April 21, 2015 at 2:06AM

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Well built Shoulder Rig

Howdy! So, I always see these posts and articles on cheap, diy shoulder rigs. Well, I don't want something cheap. I want a rig that'll last 5 years and beyond. I've been doing some research and scanning the internet but seem to come up short on finding quality information on good shoulder rigs. Yes, someone's going to scream wooden camera, I get it, but I don't want to spend 2k. I'd say my budget is a $1,000. I like the idea of building it out piece by piece so later on I can add, subtract, etc, instead of buying a whole new rig. So what companies out there make quality parts that are industry standard? Smallrig? Walimex? Shoot35? or is there product crap? Am I totally out of luck and need to choose to spend the two grand on wooden camera for quality or go with a descent rig like redrock?

14 Comments

I'm going to go with the Lanparte or Tilta shoulder rigs. I've been researching for quite some time, these both seem the way to go for the price. Has the recoil style to so you can adjust the camera to balance on your shoulder well and really give some support there.
Worst thing ever is a shoulder rig where the camera leans front heavy and your arms hurt all day!
Actually...probably will buy one of these today :).

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lanparte-2-in-1-Shoulder-Pad-Baseplate-For-DSLR-Camcorder-C300-Rig-/151263625595?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item233803c17b

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tilta-III-Quickrelease-Baseplate-BS-T03-shoulder-pad-for-DSLR-rig-5D3-and-more-/301364964004?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item462ac06aa4

April 23, 2015 at 1:14PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1385

I use the Advanced Extreme Gini Rig and I can vouch for it's build quality. http://www.ginirigs.net/
They have a ton of stuff at pretty good prices and standard sizes for everything. The only con I would worry about is that some of the larger rigs like mine are pretty front heavy, but a huge chunk of that for me is the weight of the 5D I carry on it, and the fact that it's aluminum not something lighter.

April 24, 2015 at 3:57PM

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Get yourself a Wooden Camera Cruiser with standard dovetail. Buy it once and it's your shoulder rig for life. Eventually you can upgrade it with the crossbar with rosettes and handles for more solid operation.

Stick with a dovetail shoulder rig. They allow you to keep the primary weight of the camera on your shoulder for ease of operation. For this instance, you'll also want to have a good EVF off the camera each time you operate.. Any proper camera setup is built studio style on a standard bridgeplate anyway. Don't waste time with any rigs that don't let you build off a studio dovetail.

April 25, 2015 at 7:29PM, Edited April 25, 7:31PM

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Manfrotto came out with their Sympla rig a few years ago and it totally got lost in the shuffle. I picked up discounted floor model a few years back, and aside from the wonky matte box, I've loved the rig. Tons of little details that really show how much thought went into the design. The core baseplate has knobs that allow you to shift the camera up, down, left, and right in order to better fit accessories and matte boxes.

The best part right know is that they are selling for about half of what they launched at. You can get the full kit for $499 on eBay. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR11.TRC1.A0.H0.Xsympla.TRS0&_nkw=sympla&_sacat=0

April 25, 2015 at 7:43PM

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Jordan Oliver
Director
74

If you know what sort of rig you want you can by all the parts off eBay and assemble yourself. I did this and have a full shoulder rig with cage/top handle and quick release for about $600USD including a great follow focus (with hard stops, a must for dslr lenses) but not including a matt box Handles are lanparte, ff is fotga and the rest is generic 15mm rod parts. Works great and is as solid as anything. Had it a few years now and still solid as. Next investment is a v-lock battery pinch with power distribution.

April 25, 2015 at 7:53PM

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Jason Williamson
DOP / EDITOR / DIRECTOR
81

When I bought my GH4 last year I did a lot of research to find an affordable, yet well made support rig. I saw the Tilta III system at around $1600 including matt box, follow focus, and many accessories all in a huge case. I finally settled on the Camtree Hunt III system because it looked identical to the Tilta system in many respects. I was wary because I bought a system from India before that I wasn't too thrilled with it. After having mine almost a year now, I can say it was a solid purchase for my camera. I can slide the camera far enough forward, and with the addition of an EVF, I can balance the camera and everything where it needs to be on my shoulder. I happened to get a really good deal on it last year for under $700, which was $1,000 less than the comparable Tilta system, and I've added a few things and will probably substitute a some along the way, but I'm really pleased because it's solidly built. For a beginning purchase with all the bells and whistles, I can highly recommend it.

http://www.camtreerigs.com/camtree-hunt-iii-dslr-filmmaking-kit.html

April 25, 2015 at 8:39PM

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steve graham
DP/Director/Writer
8

If you're sticking with the DSLR form factor for a while, check out the Zacuto Scorpion. It is easily the most stable rig I've shot with once I got it properly balanced (even better than old ENG cameras), and it's perfect for low-mo shooting. After a few days of use it felt like an extension of my body and does not cause any strain after being properly adjusted.

April 25, 2015 at 9:29PM

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Marc B
Shooter & Editor
732

Rhino Rig looks nice... Just a bit over 1k, starts at 500 I believe...

April 26, 2015 at 2:11AM

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You mentioned SmallRig, they're great. Solid, solid stuff at a price you cannot beat. The only thing that is con with their stuff is that the coating on the metal isn't the best as well as the fact that it can be a bit difficult with compability with some parts. They've got great e-mail support to make sure everything works, though. But get their Quick Cage Kit and rosette handles with bar and you've got an awesome kit. That's at least what I'm planning to get. They've also got an actual shoulder pad.

April 26, 2015 at 2:53AM

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Olof Ljunggren
Student
213

If you're looking for an affordable well built rig check out the ones at supamods.com They have a wide range of rigs that are nicely built at reasonable if not great prices. I got my R8 from there and it's served me very well. I also love the other gear they have. Hope this helps.

April 26, 2015 at 12:16PM, Edited April 26, 12:16PM

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Rob
DP
93

I can also vouch for the gini rigs for a DSLR. I don't know how good they are for bigger cameras though. When I bought the Advanced Extreme 17, the list price was $499, but the opening bid on Ebay was $299, and nobody else bid for it. $40 delivery from South Korea, but it's still much cheaper than I could find anywhere else for the same quality. Includes a decent follow focus too. And they're all standard measurements, so I'm sure it's compatible with any other parts you might want to add to it.

April 26, 2015 at 3:07PM

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Another vouch here for Gini Rigs :)

April 28, 2015 at 5:34AM

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James, get the cheapest you can and start from there -- this way you'll know what your needs are. That's the route I took and this is the final look and cost:
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B6xL_gxIHZfkaTdienlrbjFXWHc&usp=...

Costs:
$197 - FILMCITY FC-02 with Camera Cage & Matte box
$20 - Neewer Magic Arm for monitor
$16 - FOTA DP3000 M1 Shoulder Pad
$24 - 2x alumin. rods 45cm M12 thread
$28 - 4x alumin. rods 30cm M12 thread
$40 - 4x gear ring belt
$6 - black flat washers
$170 - Fotasy FF2B Quick Release Follow-Focus
$6 - Neewer M12 thread rod connectors
$6 - SmallRig m12 thread rod caps
$75 - 2 additional counterweights
---------------------
$588 - Total

Random thoughts & things I learned about a shoulder rig:
- I place camera "under-the-shoulder" to give presence to the talent. Hence I rule out all of the "over-the-shoulder" placements. Going to be an issue with really heavy cameras :/
- The C-brackets are a must for easy strip-down thus allowing only the essentials to be mounted on the slider / tripod.
- Matt box is a must -- the talent turns spiritual when your rig has it.
- Aluminum rods save off a bit of weight when compared to steel. Carbon equivalents are twice as expensive :(
- The $50-dollar focus is not $50, and is a waste of time and money.
- Got to have a chest pad for the follow-focus hand to be free. For the same reason the handles have to be asymmetrical.
- Original red plastic washers break way too easily.
- Get $30 knee-pads for really low shots.
- Don't film with the rig on your shoulder for 8 hours -- upper body will be really sore.
- Quick release on a follow-focus is a must.
- A front-heavy rig fatigues you mentally and physically. Add more counterweights so your back does the lifting, not your arms.
- I'll appreciate any advice about how to replace those red and blue parts. I want just black and silver.
- Random people see you film in the streets and ask what you charge for a music video.
- Other rigs on the market won't fit your style - aka 'there are many rifles but this one is mine" ^_^

April 28, 2015 at 6:36PM, Edited April 28, 7:14PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3805

Smallrig and gini are great bang for buck, stay away from any rigs with plastic tighteners, and really have a think about how the model you are looking at works with your use cases. Oh, and counterweights can be from the cheaper stuff like wallimex.

Case study: I have a Gini rig and cage for my bmpcc, got it for like 200 something dollars with a follow focus, it is great value, BUT: there is no way to switch it up so the rails run under the lens, so to be able to use a lens support, I will need to buy a ~100$ thing. I would have been better served in retrospect with a wooden camera cage / or its knockoffs (it even has a nice QR system) and some smallrig / tilta parts for shoulder support.

April 29, 2015 at 3:08PM

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