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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old May 16th, 2011, 12:59 PM   #1
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Is a shoulder rig necessary?

If I use Canon IS lenses for video, is a rig necessary? Im not sure I quite understand the purpose of them, are they strictly for stabilization?
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Old May 16th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #2
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

They are for stabilization, control, and to support other gear like a follow focus, matte box, etc.

IS will help remove small vibrations, but it won't help you control the larger movements. It also depends on the width of the lens. With a wide view, you don't need as much control (except when you are very close to an object.) With a telephoto view, a rig, monopod, or tripod, etc becomes more important.

The best approach is to shoot with the camera as-is for a while and get to know what you like to shoot and what style you like to produce. Handheld with IS might be all you need. Or you might decide you need a jib, slider, and steadicam for super smooth shots.

In any case, a loupe is helpful for handheld work. I like the Z-Finder best, but the HoodLoupe with the x3 multiplier rocks for the money.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #3
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

I have a Glidecam and I also have access to a dolly and a track for larger movements. I really just want to stick to my Glidecam if i can. I dont want to invest in something else if I dont have to.

EDIT: I forgot to note I also use the indiesystem follow focus that can be used without a stabilizer
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:18 PM   #4
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

You're set then!
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Old May 16th, 2011, 06:25 PM   #5
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

For wedding work, I like to be discrete. The more minimal the better at the reception. For the ceremony I've got a baseplate for the tripod. I use this and it works well for anything under 85mm. You can also stabilize in post.

Cullmann 3090 Travelpod CU 3090 B&H Photo Video
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:42 PM   #6
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

Lee, contrary to common wisdom, I think, at least with the IS 2 lenses, the rigs are actually a detriment. I rented the newest flavor of Canon's 70-200 is 2 lens and the best red rock mount on the market. After 10 minutes, I ditched the mount and got better results cradling the camera and lens in my arms. This was zoomed in all the way in crowded times square, filming closeups of pedestrians. I could track them as they crossed the street, stopped, etc and the results looked gorgeous. Hand held or on a tripod, it looked beautiful and this was for a professional short film being used in a major public event.

I can't speak for all is lenses, certainly- but if canon can get it right at 200mm, I think those rigs are, at least, only sometimes useful. Certainly for my setup, I wasted 100 bucks that day renting one. I wouldn't have believed it myself until I tried it.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 09:49 AM   #7
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

Yeah, I've been a little bewildered by all the shoulder mounts available - seems to be all the rage at the 30 different places you get gear at. But give me sticks or dolly shots all things being equal.

Now I can understand the use of shoulder rigs for a high action scene, like a war movie or a boxing match, or maybe on the fly interviews, but they don't make much sense to me otherwise.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 10:18 AM   #8
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

So I'm gathering it pretty much depends on the type of shot you want?

@David, I agree with you completely, I have a Cavision hand grip Ive used on my Cannon 100mm L series and it works great. I shot part of a music video with it and had no motion issues at all.

This is the grip i use
Cavision DSLR Single Handgrip Viewfinder Package RS5DM2-VSH B&H
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Old May 17th, 2011, 10:25 AM   #9
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

David, I wonder if the rig was uncomfortable due to unfamiliarity and a lack of practice with it? If you're a photographer, holding the camera like an SLR might have been more comfortable for you.

I spent two days at NAB with a chest rig (The Event) with follow focus and found it to work really well. I was able to track moving stuff well and did a ton of shots that went from a logo to a product.

I also shot a bullfight in Madrid a couple of weeks ago with a 200/2.8L (no IS) - half the shots with an extender(!) I shot at a high shutter speed for effect and to remove blur from microshake. Rolling shutter is still there, but the tight shots only show bull, matador, and dirt, so it's not so noticeable. It wasn't an end to end production, so I can select the best shots for focus, motion, and content. I brought a cheap, photo tripod to use as a monopod, but I didn't really have room - my backpack was under my legs. The rig was definitely the way to go. No way could I shoot 400mm handheld without IS and no rig effectively.

Yeah, it was a corner case, but NAB wasn't. A chest rig allowed me to shoot for extended periods. It gave me the freedom to pull it away from my body and do "jib" shots. It gave me four points of contact (two hands, chest, and eye.) It's high on my chest, so by breathing through the diaphragm, it doesn't show breath movements. Most of all, I can break it down and put it in a backpack that has body, four lenses, a follow focus, filters, batteries, charger, etc. And the backpack fits under an airline seat.

Given space to carry more gear, you can go smoother. But when traveling light and shooting for extended periods, I find a chest rig to be the way to go - for me.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 10:58 AM   #10
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

Depends on the situation. I like using a rig if filming handheld for more than a few seconds, e.g an interview as holding an SLR even with Viewfinder can get difficult because of the angle your arms have to hold at. With a shoulder rig you dont need your arms as high.

The biggest issue with a shoulder rig is carrying it when not filming, as its an extra weight.

I wouldnt bother spending too much on a shoulder rig, I recommend the Gini Rig. The build quality is excellent and its one of the cheapest shoulder rigs around. I've used it quite a bit since buying it a few months ago.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 11:02 AM   #11
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

One of the reasons you use a shoulder stabilzer is to change the axis of the camera as it is moved around. I think that If you simply hold the camera in hand, the axis goes throught the film/imager plane during movement creating more liklihood of unrecoverable movement in the images, and also a higher potential for rolling shutter jello. Most of the time I have seen severe jello is from hand holding the camera.

Best shoulder mount I have is an ugly duckling I built from aluminum tubing at flat bar scraps and a handle from a packing tape dispenser. All of maybe $ 20 bucks involved. Ad the manfrotto quick release and the $60 LCD viewfinder and you are ready to go. Probably would want to clean it up a bit for a wedding, but this works great for shoulder shots in productions I work on. See pic attached. Not for you if you can't be seen in public without the latest pretty blue and red rigs you pay a fortune for out there.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 12:46 PM   #12
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

Yeah, make no mistake, I have DIY shoulder rig too. All jazzed up with quick release plate and all.... but I never find myself using it. Either I go strictly handheld, using the camera strap to stabilize
it, or I have sticks. The shoulder rig is good tool, but it does take up nearly as much space as a broke down tripod and is obviously more tiring to use.

I'd say it's a very shot specific tool. I suppose it's a little more glamorous, b/c the form factor of the DSLR, but one look at some of the prices for these rigs puts me off my lunch.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 01:46 PM   #13
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

I've got a home-built rig at home and a Red Rock at work. The main advantages of the RR are that you can fine tune it without needing to break out a drill, and you can break it down for airport travel. It's literally just a few carbon bars, a couple of hand grips, and some connecty bits.

One approach is to buy some raw carbon fiber tubes and some inexpensive connectors, some BMX grips, and just get the camera mount from a major player.

You can get five feet of 0.575 sanded tube for about $60. (15mm is 0.591. I'm not sure if 0.575 is close enough to work with all hardware.)
Small Carbon Fiber Tubes

These clamps are under $15 each...
Super Compact Strut Clamps- Same Diameter with a Wing Knob | Mechanical Components for Assembly Automation - Misumi eCatalog
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Old May 17th, 2011, 03:59 PM   #14
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

Chris, out of curiosity what type of lens is on your camera?
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Old May 17th, 2011, 04:04 PM   #15
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Re: Is a shoulder rig necessary?

Look at my 60D here:


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