The Tradeoff Between Quality and Fatigue: Camera Rigs

I am 8 hours into a non-stop hand held shoot using a fully loaded Sony PMW-F3 for a documentary stye shoot when my back starts to give me serious trouble. The F3 is not a light camera to begin with but when you add all the necessary accessories for a run-n-gun style shoot it gets monstrous. I was starting to miss shots and have trouble keeping the rig steady during long interviews. By the time we called cut I would have to set the camera on the ground because I was literally exhausted.

I had picked the F3 because it gave me the opportunity to run synced audio, use PL mounted Cooke Panchro lenses and the video is much less compressed than it’s lighter counterpart the Canon 5D MkII. The footage that comes out of this camera is stunning and I absolutely love Cooke optics and use them as much as possible. The only down side is the weight.

Tips for Staying Alive on Long Days

Bring a tripod, even if you are shooting hand held the entire shoot. Between takes or while you are planning the next shot you can pop the rig onto a tripod. When you go to build your rig be sure to add a piece will allow for you to quickly pop it onto a tripod.

Stick to the bare minimum equipment. Go with the smallest and lightest monitoring system such as a Small HD or Marshall. Use lightweight rails on the rig. Go with a smaller diameter rail or carbon fiber. Go with the lightest lenses in the lens family you like to use. If you are shooting outdoors you probably don’t need lenses that go to f1.2.

Build your rig balanced. This may sound obvious but there have been times where I had to hit the ground running with a rig that didn’t fit like a glove. Look at counterbalances or shoulder pads as a way to distribute the weight evenly.

Do you have any tips for surviving long days with heavy equipment? Post them in the comment section below.


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