Is this the perfect camera rig for video shooters?

Jun 30, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Is this the perfect camera rig for video shooters?

Jun 30, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When it comes to shooting video, we all have our favourite rig setups that we like to use for different tasks. I have three Panasonics here that I use for different things and they’re all set up differently so that I can just grab one and go whenever I need each. But is it possible to build the perfect camera rig on a single perfect camera that meets 99% of your shooting needs?

That’s the topic Caleb Pike explores in this video, and he believes that he’s found it. At least, he has for his needs. There are so many different ways of setting up a camera and everybody has their own personal preferences but Caleb’s setup offers a lot of versatility and options for different shooting demands.

Caleb’s rig is built based on a decade’s experience, filming hundreds of projects to bring something together that meets his needs with the maximum options for reconfigurability and versatility.

The whole system is based around a Tilta half-cage for his Sony A7S III and SmallRig Camera Base Plate onto which everything else attaches, largely using NATO rails. He also added a couple of quick releases (a Kessler Kwik Stand underneath and a SmallRig Arca Swiss quick release above) for removing and attaching the whole setup on a tripod or for removing the camera and cage from the rest of the setup completely.

A couple of 15mm rods allow Caleb to attach a battery plate for a small plate for a V-Mount battery that powers everything via D-Tap as well as a follow focus unit and a side handle. And that handle can either be just a basic wooden one or the follow focus handle for the Tilta Nucleus Nano when using it with manual lenses, with both being easily swappable.

On the top another nato rail lets him attach a top handle and a monitor – in this case, the Atomos Shinobi – or the monitor can be attached directly to the cage, foregoing the top handle when needed. The monitor can also be swapped out with a Portkeys EVF for when you just want to focus on the shot and ignore everything else going on around you.

Probably the best thing about such a dense and compact, though, is that it’s easy for Caleb to just slot the whole thing into a bag and carry on about his way. No big teardown at the end of a shoot, or set up at the beginning. Just pull it out of the bag, pop in a fresh battery and you’re good to go. When you’re done, dump it straight back in the bag.

And the best thing about the setup is that when Caleb gets a new camera, all he needs to do is swap out the camera and the cage and everything else just keeps on working the way it has – which should make the transition between cameras much easier!

It’s a very cool setup and while it can get quite expensive if you buy everything Caleb shows off in the video (especially once you start adding the monitor, EVF and follow focus), there are a lot of lower-cost alternatives out there for each of the components, letting you save a fair chunk of money, depending on your own needs.

I don’t think I’ll be building Caleb’s exact rig, personally, but it’s definitely given me a couple of ideas for modifying mine to make them a little more versatile and not just mostly dedicated to specific tasks.

What’s your rig like? What would you do differently?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “Is this the perfect camera rig for video shooters?”

  1. Gareth Wild Avatar
    Gareth Wild

    No built in ND filters on the A7III so you’re already at a disadvantage