DIY Run-N-Gun DSLR Video Rig

Here goes my first technical/gear related post.

Since I started doing video work on my Canon 5D MarkII there was always the problem of the low audio quality that the camera captured. The way to get around that is to record the audio to a separate devise. Like many others I went with the Zoom H4n. It’s a wonderful recording devise but it came with it’s own problems, how to record audio while shooting video. The most simple way is to get a bit to mount it to the top of camera using the hot shoe. It works but it depends on the so-so quality of the built-in microphones on the H4n. The real benefit of the H4n is the ability to use high quality XLR microphones. Most solutions provided by companies like Redrock Micro and Zacuto are wonderful products but are extremely expensive. I wanted something simple and cheap but it was proving to be more and more difficult to find something.

My first solution ended up being just too big for run-n-gun style shooting in tight places. I still use all the pieces but not as a shoulder rig anymore.

It was just too big and drew too much unwanted attention.

All I needed was a simple bracket to mount the H4n to the camera so I could then mount the mic to the hot shoe. It took a lot of searching but I finally found something that I could work with, which brought me to the rig pictured bellow:

These are the pieces in the rig:

DPL-4 Universal L-Type Bracket – $89

Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head – $13

Gitzo 1/4″-20 to 3/8″-16 Reversible Screw – $7

LCDVF Viewfinder – $125

Rode SM3 Shock Mount – $50

All for a total of $284 if you buy it all or $109 if you already have the shock mount and don’t need the View Finder (but I highly recommend it!).

The Bracket, screw, and ball head are really what bring it all together though.

The DPL-4 mounts directly to the bottom of the camera using the tripod mount but it also has a place to put a tripod plate on the bottom since it uses the one on the camera.

You then take the smaller end of the screw and put it in the side of the bracket.

Now you take the Ball Head and mount it to the screw. It comes with an insert to accept either 1/4″-20 screws or the larger 3/8″-16 screws. Take it out to mount it to this screw but SAVE IT! I used it for another purpose right away and they can cost $10 on B&H.

Now you can mount it to the camera and place the tripod quick release plate to the bottom as well.

Put it all together and you have a compact and easy to use rig on the cheap!

If you have any questions feel free to ask them in a comment and I will respond as best I can.

6 thoughts on “DIY Run-N-Gun DSLR Video Rig

  1. Hey Sam,

    A friend of mine, Chris Gregory shared this post with me. We both used to work study (GWU) and work in the city at the Post.

    Thanks for the post. Quick question… Have you found this setup to give you slightly shaky handheld shots? Also, in this setup, where do you put you wireless lav mic receiver?

    Thanks for taking the time.

    Mark

    • Hey Mark,

      I forgot to mention that I use this rig with a Manfrotto 560B-1 Monopod (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/434422-REG/Manfrotto_560B_1_560B_1_Fluid_Video_Monopod.html). It’s lighter than the 562B-1 so you can easily shorten the leg and then hold the Monopod under the camera for increased stability over holding it like you normally would a DSLR. It definitely adds some weight but for the quick shots more weight actually reduces hand shake.

      I haven’t had to use a wireless lav yet with it but if I was going to use it for an interview I probably would be using a full tripod anyways where you could easily attach the lav to the tripod with something like velcro. If you need to use it while moving around then you can probably attach the lav to the H4n with some velcro or hang it from the ball head with a strap. The receiver is small enough that you can find a place for it on here.

      Tell Chris I said whats up!

      Hope this helps,
      Sam

      • Hey sam,

        Thanks for responding so quick!

        The monopod is cool. I have one like that, but I think the cheaper version without the base spikes. Tripod always is the best though!

        Have you ever seen an Alzo Digital Transformer rig? I’ve been using it, but I am getting tired of it.

        Yeah Chris mentioned you went the year before us to Eddie Adams and that you were there during a get-together when we were all looking at our stuff for the 2011 class at the Corcoran. Small world!

        Great photos man. Love your work.

        Mark

        • Yea I remember your work from the Slide Luck Pot Show! Great to hear you got to go to the Barn too!

          I agree that tripod is best but I hate it. I’m a stills shooter first and I feel like shooting with a tripod requiers such a different mind set and shooting style that I’m totally out of my element in a lot of situations. With this setup I can shoot video similar to how I shoot stills where I’m in the middle of things.

  2. Hey man so I put together the rig! Great stuff! Instead of the mic on top going into the recorder I just place my SmallHD DP4 monitor on top with a swivel fluid head onto the hotshoe. This rig is definitely going to help with this coming weekend since I am shooting in small quarters and need to keep it unobtrusive.

    So thanks a millions for all the info!!

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