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Lake Films
12-05-2009, 08:01 AM
Hey guys,
With my GH1 on its way, I'm thinking about what handheld system to get. "Indie system" seems to have great prices as well as the equipment. But, I have no experience with a DSLR rig yet. Any advice on what system you guys use/recommend?


PS: I plan on possibly adding the HFn and maybe a wireless receiver to the rig.

Thank you!

Stephen Mick
12-05-2009, 08:19 AM
Others will disagree, no doubt, and there are budget/value options out there, but for truly "handheld" use, I found the GH1 (and 7D) near-useless without Zacuto's Z-Finder for starters. Even with the GH1's articulating screen, something like the Z-Finder adds a point of contact between you and the camera, creating a more stable shooting "platform."

Beyond that, a lot of it comes down to personal choice. I've got (and really like) the Zacuto Tactical Shooter for "body-stabilized" HDSLR shooting. Again, it's expensive, but it also breaks down for easy travel (important for my needs). I also have a Varizoom DV Media Rig shoulder mount. I use it more for my EX1, but it certainly can (and will) work for a GH1 or 7D. Another good thing about a system like this is the support rod and belt. These cameras aren't heavy, but they really requre you to work in manual mode. Having the support rod takes so much of the weight out of your hands, that it makes it easy to adjust focus, zoom and other controls.

The IndieSystem looks nice. Just remember, with any system, you'll want to make sure it can accommodate additional mounts for your Zoom (or whatever) and your wireless receiver. Best thing to do is email IndiSystem (Studio 4) to see what they think the best options might be.

tflak
12-05-2009, 10:03 AM
Here's another vote for the Z-Finder. Not only does it give you another point of contact, but in very bright conditions it can mean the difference between really being able to see what you're doing and getting proper focus or blowing the shot. Having the sun to your back and low on the horizon or in bright, snowy conditions are good examples.

One thing about the Z-Finder - you definitely need the Z Bands to keep the LCD from swinging open from the weight and possibly damaging the hinge mechanism over time. I found you only need to use one (on the non-hinged side).

And the Tactical Shooter comes with the Manfrotto 394 mount which blocks battery access when that quick release is mounted on the GH1. However, have found that's not a big deal since the GH1 batteries last a good while.

Above all, make sure whatever you get is infinitely adjustable in as many ways as possible because it really does make all the difference in being completely comfortable when using a rig for any length of time.

bbinnard
12-05-2009, 11:11 AM
I'm only an amateur, but here's my fairly detailed review of the IndieHardware stabilizer and my GH1: http://www.birkbinnard.com/photography/stabilizer/index.htm

Ben_B
12-05-2009, 12:53 PM
I really don't get the point ofthe z finder on the gh1; we have a 1.4 megapixel electronic viewfinder that puts out a much better image than the LCD. Sure it's really close in to the camera but that is more easily solved by finding a ten Dollar eye cup and just slipping it over to gain a little comfort and distance. Easy.

I agree with the idea that smaller and lighter is better for a handheld rig, and that your handheld rig shouldn't necessarily be the same as your tripod rig, etc. I have the indifocus DSLRsm and I hardly ever use it...mainyl for shoots with the 5D where it's on a tripod and we're using a monitor/follow-focus and I have the two handles up for handheld....

For the GH1 I almost exclusively use a DIY gunstock mount I built...it is incredibly light weight and you can hold it...well golly at least 10 different practical ways depending on what you're doing. It's made from PVC, an old airsoft gunstock, some metal piping materials, and a bicycle grip...I use it for just about everything.

http://img109.imageshack.us/img109/1127/img0025di.jpg

larrys
12-05-2009, 04:38 PM
Ben, could you give a web link for the eye cup you are talking about that will fit on the GH1? Thanks.

bbinnard
12-05-2009, 04:52 PM
Yes, I'd like to find such an eye cup too. I tried using one off my Sony R1 (since sold) but I could not get it on the GH1 and during the process managed to unseat the GH1's rubber eye guard. Now I can't get that back on properly either. :cry:

Stephen Mick
12-05-2009, 05:05 PM
For me, the Z-Finder was simply a matter of comfort. I liked the added magnification (even if it is the LCD), and the system just seemed more ergonomically pleasing to my style of shooting.

Steve Dave
12-05-2009, 05:32 PM
im also looking into some sort of stabilizer but not really sure what to get. since im in high school im limited to the amount of money that i have. people have given me great diy ideas but im not handy with tools and to be honest im very lazy. im looking for something with the price range up to around 150$. i found this stabilizer (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/625503-REG/PROCAM_PROCAM_Personal_Camcorder_Stabilizer.html) it seems kind of crude but im thinking of getting this and saving up for a better one in the future or im thinking of buying a used hague mmc which im guessing is in the 100$ price range. any one with any ideas on what to get or any reviews?

Lake Films
12-05-2009, 05:59 PM
Ben B you should have put a patent on that baby!

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554798-REG/Stedi_Stock_SSSB_SSSB_Stedi_Stock_Shoulder_Brace.h tml

tflak
12-05-2009, 06:24 PM
I really don't get the point ofthe z finder on the gh1; we have a 1.4 megapixel electronic viewfinder that puts out a much better image than the LCD. Sure it's really close in to the camera but that is more easily solved by finding a ten Dollar eye cup and just slipping it over to gain a little comfort and distance. Easy.

I must be missing something...how in the heck do you get your eye up to the electronic viewfinder when using your gunstock mount?

Ben_B
12-05-2009, 08:35 PM
I must be missing something...how in the heck do you get your eye up to the electronic viewfinder when using your gunstock mount?

When I'm using the view finder I usually grip the camera itself on the right side with my right hand, push the stock into my right shoulder, and then just put the camera up to my eye...it works out pretty well...imagine it's a gun with a scope...that's how.


On the eyecup! I do not have one but I have seen pics up and talked to people that use them..you just have to find one that fits well enough...basically trial and error and ordering a bunch of them isn't going to work out too well...what I've been doing is trying out every eyecup on every camera I use on the GH1 and seeing how good the fit is...haven't found one I like yet but they're out there! I will let you know if I find a good one....people that I've seen doing it on the forum were using an eyecup from say, a Sony Betacam...not too easy to find now.

tflak
12-06-2009, 06:43 AM
Got it. Umm...this probably wouldn't be the right time or place to try and sell my Zacuto rig, huh? :D

Martti Ekstrand
12-06-2009, 06:57 AM
Others will disagree, no doubt, and there are budget/value options out there, but for truly "handheld" use, I found the GH1 (and 7D) near-useless without Zacuto's Z-Finder for starters. Even with the GH1's articulating screen, something like the Z-Finder adds a point of contact between you and the camera, creating a more stable shooting "platform."

Switch of the LCD and use the EVF which has much higher resolution and you have a 3-point contact, ie; the GH1 can be used in video mode just like a DSLR! What has given HDSLRs a rep of 'bad form factor for video' is that all but GH1 disables the viewfinder. All films in my sig link except "A Kindling Light" has handheld footage shoot that way. I used this simple shoulder brace (without a monopod) for the handheld parts in the commercial.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554100-REG/Manfrotto_by_Bogen_Imaging_361_361_Shoulder_Brace_ for.html

but a sturdier option could be this new one from Novoflex. I got this recommended to me by another GH1 owner on friday.

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/camera-support-systems/chest-and-shoulder-support/

Stephen Mick
12-06-2009, 07:20 AM
Sorry, Martti. I like what I like. I like how my system feels and works. It looks like you and Ben do as well.

Nitsuj
12-06-2009, 08:10 AM
I find it is more difficult to pull a focus using the LCD. With the EVF I can get right on focus in no time. I wouldn't think of it as a matter of comfort but more of functionality. Ben, would be cool if you could elaborate on that rig build you got there. I made a figrig for quick handhelds but it's kind of uncomfortable holding it up to my eye that way. What you got there is more like it for certain situations.

tflak
12-06-2009, 08:34 AM
but a sturdier option could be this new one from Novoflex. I got this recommended to me by another GH1 owner on friday.

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/camera-support-systems/chest-and-shoulder-support/

Now that looks really interesting for a little under $200. Have to admit that if I'd seen that and an eyepiece to fit the GH1 I'd have given springing for the Zacuto a little more thought. That said, I'm totally happy with how the Zacuto rig functions and feels. When I first tried using it I thought maybe buying it was a mistake. But once I got it adjusted to exactly how it's best for my body and shooting style, can't really imagine anything more comfortable to use while providing as much stability and flexibility.

Still...damn...a little over $200 for the Novoflex and an eyepiece (if you can find one that fits).

Peter J. DeCrescenzo
12-06-2009, 09:53 AM
... On the eyecup! ... haven't found one I like yet but they're out there! I will let you know if I find a good one....people that I've seen doing it on the forum were using an eyecup from say, a Sony Betacam...not too easy to find now.

To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, "This may or may not be the viewfinder eyecup you're looking for!":
https://servicesplus.us.sony.biz/sony-parts.aspx

Search for part number 365777102

Again: I don't know for sure if this is the correct part, but it's supposedly a rubber eyecup for a Sony Betacam camcorder, brand new for $25, "in stock", direct from Sony.

Maybe someone will try this to see if it fits the GH1.

Another idea: If you have a pro video equipment rental or sales dealer in your town, bring your GH1 there and see if any of the eyecups from the pro cams fit your GH1's viewfinder. The rubber eyecups are typically designed to be removable, so you should be able to carefully take one off a pro cam and put it back on after trying it on your GH1. If the eyecup is a good secure fit for the GH1, make a note of the pro cam's model number and if possible get the eyecup part number from the dealer.

Or, if you like spinning the roulette wheel on eBay, be my guest. :-)

EWS
12-06-2009, 10:35 AM
This seems like an appropriate place to stick in my 2 cents.
I deliberated long and hard about which direction to go on this.
My starting point was the Redrock Micro shouldermount with the offset kit and the full micro followfocus kit. For me, I haven't tried a Hoodman or a Z finder. I still may end up going that route. My initial thought was to use the EVF and so far the results have been good.
However the original micro shoulder mount offset kit with only one rod, placed the camera too far right to be comfortable. I could use it, but I was stretching my neck and leaning my head. I just received the microlink 4 flat which has 4 holes and allows for a second pair of rods which shifts the entire camera and followfocus over. I will be trying it out over the next day or so and I will let you know how it works out. For now I am looking at an eyecup option as well.
Even with the first offset kit I was able to adjust the left hand grip of the micro shoulder mount and have a good handle on the follow focus. I think this setup will work just fine for me. It really is pretty awesome to have this little camera stable on a shoulder mount, with followfocus using my Nikon primes and being able to go to tripod so quickly.
Still I totally agree with many folks that believe one of the strong points of this camera is being able to shoot in stealth mode and go unnoticed. I am probably going to try to come up with something small for those times. You would really need nerves of steel to shoot good handheld without a stabilizer using a DSLR. I know I can't pull it off.
The Redrock rig, while it is not huge, certainly may draw a lot of attention.
It certainly wasn't an inexpensive way to go, but I had to look at this as if I were buying lighting, grip, or audio gear, and to buy quality stuff that will last, and I believe I will probably have this rig long after the GH1 has gone by the wayside.
Hope this helps.

Martti Ekstrand
12-06-2009, 01:19 PM
Sorry, Martti. I like what I like. I like how my system feels and works. It looks like you and Ben do as well.

As you didn't even mention that, unlike on 7D, the viewfinder actually works in video mode on GH1 it sounded that you haven't actually tried it out. Just a friendly nudge :smile:

Regarding a wider eye-cup for the EVF I've been toying with attaching a tab to one that fits into the hot-shoe to keep it in place, it's not like I would have a flash sitting there anyway. However right now there's not even 4 hours of real day-light here in Stockholm so I don't feel the need for big eye-cup at the moment - when spring comes perhaps. For those who still think they need a LCD-loupe there are also other less costly options than Zacuto's like the LCDVF and the Cavision loupe.

Ben_B
12-06-2009, 02:26 PM
I find it is more difficult to pull a focus using the LCD. With the EVF I can get right on focus in no time. I wouldn't think of it as a matter of comfort but more of functionality. Ben, would be cool if you could elaborate on that rig build you got there. I made a figrig for quick handhelds but it's kind of uncomfortable holding it up to my eye that way. What you got there is more like it for certain situations.

Lets see, here's the different ways I usually use it: shouldered like a rifle with my eye in the viewfinder, with my right hand on the camera's grip. Two-hands using LCD holding the lower handle and the stock like a handle. From the hip with the LCD, camera grip and stock. From the hip, upside down, LCD, lower grip and stock. Cradling the PVC with two hands, LCD. Tucking the stock in my armpit, holding by lower handle or camera grip, LCD..the list goes on.

I can go into more detail on how it's constructed or maybe post a quick tutorial, it's pretty easy. The hardest part to find is the airsoft stock but that stock came from a gun that cost less than $10.

There are some limits to how adjustable it is as it's basically held together by tension between wing-nuts on all thread and the other parts...but it is completely sturdy in the configuration pictured. I need to cut down the all thread a bit...it can get ya good if you run your arm into it.

Martti Ekstrand
12-06-2009, 03:14 PM
You could get 2 GH1s, two of those gunstocks and then go out shooting akimbo style. Should make for the weirdest 3D footage ever :Drogar-BigGrin(DBG)

tflak
12-06-2009, 05:33 PM
For those who still think they need a LCD-loupe there are also other less costly options than Zacuto's like the LCDVF and the Cavision loupe.

Philip Bloom has a review of the LCDVF and does an impartial comparison with the Z-Finder:

http://philipbloom.co.uk/2009/11/23/lcdvf-viewfinder-for-dslrs/#more-6406

The deal breaker for these old eyes would be the lack of a diopter on the LCDVF.

Ben_B
12-08-2009, 08:37 PM
http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs049.snc3/13637_1254231109346_1036590222_30771762_6863297_n. jpg

Sometimes you just need to go heavy :D No fancy Z-finder here! Yeah I am fucking begging for monitor out while recording.

tflak
12-09-2009, 01:23 AM
It's the stealth qualities of that rig I find most appealing.

Ben_B
12-09-2009, 09:03 AM
It's the stealth qualities of that rig I find most appealing.

Darn right! ^.^

This is actually probably going to a 5D rig for a film I'm DPing in the winter/spring.