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GH2 Shoulder Mount Follow Focus rig - Gini + TrusMT
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  • 31 Replies sorted by
  • Notes:

    1. I positioned the chest mount to nestle in the hollow of my left front shoulder, just below the collar bone.

    2. I positioned the bottom hand grip so that it can be held in either left or right hand. This allows me to work with either hand free as needed.

    3. I positioned the top hand grip for applying downward pressure with my right hand on both the right shoulder mount and the left chest mount. This enables me to rigidly brace the mount for maximum stability.

    4. I put the follow focus on the right side of the lens to allow me to quickly switch my right hand between the top hand grip and the follow focus wheel.

    5. The TrusMT Follow Focus comes with two identical gears which can mount simultaneously on both ends of the gear shaft. This makes rail positioning much more flexible.

    6. The key to follow focus mechanical stability is the custom rail mount on the Nikon->M4/3 adapter. I fashioned this out of a tripod collar mount made for a Canon telephoto lens, with a hard rubber gasket to apply pressure evenly around the circumference of the adapter.

    7. The rail-mounted Nikon->M4/3 adapter allows me to independently swap out both lenses and camera bodies without disassembling the shoulder mount. The camera is attached to the rig solely via the M4/3 lens mount.

    8. The Tokina auto-focus zoom features a constant f2.8 aperture and a manual focus ring suitable for attaching a follow focus gear ring. The front lens barrel neither rotates nor extends when zooming or focusing, making it convenient to use with a separate lens hood.

    9. The 16X9 wide angle adapter converts the Tokina 20-35mm into a 14-24mm f2.8 zoom lens. This wide angle adapter is heavier than the lens itself, but its image quality is well worth it.

    10. The rail-mounted lens hood and its three flags can be easily adjusted or removed along with the front rail extensions.

    11. Without the camera, lens, and counterweight, the rig weighs only 3kg.
  • Nice lpowell, just need a monitor now. That WA adapter is discontinued, but there are many other nice HD models from Cavision and 16 x9.
  • Be interesting to compare the Tokina 20 - 35mm to my Canon FD 20 - 35 f3.5L. They are similar construction.
  • Thanks for this Lpowell! I'll do the same thing as you... this is very nice setup!
  • Nice rig LPowell. I'd love to see it on a actual shoulder of someone. It looks fairly compact, I like that.
  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev
    I've been eyeballing those handles for a long time, they seem to be the best out there. Generally that company seems to make high quality stuff like their shoulder mount, v mount powering plate, FF, mattebox. Very good designs. I wish they had better kit bundles though. When my pockets have more cash in them I want to get these handles, their shoulder mount and mattebox, but that won't be anytime soon:)
  • Nice rig. I like the double support from chest and shoulder.

    BTW how's the Tokina at its widest angle and largest aperture on GH2? Good corner sharpness? Barrel distortion?
  • @stefanos
    I'll make review with time and also provide all info to similar designed handes.
    About bundles. Normally guys you are dealing with are sellers that ask factories to put their brand (sometimes).
    Sometimes they make custom producs that uses many standard parts.
  • @LPowell
    I had bought the "DSLR EXTREME-PLUS" a few months ago for a huge bargain, with the magic handles too. I'm extremely satisfied with the quality and price. Some advice for your shoulder's sake: get rid of that godawful shoulder pad and keep the 2 rods that go through it. Buy the cheap and famous 30$ shoulder support (no excuse:)). Trust me, you'll be a happier person when you do, night and day difference. Not only will you be 10X more confortable, but you'll get tired 10X slower as it's truly the only solution to get completely hands free for when you're just dialing knobs or not shooting, and it makes a huge difference. I will try to post a vid of how I use it and the benefits.
    Also, I think the next step to improve your rig, is the balance. I can tell from the pic you're slightly front heavy so you either need to add more weight somehow, or if you have any longer rods, make it extend further away from your shoulder, this makes a big difference to the balance and steadiness of shots too, and a front heavy rig is very tiring for your hands and more shaky; better to be back heavy than front heavy. Another little tip after experience is that the less offset the better, but if you don't have ultra long rods, it might not be easy for you straight away and it's not extremely important anyway (I'll try to illustrate what I mean soon)

    hope this might help a bit and give you some thought for your next steps
  • Imagine holding a virtual rig with front handles. The angle of elbows would be no greater than 90 degree and no less than 45 degree. Draw a mid point between hands and shoulders. That's the comfort zone to position center of weight of a rig. The further away the center of weight, the lower the hands with the same angle. To keep the center of weight closer to my body, gotta keep the camera body close to my body. Either EVF eyecup or HDMI EVF can help that. For a fully equipped rig w/ matte box, FF, big lens, and wide angle converter, definitely high quality front handle like the universal grip will help a lot.
  • @Rambo - Yes, the 16X9 HDV7X1 wide angle adapter is discontinued, the 16X9 EXII 0.75X adapter is probably the best substitute. I also tried 16X9's lightweight EXII 0.6X WA adapter but the difference in image quality was unacceptable.

    The Tokina 20-35mm is a full-frame lens for Nikon FX cameras, and the center crop used by the GH2 is sharp and bright in the corners. The 16X9 0.7X wide angle adapter has to be seen to be believed, it is massive and distortion free all the way out to 14mm focal length. The focus ring on Nikon lenses rotates in the opposite direction as Lumix and Canon lenses. This makes the TrusMT follow focus rotate toward you to pull focus closer to you, which is how I prefer it.

    @stefanos - Yes, the rig is front heavy, especially when using the 16X9 adapter. However, I like the solid heft of the rig and most of the time I am gripping it rigidly with both hands, pressing it firmly into my chest and shoulder. Balanced on one hand, either right or left, the rig needs two additional points of support, which the shoulder and chest pads provide. When holding it with my left hand, my elbow is dug into my ribs and locked in a 90-degree angle with my wrist straight. For me, this is a strong and comfortable position, though I typically don't hold it in one hand for much longer than it takes to adjust the follow focus. I actually prefer the flat shoulder mount as I can shift it forward and back as needed for different shooting positions.

    @stonebat - The camera/lens mount can be positioned close enough to use the GH2's viewfinder directly with my right eye. What I'd really like to find is a hotshoe-mounted eye cup or hood of some sort to shade the sun, but my searches have turned up nothing.
  • Make your own EVF eyecup... unless you have stash of cash for HDMI EVF. I need to save money for GH3 :)
  • Hey LPowell,
    Love your set up but I had heard that the Trusmt FF didn't work well with your camera because the pancake lens is too close to the camera for the gear to attach to it. Do you have any problem with it?
    Bas
  • @bslsmth
    If you mean the Lumix 20mm f1.7 pancake, it's not going to work well with any follow focus unit. In addition to being too thin for the FF gears, the pancake's focus ring is a fly-by-wire design that is not mechanically coupled to the lens' internal focus mechanism. As a result, the position of the focus ring bears no stable relationship to the lens' focus setting and cannot be calibrated to a follow focus unit.
  • Not a fan of using FF on Lumix G lenses. Who knows. There might be no focus ring at all. New 14-42 has neither focus ring nor zoom ring. I definitely prefer internal focus and fixed barrel length lenses like Samyang's primes for practical reason.
  • OT, but how's that 701 head working out for you?


  • @brianluce
    Like most Manfrotto gear, I've found the 701 head to be a combination of solid construction and sloppy tolerances. I think the tripods in my equipment bag have been taking turns harassing the 701, it's looking pretty beat up lately.
  • I recently updated my Follow Focus rig with two new components:

    TrusMT DSLR viewfinder (Aluminum):
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Trusmt-Dslr-LCD-Viewfinder-AL-/280722708651?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item415c6098ab

    Carbon Fiber version:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Trusmt-Dslr-LCD-Viewfinder-carbon-fibre-/270799891209?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f0cee6b09

    TrusMT Shoulder Pad
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Trusmt-4-holes-lock-DSLR-shoulder-pad-kit-/280724012351?pt=US_Camera_Camcorder_Accessory_Bundles&hash=item415c747d3f

    The shoulder pad position can be adjusted along the rails to fit your shoulder. I also revised the lower grip mount to center it under the camera lens and added a small rail mount under the camera itself. This mount is not needed to support the camera's weight, it's there to brace the camera against the sloppy fit of the lens adapter.

    The TrusMT DSLR viewfinder comes with a bottom mounting plate and an offset bracket that was not designed for the GH1 or GH2. To center the unit on the camera's LCD, I had to shift the offset bracket on the bottom plate, mounting it with just a single screw. The assembled unit is completely rigid, however, and holds the viewfinder firmly against the LCD. I was also motivated to hack off the protruding front and side of the mounting plate, to provide battery access and clearance for mounting the camera on a tripod-mounted lens adapter.

    Pictured in the photos below is a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 HSM non-DG zoom lens in Nikon version, mounted on its own tripod collar. (I chose this particular version for its manual aperture ring.) While this is about as long a lens as I'd use on this rig, total weight is still only 5kg (11 lbs).

    The focus ring on the Sigma is too far forward to use with the follow focus, and it rotates in the wrong direction anyway. I've instead mounted the follow focus gear on the lens zoom ring, which works quite well. Using this rig, I've discovered that adding a bit of zoom to a panning shot creates a more natural-looking move than either technique alone. In addition, the adjustable stops on the TrusMT follow focus allow me to preset the exact zoom range I want to use in the shot.
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  • Latest update! I scored a Century Optics 1.33X anamorphic adapter with an internal focusing mechanism that can be focused from 5 feet to infinity. This adapter can handle focal lengths down to 20mm without vignetting. It mounts on the 77mm filter threads of my Samyang and Tokina follow-focus lenses and needs no additional lens support. With this I can use my stripped-down ProAim MB95 matte box as a lens hood:

    http://www.thecinecity.com/eshop/product.php?productid=59&cat=26&page=1

    For additional lens shading, I have a velcro-mounted Cinetactics MB100M-FF1 Oversize Flag:

    http://www.cinetactics.com/-strse-2/Matteblox-DV-Oversize-Flag/Detail.bok

    In the photos below, you can also see a custom rail-mounted camera base support. I adjust this to provide just enough pressure to prevent the GH1 from wobbling on the Nikon-to-M43 adapter that supports the camera's weight.

    The entire rig, with counterweight and anamorphic adapter, weighs about 6kg.

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  • nice! I see we also have the same lens. Sorry if I'm butting in but here's my rig which also weighs about 6kg:

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  • @ed_lee83 I like your rigs. Mine weighed in at around 16lbs...I have a larger battery pack. I've been looking for a decent tripod to support the rig...can I ask which tripod you use?
  • Love this configuration!
    Paid 65 dollars for the shoulder mount and X-grip (2nd hand)
    Lens is a 24mm 2.8 ML Yashica/Contax/Pentax PK plus the hot LA7200.
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  • how do u guys travel with this giant rig. Do you assembled and disassembled it on shoot?
  • Takes forever to set it up. And it weighs a ton, with a full load (morn, 12v bat, follow focus et al) LOL. Tried on a few, and my take is, if you lug this carcass with you on set, you're better off going back to big HD cameras. The reason why I came over to DSLR is because things are supposed to be alot lighter!