Building a backpack style camera stabilizer at

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Old November 26th, 2003, 07:56 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Posts: 177
Building a backpack style camera stabilizer

Demo video thrown together and starring my patient wife making her famous vegetarian chili.
(sorry the audio is real low at the beginning)

This backpackstyle camera stabilizer has worked out real well for me. Total cost was less than $75.00 with all the hardware. However, if you can afford it, you may want to consider buying a "real" marzpak from It's reasonably priced and I've heard from people who own one that their customer service and quality is excellent.

My kids and wife make fun of me when I have it on but I don't care ... it gets the shots I want.

I wore it on a bike ride and that was a terrifying experience. The shots were so so on the bike and to make it usable, I need to attach a piece of 1/4" shock cord from the bike frame to the camera to keep it from swaying if you take your hand off the camera. It wouldn't do you well to let go of the camera to avoid hitting a car only to have the camera swing back and hit you in the face ... and then hit the car. I plan on refining this technique soon. It would work well using rollerblades or skiis also.

Here's the breakdown on my supplies.
Shock Cord 10' of 5/16 and 1/4" purchased from Boaters world (only a few bucks).
One small sailboat locking cleat (also from a boating store) - $18.00 (what a rip off but I needed it).
External frame backpack from EBAY - $24.00 + $10.00 shipping
Miscellaneous C Clamps and hardware from Home Depot - about $10.00
10' piece of 1" electrical conduit (I only needed about 2') - $2.37
Heavy duty 90 degree pipe (came off of a Wall mount telivision holder) $5.00 (bargain)
Piece of 2" metal bar (about 2') found laying around the garage $0.00

I used a #20 tap to tap out threads in my heavy duty pipes to allow vertical and horizontal adjustments using the 1/4" thumb screws.

The thing I like the most about this is you can do tripod like shots and more. All types of angles and different pans are easy. Dutch angle, and the thing that's impossible to do handheld is easy with this unit ....zoom in without shake. Walking takes a lot of practice but you can get a pretty decent shot .... definately not a Glidecam by any means. Gently push down on the shock cord and walk like a duck.

This is a fairly simple project that can use a variety of materials and not only the ones I used. You could use all plumbers pipe to easily construct this and that is what I was going to use until I found the pipes I have now. It's a great piece of equipment that I'm sure will replace my tripod in at least 50% of my work. Especially on the Appalachian Trail and Florida Trail. Just be careful walking. I got tangled up in my orange tree and almost harvested a few oranges while creating the demo video.
Jim Quinlan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26th, 2003, 12:19 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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Very nice work, it does't have that cheezi homemade look to it. Looks very much like the marzpak.
I rather doubt that most people would be able to match your procurement costs (or your obvious knack for creative scrounging)

It was a real deal on the pack frame .

I have the Heavy Duty Marzpak and it's worth every penny. A few years ago I may have tried the DIY rote but I'm too old and lazy.

Again, a very professional job.
Bryan Beasleigh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26th, 2003, 03:54 PM   #3
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Location: Bemidji, MN
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Hey, how about your wife takin a picture of you walkin like a duck.

This is very impressive.
Harry Settle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 27th, 2003, 05:16 AM   #4
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Location: Clearwater, Florida
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Thanks for the comments.

My "creative scrounging" did pay off (besides being fun). However EBAY has a lot of external framed packs for sale rather reasonable since they no longer are in fashion. Backpackers nowadays almost exclusively use internal frame backpacks. That's why you can get external so cheap now.

When searching on ebay go to this category:
As you can see, there's plenty of them for sale cheap. After Christmas they will probably be even easier to bid on.

Harry ..... Maybe I could even wear some flippers to to add to the duck effect : ) Actually, she wanted me to strap a metal collander with lights on my head because she said It looks like something that guy from "Honey I shrunk the kids" would wear.
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