The main goal of any video rig is definitely the budget. There are other challenges to mention but lets find out the issues of building such a rig.
So far I’ve been hit and miss but hopefully after you read this you’ll be pointed in the right direction for your own build.
Doing a test build helps prevent you going too far back to the drawing board. You can learn a lot from watching TV shows like American Chopper when you see them build a bike. In some ways it makes sense to do a test build in my case for a camera rig but if you get it too wrong would you punch through a wall like on American Chopper 😉
Starting with the Panasonic GH4 currently in my opinion the best 4K video camera/recorder for value. The problem is utilising the HDMI output with a recorder which will add to the cost. Lucky the prices of external recorders have come down a little and for me I was lucky to pick up a discontinued Atomos Assassin for $895 on the Christmas sales. (Previous Post is available for reading on Atomos Assassin)
Here are some of the hiccups I have found along the way. Cages.. Cages have become maybe my nemesis. Since hitting the scene the last few years SmallRig offer a range of cages but for every camera upgrade you will have to upgrade the cage to suit. In the test build I did start with a C- cage that SmallRig used to produce/manufacture but I found out the hard way it didn’t work. The problem was that the cage twisted with the added weight so it was shelved and replaced with the proper GH4 SmallRig cage. I do like this cage setup and as full coverage allows for rosettes and handle mount to both sides.
The SmallRig handles are excellent I can’t fault them and they make a range that are fully CNC machined to a premium version with leather grips for added comfort. Some bolt on top of the cage for a permanent build and some use like I have with a clamp making it quick and easy for removal and great for packing up a kit for travel.
The Matte box on the end of a kit is the most difficult to choose. Bright Tangerine make the best that I’ve seen but the premium price will push many of us out but if you get the chance have a look at their selection online website they look amazing. After some more searching I stumbled on the JTZ DP30 Carbon Fiber model and its worth a look and prices are not insulting. Build quality is very good and they offer the swing away mechanism for lens changing in the way its constructed. There’s a few options and I wanted to future proof my build by choosing the “4×5.65” version or you could go with the “4×4” version to lower cost even further. I went with the wider filter as I didn’t want to be restricted with using wide angle lenses.
The main reason I choose the JTZ matte box was the top handle as I have not seen any other matte box on offer that has an ergonomic edge over any other brand. I just see myself holding the rig more from the top.
If you are wondering what the lens setup i’ll start with the Metabones FD to MFT mount adaptor then Canon FD 35mm concave lens and then the SLRMagic x50 Anamorphot adaptor and last add on the end the SLRMagic Rangefinder.
Anyway for now the next step is power setup/management and to eliminate potential follow focus issues and find the right filters to install into the matte box.
This for me is a bit like building a motorcycle. Would you watch a TV show with cameramen building a camera rig in a garage all sweaty and covered in tattoos? Maybe.. Maybe not. lol
Prices as of Jan 2018
Panasonic GH4 Body: $1220
SmallRig GH4 cage: $115
SmallRig Handle: $118
SmallRig Rods: $19
JTZ DP30 Carbon Fiber 4×5.65″ Matte Box: $666
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