Build a Shape Style Shoulder Mount Rig for Under $300

RIG

After a few years of having a bunch of DLSR parts cobbled together as my main run and gun shoulder rig, I decided to upgrade it with a few new bits that will be compatible for future compact camera systems. One rig that I’m especially fond of is the Shape Canon C100 Shoulder Mount. The quality of Shape products is awesome but at $600 it’s a little out of reach for some filmmakers. I discovered that with a little bit of perusing through eBay, you can put together a rig that’s more than half the price.

fullrig

While there is a lot of crappy rig parts out there, the parts I list have been battle tested and hit that sweet spot of quality, affordability and performance. One thing to keep in mind is that I prefer to keep my rig as lightweight as possible in order to maximize my endurance on a shoot.

shape
product information button runplayback SHAPE Canon C100 C300 C500 Shoulder Mount

rods

The backbone of any good rig are the rods. Aluminum rods offer maximum durability and grip but I find that carbon fiber rods shave off so much unnecessary weight that it’s tough to go back to aluminum. There’s some debate as to wether or not these are actually carbon fiber or a mixture of fiber glass and carbon fiber but either way, I’ve had these for years and they still hold up in all conditions.

PRICE: $30

carbonfiber
12 inch Carbon Fiber Rails, 15mm Rods, for DSLR RIG – One Pair – Lightweight!

baseplate

Although I have the OEM Manfrotto 577 baseplate, the P200 Manfrotto Compatible Quick Release Plate + Adapter is a great alternative I found on Cheesycam. It’s more than half the price of the OEM Manfrotto 577 plate and even has a bubble level on the side. This plate attaches to the dual cheese plate mounting baseplate with 15mm rod clamps. With the cheese plate the same size as the Manfrotto baseplate, you save a lot of weight and real estate on the rig for other accessories.

PRICE (Manfrotto Compatible Baseplate): $19
PRICE (Cheese Plate): $48

generic_manfrotto
P200 Quick Release Clamp QR Plate for Manfrotto 501 500AH 701HDV 503HDV Q5 7M1W

cheeseplate
Tripod Dual Cheese Plate Mounting Baseplate fr 15mm Rod Support DSLR Rig Clamp

handlegrips

Nothing beats Shape’s innovative push button design when it comes to their hand grips but I found something close. These 6 degree interval stop handle grips are compatible with the ARRI Rosette system which means you could upgrade the handles to something fancier albeit more expensive. With the included one piece 15mm rail block, these hand grips are an incredible deal and almost 1/4th the price of anything you’ll find at B&H.

PRICE: $127

arri
ARRI Type Rosette Arm Handle Grip Set fr 15mm Rod Support Rod Clamp Rail System

frontgrip

For critical focus moments, I like to keep my right hand directly under the lens which is why I chose to include a front handle grip mounted right behind the main handles. Having a third handle is always useful when picking up the rig from the ground as the weight is evenly distributed when placing it over your shoulder.

PRICE: $30

singlehandle
Front Handle Grip Rod Clamp Rail Block fr 15mm Rod Support DSLR Rig Shoulder HDV

shouldermount

I use this adjustable shoulder pad with my V-Mount Power Distributor which acts as a counterweight. It has numerous 1/4-20 mounting options and an adjustable structure which makes it great for getting the perfect angle for your shoulder. The velcro cover also makes it very easy to add foam cushioning if you prefer a softer pad.

PRICE: $40

shoulder
Folding Shoulder Pad Rod Clamp Kit fr 15mm Rail System Follow Focus DSLR Rig

So there you have it. For a grand total of $294 you get a pretty robust rig that can hold it’s own with the Shape Canon C100 Shoulder Mount for a savings of about $300. Hit me up in the comments and let me know what you are looking for in a camera rig.

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kayo
Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

  • Really well researched and a great looking final rig. Having a quality set up is so crucial but many people are put off trying to put their own together because of the cost and risk in buying something that just won’t cut it when put to work. Great that you’ve tested it all in the field!

    • Rik

      Yeah I can definitely say I’ve held off upgrading my rig for a few years because of cost factor for name brands and some bad experiences with overseas gear, especially when its an “all-in-one” rig. There’s certainly a larger flood of foreign DSLR rig parts to comb through on the net but there’s also basic parts that are of high quality which I’ve listed above. Using the Shape rig (which I honestly LOVE) as inspiration, it was fun to try to build something similar. While foreign DSLR stuff, especially electronics can be a little sketchy, I’ve never had problems with basic aluminum parts.

  • How do you keep your DSLR from twisting on the rig? And how to keep the camera level? I find when I use a shoulder mount, I have to tilt it up a tad due to the natural dip in our shoulders.

    • Rik

      It’s all in the baseplate and the cage. The Varavon cage that I use keeps it from twisting. Also, as you can see I have a Manfrotto baseplate sitting on top of the cheeseplate mounting plate and that typically gives me enough height to keep everything level. The rosette handles that I linked above are also long enough and highly adjustable to get your arms to the right distance as well. Hope that helps 🙂