too. One obvious drawback is the difficulty in stabilizing, especially if you work on a shooting job all day long, or require other accessories, like a follow focus or matte box.

First, we’ll address the frequently asked questions about on-camera microphones.

DIY or Buy A Camera Rig?

If you enjoy making things, you can create a camera rig from scratch – there are numerous DIY YouTube videos with detailed instructions and a list of tools that you’ll need.

However, although most of the materials are available at a machine shop, you may also need some equipment such as a milling machine and precision tools to make a good rig, and for a one-time camera rig making, the costs of these pieces of equipment can add up pretty quickly.

In light of these considerations, we’ll go through the functionalities and types of camera rigs, so you can find one that best fits your requirements.

Key Benefits of Camera Rigs

Most DSLR users search for a camera rig to serve the following purposes:

  1. Stabilize and protect the camera: The weight and size of a camera rig are factors of stabilization. Many prefer the added weight and slightly bigger rigs for this reason.
  2. Mount various video/filmmaking accessories: Cages and rods (or rails) allow you to attach accessories to your camera. They are the primary parts of almost every rig.
    1. Pro Tips: For a long day of shooting, you may need to change batteries and memory cards a few times. Therefore, make sure the camera rig you select has easy access to batteries and memory cards.
  3. Make it easy to move and maneuver: Depending on your situation and personal preference, you may choose one of the various designs: handheld, shoulder supported, or even hands-free.

Types of Camera Rigs

Handheld camera rigs: The simplest type is the handheld camera rigs with one or two handgrips. These make it easy to keep the screen at eye level but are not suitable for long shooting needs. The handheld camera rigs are especially popular among the GoPro/action camera communities.

Shoulder rigs: These are the most practical and relatively inexpensive camera rigs for adding stabilization and accessories. Some have a single-shoulder arm, some two-armed, and some include additional support.

Full-body harness (hands-free) video rig: To achieve hands-free flexibility and stability, some camera rigs incorporate a chest harness and padded shoulder support to transfer weight away from your arm to your body. These video rigs are often more expensive than the other two types but are best for long shooting projects.

Two Essential Accessories to Upgrade Your Camera Rig

As we mentioned above, one of the key benefits of the camera rigs allows you to attach additional accessories. Here are the two most popular/useful accessories for future upgrades:

 

  1. Follow focus to enable precise manual focus adjustments without touching the camera itself. https://www.movophoto.com/products/movo-f1x-precision-follow-focus-system
  2. Matte box, also known as barn doors, to keep the light/glare from the lens. https://www.movophoto.com/products/movo-mb400-mk-ii-professional-matte-box 

Here's what a fully equipped shoulder rig looks like: