DSLR Rigs: Customizing Your Own

DSLR Rigs: Customizing Your Own

DSLR’s and DSLR rigs are everywhere! At Zacuto, we have a selection of over ten different DSLR rigs. No matter what your shooting style, we have a rig for you! We love to encourage customers to customize their own DSLR rig. Some customers start from scratch and build a rig based on their own needs, and others start with one of our recommend DSLR kits and customize from there. In this article, we are going to show you a couple of our customer’s rigs and hear from them on why and how they choose to customize.

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Let’s take a look at this picture supplied to us by Spirit Juice Studios. They are using two Canon 5d Mark II’s. They have them on two Zacuto DSLR Double Barrel rigs with some unique customizations. The first main customization for both rigs is the change from an offset rig (face in front of the camera LCD) to an inline rig (camera in line with your shoulder) so they can use an external monitor. Rob from Spirit Juice says, “We modified the rigs to be inline so that we could view the image through an external Marshall 5″ monitor rather than the camera LCD. I prefer to use a monitor not only because of the increased size but also because it gives you false color.” (NOTE: Spirit Juice Studios bought their rig before we came out with the inline version of the Double Barrel, the Stinger.) To convert from an offset to inline rig, the user can screw a pair of 15mm male rod extensions into the back of the DSLR baseplate and then slide their shoulder pad and counterbalance weight onto the rods. To mount the monitor off to the side, they inserted a Zamerican V3 Large Arm, articulating monitor arm, into the side port on the DSLR baseplate and attached their monitor to the articulating arm using a Zicromount III.

Now, let’s focus on the rig of the shooter who is standing in the photo. If you look closely, you can see that the shoulder pad is actually elevated from the rods running out of the back of the DSLR baseplate. Spirit Juice chose this configuration so they could quick release the shoulder pad from the rig when moving over to a tripod. They did this by using the Zacuto Z-Riser which was made to lower or raise one set of rods from another on the front or back of a rig. They screwed the rods coming out of the back of the DSLR baseplate into the Z-Riser, and then clamped the other side of the Z-Riser to the rods holding the shoulder pad and counterbalance weight. Now, all they have to do to quick release the shoulder pad section of the rig is release the clamps on the Z-riser.

Let’s take a look at another rig- The Treepot Zacuto Rig made by Jith Paul. This rig is a modified DSLR Stinger Rig. Jith made some small modifications to the DSLR Stinger Rig to make it more compact.

Jith says, “My main motivation was to build a rig that’s compact and can be very left mostly built and easily taken apart for run-and-gun shooting. I bought the Stinger rig last year but was looking for something a little more compact. I did a few shoots where I just attached a monopod to the base of the stinger rig and didn’t put on the handles. I found this easy to use since I would have one hand on the follow focus anyway. I saw the Fee-N-G rig but wanted to be able to rotate the handle down to be completely vertical to get into even tighter spots than my monopod solution allowed. I took apart one of the handles from the Stinger rig and attached the handle from the Fee-N-G rig too it. “

The main change in the Treepot rig is the handgrip assembly in the front. It still uses the Zgrips V3 assembly, but with only one handgrip. Jith now has a 1” rod on the handgrip instead of the normal 7” rod. He is also only using a Z-Lite, 3.5lb weight and not a 7lb weight. These are small easy changes that make Jith rig better for his shooting techniques and applications.

Kelly Conlin from Nice Lady Productions has two very unique, customized Zacuto DSLR Rigs. This first rig is a combination of our Zwiss Cage and Scorpion shoulder mounted rig. Conlin says, “The Zwiss Cage/Scorpion rig is a two-piece kit that incorporates the best of both worlds; a kick-ass unit for mounting necessary camera peripherals and a comfortable shoulder mount for reducing weight fatigue, while providing super steady shots. [It can] easily go from a hand-held cage, to a shoulder mounted rig, to a tripod in mere minutes.”

Another simpler rig that Conlin uses for quick shots is her “Nice Lady Rig”.

Conlin says, “When I began using an EVF, I wanted a way to mount the EVF behind the camera so it mimicked using a viewfinder or Z-Finder on a DSLR. I realized the key to making the rig of my dreams was Zacuto’s Gorilla Plate. The Gorilla Plate is the jumping off point for a rig I quite honestly take wherever I shoot.”

Conlin started with a Zacuto Striker to create a rig that provides a handle for steady shots, an angled EVF eyepiece for incredible support and optics, a Zacuto Pincher for preventing yet another broken HDMI cable, and a place for her to mount a BlackRapid Strap (a ¼ 20” mounting hole on the Gorilla Plate). A BlackRapid Strap enables her to sling her rig around her so the camera gear is handy, while being totally out of the way.

The Nice Lady Rig starts with mounting the DSLR camera to the Gorilla plate. From the 15mm port in the underside of the Gorilla plate comes a 4.5” Female/Female Rod with a Z-mount Zwivel. The Z-Mount Zwivel allows you to attach two 15mm rods together and set them at various positions. In the Nice Lady Rig, the Z-mount Zwivel attaches the vertical 4.5” rod to a 6.5” Female/Female rod attached to a Zacuto Zgrip Handle. The EVF is then attached to the end of the 6.5” Rod with Zicromount Mini and a Cheesestick on the back of the EVF.

“When I’m out and about with this beauty I get tons of questions about it, namely: which Zacuto rig is that? To this I simply state: it’s the Nice Lady”, says Kelly Conlin.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless with Zacuto! We encourage you all to build a rig that fits your shooting applications and style. If you have any questions or need assistance, our sales team is ready to help. Give us a call at 312 863 3456 or shoot us an email at sales@zacuto.com!

5 Responses to “DSLR Rigs: Customizing Your Own”

  1. johnflipsen on March 7th, 2013 12:21 pm

    Why is Nikon not mentioned in this your list> It is still the better camera. Go to the professionals and find out and look up all the literature. John

  2. Sam on March 11th, 2013 7:34 pm

    You’re tell these guys to go to the professionals? RTARD

  3. Not Sam on March 31st, 2013 12:14 pm

    “You’re tell these guys to go to the professionals?”

    Jop because no professional uses this cheap crap…

  4. Sean on June 15th, 2013 2:29 am

    Nikon isn’t used at all by professionals for video. Nikon is a great photography camera. But comparing a Nikon vs Canon video. Canon wins by a landslide. Now you can shoot video in RAW with the latest ML firmware. But ahh I want this rig!

  5. Brian Robinson on March 11th, 2014 8:34 am

    Actually, Canon is much better at videography when compared to Nikon. Nikon has always focused on still photography as per my knowledge. This article is awesome. Nice work. :)