Shoulder rig for DSLR

I needed a shoulder rig for my DSLR, so looked at building one to explore how it felt when filming. It was an interesting exercise which I enjoyed bringing together. This shoulder rig for DSLR can be adapted for many different types of cameras and digital audio recorders.

Shoulder rig for DSLR a set of camera rails supporting a camera and audio recorder
My 15mm rails mounted Lumix camera with a loupe, Tascam audio recorder and radio mic.

Making a shoulder rig

I built this Lumix GH series camera and Tascam digital audio recorder compact rig to allow for more prolonged observational documentary type filming. I wanted something to be able to film with my Lumix while shoulder-mounted on a lightweight rig. I generally don’t need a matte box and at the time wanted a solution without a pull focus option. The Tascam digital audio recorder will allow me to record high-quality audio using two radio mics and will also record sound from the camera mounted Sennheiser MKE 400. As a videographer and filmmaker, I am always looking for different ways to improve my shots. I will soon start filming on a couple of longer-form films where I will be following the action, so I will be comparing how this works compared to my previous set-up.

Manfrotto shoulder mount

As well as the Lumix and Tascam digital audio recorder the rig uses the Manfrotto Sympla 2.0 shoulder mount. The shoulder mount is excellent as it clips into the rig rails when required without having to disassemble the rig. The whole rig is reasonably well balanced, and the Sympla allows for easy adjustment depending on the lens being used. I also have the option to use the DVTEC waist support rig as I’ve mounted the rig adaptor under the camera mounting plate.

Compact DSLR rig

The big advantage of building a basic rig to fit your way of working is that it should be able to accommodate changes to your camera and any other ancillary gear you later purchase or use for a particular project. I’ve recently brought the Edelkrone FocusOne mainly for use on a tripod and slider but will be exploring using that with my shoulder rig. The other thing that I’m hoping to get is the SmallRig Shoulder Rig Handle Kit to get me an extra support option.

Magnifying Loupe

In the picture, a Lumix GH is fitted with a Varavon loupe which was great for filming in bright sunlight if you didn’t want to use or have a super bright LCD monitor. The eyecup can rotate upwards when you are not looking through it at the Lumix LCD screen. Always great to make sure do lift the eyecup up as otherwise, the sun can enter the eyecup and then get magnified by the loupe and burn out a sun of your camera screen, as I found out to my cost. Perhaps an EVF or the super bright LCD screens available now are a better bet these days and are more flexible for different filming scenarios.

Updated Tascam

I’ve since updated my digital audio recorder with the Tascam DR-701D with offers more flexibility with mains power when required and 6-track recording.

If you have any questions or would like advice on anything regarding your video production or post-production, please do drop me a message. If you have found this shoulder rig for DSLR article helpful you might find these articles of interest. For more advice and tips check out my video production blog.

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Julian Langham

Julian started his career in media in 1994; shortly after Julian was invited to join the BBC where he was quickly promoted to Editor. Julian left the BBC to develop his freelance career in 2009. Highly-practised and skilled in constructing engaging narratives, Julian’s key strength is his ability to produce strong visually-led stories. In his work, Julian shares his passion for creating powerful synergies between story content, visual rhythm and music.