DSLR Steadicam - DIY Camera Mount Tutorial

Test Video - Shot with My DIY Steadicam

Everything I know about building a DIY steadicam is now is in this new guide. Learn how to get amazing cinematic video with this cool gadget that you can build using parts from your local hardware store.

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Camera Plates

Do you have a DSLR camera and want smooth video footage?

As a filmmaker, you're probably interested in getting gliding shots in order to convey that movie-like sensation to the viewer.

Since I'm no longer selling the DIY Highball steadicam, you may wanna check out these other camera stabilizers. Click on any picture.
GoPro Smoothee Stabilizer by Steadicam
Glidecam HD 2000
Flycam Stabilizer
Check out the stabilizers on Amazon CanadaAmazon.UK and Amazon.DE.

Even though I only own a GoPro HD and a compact camera, I built a DSLR steadicam by simply modifying the camera plates in my DIY glidecam.

Canon 7D Steadicam

You can place any type of video gadget that has a threaded hole for tripod on this DIY camera mount.

It's advisable to build the plates out of 4 to 6 mm thick aluminum as to have them sturdy and light. I used a sandwich type material for the top plate - 4 mm thick, having two outer aluminum sheets and a plastic core.
These sheets are normally used for outside building facades or for interior fixtures.

The brand name (which is used as a generic name as well) for the aluminum composite panel is Alubond.
It consists of two layers of aluminium skins in varying gloss levels of 30% to 80% sandwiching a Polyethylene or fire rated core. The top surface is coated in stove enameled structural lacquering system and back surface has a mill finish or stove lacqured polyester lacquering system.
I got them on a construction site (hotel) and the workers were masking the elevator door frame with it. One side has a nylon sheet and once you're done shaping and bending your piece, you just peel off the nylon and you've got yourself a clean looking aluminum surface.

Alubond Composite Sheets

Camera Plate

The bolt heads are buried in the top plate. This enables you to place any type of camera on the stabilizer. The 8 channels take some weight of the plate and also give you more flexibility as to where to place your camcorder.

That's why at least the top plate must be machine worked out of a thicker material. The rest of the plates can be thinner.

Bolt Head Buried in Camera Plate

DIY Camera Mount

Use 4 bolts and self locking nuts to assemble the camera mount.

The middle channel in the thinner plate is for the threaded shaft that goes through the DIY gimbal. The other two channels make the plate lighter and, if necessary (when using and ultralight camera), you can add extra weights (bolts and washers fixed with wing nuts).

If the rig is correctly balanced and yet too lightweight, there may be a problem when flying your camera at faster speeds: the shaft will tilt due to wind. So keep it a little heavy for good inertia and stable smooth video capture.

Camera Mount for DIY Stabilizer

Camera Plates for DIY DSLR Syeadicam

Gyro Stabilizer

To balance the steadicam, loosen the big wing nut below the thin plate and slide the camera forward or backward. To adjust the position of the camera, loosen the improvised tripod hole bolt and slide the camera sideways. You can also turn the camera sideways (lens facing lateral side) if that's how you want to shoot.

Camera Plates for DIY Steadicam

I recommend you to have the plates made in a shop so every cut, every hole and every channel is perfectly aligned with the rest of the elements.

If you can't have them made in a shop and don't have aluminum plates (or other similar materials like plastic sheets, etc) you can use laminate flooring. Click on the above image for larger view (you can print it out to have it as a reference).

Camera Plate Detail

Camera Plates for DSLR Steadicam

Camera Stabilizer DIY

DIY Camera Mount

DIY Glidecam Camera Plates

DIY Stabilizer

DSLR Camera Stabilizer

Steadicam for DSLR

We could't shoot video with the DSLR (Canon 60D) because we didn't have enough weights to balance it (extra weights were needed for the lower narrow plate).

However, it is challenging to hold such a heavy rig for extended periods of time. Now that I've tried it, I understand why a vest and an articulated arm are a must for long hours video shooting.

Canon 60D on DIY Steadicam

DIY Steadicam DSLR

DSLR on DIY Glidecam

DSLR Steadicam

DSLR Steadycam

Here are two sample videos shot with this current version of my DIY camera stabilizer:

Hanging out with local bloggers outside my city & climbing session - Social Media Brasov

Shooting video on inline skates for a bike tricks video project - I took a nice fall.  

For more detailed pictures check out my Facebook album. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

Go out there and shoot your outdoor adventures. Cheers!

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  1. Another enjoyable post to read.......thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey aluminum greatly milled!
    What about gimbal holes? How did you drilled them to have an acceptable precision? I'd make the top shorter to have an even less heavy system!
    Keep up the great work!

  3. The PVG rings had some marks, diametrically opposed so I drilled on those marks.


  4. How much did it cost to have it milled? I just went to a CNC milling shop and they said it would be about $500 USD.

    1. Wow. It's obvious we don't live in the same parts of the world. :-)

      It was about 50 Euro per 3 pieces (in Romania). And this price got lower as we did some volume - but now I'm out of the business.

      If you shoot video for clients and have an expensive DSLR - you're much better with a Glidecam HD 2000.

      A DIY is fine but it takes too much time to re-balance each time you change the camera. A professional rig on the other hand has those knobs for fine tuning the balance.

  5. I'm going to try modeling the plates and seeing how much it would cost to make them using a 3D printing service like Shapeways. If you have the modeling skills you could always put your original plates designs up there and readers could buy them from you :)

    1. :-) Mike, the drawings are free to download here (scroll down). In SVG and CAD files.

      And yes, you can send them to a milling machine shop. But...the drawings don't respect proportions. However you can adjust them in your CAD software.

  6. Hey!
    I really liked the solutions you came up with for the whole steady cam thing, So i decided to build one out of copper and galvanized sheets. but the thing is that it turned out to heavy.
    I built it for a Canon vixia hf 200 which is about 1.1 lbs and my question is: how much does your steady cam weigh? An how much does only the top part weigh?

    My problem is that my 8 mm thick threaded copper shaft bows under the weight making it impossible to balance.

    What do you think?

    thank u in advance,

    1. Hey Csuzi,

      I guess mine weighs somewhere around one kilo or less. I never actually weighted it.

      If the shaft bends, make it shorter and thus it'll become more rigid, or use a thicker rod. My first design had a 10 mm thick threaded rod.

      But you don't need to cut the rod. Just raise the lower plate and add more weights on it. Thus the actual length of the rod between the lower plate and the camera plate will be shorter and more rigid.

      Hope this helps. Let me know.

  7. Thank you for your fast reply, I will try to balance it anyway but mine is betwenn 2 and 3 kilos.

    My question is, have you ever achieved the 2-3 second drop time? I just cant manage to achieve it. If its around 1 second then the steady cam is quite stable but when i loose some weight from the bottom and it gets around 2 seconds then the top is sooo heavy its impossible to make it stay vertical.

    1. If you're gonna use a heavy camera, then it's useful; for the rig to be light. You don't wanna get fatigue in your arm too fast.

      Yes I get the 2 seconds drop time. That's my mark.

      As I said in my this other article on the steadicam - sometimes a DIY gives you more headache than actually solving your problem.

      It took me a while to get mine working so well (many failed rigs) and even so, it was much about luck. The pro rigs are machine worked and properly assembled that's why they're expensive.

      Any imperfection causes strange behavior. Anyway, keep fine tuning and shoot lost of video to improve your results.

      You should know that mine also tilts if I fly it for more than a few seconds. That's why I do many takes until I get my shot right. And I only use short scenes in my videos (2-3 seconds).

      Steadicam operators are well paid just for this reason - it's actually not easy to "dance" with a steadicam. It take practice and skill.

      Drop a link to your video tests (YouTube).

      Cheers, Csuzi!


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