Test: DIY DSLR Cage / Fig Rig / Stabilizer

This article is referencing my DIY DSLR Cage / Fig Rig / Stabilizer found at http://cheesycam.com/?p=966

As I do different video projects, you realize there are many different tools for different purposes. This DIY that I've created was to provide additional stabilization while walking, be able to carry a few different accessories, but be very quick to setup. It won't replace a Steadicam / Glidecam setup, but then again it neither weighs as much, is as bulky, or takes time to setup. It's designed to be a grab-and-go type tool for extra stabilization. Above is an example of me using the tool. As you can see, just by seperating your hands away from the camera you can acheive some fairly nice results. Especially looking at the Horizon in the video footage it stays pretty level. There is just a bit of bounce which can be minimized with a bit of practice, but definitely something you'll want to have for a DIY price of $25.00 dollars. Read the article for information on how to build your own. http://cheesycam.com/?p=966

You might want to also reference the additional Macro Rail at http://cheesycam.com/?p=1106.

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78 thoughts on “Test: DIY DSLR Cage / Fig Rig / Stabilizer

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @Jack - Used a wide lens and closed down on the aperture. It keeps everything in focus as you're moving around. This rig won't replace a Steadicam, but by placing your hands further from the camera, it stabilizes the shakiness.

  2. Jack

    Dumb question here, but, how are you focusing and how is this a stedicam as well? It looks awesome!

  3. pancho

    Anyone think this cage (with Rode mic, H4nZoom, Small light and camera) would be too heavy for the "hands free" shoulder mount in the A.S.S. Implant blog? Would love to use the two together...if it'll work.

  4. Hackett

    How do you attach the viewfinder screen to the bottom of your camera if you have a 2x batter grip on it? Did you have to buy a specific viewfinder?


  5. Emm

    Post author

    @David - They are two different types of gear. One flies very smooth, the other just stabilizes the camera from micro vibrations. You would use them both differently.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Steve - You would mount a Quick release plate under the cage. On top of the bottom rail, you would mount another quick release adapter. You'll most likely need a long bolt running through both, and sandwich that bottom rail between.

  7. Steve

    I love your site...My father just finished assembling my cage for me. I was wondering if someone could tell us exactly how you would get this onto a tripod and what that would require. Thanks, Steve

  8. landon

    I can't figure out how to attach the quick release to the metal frame? can you explain more about that step??

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @steve-o - This will not replace a steadicam. This is merely a simple way to mount all accessories and then move the entire 'rig' from handheld, to tripod, to monopod, to slider, etc. Cages are mounting brackets, but it does add some features for 'hand held' shooting. You will not be able to achieve a floating or flying style of camera movement with this alone.

  10. steve-o

    emm - would this cage (or others like it) be a good alternative instead of using steadicams, was wondering if it can function well for real estate (web tours of the home/property)

  11. Using your guidance I built my own cage. I found the original dimensions to be a bit small, and the overall weight a tad on the heavy side. So I shortened everything by 2 inches and used PVC pipe to lighten the rig a tad (as I plan on attaching a monitor). I also just put some pipe insulation over the PVC to make the "handles" more comfortable. I know you were going for a pro look, which is likely why you didn't go for these options. Regardless, here's my work in progress: https://clayton-mclaughlin.com/photography/diy-dslr-camera-cage-for-video/

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  14. Emm

    Post author

    @ethan - You are correct. Not all stabilizers are steadicam like. They are simply called stabilizers. Much like shoulder rigs, they are used to stabilize the camera while holding.

  15. Daniel

    I am planning on making a PVC version of this because I am a student and cannot afford those two dollar shelf brackets you suggested. Wish me luck!
    By the way, I love your site and check it almost every day. Thanks for taking the time to make and review these products, God bless!

  16. Hey I was curious...I made a rig similar to yours but i used something different instead of the long steel bar...So I was wondering after you have your rig and just your camera attached to the rig...how much did your completed rig w/ cam weigh? basically yours looks a lot lighter than mine! =/

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @Alex - Yeah thought about it, but wanted something a bit more pro looking and something that held paint well. PVC is great though, like LEGOS for adults.

  18. Emm: ever thought about a PVP fig rig? I built one over the weekend, and I really appreciate how light it is (compared to a metal frame).
    Only just started video (since I got the 60D last month), so I'm still trying to produce something worth sharing 😀

  19. Boris

    @Emm- I saw it now, pretty stupid of me. so basicly there is no cheaper solution for buying quick releases than those ones in your video? I would love to have this rig but if I buy several quick releases from your video, it will be too much for me, having in mind the money I've spent on camera and accessories lately...

  20. Boris

    Thx man, very helpful. Buying these quick release parts will increase the price of rig but I think it worths.

  21. Just finished making the framework. Painted it today. We are having a RARE sunny day in Seattle-65 deg!!! Anyway- received a quick release RC2 and a spare RC2 from Amazon today. When frame dry will have to figure out how to mount the Quick release. I think its back to the store for some more washers/shims/nuts/etc.
    I think it is going to work well. was quick to build.

  22. Ogre

    I was wondering if something like this would work for a camcorder as well? I have a cannon gl2 and have been looking for something like this for that. It will do wonders for my Nikon but like i said i need it for the camcorder. What are the dimensions and parts used?

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  24. Wolf

    Thanks, Emm, you rule! I've been saving AND spending a lot of money because of you...
    What a paradox! These yellow packages with the Chinese stamps just keep coming in.

    Stay true & keep the good stuff coming!

  25. Emm

    Post author

    Take a look at these links:


  26. Wolf

    Thanks for inspiring someone with 2 left hands to go out and make his own.(ie ME)
    I want to screw a couple of coldshoes onto the top bar so I can slip a wireless receiver on, or my monitor, or a mic. Does anyone know if you can buy these things? Tried Googling but didn't get anywhere.

  27. Emm

    Post author

    Do you have the link to that particular sample video? For this particular test, no I didn't use any lighting. I think you'll catch the rig in the mirror and there's nothing but the camera on.

  28. Emm, one question for you: when you shot the sample video did you use the LED light you've got mounted on the rig in the pictures? I've built a similar rig (almost done it - just waiting for my Zoom H1 to mount to it) and I'm curious to know what you did for lighting in the sample video.

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  30. Emm

    Post author

    I have had several offers to purchase these DIY rigs from me. I possibly could have outsourced the idea to manufacturing, but didn't find it worth the overhead, and I was not trying to sell it for 10 times it's worth like other companies.

    If anyone chooses to offer this design for sale, I would suggest that you point them to the DIY link on this blog and let them decide if they can build it or not. I agree not everyone has the time or the tools and would be willing to buy a tool like this, but we should always encourage ways to save a few bucks, and at the same time keeping them aware of any (not just mine) original designs that were used or inspired from.


  31. Malcolm

    So, would you build this rig before a shoulder mount? or before a small hand-held steadycam rig? Some great info here and am looking to get off the tripod with my 7D and sound rig.



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  35. james

    just a thought for running shots "could" you put low tension spring in the side handles? stiff enough not to jump but would level out rough ground or fast running, i did so checking at THD looks possible ...or is it over kill??

  36. OlivierC

    Cheers from a french director, authentic fan of cheesycam! many thanks for the ingenious an creative demos!
    With great support and best regards,

  37. admin

    Post author

    I use the Rode VideoMic, but thinking I might not need the shock mount. I will be looking into another hard mounted Shotgun microphone soon.

  38. Chad

    Thanks again for all the work you do with your website! I'm on here everyday checking out what you have in store for us. Two quick questions...

    -Which model Rode microphone do you typically use?
    -I built the Fig Rig and it came out great, however- I currently have my camera mounted to it using a 1/4" bolt and wing nut. Do you know where I could find a quick release mount and plate? I can only seem to find the portion that attaches to the camera and not the base- I need a set that includes both the base plate and the quick release plate that attaches to the camera portion. Any suggestions?

    Thanks again!

  39. Ize

    I agree with cyber sapp, can you build us and we'll just order because some of us doesnt have the tools or time to build your cool rigs.
    Great site by the way, very informative and simple.

  40. Hi Guys,
    Is there a way to mount this fig to a tri pod? Also how do you mount a t2i to this rig? (what type of mount would I need) I have all the materials I am just trying to finish it up and am very very new to this. Also I am thinking glide cam as well.

    Any help is appreciated 😉


  41. teko

    hey mate really keen on a Gear List for this as i am going to try make one tommorow. any help would be appreciated.



  42. bob

    Question -how did you thread the bolts inside the pipe? Been trying this for about a half hour and am about to throw the damn project out.

  43. admin

    Post author

    Yeah using two hands and spreading them apart works best for a simple stabilizer. If you need just a handle, check out this article httpss://cheesycam.com/?p=789

  44. Daniel

    Wow, looks great and really smooth shot! Thanks a lot for the great tutorials. I've been looking at "hangrip" for my 550D, but i might have a go at a DIY this time... 🙂

  45. admin

    Post author

    Thanks! Yes in my first video towards the end, you hear me say something about how surprised I was too. I never used a two handed stablizer before, and by moving your hands away from the camera, it does make a difference.

  46. ben

    I have to say, I think this blog is really one of the better cam info sites out there. The design is clean, the videos are really well done, the DIY stuff is actually useful. So, kudos.

    anyway, i'm really impressed with the rig. i didn't think it would be as smooth as a gimble based system. especially going down stairs

  47. admin

    Post author

    Oh the image was taken from my first video. The test video was shot on a Sigma 20mm F/1.8 (not seen in the video).

  48. Fabian

    Beautiful! really considering this.
    This is not a canon l lens? a sigma with a red ring??

  49. admin

    Post author

    Thanks. If I can find the time, I just might make some better and more clear tutorials into a downloadable PDF.

  50. John

    Brilliant, particularly impressed with the stairs scene!! Overall I think your sight is very useful and I really think you should write a book on DSLR DIY cinematography from rigs to dollys with build plans etc. I would definately buy it and im sure others would too who are on a tight budget but dont want to sacrifice quality.

    Your skatertraxdolly system looks alot better than some of these products being supplied by redrock nd jag and the others. Really looking forward to seeing what you do next and im here supporting you all the way. Let me know if you would consider a DIY book/DVD though, would be pretty cool.

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