30 September 2011

DIY DSLR Shoulder Rig

Fun DIY DSLR Shoulder Rig 

*Build videos now available at Vimeo and YouTube (see end of article)
*** DIY Follow Focus now added see video here! Includes Follow Focus Build Video.

I came across a DIY rig, named the Johan plug wire clamp rig. This was a setup I liked because it gave a feel of a true system at a cost effective price. You do compromise the standard 60mm clamps systems with 15mm carbon fiber, but you do get a usable rig for a fraction of the cost. I used red billet Wire clamps from E-bay made by SickSpeed. It required 8 sets and was probably the most expensive part of the build with an exception of the Monfrotto release plate. I also upgraded the system with a variable counterweight system, an added focusing clamp, and inexpensive matte box (doesn't except filters) more for cutting glare. the 9.5mm rods are fiberglass tent poles which I bought two sets. I am thinking of upgrading to solid aluminum, or carbon fiber which I found wasn't all that expensive.   Another rigs at the Cheesy Cam blog.

Video with equipment explaination

This was a fun little project, and suits my needs, until I am making the big bucks with video. But since I am not doing much video, at the moment, it does well. I have since added a 160 LED light to the rig and a Lilliput 7" monitor which you can see in the video, as well as a second focusing clamp to the zoom control on the lens.

Rig with Monfrott release plate, clamp on focus ring, matte box, and Hoodman loupe.

2 (12 piece sets) SickSpeed clamps - $60 Ebay
2 sets 9.5 tent poles - $18 dept store or sporting goods store
357 Monfrotto release $45 b&h
Misc. hardware $8 home depot (2 - 5m/40mm screws and 2 - 5m/25mm screws + 6 - 5m locking nuts)
Matte Box $35 Ebay - **this only fit about a 72mm lens
Weights $6 (custom welded holder) sporting goods store
padded shoulder support $3 (Custom fabricated)

(Lilliput 7" monitor $199, 160 LED dimmable light $50)

total about $185

$2,231 with 7d, rode mic, hoodman loupe, and a 16gb Cf card. Roughly the price of just a pro rig, but with this one you get the camera!

Build videos available at Vimeo and YouTube. 4 videos for the entire build.

Build Video #1

Build Video #2

Build Video #3

Build Video #4

(New Updated Shoulder Rest)


  1. Hi Tony, Thanks for your response to my YouTube comment I look forward to the next iteration. I gotta say your rig is pretty damn slick looking
    (especially as a DIY)and considering the prices of the pro-gear...some of which is kinda fugly too.

    As a sort of follow up,I note your e-bay matte box you hooked up as well. Is there any issue with the diameter of the rods you used working with the rod clamps on the box, which is engineered to work on 15mm rods, 60mm apart? However the sickspeed clamps are supposed to accommodate up to 10mm wires. Obviously you have it all working okay, but do the clamps all work/tighten well and do the rods have to splay a bit to fit into the matte box hardware? Does all this make sense? I have looked at the pictures closely...these are the tent pole rods in the pics right? Also how do you clamp your other stuff to the rods? Feel free to answer or not, at your convenience, that is cool with me.

  2. @joe Thank you. this was a fun build and I like to kick up whatever inspires me a notch. The matte box is designed for 15mm rails, but just slips on to this unit due to the spacing. I used the end caps that came with the tent poles to secure the matte box to the rails. if you want a lot of slide you would have to have a wire harness clamp sandwiching the clap for the matte box. As far as everything else I modified the slickspeed clamps to work where I needed them. Check out the videos to get an idea of hoe each part was built. Thanks for the comment!

  3. No, you da man! I watched the complete series of videos on the build of this rig.Great job, now I can attempt my own with complete confidence. Your blog has been a great source of guidance and information for me.
    Sincere thanks and keep it up!

  4. @joe, If you build a rig please let me know, I would like to show other rigs, inspired by my build. Post a link.

  5. Thanks again, I will add this to my list of projects and post my build in near to distant future. The weight holder is cool, I have some welding skills also and may try my own version.

  6. HEY! This seriously looks great and i'm currently following in your footsteps. I need the counter weight balance piece though! I'd love to purchase that from you but it doesn't seem to take me to the paypal form for it. Email me MihovilovichT@gmail.com

    Thanks man!

  7. "Named Johan plug wire clamp"?

    The rig on cheesycam is my creation, so is the camera and all the pictures on the "original" post http://cheesycam.com/diy-dslr-rig-four-thirds-rig/

    Who is ths Johan!?

  8. If that's so Mr. Abacrombie, you should take that up with the guys at Cheesycam. The article that gave me the inspiration gave credit to someone named Johan. I am just referring credit where I got my info. If you designed the original, Just want to say great idea. I have since made even more modification to make the unit more in favor to my needs.

  9. Joe Michelli,

    First of all, you are a genius!
    I´m wondering to build my own Shoulder RIG, but it portugal it´s a little hard to find some crucial parts for the rig, like the SickSpeed clamps.
    I saw in a older post, that you have another DIY to build something like this... Can you give some ligths please?
    I´m really interested to build one of these.

    Best Regards
    And keep going with the great job.
    My email is: tiagonogueiracosta@gmail.com

  10. Replies
    1. The Whole rig? The reason for the video is to help others. :) I wish I had the time to build these out, but you would save so much with out my labor. I am to busy working on my Slider rig I am trying to market. Sorry.

      If you are looking for a slider check out my system at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/anthonyzeh/z-slider-system

  11. hello, i would like to replace the tubes with this http://dragonplate.com/ecart/categories.asp?cID=102 . But im from brazil and i have no idea about the size and how many will b needed.

    Can you help me plz? thanks

  12. Great tutorial! Wonderfully set-up and incredibly detailed and comprehensive. I am really looking forward to beginning work on my rig sometime in the coming months. I started some light research into commercial camera rigs and since I consider myself a skilled DIYer, I started drafting plans for my own rig to be machined from aluminum and carbon fiber rods. After doing some research and stumbling upon your blog I just want to say Thank You for saving me A LOT of time and money. Thanks again.

    Will post pictures when I'm done with my rig!


  13. Hi,
    i want to build the rig. is there any chance to get your counter weight system? i live in germany, but i really like your system.

    thanks and greets

  14. Hi,

    thank you for this blog and sharing these great ideas with us!

    I came across this link on the internet, where someone in germany made a shoulder rig using the same clamps you did. I thought I ll post it here maybe you could use it.


  15. Similar, homemade