This is an affordable and functional DIY Camera Stabilizer/Steadicam rig pieced together using exclusively off-the-shelf parts and assembled with nothing more than a screwdriver and multi-tool. The main structural piece is just a cheap ladder hook! It combines elements from the Steadicam Merlin and Camera Motion Research Blackbird to make for a solid and relatively compact unit, and was a project inspired purely by curiosity over whether you can build a solid DIY stabilizer without access to professional shop tools and high-end materials!
As I culled/found components for this on a pretty ad hoc basis, I don't have an accurate tally of costs, but am estimating this to be around a $65 build (not including the Manfrotto 323 RC2 plate I've attached). Almost all hardware components can be found at a standard hardware store, save for the RC driveshafts for the gimbal which can be found on eBay for under $10. If anyone actually tries to build this using the specs provided, curious to know the actual cost!
I've test-driven (albeit briefly) both Merlin and Glidecam designs and found that in comparison, this set-up is easier to navigate with limited practice. I have a relatively heavy DSLR set-up (Canon 7D with heavier zoom/prime lenses) which I find works well on this.
For upcoming projects where I'll be testing this design, please subscribe to my Vimeo Channel: Studio Amarelo
MAIN BODY COMPONENTS:
2 x Electrical Ground Clamps
1 x Approx. 7" Curved PVC Conduit Elbow
1 x Male (Threaded) PVC Adapter
MAIN BODY HARDWARE:
1 x Extra Large Ladder Hook (Approx. 15" High x 10" Deep)
2 x Universal Brackets, 1.5" Wide, 2" High
2 x 1.5"-1/4" Flathead Screws
1 x 1"-1/4" Flathead Screw
2 x 6"-1/4" Bolts (Smooth Shaft)
2 x 1.5" U Clamp
1 x 4"-Wide Double Eye Tension Rod
2 x 3.5"-1/4" Screws (Fully Threaded)
8 x 1/4" Locking Nuts (Nylon Locks)
4 x 1/4" Regular Nuts
3 x 1/4" Wing Nut Locks
1 x Zap Strap
2 x 1/2" Washers with 1/4" hole
2 x 1" Washers with 1/4" hole
36 x 1.5" Washers with 1/4" hole
Adapted from "WSCLATER" YouTube Design
2 x Traxxas T-Maxx 2.5R - 3.3 F/R Center Driveshafts (#5151) - get on eBay
2 x 1" (Diameter) Skateboard Bearings
1 x 1" (Diameter) Male (Threaded) PVC Adapter (for top of gimbal)
1 x 1" (Diameter), 1.5" long PVC Straight Connector (No Threads, for bottom of gimbal)
2 x PVC "Shims"
1 x 1" (Diameter) Screw-on Hose Cap
2 x Small Screw + Washer (To Mount Driveshafts to Bearings)
1 x Manfrotto 323 RC2 Quick Release Plate (w/ 200PL-14 Plate)
1 x 1/4"-to-3/8" Step Up Screw Adapter
1 x Rubber Bike Grip
"LADDER HOOK/STORAGE HANGER" ONLINE
**similar but with 90 degree bend on end, except for 2nd Aubuchon link that looks to be the same one I found, but sold in bulk
The couple rang me a few weeks after the shoot and said this was one of the most fun days of their life. Toby one of the VIVIDA team members said to me that this shoot included some of the best days of his working career. As a photographer you want the experience of being photographed by you to be enjoyable and memorable. I guess that along with good results is all you can ask for when many dread the thought of having professional pictures taken.
This pre-wedding shoot was all originally planned for another country in Europe. However, a couple of days before the shoot the weather forecast looked ominous. So we decided to rebook the shoot and the location for Sorrento, Italy. After consultations with my client Dilraj and Sarina it was decided that the shoot would take more of a fashion tangent. Dilraj and Sarina were not a couple that would spend their time laughing in front of the camera. They had model looks, so it made sense to work with their style.
Often, just being in another country is exciting for myself and a couple. However, Sarina and Dilraj are regular travellers. Day one was extremely relaxed a little too relaxed. We got to the afternoon and we still hadn't started shooting yet and I was itching to take pictures. Myself and Ashley my assistant decided that we really needed to up our game to engage the couple in the experience. I informed the couple that we were going to rent two speedboats and travel unaccompanied across to the island of Capri. I was greeted with nervous excitement. For me pre-wedding shoots aren't just about the images, it's about the experience and the journey along the way. This journey was about to get interesting and exciting.
For event work I prefer the discipline required by using prime (fixed) lenses. However, for creative and couple shoots I currently prefer zoom lenses. Almost all of this shoot was captured using the Canon 24 - 70 MK I.
Once again we flew out with a full kitbag including 5D MK II and Profoto lights. Much of the shoot was created using a 1200 Watt second pack along with a 3 ft octa and a zoom reflector, occasionally with a grid.
As you may know many of my shoots require meticulous planning and execution. What I particularly enjoy about shooting abroad in this way is the organic development of the shoot. I am never sure what I am going to come back with. I just know that the results need to impress my clients. We often short list locations using Google images and with research we find areas that may be accessible and provide a good photographic backdrop. When we arrive we spend a little time exploring. And this exploring never stops.
Ok, I've wanted to try my hand at timelapse for a while so had a go out in Miami. Just playing around with different settings to see how things work. All shot with the Nikon D3 and 28-70 f2.8 using a Gitzo GT5541LS tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH55 ball head.
Definitely some room for improvement but it was good to have a play to get a feel for what does and does not work with settings and timings.
The music is 'Music Box' and comes under Creative Commons, by the very talented Sydney Poma.
Full write up on the shoot on my blog:
And a behind the scenes video of one of the shots used in this timelapse: vimeo.com/8460063