GH2 rig

Posted on 23 May 2012

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The small size of the GH2 makes it a perfect camera for stealth-style shooting. But sometimes I need a bit more weight, put it on my shoulder, hold it very low, or attach a mattebox or other gear. So I needed a rig.

Inspiration

Some inspiration

 

I’ve built mine with the cheapest parts I found on e-bay.

Version 1

Side view. Note that it is supposed to sit on the left shoulder. This is just the other way then the usual ENG style setup, I’ll call it English style rig. The total package weights 6 kg, this is with a leica lens and without filters in de mattebox.

Point of view when on the shoulder:

Weight distribution

One of the main things is that I want is to get the (front/back) center of gravity to be as close to the middle of my shoulder as possible.

Handgrip

I found that most of the times the center of gravity will end up just in front of the shoulder, so it will be important to have a decent handgrip. I tested the handgrip of my cheap jinfinance rig, but that doesn’t hold the weight on the front.

handgrip jinfinance

I’ve tested a few cheap other options and found that you will have to buy a good one with arri-style rosettes and a bar that uses both rods instead of one. A good example is the Vocas one. The cheaper ones will get loose easily or the handgrip will unscrew and turn if you put pressure on it. You’ll be putting a lot of weight on it and you don’t want to risk to suddenly turn the handgrip (or the rod!).

If you can, try to find a handgrip bar that you can adjust to the left or right, to get it in the (left-right) center of gravity. This is especially important if you attach something heavy to one side of your rig, like a monitor or EVF.

I found that it is really important to get the grip as far to the front as possible and to be able to adjust the angle and length of the handgrips. I used a short fixed 90 degree handgrip for a day and my wrist felt asleep for a day or two.

There is one more thing: As I also wanted to use this setup for quick ENG-style camerawork without a focus-puller, most of the times I only want to support my camera with just one hand, keeping the other hand free for focus, start/stop, and all other buttons. For this, it would be to have just one handgrip at the (left-right) center of gravity. But as I also want to be able to put my camera down easily without risking tipping it over, so I don’t want just one handgrip sitting at the bottom of the camera. Do I really want three handgrips sticking out at the bottom of my camera?

It would be great to have just one ENG-style (horizontal) handgrip at the same height as the lens, so you’ll have the other hand free to operate the camera, and the handgrip won’t get in the way when you put down the camera. There is only one problem: the grip will be at the far end instead of the center of gravity (as it will be at the opposite side to the EVF or monitor). There is a nice way to solve this problem: use your head!

Gear compartiment

To solve the (left-right) gravity problem it’s best to support the rig with the side of your head. There is another advantage: putting all extra gear on the shoulder also contributes to my aim of getting the (front-back) center of gravity as close to the middle of the shoulder (I don’t want too much stuff sticking out behind my back, as I will hit people or walls with it).

So my solution is to make a small cage on top of the shoulder support which I can use as head-support and where I can stick all of my gear in. At the top of this cage, I can attach my handgrip and make room for a camera-light and mic-holder. At the front will be the camera and at the back my v-mount battery pinch.

Top handle

So I want the top handle and the tripod-mount point to as close to the center of gravity as possible. Some say you’d want the tripod-mount point exactly aligned under the sensor, but I’m not very sure that’s needed (In practice, it will end up very close most of the times anyway).

In the setup I’ve made the center of gravity is exactly at the front of the shoulder mount, just behind the sensor of the camera. But this also depends on the length of the lens.

Lens length

There is one variable that will mess up everything after the rig is built: changing lenses. If you can’t afford CP’s or other cine-lenses, you’ll have lenses of different lengths. As I need the mattebox at the exact front the rods (otherwise my panavision (5,65″) size rotating filter will hit the rods), the only solution is to move the camera forward or backward to adjust for the lens. This, by the way, makes me think I will not have much need for a swingaway system like the Vocas or Chrosziel system.

The Arri system (also used by wondlan and others) with rods to the side of the lens might solve this problem by letting you adjust the mattebox to the length of the lens, but at this moment I don’t like to have rods at the side of my lens. So I’ll just move my camera. Where are the  inspector gadget telescopic rods?

Gear

I’m powering all the gear from my Cinematics battery pinch. I’m still looking for a way to power the camera and having it display the batterystatus. In the gear compartment I will have my WHDI sender and dual wireless sound receiver. Later on, I might have to add a focus-remote receiver or other things.

As there is no full-HD EVF on the market yet, i’ll stick to my 7″ screen for now. I’ve attached it to the right side of the rig, so I can easily see and operate all buttons on the camera with my right hand.

I’ll need to buy some new cables: HDMI, USB (power) and a nice tie system to lock the cables to the rods. Also some sheets of adhesive black velcro to attach my WHDI receiver to the battery pinch.

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Posted in: GH2