Evolution of a Budget Shoulder Rig

Vimeo Member Leo Silve went through the trouble of shooting this video to share what he's been doing to get a personalized comfortable budget shoulder rig put together. It's a lengthy video, but it's shot to explain from start to finish why all the parts were selected in his build. In the video you'll see a few different pieces used including the inexpensive shoulder support and Macro rail used for an offset. There's also a follow focus and some Ikan pieces thrown in to complete his lightweight setup. [Thanks Leo]

20 thoughts on “Evolution of a Budget Shoulder Rig

  1. Tommy


    Thanks for the great video! I'm having trouble locating the Ikan rail system. I see different variations out there. What are the part numbers for the items included in the Ikan system?



  2. jasan

    For the time you have used the fotomate rail as an offset, would you say it can support Canon 5d mark II , rode mic + lcd monitor( express35 still dont sell the offset). thanks.good video.

  3. Lumpy

    Another cheap option for a handle (especially if you don't have one) would be to go on Ebay and search "z96 Handle" and you can get one with the 1/4-20 screw for 8 bucks.

  4. Noel R

    Hi Emm and everyone,

    I thought I'd give an update on how much all the parts (in the tutorial) cost. I probably should've done this from the beginning.

    Ikan rail system - $200
    Fotomate macro rail - $30
    Cowboy Studio - $30
    Manfrotto 394 QR - $40 (I already had this prior)
    Zacuto VF 2.5X - $293 (from an eBay auction)

    All these parts total to $593, but please note the Manfrotto QR, Zacuto VF, and the handle are parts I've had for a while before I started the build. Thanks again!

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @nbeyah - Many people have existing equipment that they need to adapt to. For those who are starting from nothing I'm still thinking the cheapest off the shelf solution might be the Express35 RigX.

  6. nbeyah

    If you add in the quick release and the zacuto view finder, that rig is clockin in just under 1,000usd.In my budget that doesn't qualify as affordable unles compared to zacuto. Might as well add a couple hunndred and get a redrock. But none the less I like the guy's diy spirt and appreciate the video.

  7. Rabby

    I thought it was a useless part and never really bothered, and never crossed my mind using the part as an Handle, Great, I will try this and make a cheap handle myself. This site never stops to amaze me thanks all for sharing.

  8. Noel R

    @ Mike - if you meant the parts that are on the video, here they are (as listed on the vimeo page):
    Canon 7D
    Zacuto Z-finder 2.5X Pro
    Ikan Rail System - cheese plate, 12-inch rods, rod & tripod mounts
    IndiFOCUSZoom friction follow focus
    Manfrotto 394 quick release
    Fotomate marco rail (used as an offset)
    Cowboy Studio Shoulder Support
    Mighty Wonder Cam bracket (for the handle)

  9. Joe Rodriguez

    @Ken Great response. Sounds like you might be up for a video of your rig, or a picture. Nevertheless, thanks.

  10. Ken

    @Joe, I am using a version of this rig with a 5D2 and 70-200 f/2.8 IS. My run and gun rig is part Gini (2 handles, rails, and base mount) mounted on a macro rail for offest, which is then mounted on the $24 shoulder support. I use a viewfinder and have no problem with eye to finder distance on any lens I own. Distance is solved by using 2 Giottos quick releases (MH-621). One QR is on top of the Gini mount so I can quickly get my camera off the entire rig and the other is on top of the macro rail so I can take the rails off the shoulder support to go on a tripod. Because both QR can be adjusted forward and back I have more than enough distance (usually I only adjust the top QR). The rig with 70-200mm is heavy but quite manageable. Actually the shoulder rig is more comfortable to me than the original Gini shoulder silicone pad and I can use both hands to adjust things.

  11. Noel Roque

    Wow, I got the biggest surprise today... First off, thank you very much Emm, wasn't expecting this, but glad I can have a little part in helping people out.

    Everyone, thank you very much for your comments and appreciation.

    @ Joe Rodriguez - This is supposed to be a Run & Gun rig, so personally if I was going to attach that big a lens (not to mention the battery grip), I would use a tripod. Most of the lenses I use with this rig are vintage nikkor and M42 primes so they are much smaller than your 70-200 zoom. I use a Canon 7D with this rig, and it being a 1.6 crop camera, I try to use wider focal lenses; 20-35mm primes are gr8, 50mm and 85mm are my limit and 100/135mm I use on a tripod. I recently got a Zeiss Sonnar f/2.8 200mm in m42 mount. This is a HUGE lens and quite heavy. This would be a closer in size to your zoom, and I would only use this with a tripod and lens support. The only zoom I use with this rig is my Tokina 11-16.

  12. @Alksion Emm loves this cheap $24 shoulder mount, and I've seen Emm put it on heavier rigs.

    I went ahead and bought one from cowboystudio's website for $34 shipped...not too shabby. Gonna order my macro rail soon and get this together!


  13. Joe Rodriguez

    I'm sure someone has asked this before but can the $30 shoulder support work with a 70-200mm lens? I'm sure it would hold the weight but like this video explains, offsetting the rig to adjust your eye is important. Those that don't use it with rails know that using it with a battery grip helps a lot with the height. But with a 70-200mm + camera + LCDVF, it seems not doable in terms of distance to the eye (because you mount the tripod collar of the lens on the shoulder support; not the camera). Does that make sense?

  14. Jon

    Great video! Thanks again for introducing me to that particular shoulder mount... You can get it cheap over here in England too, via Amazon.

  15. Alksion

    It is brilliant, but he just got done saying how cheap it is, I don't know if I would trust that to support my system, but to each is own.

  16. This came out so legit! I agree with Rabi...the handle was genius.

    I'm gonna have to go buy this and have a great shoulder support for under a hundred bucks!

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