Custom Rigs

The Ultimate Camera Rig for Cinematic Video

Need your movies to look more like Hollywood movies? Me too! This information exhibits you ways I constructed a rig to offer me a extra cinematic handheld look.

I’ve been capturing video for about 11 years now and eventually decided to provide you with the last word digital camera rig for small to medium digital camera methods.
Why? I consider a secure sensor is among the largest elements in getting the “film look” all of us chase after with smaller prosumer cameras.

I feel there is a cause you don’t see dinky DSLR/Mirrorless digital camera methods in use on massive sets. Cinematographers don’t dig jittery video.
Over the past few weeks I’ve slowly put collectively what I feel is the last word cinema rig for small to medium digital camera techniques all whereas remaining on a price range of beneath $1000. We’re going to give attention to half of my last setup in this submit. I call this first rig setup the “core rig” and in a future article we’ll check out a shoulder rig that works superbly with right now’s rig.

Earlier than we go any further, I need to supply an affiliate disclaimer:

We are a participant within the Amazon Providers LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to offer a way for us to earn charges by linking to and affiliated sites. Most of the hyperlinks under are affiliated and can be denoted as “on Amazon” subsequent to the hyperlink.

Lastly, no gear was provided to me for this video/article and no one has paid to have this content made. All gear was buy on my own to build this rig.

Objectives for the Rig

Earlier than we start talking about elements and constructing the rig, I need to go over my objectives and function for this technique.

1. Stability
I needed something that would take a small digital camera with a large sensor and stabilize it. Not in a method a gimbal stabilizes, but in a method that solely properly balanced weight can.

2. Customizability
Having a rig that could possibly be modular was excessive on my listing. My objective was something that would strip right down to a digital camera solely setup for gimbals, but in addition could possibly be configured into a totally functioning shoulder rig.

3. Fast
No one likes messing with elements, tools and cables on set. This rig wanted to be shortly reworked into whatever the shooter needed.

4. Reasonably priced
I didn’t need to spend or advocate spending hundreds on this rig. The prices for video gear have come down a lot during the last 5 years and I needed to benefit from nicely made however reasonably priced elements.

5. Camera Agnostic
This rig needed to work with any small digital camera system. I didn’t need to construct one thing that might only work with a GH5. I’m very completely satisfied to say the ultimate end result will work with just about any DSLR or mirrorless system out right now.

The Core Rig

We shall be attending to a shoulder rig setup in a future submit however for now, I need to give attention to what I name the core rig. This can be a handheld rig configuration that can be easily mounted to a tripod and customised heavily with a couple of modules. With out additional ado, lets get to our buying listing.

Elements Listing

Here’s a listing of every part I used to build the core rig. As of this writing, the core rig value me about $370 to build (excluding digital camera, monitor and batteries). When you add each non-compulsory accessory to the setup you’re taking a look at spending about $530 (excluding digital camera, monitor and batteries). These numbers are in fact dependent on the cage you go together with and so on.

Camera cage

I might advocate SmallRig cages on Amazon as they’re reasonably priced and properly designed. You possibly can often find them for $40 to $100 relying on your digital camera. I purchase mine from Amazon however it’s also possible to buy them immediately from SmallRig if in case you have the endurance for oversea delivery occasions. When you determine to vary cameras down the street all you want is a brand new cage and the remainder of the rig can stay unchanged.

NOTE: I might undoubtedly advocate the custom fitted cages. There are some universal cages on the market, but I’ve found them to be too bulky. Get one particularly designed for your digital camera mannequin. The match will probably be a lot better than those common choices.

SmallRig Fujifilm X-T3 Cage

Nato Rails (2x)

We’ll want two of these for shortly including and removing elements on set. You should purchase the nato rails I used here on Amazon.

NOTE! You only want one in every of these in the event you’re digital camera cage has a Nato rail inbuilt. Lots of SmallRig’s newest cages have this design saving you a couple of bucks.

Nato Prime Handle

There are tons of these on Amazon and you may go together with any model you like. I might advocate you get a prime handle that’s nato pleasant and has 1/4 20″ faucets on the front close to the top for mounting our nato rail. There are two fashions I really like. The first, is this compact version on Amazon and is by far my favourite. It was designed for RED cameras so it’ll value you a bit of more.

The secondly choice is this rotating nato deal with on Amazon. This is the price range choice of the 2 handles. Not quite as good however still nice.

Nato Monitor Mount

This little clamp will can help you mount a monitor in a number of totally different configurations VERY shortly. It can be adjusted with one hand whereas filming with the rig. You will discover the SmallRig version here on Amazon.

Arca Swiss Plate for Cage

I exploit the Arca Swiss plate A LOT on this rig and you’ll see why later. It’s a great system that is reasonably priced and extensively used. The best choice is the Kessler Kwik Plate on Amazon, however you may also decide up a more reasonably priced mannequin right here on Amazon. These plates are available many various lengths but I might shoot for one thing within the middle vary.

Arca Swiss Clamp

We’ll use this to connect a battery base to the digital camera cage. You’ll be able to go together with any clamp type however to maintain costs down, I used this small clamp on Amazon.

15mm Rod Clamp

This superb little accessory can be used so as to add some wanted peak to our digital camera system. You should purchase it right here on Amazon.

Long Arca Swiss Plate for Rig

Yep. One other Arca Swiss plate. We’ll be utilizing this for a tremendous setup here in a bit. I might extremely advocate this plate be 150mm lengthy or longer. Here is the model I used on Amazon.

Also ensure that this longer plate permits you to use several 1/4 20″ screws. That is important for our build.

Tripod Screws (non-compulsory)

It will be a good suggestion to pickup three or extra of these. Here’s a pack on Amazon.

Battery Adapter

This NP-F battery adapter won’t solely give us more energy, however it is going to also give us extra weight (which we would like) and the power to power a second gadget. I exploit the Ansso adapters but you can even discover these underneath the names Fotga, DRRI, Runshuangyu and different names. A simple search for NP-F Battery Adapter on Amazon will deliver up a number of options. Here is a listing of choices I’ve found for totally different cameras:

I should mention that you might use the new “Power Junkie” by Blind spot, however this gadget solely has a single DC output. You possibly can get a DC splitter to combat this, but that gained’t be as elegant as the beforehand mentioned options. The Power Junkie is accessible on Amazon.

Battery Coupler (Non-compulsory)

For those who can’t discover an NP-F battery plate for your digital camera, just get the universal adapter I mention above. Subsequent, seize a battery coupler type the record under. Just ensure that your battery coupler has the right plug on the top. A female or male 5.5mm x 2.5mm plug. Simply search for “your-camera-model battery coupler. Or “your-camera-model dummy battery” on Amazon. If the coupler or dummy battery you found doesn’t have the best male or female cable ends, you will get a dc cable adapter (male to male or female to feminine).

Cable Clamps

These little suckers will save our lives from a nightmare of cables right here in a bit. They are so useful for different uses too! We’ll only be using one, however they arrive in packs of 100 here on Amazon. We’ll be screwing one among these to our cage.

NOTE: 1/4″ will work, but for thicker cables I might go together with the three/8″ model (what I’m using). I might also use a 1/four 20″ bolt to mount this. The sort with the tall head works greatest (out there on Amazon picture under).

Additional Screws

You’ll in all probability want a few of these! There is a useful pack from SmallRig on Amazon.

HDMI Cable

You’ll want an HDMI cable for your monitor. I’d advocate one that’s 2 ft long. For Micro HDMI to full HDMI, I might get the SmallHD Focus cable here on B&H. For full HDMI to full HDMI, you should use just about anything.

HDMI Cable Lock (elective)

I’d extremely advocate a cable lock for your digital camera cage. You can do some research to figure out which one you want for your SmallRig cage. These can typically be buy together with your digital camera cage.

NP-F Coupler (non-compulsory)

In case you’re utilizing a monitor that doesn’t have a DC 7.2v or 8.4v input, you’ll in all probability want one in every of these couplers. This can permit us to make use of our battery adapter to energy BOTH the digital camera and a monitor. Here is an adapter choice on Amazon.

DC Cable for Monitor

We have to get a DC cable that may run from our battery adapter to our monitor. Anything that has a 5.5mm x 2.5mm male plug (both ends) should work. I’d advocate getting a couple of totally different lengths and angles to be sure to’re coated. My favorite size is about 3 ft. Listed here are a couple of choices on Amazon. And you will discover the cable I used right here on Amazon.

Other Equipment

At this level you have got all the things you want to begin building the core rig. That stated, listed here are a number of extras that may take your core rig to the subsequent degree. If you’ll be building the shoulder rig I’ll be talking about in a future publish, the primary three accessories listed here are a must.

Friction Monitor Arm

This child will permit us to position our monitor arm in any orientation. I might contemplate this a should if you may be utilizing this rig on a tripod. I used the SmallRig 11″ arm from Amazon.

Nato Clamp for Fiction Arm

This can let us shortly take away the arm if needed. There are a number of models out there, however I went with this unit on Amazon.

Nato Rail for Friction Arm

This little rail will give us the power to mount our monitor nato clamp to our friction arm. You possibly can decide up the rail I used here on Amazon.

Left Aspect Handle

On my core rig, I’ve added a aspect handle to the left of the lens giving me a very inflexible twin hand grip setup. That is nice if you need a rock strong grip on your digital camera and are both utilizing auto focus or just filming a hard and fast focus show with aspect to aspect motion. Your proper hand remains on the digital camera grip while your left hand comfortably holds this left sided deal with. I’ve positioned the left handle in a method that doesn’t intrude with the lenses focus ring, so you’ll be able to still shift your hand to vary focus. This additional deal with setup could be slid onto the rig by way of the 15mm rode clamp we’ve already setup.

Listed here are the elements you want for this additional module:

Although we’re utilizing a single deal with, I’ve opted for a 15mm rosette clamp that has two rosette mounting points. This makes the setup incredibly rigid. We don’t need our handle to slip on the 15mm rod. I’ve additionally gone with the above rosette clamp because it moves the rosette handle additional away from the lens to provide us extra room to work with focus.

Eyebrow Flag

Another accessory you may think about is that this Dinkum Techniques Compact Lens Shade (Amazon link but in addition obtainable on B&H). This can be a great tool in case you are not going to be using a matte box. I’ve mounted mine on the inbuilt chilly shoe on my cage. Should you don’t have a chilly shoe obtainable, you possibly can add one simply using one in every of these cold shoe adapters on Amazon. If the arm for the shade is just too lengthy, you possibly can take away the pop out sections to shorten the setup like I’ve achieved right here.

Microphone Mount

What about audio? In the event you need a microphone or wi-fi receiver mounted to the digital camera, your greatest guess is to use this Chilly Shoe Extension on Amazon. I might mount it on the highest proper or left aspect of the cage. This could offer you sufficient room to mount a microphone with a bulky base.


Building the Core Rig

With the whole lot in hand, we will now begin placing collectively our core rig! Lets begin building!

Step 1: Cage

Mount your cage to your digital camera. Subsequent, add the shorter Arca Swiss plate to the underside of the digital camera. If in case you have an HDMI clamp for your digital camera/cage, you’ll be able to add that now.

Should you’re digital camera has a nato rail constructed into the highest of the cage transfer on to step 2. Should you’re cage doesn’t have a nato rail inbuilt, add one among them to the top, middle portion of the cage close to the entrance.

Next, take your shorter Arca Swiss plate and mount it to the underside of your digital camera cage.

At this point you might have a pleasant tiny setup for use on a gimbal or tripod.

Step 2: Prime Deal with

Take your prime deal with and add a nato rail to the entrance aspect. It will permit us to shortly mount other accessories to the top handle.

Step three: Monitor

Take your monitor nato clamp and mount it to the underside of your monitor.

At this point we’ve got four configurations prepared for use because of those nato rails:

  1. Camera only
  2. Camera and prime deal with
  3. Camera and monitor
  4. Camera, prime handle and monitor

Pretty candy!

Step four: Monitor Arm (optionally available)

Earlier I discussed a number of additional equipment you can buy so as to add a monitor arm to this technique. For those who picked these up, you’ll be able to add even more flexibility to your core package.

Take your friction monitor arm and add the nato clamp to at least one finish. Many of those nato clamps help you add a 1/four 20 screw to lock within the clamp. It will hold the friction arm from loosening on you.

On the opposite finish of the friction arm, mount the nato rail I discussed (this one from Amazon).

With all that accomplished, now you can use this friction arm module with the remainder of your core package. We’ve simply upgraded our earlier 4 configurations to six complete setups!

  1. Camera only
  2. Camera and prime deal with
  3. Camera and monitor
  4. Camera, prime handle and monitor
  5. Camera, friction arm and monitor
  6. Camera, prime deal with, friction arm and monitor

Step 5: Energy Setup

Now we are going to build a module that mounts to the bottom of every part we’ve built up to now.

To start out, take the long arca swiss plate we purchased, and add the NP-F battery adapter to at least one finish. You need this to be roughly flush with the top of the arca swiss plate.

Subsequent, seize the 15mm rod clamp, and add the arca swiss clamp to the top. I mounted the knob on the appropriate, but either can work relying on your setup.

Now we will mount the rod clamp/arca clamp setup to the opposite end of our long arca-swiss plate. I might advocate leaving about 1/four″ or extra in-between the battery plate and the rod clamp. It will insure there’s room for the battery cable. I might additionally advocate utilizing two 1/4 20″ screws to mount this guy so that you don’t have any twists.

Step 6: Putting it all collectively

Now we will take our setup from step three/4 and mount it to our new power base. Connect your dummy battery to the digital camera and the facility DC cable to your monitor. At this point, we have now 3 to 4 modules that we will combine to create up to 13 totally different configurations! These modules embrace:

  1. Camera (digital camera and cage)
  2. Prime handle
  3. Monitor
  4. Friction Arm (optionally available)
  5. Power base

For those who’ve picked up the left aspect deal with elements, lens shade and microphone cold shoe mount, you can now add those equipment as properly.

Step 7: Cable Administration

Keep in mind those cable clamps we bought? Take a type of and a small 1/four 20″ bolts (from the extras screws we purchased) and mount it to the left aspect of the digital camera cage near the top. Remember to solely use the rear gap of the plastic clamp. We don’t need to absolutely tie down our cables. This creates a bit of clip that makes cable administration fast and straightforward. Fast word here, the 1/four 20″ bolt will have to be screwed into the plastic clip so don’t worry if it doesn’t simply slide by means of. If wanted, you can also make the whole bigger with a drill or knife.

you can too add a second clip to the cage if your cables aren’t all becoming together. My 3/8″ cable clamp appears to be giant sufficient for all my cables although.

We will now take any of the extra cable slack and fasten it to the cable clamp. In case you have the monitor proper on prime of the digital camera, you’ll have loads of additional HDMI and power cable slack. Simply clip it to the cage! When you must prolong the monitor arm of transfer the core rig to a shoulder rig, you possibly can release your cables for additional size. Pretty dank huh?

You now have a completed core rig!


With this “core rig” as I’ve been calling it, you could have so much flexibility as a filmmaker. Your photographs will probably be jitter free even on cameras without IBIS (in body stabilization) AND you’ll be able to add or remove modules very quickly to fit your needs.

As I write this, the core rig is suitable with pretty much every single small to medium digital camera system together with the following and extra:

  • Canon DSLR and RF cameras
  • Sony A7 collection cameras
  • Panasonic GH and G cameras
  • Nikon Z cameras
  • Fujifilm X cameras
  • Blackmagic Pocket cameras

There are only four variables that you simply may need to adjust when switching cameras.

First, you’ll need a special cage. As I’ve talked about, you possibly can decide up a custom SmallRig cage for round $30 to $100 for any digital camera. So when you improve, you’ll want a special cage.

The second variable is the battery plate. When you’ve got the universal Ansso NP-F plate, all you have to do is swap out digital camera cables and you’re accomplished. If in case you have a digital camera specific Ansso battery plate, you’ll have to pickup a new one.

Subsequent is the dimensions of your batteries. We’re using Sony NP-F batteries for this technique. The battery plate is mounted behind the digital camera which may intrude with some digital camera screens. For this reason we used that 15mm rod base which raises the digital camera just a little to offer us room for the battery. One other option to customise the peak of the battery setup is the battery model. Sony NP-F batteries are available 3 primary sizes including NP-F550, NP-F770 and NP-F970. The largest 970 measurement works with most cameras which have a flip up display (NOT Flip out). If in case you have a flip out display like the GH cameras from Panasonic, you need to use the two smaller sizes.

And eventually, the final variable is your HDMI cable. Sadly totally different cameras use totally different HDMI jacks so you might have to swap to a special cable when changing cameras.

Really helpful Screens

Obviously the monitor performs a large roll on this rig so I needed to provide you a couple of options should you don’t yet own a monitor. Listed here are a number of options I might contemplate depending on your price range:

Atomos Shinobi

This is the monitor I’ve personally used on this rig. Has great battery life, even better options and very lightweight. You possibly can decide the Shinobi monitor up on Amazon or B&H Photograph Video.

Andycine A6

This has been my prime finances decide for some time now. Strong 1080p monitor that accepts 4K alerts and properly beneath $200. You possibly can decide the A6 monitor up on Amazon.

Advisable Batteries

Another large bonus to this rig is the battery sort we’re utilizing. Sony F batteries (or NP-F) are wildly widespread and obtainable from 3rd social gathering manufactures. Additionally they have roughly 3 totally different sizes and capacities. I’ve been utilizing DSTE branded batteries for a while and love them. Here’s a record of the totally different battery varieties obtainable on Amazon:


I hope this information has been useful and would love to hear your thoughts on the rig or any modifications you’d make. Questions are welcome and I’ll do my greatest to maintain this guide up to date as I proceed to refine my personal rig.

Glad handheld capturing!!!

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This video was not paid for by outdoors individuals or manufacturers.
No gear was provided to me for this video.

The content material of this video and my opinions weren’t reviewed or paid for by any outdoors individuals.