October 25, 2014 at 11:18AM


How do I improve the stability of my video footage?

What is a poor man's way of improving the stability of his video using a DSLR?

I practice shooting hand-held every morning and though I feel I am improving, my footage is still shaky when I compare with professional handheld work.

If I shoot on a light-weight DSLR and don't have the money for rigs and mounts, how can I improve the stability of my shots?


Build a rig! I literally built a shoulder rig the other day out of PVC that I had laying around. It took me no more than a half an hour to do.

October 25, 2014 at 5:58PM

Paul Gall
Writer / Director / Editor

One trick I always used before I could buy a rig was the tension of the strap between my neck and the camera. Basically I'd hold the camera out far enough so the neck strap would be taught. You're going to have to adjust the length of the strap for comfort, but just this little bit of tension will make you're footage more stable. Also if you can't spring for a rig, but want a point of contact you could go for a viewfinder for your LCD. The more points of contact from the camera to your body the more stable footage your footage will be.

I also went through the whole process of trying to make myself a rig. It's a fun/interesting option, but at the end of the day it wasn't as reliable/that much cheaper than a professional rig. Not taking anything away from other filmmakers that have done it. I've def. had my fair share of DIY projects, but a rig is something you should save up for and buy. Plus a zacuto, redrock or any other rig you buy packs up nice and compactly in your bag. I'd recommend a zacuto striker rig. Lifetime warranty, built like a tank and perfect for a DSLR, and now relatively inexpensive.

October 26, 2014 at 12:16PM

Nick Capezzera
DP & Editor

What kind of rig did you try to build that wasn't much cheaper than a professional rig? I built mine for less than $20 and it's 10x better than just doing it handheld.

Paul Gall

October 27, 2014 at 7:56AM

There are stedy cams cheaper (200 dolars and less) in www.thecinecity.com

October 27, 2014 at 5:08AM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

If you have some money, but not TOO much to spend, check out this.


Film Riot is an awesome channel with a ton of Do It Yourself videos to building inexpensive and effective gear. Another YouTube channel to check out is Indy Mogul. The channel is no longer active, but all of the videos are still available to view and they have a lot of Do It Yourself gear videos as well.

Good luck!

October 27, 2014 at 11:21AM

Christopher Brazil
Audio/Video Tech

if you absolutely have nothing. not even $10 to buy a grip.
use the widest lens you have.
also shoot with the camera close to your body. close your armpits.
pull the camera close as you can to your body. there will be less to dangle and shake.
make sure your elbows are touching the bottom of your ribs.
that automatically adds 2 points of contact to your body.
also hold your breath during the take and move.
your breathing will cause a movement. your lungs expand on inhale and shrink on an exhale.
if it's a log take and you need to breathe, do it during a move. it will be less noticeable.
but you should be able to hold your breath during takes. they are only a few seconds. 30 seconds on a fairly long shot.

if you have noticed, the best and i mean top cameramen do this.
also top commercials photographers (not some local guy doing headshots or shooting weddings) shoot this way. you get sharper shots, better focus, this way. you gain about 1/2 stop of sharpness on a still shot.
it was one of the very first things i was warned working for a commercial photographer years ago, even with an IS lens. keep your armpits closed, hold your breath, shoot. try it. it works.

October 27, 2014 at 12:50PM

Kazu Okuda

Having some sort of rig or stabilizer will help. More points of contact really help. Smooth steps with your knees bent. Post warp stabilizer. :)

October 27, 2014 at 7:47PM, Edited October 27, 7:47PM

Matt Bastos

This wonderful post sums up everything I want to say:

For footage where the camera needs to move around and you can’t afford a steadicam, I’ve found a cheap monopod to be a great solution for a light DSLR. Vary the length of the monopod until the weight is balanced above and below where you’re gripping it, and you’ll get much more stable footage as you move around.

October 29, 2014 at 12:19AM

Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor

This is a nice substitute steadycam, it will work. Weight the base a little to keep the overall length manageable.

Michael P Ellis

November 13, 2014 at 6:21PM

Lots of great answers above. I will just add to be sure you aren't panning too quickly. This can contribute to a lot of jerkiness that no stabilizer rig can fix.

November 13, 2014 at 3:15PM

David Patterson

These are all good.

I would add - if you can afford a cheap eyepiece adaptor this will help, as it brings the camera closer to the body and gives a third point of contact. Filming using the screen on the back of a DSLR means you are always holding the camera away from your body, making it more shaky.

The other thing - and yes, this is really cheesy - if you have any kind of tripod, pop your camera on it and point it 90', so your lens is pointing up towards the sky. Then pick it up and rest the tripod legs on your shoulder, so now your camera is pointing forwards but slightly stabilised. Yes, it looks silly, but it's surprisingly effective!

November 13, 2014 at 11:53PM

Jon Mills

Here ya go.
$300 fig rig for $10. I modified mine for easier mounting, and I love it. Never tell people you can't afford a rig, that just means you're not creative enough with crap laying around your house. Anything that takes your hands away from the sensor will work. The possibilities of duct tape and screwdrivers are endless.

Have fun!

November 14, 2014 at 12:15AM

Brandon Neubert
Color Artist / Writer / Director

It's a common problem becaus a DSLR is just too small so it shakes in the most terrible way. Well, I'm not coming with any idea of purchasing gear.
But if you plan to do a handheld shot, lifting the camera with the tripod attached could help to make the shake smoother.

January 13, 2015 at 9:44PM

Myrdal Muda
Student Filmmaker

There are two simple, inexpensive things you can do…
1. Maximize the distance between your hands' contact points. This will make it easier to minimize roll (the most noticeable issue with shaky footage).
2. Make your camera's center of gravity lower that your hands' contact points. If you have a light camera, then adding something rigid & slightly weighted below it via the tripod mount can achieve this.

Sorry to plug my blog, but here's some more info on this…

January 15, 2015 at 2:16PM

Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP

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