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Old March 10th, 2014, 12:54 PM   #1
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How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Not sure if this was the right place to place this topic but since I"m a solo shooter at weddings and the set up that I"m describing here has many benefits for my kind of use I thought it was ok.

Anyways, I have been shooting with regular handicam style videocamera's in the past (a canon xh-a1) and then moved on to a dslr which was quite a challenge shooting handheld, I also got some small handicams but they also posed a big challenge to shoot handheld.

Then the Sony nex-ea50 came for a year and eventhough it's not a real shouldercam it was so much easier to shoot handheld, as I do some interviews on a tripod but also handheld run and gun style now and then I needed to attach my wireless azden (with a wireless handmicrophone) and my cameralight incl swit batteryholder, this was easy with the nex-ea50, here's when I posted about this: Receiver Mount and Comments in General

But you can see the camera became quite beast in size, weight was ok but it looks like a bazooka, eventually I got rid of the ea50, mainly because I found it too big for general use at weddings and wanted to go back to light and small formfactor.

The biggest problem I faced was how to get his same setup with my dslr, I needed to have a xlr box to attach my azden wireless and needed something to carry it around and that got me thinking.

I bought a very cheap shouldermount from an Indian supplier (around 80 euros I believe) and have been using that many time in combination with my handicams and my gh3, with some modding I managed to attach a Tascam dr60, my Azden 500 UDR, my swit batteryholder with a big sony battery and a swit videolight on top of my gh3 and to use the viewfinder shouldercam style I used a Varavon loupe that attaches to the lcd screen when it's folded open to the left side of the camera.

This total setup weighs only 2kg, it's not as comfortable as a real shouldercam or the nex-ea50, but it's by far the best solution I have made so far that allows me shoot run and gun interviews with a wireless receiver and a videolight and I can look through teh viewfinder in a way you would do with a real shouldercamera..

It also breaks down easily to just the shouldermount and camera/varavon loupe which is a featherweight construction (Less then 1kg) to shoot shouldermount when I don't need a extra light or xlr audio.

I thought I'd share for whoever might be thinking of making a similar construction.
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Old March 10th, 2014, 12:55 PM   #2
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

And here is how it looks on my shoulder and as a minimum setup, as you can see even Mona Lisa approves.
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Old March 11th, 2014, 09:53 PM   #3
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Thanks for posting these. Already thinking of applying some of these ideas to my own rig.

Looks like it is back heavy when mounted on the tripod though, is that much of a problem for you?
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Old March 12th, 2014, 02:13 AM   #4
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Yes, it's not balanced in anyway where the shoulder mount is attached to the tripod but the extra weight at the back is less then 1kg, especially if you would attach a small sony battery it weighs next to nothing. Currently I have a Azden wireless attached which is too big actually but as it still works very good (knock on wood) I"m not inclined to change it but if I needed to do that I could attach a much smaller and lighter model that is adapted for dslr use making the whole setup incl camera around 1,5 kg which is actually a featherweight and probably less then what a 5dIII incl lens would weigh. :)

In it's current setup I don't have any issues operating it, I use it as a fixed setup for interviews and then just lock the tripod head or when I use it for run and gun interviews then it's easy to use as well. A tophandle might come in handy but it would just increase size and I want to keep it as compact as possible.

The only thing I"m going to change is to move the part which holds the swit battery and azden wireless closer to the schoulderpad so it becomes a bit less long, because I shoot alone and do mainly weddings I need to be able to take all my important gear with me in one go.

It's also very easy and quick to go from a bare set up to a full rig which makes it very versatile to use.

Last edited by Noa Put; March 12th, 2014 at 04:35 AM.
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Old March 12th, 2014, 07:33 PM   #5
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Hey Noa

Looks good! All you need is a nice big matte box on the front and you almost have an ENG camera. I still love my EA-50's though ...no assembly at all ..just grab and go. I tried a matte box on the 50 too but it's way too heavy!! That got scrapped very quickly!!

Why have you got the huge Tascam 60 on the rig??? Is it worth having a recorder that's almost as big as your camera ?

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Old March 13th, 2014, 03:06 AM   #6
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

The main advantage of the dr60 is that it can simultaneously record to it's own media and send the audio signal to the camera so you don't have to sync up afterwards.

The main difference between the setup I"m showing here and the "grab and go" nex-ea50 is when I"m not shooting interviews I can fit the camera in the pocket of my jacket if I want to, can you? :) When I wanted to use my wireless microphone setup with my ea50 I had to attach my azden and switbattery to the back of the camera as well making the camera even bigger.

This set up is only for interviews so when I need it it's very fast to setup, it still would be much smaller and lighter then a nex-ea50 and if I"m not shooting interviews I can still choose to either just use the shouldermount only or just the dslr without any extra's. That's a choice you don't have with a nex-ea50, it can only go from big to bigger.

It's all about the size and modularity, If you could see what I can fit into one backpack, which doesn't even have the space for one ea-50 you'd understand why I went for small formfactor.

Last edited by Noa Put; March 13th, 2014 at 04:41 AM.
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Old May 21st, 2014, 05:26 PM   #7
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Thanks for the information Noa. I just started doing video with my DSLR's and was looking for a solution 4 shoulder mounting. I also just purchased the Tascam 60 D. this looks like a great setup for run and gun.
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 04:24 AM   #8
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Welcome to the forum Chris, with dslr's you always need to find workarounds where other camera you'd just pick up and shoot, like with a sony-nexea50, as it has about all you need build in, but I like it better to pick my gear based on what I need. This can be either only a small m4/3 camera with no additions or with the small shoulderrig, if I need more stable footage or with wireless and recorder if I need to do speeches. It's like working with legobricks :)
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Old May 27th, 2014, 11:32 PM   #9
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

If you get a set of low handles for that, so you can keep your arms down low (upper arms tucked in to body - forearms parallel to ground) you'll massively cut down on fatigue and your body will thank you. Plus it will increase your stability by 200%. Arms up high by your camera reduces stability and increases muscle strain.
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Old May 28th, 2014, 02:00 AM   #10
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

You are right and my shoulder rig did include 2 of those handles, I only never use them, the reason is that with my left hand I need to have constant control over exposure which is located on the left front side of my handycams and with my right hand I need to control the zoom. The handles also make the rig considerable bigger which is something I don't want as I need to keep it all compact. Also if I attach my dslr to that rig I prefer to have my hands on the camera at all times. But if I had to shoot in controlled conditions for a longer period handheld then the handle would come in handy and make it easier to, like you said, keep it stable and less tiring.
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Old May 28th, 2014, 09:25 AM   #11
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

yikes, does look a bit awkward to hold! Dylan beat me to it.

have you looked at some of the various USB & IR triggers to gain control on a lower mounted handle?
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Old May 28th, 2014, 09:57 AM   #12
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

I use it most in combination with my handicams and those have better ergonomics to handhold it, the side grip of a dslr makes you hold it a bit in a more inconvenient way but it works for those short periods I need to use it, any USB & IR triggers are just even more things to add and for my purpose those are useless.
Remember that this kind of configuration like I have shown on photo are just for very specific needs and only for shorter timeperiods and then it works well, when I use it in a church to shoot a wedding ceremony I use it for a full hour with my handicam.

You can make this rig as big as you want ofcourse but I prefer it as small as possible.
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Old June 4th, 2014, 09:59 AM   #13
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Impressive rig. I'd like to know which Varavon loupe that is. It seems from their site they used to, but no longer make one specifically for the GH3. Does it work with the LCD unextended? I'm guessing you've supported it in some way or another or is that part of the loupe? Looks like the leather strap is your own mod.

Thanks
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Old June 4th, 2014, 11:13 AM   #14
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

Weird, on the varavon site teh image of this loupe is there but the link to more details doesn't work so not sure if they still sell it, it's below loupe that I have

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Old June 4th, 2014, 12:00 PM   #15
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Re: How to turn your dslr into a shouldercamera

That's what I found as well. I emailed them yesterday not about that exactly but asking them which of their loupes would work with the GH3. I just assumed it was no longer available but maybe it's just the link is broken. No reply as yet. They do have one on their site that's for a 3.5 LCD but also has an optional 3" adapter which should fit the GH3 but so far neither of the 2 retailers I've contacted have that.
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