I’ve just started using shoulder rigs to mount my DSLR’s when shooting video, and have found, predictably, that there are lots of big advantages, and a few bumps that need to be ironed out. One of the main issues is the importance of making sure the rig is put together properly, so that it actually rests on my shoulder when I bring the camera to my eye. The first rig I rented was very hard to set up like this, and consequently I had VERY sore shoulders by the end of the shoot, as I was forced to “shrug” the whole time to keep the camera in position. Another issue I’ve found is that because of the way my D800 and D4 are configured, once they’re mounted onto the rig and I’m ready to shoot, it’s very tricky to reach the shutter release or record button. I’m forced to either wobble the rig around a lot as I reach over, or actually take it off and re-mount it to start recording. Not being happy with this, I came up with a typically Macgyver-esque solution! First off, get hold of a remote shutter release. I own the very basic MC-30, although there are other more sophisticated ones around which might offer more functionality. Plug it in (I’d recommend screwing it in, as it’s less likely to drop out.) and then take a bungee cord, and strap the trigger to one of the handles at the front.
Next, go into the menu, and choose Custom Setting, Movie, 4, and the option to “Record Movies” rather than “Take Photos”. From now on, when you’re in Live View movie mode and the screen is lit up at the back, all you need to do to start and end recording is touch the remote release. No wobble, no shake. Of course, you can use the shutter release on the camera as well, but that kind of defeats the point. You’ll also need to be aware that hitting the shutter release will bring up the rear view screen if your Live View mode is set to “Video”, so if you’re leaving this setting in place on the menu, you’ll probably want to make sure the live view switch is locked on “stills” when you’re not shooting those funky new moving picture things.
My next trick of course, is to buy a follow focus to attach to the other handle, and get some practice at follow focusing when I’m shoulder mounted. I’ve no idea if this shutter method works on other cameras besides Nikon of course (fights urge to make some snide comment about other cameras and just about manages…..) Enjoy!