Camera Support Gear: Shoulder Rigs and Tripods

Manfrotto_504HD_Head_535_Carbon_Fiber_Tripod

    There are several ways to stabilize your shots:

  • handling your camera the right way
  • using stabilized lens and camera’s in-body image stabilization
  • using a shoulder rig
  • using a tripod or monopod
  • using a flycam, steadicam or 3-axis gimbal

Peter McKinnon has a video full of tips on how to get smooth handheld shots

The Panasonics Dual I.S. on cameras like the GH5 and G85 is probably the best stabilization system (with Sony close behind). All manufacturers are getting good with their IBIS, but for pro work, you still want to use a dedicated stabilizer.

If you are starting out and have a limited budget, I would just get a simple shoulder rig – before investing in a more robust rig or tripod. Here’s one such a rig.

ephotoinc--RL01-DSLR-shoulder-rig

ePhotoinc / Ivation / Morros (sold under different labels) RL01 DSLR shoulder rig on B&H, eBay, Amazon, Amazon.ca, Amazon UK, Amazon.de

I have a video review of this rig, if you would like to find out more.

For more advanced camera rigs, you need something that will allow you to add accessories like a monitor, follow focus, mattebox, filters, etc. A cinema rig usually also needs a dedicated power source for all these accessories.

I’ve looked at many rigs, but the one that remains my favorite is from Lanparte. This company makes lots of excellent rigs and accessories. Here is a great all-around rig that works with most cameras – and it is possible to customize it further down the line.

Lanparte-Professional-DSLR-Kit-V2

Lanparte Professional DSLR Kit V2 on B&H, Adorama, eBay, Amazon, Amazon.de

By the way, I own the PK-02-C model (the one without monitor and battery), but you can also get the full PK-02 model, or the intermediate PK-02B one.

When it comes to tripods, there are a lot of options out there, which can make picking the right one difficult. I’ve gone through a good number of tripods, and now I use a Manfrotto system that can take a lot of weight (ex. my full URSA Mini 4.6K set-up), but is also reasonably light and works with smaller cameras. This is the lightest tripod and head combo I’ve tried that lets you consistently produce smooth shots (including when combined with a slider).

I also like this tripod because it goes down almost as low as the floor, but at its highest setting, it goes all the way up to 80″ (2 m).

Manfrotto-536-carbon-fiber-video-tripod-502HD-head

Manfrotto 536 carbon fiber video tripod on B&H, Adorama, Henry’s, eBay, Amazon, Amazon.ca, Amazon UK, Amazon.de

Manfrotto 502HD head with flat base on B&H, Adorama, eBay, Amazon, Amazon.ca, Amazon UK, Amazon.de

Manfrotto 520BALLSH half-ball mount on B&H, Adorama, Henry’s, eBay, Amazon, Amazon.ca, Amazon UK, Amazon.de

As all ball heads, this half-ball allows you to quickly level the camera. However, because it is separate from the head, you can also install a slider between it and the head. This way, the slider gets a very sturdy base, and you can still use the tripod’s fluid head.

Although monopods were originally designed for photographers, you can now find some monopods that are an excellent tool for videographers. A monopod is certainly not a replacement for a tripod, but it many situations – when you need to reposition the camera quickly – it’s actually better.

iFootage_Cobra_2_A180_monopod

Here is an excellent monopod that I use:

iFootage Cobra 2 A180 monopod on BH Photo Video, Adorama, eBay, Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK

I use it with this fluid head: iFootage Komodo K5 on BH Photo Video, Adorama, eBay, Amazon, Amazon Canada

There are other variations of this monopod. To see all the options, and for my full review of the Cobra 2, please go here.

Flycams, steadicams and especially 3-axis gimbals deserve their own section, so please read about them here.

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