Want an Even Less Expensive Dirt Cheap DSLR Rig? What You Need to Build Your Own for $10

Thanks to the extensible nature of third party interchangeable parts, you can assemble a shoulder rig that balances robustness, accessory accommodation, and price range almost perfectly to what you need, for a price you can afford. You may buy a complete package from a trusted vendor, one on the super-cheap from overseas, or upgrade your older kit with new pads, grips, and weights. You may even eschew the steel altogether and build one yourself, and there’s many a building guide for such a DIY assembly out there -- one more recent post breaks down a PVC shouldermount rig for a paltry $10. For this and some other (picture left) dirt-cheap alternatives, check below.

In terms of sturdiness -- and sexiness, for that matter -- you do pretty much get what you pay for, but for a rig that actually works at an expense that couldn't be any closer to "free," this is an option that may interest you. Maybe you already own a shoulder rig, but want a cheap and simple spare for your second camera. Or, maybe you just want to build it as a weekend project to see how it measures up. Whatever the case, again, the price can't be beat. With props to Lifehacker for the find, here's DIY Photography's video for building a shoulder mount rig with $10 worth of PVC pipes and pieces.

Granted, even after the electrical taping (which is indeed a cosmetic improvement), the rig still looks a bit more like an elephant than many shooters would like, but the proof is in the pudding -- if the rig allows you to shoot with greater stability, it's a viable option. You may use your own discretion for where and when a choice such as this is acceptable to use, but at the very least, it's good to know a working unit can be made this inexpensively. Other DIY shoulder rigs may start getting a bit steeper, setting you back anywhere from $20-25 all the way up to $50 totals, depending on which bits you go for.

Here's a variation from Vu Le on Vimeo, with details on limitations and potential improvements in the description:

As far as appearances go, I love the look of this particular homebrew rig (below), also featured previously by Lifehacker -- it looks like something out of BioShock, appears to be readily adjustable, features a nifty spot for an external mic and mount, and has an adjustable counterweight system. It was devised and created by Instructables user benfloom for only $25 -- the shopping list is included in the user's original post:

Finally, here's Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter highlighting a rig with gear from CowboyStudio. It's not technically a build-it-yourself job, but the total price is still so low, it's definitely worth a look:

What do you guys think of these rigs -- clever and cheap, or a little too cute to use on set? Have any of you guys built a rig based on these guides, or another not included here? Or, have you devised your own rig that may be comparably inexpensive but superior in some ways? Feel free to share links, lists, prices and parts below if so!


[via Lifehacker]

Your Comment


I own the hands free shoulder mount shown in the last video. Keeps my GH2 nice and steady, rather I'm looking through the EVF or looking at the tilting LCD screen. I definitely recommend it.

December 24, 2012 at 4:13PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I've been using the Spyder Brace http://www.spiderbrace.com/, very light weight, very inexpensive.

December 24, 2012 at 4:39PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I too own the cheap rig in the last video, haven't used it recently, but might bring it back into action. Because of a bad shoulder, it doesn't matter if I go low, expensive, or DIY, they all induce some pain.

December 24, 2012 at 10:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I own the Cowboy Studio shoulder rig. My biggest gripe is that is puts too much plastic on the body, so it can add some extra, unwanted jiggle because it feels too much.

December 24, 2012 at 11:26PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Here's one that I think it's among the coolest (along with cheesycam's wire clamps one):


December 25, 2012 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Hey Dave thanks for sharing my DSLR threaded rod and teak shoulder rig. Right now Im in the process of redesigning it to be more light weight, more easily adjustable, and able to hold my nexus 7 as an external monitor running the DSLR controller app. I've used it several to us shooting everything from music videos to horror films. I read you blog everyday and it is an honor to be featured on our site. FSU 2014

December 26, 2012 at 1:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


ANV V2.0
Easy to make, very economical and just as good as professional equipment.
Do it yourself.


June 9, 2013 at 5:59AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Theres an article on a diy tripod shoulder rig at www.learnlikeme.com

It could be an option if you already have a travel tripod. Has some test footage which seems to show it works. I haven't tried it myself cause I have a heavy duty tripod though. http://learnlikeme.com/index.php/how-i-converted-my-tripod-into-a-camera...

January 17, 2014 at 4:36PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM