Here’s How to Build a DIY Custom Camera Rig for Just $200 (or Less)

Usually, when you buy a mirrorless camera these days, you get the camera body itself, a battery and maybe a camera strap, if you’re lucky. Meanwhile, if you want to build a proper, full-fledged filmmaking rig with all the bells and whistles, you’ll need to invest in some additional bits and pieces that could easily empty your savings account if you are not careful.

Now, with so many camera accessory manufacturers in the market, it’s very easy to get lost along the way. Plus, in many cases, you may need to figure out all the extra parts through trial and error, especially when you are getting started from scratch while doing everything on your own. To save you all the hassle in the process, seasoned filmmaker Tom Antos has come up with an inexpensive DIY Camera Rig for your mirrorless camera that will set you back just $200 or even less.

Before we break down the components used for building this particular rig, you need to take note of a few things. First off, the prize of the combo that Tom covers does not include the camera body, microphone, monitor/recorder as well as the LED video light showcased in the video.

Secondly, this rig is only compatible with mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7SII, A6300, A6500, Panasonic GH5, etc. If you’re looking for a support system for larger cameras, that’s a completely different ball game in terms of needs and price.

With this mind, the first component on Antos’ list is the cage for the camera itself. Tom recommends the Viltrox VX-11 DSLR Rod Rig Camera Video Cage Kit mainly due to the decent build quality, various mounting locations, and included top handle grip.

In addition, the cage provides easy access to the battery compartment on the bottom which is another nice touch. Something that Tom doesn’t like about this product, though, is the short length of the included rods. Of course, these can be easily replaced if required.

Another component that you will need to build your DIY camera rig is a front handle grip for the combo. Tom suggests the Camvate Camera Handle Grip which can also be bought at a reasonably low price. Make sure that when you are buying the handle, it fits the size of your rig’s rods (i.e. 15mm, 19mm, etc).

We all know how tricky the audio can be, especially with small mirrorless cameras. Usually, these devices aren’t fully equipped to control important aspects of audio such as precise level controls, nor do they offer features like phantom power or multiple inputs using professional connections such as XLR or 1/4 inch TRS.

To solve this drawback, Tom suggests getting the Saramonic SmartRig+ 2-Channel XLR/3.5mm Microphone Audio Mixer which offers all the features listed above (dual professional connections, headphone monitoring, and audio level controls). Plus, it’s compatible with most cameras sporting a 3.5mm input jack. For a little under $100, this item is surely a bargain especially when you consider its price-to-performance ratio.

When mounting the control monitor, odds are you will want to attach it in a manner that it can easily be moved around the rig. For this task, you will need a magic arm that will allow you to rotate and reposition your accessories with ease. Tom suggests the Lanparte Magic Arm and Monitor Quick Release combination, although stock for these products has been hard to come by.

Lastly, most mirrorless cameras come with one major disadvantage – small batteries that are synonymous with extremely short battery life. To overcome this issue, Tom recommends the Camvate Power Supply BMPCC BMCC 4K DC Camera Battery Mount Plate, which allows you to attach the much bigger Sony FP-970 battery to power up the device.

To be able to utilize the Camvate battery plate, however, you will also need a dummy battery. Tom advises buying the Selens External Portable DC Dummy Battery Pack for Sony mirrorless cameras that use the NP-FW50 battery. In case you’re using a Panasonic camera, then you may need the cheaper HQRP AC Power Adapter for Panasonic.

There you have it! For around $200, you’ll be able to build an affordable, professional looking custom rig that will turn your mirrorless camera into a proper video production tool while giving you the most bang for your buck. Optionally, you can find the additional components mentioned in the video listed in the description of Tom Antos YouTube video here.

[source: Tom Antos]

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One Response

  1. Freelance cameraman China/HK October 12, 2017

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