Home Camera Keeping It Small

Keeping It Small

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

I have been doing research on other sites recently and checking out the monster camera configurations that people are creating.  I question if that is the right path based on the two things attracted me to this camera; the filmic looking sensor and the size.

I saw one the other day that was bigger than the Genesis and that baby weighs in at 45-50 lbs in all. In  film the camera is huge and I have been in the mass moving business since I started in 1986.  The Canon 5D Mark II inspired me to throw out the mass and really break all the rules.

Man cam in minivan

Man cam in minivan with backpack on the floorboard

Studio hand held mode in Washington

Studio hand held mode in Washington

Studio hand held in Cambodia

Studio hand held in Cambodia

Motorcycle Stripper

Directors Mike McCoy and Scotty Waugh on Motorcycle Stripper

Man cam with DC-3 Flyover off the Horn of Africa

Rudy Harbon lensing with a Man cam with DC-3 Flyover off the Horn of Africa

Rigged stripper on diplomat's car in Phnom Penh

Rigged stripper on diplomat’s car in Phnom Penh

My camera is still very small for Studio hand held mode, Man Cam, and even smaller for Action Cam mode.  Keeping it simple is our motto at Hurlbut Visuals and one that the Elite Team members believe in as well.  What is the smallest, most compact set-up that delivers the story?

When I shot “Into the Blue,” I asked a lot of experienced cinematographers about their experience with shooting on water and what made them the most productive.  I listened to all of their advice and chose a hybrid route by using some of their ideas mixed with my own. When I discussed my plan, a few of the naysayers said that my set-up count would go down by 75%.  I was also told that Mother Nature would challenge us everyday. Unfortunately that would not be an option for us.  Our budget was tight at 53 million for 60 days of shooting topside and 99 days underwater. It seemed impossible to pull off the director’s vision.

So, we came up with a new master plan that we put into action.  Director John Stockwell loves to keep his crews small and intimate with the flexibility to change at a moments notice.  Having a large crew would not make this movie a reality, so what we opted for a very large camera pkg. that fit into one Catamaran. 45 people and one boat made the entire on the water sequences of the film.   If it was blowing hard and we could not go out, we tucked into a bay and shot to get the day.  Not a huge flotilla to navigate and anchor.  Just one camera boat, a picture boat and a few running support boats for divers and lunch.  We started at 28 set-ups the first day, and then ramped it up to about 35 to 40 a day.  This was ground breaking! But it was a very similar concept; lots of cameras ready in every configuration, small crew, small footprint. That equals speed, creativity, and the ability to capture serendipitous moments.

Our 10 1st Unit camera pkg. consisted of 1- Arri 535B on a 30’ Technocrane, 1- Arri 435 camera in a AquaCam housing on a 20’ Foxy crane that had a moving fulcrum to submerge the housing, 2- Arri 535B cameras in hand held mode, 2- Arri 535B cameras in Studio mode, 2- Arri III cameras in Underwater housings, 1- Arri 435 for slow-motion work, 1- Arri 535B on the Steadicam.  This was all on the deck of a 45’ x 14’ Cat, that had below storage bays, a head and two supercharged Honda 350 outboard motors that blasted this baby across the ocean at 25 knots fully loaded. For further details you can read the ICG article at www.cameraguild.com/index.html?magazine/stoo0905.htm~top.main_hp

Big glass no gack

Rudy Harbon with big glass no gack

I am sharing this with you because it worked well. Now, it is your turn to make the decision for your shoot and it may have a variety of different solutions.  The same holds true for a smaller production. This camera can be huge. I chose to do it with glass but not with all the other gack.

There is one critical question to consider. Do I need to make the camera look like an impressive movie camera for me to be taken seriously?  The answer is NO!  If we are going to embrace this new technology, everything has to change.  The way we work will become more efficient; video village shrinks, people start to trust, re-invent, think out of the box, force their hands.  If we want to achieve this we all have to NOT function like it is business as usual or the camera will blow up to what I see on all the web sites. It is the monster of all monsters with cables, adapters, converters, switchers, battery packs, wireless transmitters, etc.

I worked on all the Navy spots without a video village because the agency watched the playback on my lighting monitor when the directors were happy with the performance and the shot.  If the agency wanted something different, we delivered it and then moved on.  The end result was increased productivity. What shows up on the screen increases in a cheaper, more eco friendly way.

Though it is not always possible, try to start with the simplest set-up and build from there. If you need an on-board monitor so that you can broadcast a signal, put it all into a backpack: an Anton Battery pack, MDR, video converter, cinetape, wireless video transmitter, or a hard line that comes directly out of your back, not near the camera.  Get another Marshall monitor with an Anton Battery back and run a hard line to the director first, then if you have to go wireless, again put it in the back pack. Just remember that adds time and things can fail, so the more you add the more it can go down.

Try out this idea, you go from Studio hand held mode to Man Cam by just plugging in cables to the camera, so you go onto a head where your back pack hangs on the dolly or your sticks.  If you need all this stuff, just don’t put it on the camera.  I would love to see your configurations that inspire and create.  Send some pictures!

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Scott David Martin March 15, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Awesome Shane. “Keeping it small” and still keeping it epic. Your absolutely right – If we are going to embrace this technology, everything has to change.

Shane March 20, 2010 at 2:06 AM

Scott David Martin, yes everyone has to drink the DSLR Kool-aid. It is essential for success.

Eddie March 15, 2010 at 11:51 AM

I love your blog. Thank you for sharing your many years of experience with us. As an amateur who has just the bare minimum, it’s reassuring to hear you say it’s not about how many cables and attachments you have on or coming out of your camera, but what you can make that baby do.

Shane March 20, 2010 at 2:05 AM

Eddie, thank you so much for your kind words and understanding that it is your job to make this baby shine, not your job to make the rig three times the size of a Sony F-35.

Brandon Wade March 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Shane, with these rigs, how are you manually focusing?!

For instance, the first photograph of you in the car, filming the driver… both hands are holding up the camera rig.

Shane March 18, 2010 at 4:04 AM

Brrandon Wade, I have a Preston Remote Follow focus motor on the camera and my focus puller is in the back of the van.

Joel Bergsma March 15, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Generally all my paid work with the 5D I’ve used nothing more then a glidecam and a monopod. I want to keep this thing as small and light as possible.

Shane March 20, 2010 at 2:03 AM

Joel Bergsma, that is exactly right. Start small and then build to the size of what the job entails.

Roman M March 15, 2010 at 1:10 PM

I visit your site regularly but for some reason I’ve never commented. I love your work and totally dig what you’re doing with the SLRs. Before I discovered you and your blog, I had declared you the best thing about Terminator Salvation. I kept telling people “the film is weak, but the camera work and visuals are exquisite. But anyway, onto this story.

I really like the keeping it small mindset. I see some of the great photographer Vincent Laforet’s stuff and I’m like “jeeze louise so much stuff on such a small camera”. Then I stroll here and its bare bones set up and you don’t sacrifice quality one bit. Again love your work, hopefully one day I can achieve the quality of work you have (I’m only 18 so I got ways to go lol)


Shane March 20, 2010 at 2:02 AM

Roman M, thank you so much for your support and wonderful comments. I am so glad you liked Terminator:Salvation. KISS, is where I am. All that stuff on the camera does not belong, it is a still camera with an amazing sensor. Keep it up. I started out as a grip truck driver on a small low budget horror film called Phantasm II.

Daniel March 15, 2010 at 1:21 PM


I love the blog and all you have to say about lowering your footprint without sacrificing quality. We got the chance to meet you briefly at the Createasphere event last February and were so inspired. We have a breakdown of some of our rigs on our blog:


Some are bigger than others. We mostly use what we call “stradivarius mode” but sometimes we have to go to full shoulder mount mode.

Hope this can give others some ideas. We try to keep it DIY and add purchased pieces when needed.

Keep it up! We check every day for new posts and it is always an exciting day when there is one to read.

Shane March 20, 2010 at 1:59 AM

Daniel, love your blog, and I love the glidecam, it looked very smooth. Thank you so much for your kind words and comments. Let’s keep the revolution going.

Sam Morgan Moore March 15, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Shane Im glad you are pushing small is good – once one get big why not use a more competent camera (RED?) – the joy of these cams is speed, reomote low profile etf

I can get my rig in a small Billingham..

Ive done a ski trip hand lugugage (carry on) only – blackbird stabiliser shoulder rig 5d and three lenses 24-105 70-300F4 and 50 1.4 (and some spare pants and socks)

Considering theses lenses are fast enough for bokeh – really Its 90% of everthing required for a mini doco

Once I hit the slopes I want didnt crash with the blackbird strapped on so went tiny rig only and binned the big zoom too so this is actually shot with one lens and a mini rig..


Rigs Pics..

Im now indulging myself when not on a ski lift ..
A smallHD monitor
and a Tascam Recorder


S. Allman March 15, 2010 at 4:36 PM

You inspired me to build a man cam. Machined the parts myself for economical purposes. Pictures are on my blog.

I’m looking to build a shoulder rig next.

Shane March 20, 2010 at 1:53 AM

S. Allman, love your rig, looks awesome. Sorry I missed the Venice beach shin dig. I was working, pushing the envelope in the Dominican Republic. I shot 12 tourism spots all on the 5D, 7D, and 1D. I should be showing you some of that stuff soon.

JR March 15, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Nice! This is why I love your blog. You’re about what works. It’s not a 5D (still waiting on the full frame with uncompressed), but it’s certainly small which is what I need when I hop around the globe doing non-profit work: http://blog.jayfriesen.com/2010/03/photo-loaded-t2i/ Fits into my backpack with my CalDigit box and laptop and can be stripped down to just a cam and a lens in seconds.

See you at NAB!

Shane March 19, 2010 at 8:52 PM

JR, thank you so much and I will see you there.

Mike March 16, 2010 at 7:20 AM

Hi Shane,

I have been using a “Man Cam” style rig inspired by your posts here to great success!

The rig is currently frankensteined from parts I already had from my tripod/matte box rig with a couple of fishing rod grips literally glued to two 15mm rods, although this works well (and still looks reasonably professional) I don’t trust it 100%. I am based in the UK and have tried the Redrock grips in a few shops but they only have the older versions (with the grooves) in stock which I found seemed to slip frequently.

I was about to order a pair of grips from Redrock directly when I saw your post with the alternate man cam setup with non-Redrock grips – I was wondering who manufactures them?

I’d just like to say a big thank you for all the information and experience you have shared with us via this blog, newsletters and other media, they are a great source of technical and creative insight & inspiration and have really helped me develop as a film maker.



Shane March 19, 2010 at 8:51 PM

Mike, those grips are Panavision, but the New Red Rock grips kick ass. They are so good. Go for them and you will not be disappointed. You are so welcome and thank you for your kind words.

Jerry W. March 16, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Hi Shane. Just have a quick question for you. Is the 5DII being used as a primary camera on your Navy Seals project? It looks like it is, but then you listed all those Arri cameras in different configurations. Would you say the DSLR is being used for 90% of the filming in the Navy Seals movie? Thanks for all the valuable info you are contributing to this emerging technology. Keep up the excellent work.

Shane March 18, 2010 at 3:59 AM

Jerry W. I am using the 5D for 75%-80% of the film. Those Arri cameras were for the movie” Into the Blue.” You are welcome.

Joe Widner March 17, 2010 at 8:29 AM


Great post. Do you have any pictures of the backpack set up? Are they in there loose or are they somewhat compartmentalized?

Keep up the good stuff!

Shane March 19, 2010 at 8:44 PM

Joe Widner, they are compartmentalized so that the MDR, the Anton Bauer brick, the wireless video and the Cinetape all stack so that it keeps it tight to the back.

Luis Palha March 17, 2010 at 2:08 PM

From day one I heard from these new dslrs my vision changed. Hands tied up by low budgets, the day I bought my 7D all changed for the better. I leave all my clients with their mouth open with the incredible quality of image provided. And with the small size of everything. Do they take me serious? Not at first but today I’m called just because of that. The speed and agility I get with this kind of technology is paramount. But I have to struggle to keep it simple. There is always a tendencie to go out of control. Sure I want a RedRock rig, and decent sound and a big lens like the one on top, and, and. The first job was just the camera, the tripod and a rail. And it still works.

Shane March 19, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Luis Palha, I agree, it is a revolution, keep up the great work.

James Warren March 17, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Hi Shane,
Any thoughts on using the Z-Finder for focus or do you prefer to work off of the cameras LCD? I am trying to decide the best way to run a minimal kit but get accurate/consistent focus.
Many Thanks

Shane March 18, 2010 at 3:52 AM

James Warren, The Z-finder is awesome for focus. It is in every one of my kits.

Anthony Quesada March 17, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Like everyone else I just want to thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all. I am constantly checking your website and blog craving the most recent postings, and I am never disappointed with the new content, really great stuff!
Will you post when your HV baseplate is for sale? Im really hoping that will be a great solution for me as I am a steadicam operator and dp and often am working on smaller budget shoots where I am having to switch back and forth between steadicam, handheld and sticks. Im trying to figure out a solution that requires minimal time for setup changes. Id love to just leave a setup on the steadicam and deal with the other modes separately, but with the smaller budget things their isn’t money for multiple preston rentals. Ive used the redrock screw in mount plate and while its pretty good Im hoping for something a little sturdier, hopefully yours will fill the gap? Thanks again Shane, love the things you are doing

Shane March 19, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Anthony Quesada, Thank you so much for you wonderful comments. At this point we are not selling the HV baseplate till we get the rental division up and running. It makes are package very different from everyone else. But I will keep you updated if that plan of action changes.

ilia djondric March 18, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Hey Shane,
Wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog, I’m finding it extremely helpful and can’t thank you enough. It’s very rare to find such a talented and accomplished pro like yourself willing to share their knowledge. Wanted get your advice on a rig that I’m looking to get, it’s called the event http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.472981/it.A/id.1209/.f I tried it out at the store and feels really nice. I will add a follow focus in the future when I can afford it. also you once stated that you only shoot with a 160,320,640 and 1250 ISO with the 5d, does this also apply for the 7D? if it does, are these guidelines followed no matter what the situation is? Thanks again.

Shane March 19, 2010 at 8:15 PM

ilia djondric, I was not to impressed with that rig. It felt weird when I put it on and the eyepiece is sub standard, it hurt my eyes and it was very contrasty, hard to gauge exposures. The Z-finder from Zacuto is the best. The ISO settings are the same for the 7D, no matter what the situation is. You are welcome.

Caleb Pike March 19, 2010 at 1:15 AM

Funny… Just saw this before reading you post:
http://c0388982.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/gitzo-athena-1.JPG “Cameraman can go anywhere” NOT!

Love what you doing and for sticking it to the man on the DSLR front.

– Caleb

ilia djondric March 20, 2010 at 7:56 AM

You are absolutely right about the Hoodman Loupe used on the Redrock Micro Event, but I tried it out using my Z-Finder which I already own. Combined with the Z-Finder the rig is pretty good. BTW took your advice and got one of the Zeiss Ze lenses (35mm f2) what a great lens, did a couple of tests and it was super sharp. Thanks again.

Richard March 20, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Sorry if you have already mentioned this as I just found this blog today, but what are you using for your wireless video system?

Thanks…I can’t wait to read all your posts!

Paul Shin March 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Hi Shane,
A little off topic, but could you explain your setup and workflow for shooting slow-motion with Twixtor on the 5D? Also, do you still plan on continuing to shoot everything else on 30p?

Shane March 21, 2010 at 2:31 AM

Paul Shin, my slow-motion is simple, on commercials with a small screen I will shoot the 7D for slow-mo at 60 fps and 720. For features I will shoot film. In regards to the 24P – 30P debate, it will be gauged per project. New technology is coming out that make the 24P footage look more filmic, so with all that I will probably shoot 24P to save all the hard ache. But until I see my test results with the 24P looking as good as my 30P twixtored I will not be a convert.

matbaa March 21, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Really great. Small and perfect.

Shane March 22, 2010 at 3:16 AM

matbaa, thank you for your comments. I love the sensor and the compact nature of this camera.

K Wasley March 21, 2010 at 9:08 AM

Hi Shane,

Thought i’d pass on a few tips that a Canon rep recently put forward and ask your opinion of them.

They recommend to:

Always set the camera to spot meter for video. Something about spot meter makes the video circuit play nice with the lower 1/3 of the signal range… AKA less noise and macro blocking.

Always use Adobe RGB colorspace for video. Somethign about AdobeRGB gives a more linear film like gamma curve, and less noise.

Have you heard of these points and tested them?


Shane March 22, 2010 at 3:15 AM

K Wasely, I have not heard of the spot meter tip for video. I will try that out. On the Adobe RGB, that is the only thing I use. So I am a big fan of that colorspace.

Eric Ferguson March 22, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Shane, it’s so heartening to hear someone in the indusry finally call “STOP!” to all this madness about rails and grips and huge matteboxes and filter holders and so on.

I’m a film student and I’m currently working a small, short film on a 7D. I don’t have much gear. We’re almost always shooting with just the body, a hood and maybe a screw-on filter. We focus manually. If we need a handheld rig, we use a gorrilapod.


This style of filmaking is so portable, so serendipity-friendly, I can’t imagine why anyone would add more gear to it unless they were absolutely, totally positive that they couldn’t get the shot without it. And even then, I’d be looking for ways to add the new gear without increasing the footprint of the camera.

Shane March 23, 2010 at 12:34 AM

Eric Ferguson, Thank you so much for your kind words and your support of this technology. I agree!!

Ignacio March 26, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Hi Shane. Love your talent, your perfect simplicity and your antihollywoodsystem mind. You are the best reference out there. I´ve been reading your posts, never dare to write any comments …. so excuse my english (from Spain),
I love this rig post, i was wandering what be my ideal set-up for the 7D and finally reached this article with a cool inexpensive idea. I made that and it works and looks fantastic.
I keep thinking that this cameras are photographic and have to be treat like that, do not try to convert them to a film studio camera.
Hope that helps out there. Keep being yourself.

Shane March 27, 2010 at 12:08 AM

Ignacio, Your english is excellent and I appreciate your kind words. Yes I think keeping it small is where it is at. Thank you and I will always be myself.

Gerard March 29, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Hi Shane. First of all, as many others have said: thank you so much for sharing your amazing knowledge and talent (I really love your work on Terminator Salvation). I hope you do realize you’re helping many aspiring filmmakers like myself to deliver our stories in a fashion we could not even dream just a few years back, and you should of course be very proud for that.
I’m already subscribed to “the inside track” newsletter, but since I only discovered your site quite recently, I missed all the past newsletters, so it would be great if you could please send me all those newsletters…
Thanks & keep up the good work!

Shane March 29, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Gerard, once you sign up with in 48 hours you will get a welcome letter and you will have access to all the archived newsletters. Thank you so much for all your kind words. I am enjoying everyones creative input and expertise in this ever changing HD landscape.

Maureen March 29, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Hi Shane,
Like so many, I love your blog and helpful information. I’ve been making some changes and will be reviewing what tools will best satisfy my needs…I’ll need to video professionals, exercise in motion as well as get some great well focused stationary food shots. I’ll keep reading in hopes some of your talented experience can be absorbed. You’re work is very impressive. That long ago summer job in Aurora must have supplied creative juices. Best of luck to you & keep working hard-your contribution matters (:

Shane March 31, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Maureen, thank you so much for your kind words. I look forward to seeing your stuff.

Roberto Iuri April 1, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Hello Shane,
valuable your blog. I wonder if you allow me to play some of your posts and photos, all with due credit and translated into Portuguese, in my blog. My intention in this blog is, among other things, EDUCATE producers that today more than ever, people should be valued and not the equipment they operate.
Roberto Yuri

Shane April 1, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Roberto Luri, I would be honored to be on your website as long as I am credited. Do whatever you can to get the word out. This is the wave of the future. Let’s lead this trail blazing wave together.

Autoscopia » Shane Hurlbut’s Keeping It Small April 1, 2010 at 3:04 PM

[…] Shane Hurlbut’s Keeping It Small This entry was written by Brad, posted on April 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm, filed under Cinematography, […]

Roberto Iuri April 3, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Thanks Shane, let’s ride this wave.

Seth Iliff April 13, 2010 at 5:03 AM

Shane- thanks so much for your dedication to sharing your insights online. it takes alot of time answer comments and regularly create new postings!

Here is what I’ve been using in Afghanistan for the past 6 months while covering Route Clearance Patrols for the US Army:

I’ve attached it to my vest along with my M4 carbine:

Video PKGs can be viewed at the main page: http://www.kansascityindie.com

The GH1 is decent, especially as far as body/lens weight compared to Canon body/lenses. Now that the government has purchased a 7D and lenses (thats my own gear pictured), I’ll be making the switch.

Thanks again!


Shane April 14, 2010 at 2:14 AM

Seth Iliff, You are so welcome and I thank you for your support. I love your rig and I love your rig with your rifle, that is some kick ass ingenuity there. I also saw your report and it is excellent. Very well done. You are out there on a daily basis risking your life to document this. That is not only inspirational, I thank you for doing it. Keep it coming.

Seth Iliff April 15, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Shane- I have to ask which rig, Washington or Cambodia, did you prefer?

With Washington, the LCD seems awfully close to your face… any issues with that? The counterbalance would seem to allow you to get it out at a comfortable distance.

Once back home, I’ll be mating a (hotrodcameras.com)7D-PL with a Cooke 18-100. At that point the body will have behind my head for weight purposes, and a small HD monitor will become necessary. Unfortunately, the financial cost benefit of owning the Cooke with its focal length coverage will come with the price of adding the monitor. It’ll probably be a little monster, but your minimalist philosophy will still ring true, I hope.

It’ll send a pic your way in the fall. Thanks again!

Shane April 18, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Seth Iliff, Washington had an on-board monitor, that is why I was able to get it so close to my face and then I added the Zacuta Z-finder and you can see focus incredibly well. If you are going with that zoom, you will definitely need that Z-finder, design your rig so that your camera is close to your eyes and that it has a good counter balance with that lens. Maybe use the red Rock one that goes down at a right angle tight to your back, not like the one that Hurlbut Visuals has which extends past your shoulder and back. You tell me where to ship it and I will send you a Hurlbut Visuals Baseplate with the Really right stuff bracket to make this work. We just need to work with Hot Rod because their system does not work well with anything that is out there other than there handles.

Seth Iliff April 19, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Shane- Very interesting… At 12 lbs. the Cooke is definitely lighter than the Angenieux, but considering the weight I’m not sure that having the camera in front of me is the best approach, even with appropriate counterweight. What I’m imagining (and haven’t seen done) is putting as much of this big zoom over my shoulder as possible… the camera body would then be behind my head, and would necessitate a small lightweight monitor (http://www.smallhd.com/dpslr/).

A few years ago I owned the Redrock adapter with the Panasonic HVX. I built the rig so that I could view the HVX’s flip out monitor. This put probably 15 lbs in front of me, and I added the counterweight. I ended up with alot of lower back soreness, and I was slower moving around than I would’ve liked. Since then I’ve really disliked the counterweight principle.

If this rig didn’t need counterweight and was fairly balanced, I feel it would increase my speed and maneuverability. What do you think?

Whats the best way for me to get you my address? (I’d be happy to purchase the baseplate!)

I go on leave for two weeks back to my home in Kansas City starting May 9th, and should have the Cooke 18-100 in my possession, and most of the support system to create a rude setup that I can send you a picture and get your input on. Thanks so much!

Shane April 20, 2010 at 3:14 AM

Seth Iliff, I love the fact that you want to put that 18-100 over your shoulder and have a field monitor out in front of you. Those monitors are pieces of shit, they fail, suck power and are not made for location. They work really well in a stage or on a NAB trade show floor. I would try to keep to the basics and see if you can make the lens work with a little counter balance so that you can use you LCD screen. Your exposures and focus will be far superior. Send me your address at [email protected] and we will send you one. I want to make sure that is will work with HotRods modification. Ilya said that he was making some kick ass hand held rig. Maybe he can get you dialed in.

Seth Iliff April 20, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Shane- I didn’t consider the fact that I’d be taking a risk with exposure and focus by relying on something that wasn’t the factory calibrated screen. You’re totally right, its not something I want to mess around with. If only there was a little more latitude in the data…
I will absolutely try you’re suggestion when I get back in a couple weeks. Thanks so much for your input on that monitor. I would’ve probably ordered one had you not said that- the specs/price are enticing. Sent you an email.

Chris Saul July 2, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Hi Shane,
I have a few questions. I’m a student about to graduate Art Center and I’ve been asked to shoot a feature, very low budget ($200,000) They want to on the 5D and recently I got hold of a PV mount and I wanted to shoot anamorphic. I did a test with Some Primo Anamorphics and I was really impressed! Do you recommend a series of Anamorphics other than the Primos? I doubt we could afford Primos. I know the C series don’t work. Also I wanted to know where I could find the proper support for using the Panavision follow focus or if you know anyone who has machined anything that could be rented or purchased? Or if you have any that you would be willing to rent or sell? Thanks!

Tim Piper March 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM


I am hoping to use a 5D with my old arri gear (15mm film spacing, etc). I think it should work an an Arri BP4 if I could just raise the camera up about 2 or 2.5 inches. Can you suggest anyplace making such a riser plate?


Allen W. March 21, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Hello Shane.
I actually stumbled upon the educational series that you have done with B and H Photo/Video. I am looking to produce an independent movie and have never used HD equipment before. I’ve used the Canon XL series for documentary work in the past. I was planning on using the HD version and then a director I know recommended the 5D/7D.

While I’m excited about the capabilities, I’m still hesitant because I’m used to SD and Mini DV tapes. (I know I’m behind on the technology.)

I am considering the 5D/7D because the feature film needs to be shot “run and gun” style with minimum/basic set up for lights etc… Any basic advice you can provide to keep things inexspensive and yet creative?

Thanks for your time.

Shane March 21, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Allen W., I would go with the 7D and set your self up with a Red Rock shoulder rig, or Cinevate. Get yourself a nice set of old Nikon AI and AI-S series lenses with fotodiox adapters, some lens gears and a manual follow focus, some extra batteries and a zoom digital audio recorder and you are good to roll. Maybe a 24-70, and 70 to 200 Canon zoom. Just some suggestions. The next episode on the B & H Educational series is cinematographer’s starter kit. You can take some ideas from this.

Allen W. March 21, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Hello Shane,

I really appreciate your advice! It’s VERY helpful! I will research your suggestions. I have two more short questions.

1. What about using the ManCam as well?

2. On the educational series, you changed the menu settings on the 5D to get it ready for HD video. Can I follow those changes for the 7D as well?

Thanks again for your time.

Shane March 21, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Allen W., the same settings work on the 7D. Yes, use those and you will be set. The man-cam is a great rig for action but not for docu handheld.

Allen W. March 21, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Great. Thanks Shane. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t misunderstood. I’ve shot documentaries in the past (and a couple of short films), but this will be my first major dramatic feature film… and there is some action in it as well. It’s based off of my young adult novel, Speedsuit Powers – which takes place in the South Bronx.

Shane March 22, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Allen W, gotcha. Yea the man cam will be awesome for that. You will need a remote follow focus system. I chose the Bartech.

Alex Huberfeld March 22, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Dear Shane,I recently purchased a T3i and have my own little rig $ade up of flsh brackets. I am receiving my Z-Finder and have 2 primes a 30mm and 50mm both at f1.4 (50 and 85 on the crop factor). For sound I have the Sennheiser MKE-400. I am looking into the Mancam but since I am the only operator, pulling focus may be a problem…is there any solution for this…I love the shooting style of the mancam…I am 15 and need some advice. Thanks Alex.Also do u have any tips for me and any other important gear I need.I will be mostly shooting dram or something similar to philip blooms people series,but in new york.

Shane March 22, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Alex Huberfeld, you can set up the man-cam with a manual focus and use that for support with your left hand, so you pull focus with your left hand and take a lot of the weight with the right, or vise versa depending if you are left handed. Go to hdslrhub.com and check out the educational series, this will give you a great start.

Alex Huberfeld March 22, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Thanks Shane i have been reading the hdslr guide and watching educational series and it helps but also do you think 2 primes a 30mm and 50mm both at f1.4 (50 and 85 on the crop factor) is a good enough set of primes for now

Shane March 23, 2011 at 6:04 AM

Alex Huberfeld, what kind of lenses are they? With the crop factor I would go for something much wider to have in your kit.

Alex Huberfeld March 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

The 30 is a sigma and the 50 is a canon do you think the mancam rig is good for something like music videos and for something like the philip blooms peoples series.

Shane March 24, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Alex Huberfeld, great for a music video, I would go for more of a shoulder rig for the people series or a mono pod that can act as a sudo tripod. Copy on the Sigma. How do you find the quality of that glass. I haven’t used them in a while?

Alex Huberfeld April 4, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Dear Shane,
I wanted to know which shoulder rig you recommend for a solo shooter but i want to be discrete but very stable. Would you recommend the micro shoulder mount. I want something relativly on the cheap…no external monitor…very simple. I would add my own follow focus.

Alex Huberfeld April 6, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Dear Shane,
I wanted to know which shoulder rig you recommend for a solo shooter but i want to be discrete but very stable. Would you recommend the micro shoulder mount. I want something relativly on the cheap…no external monitor…very simple. I would add my own follow focus.it would be for short films and something similar to the philip bloom people series.

Shane April 7, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Alex Huberfeld, I like that rig, make sure it is the one that moves the camera over to the left so that you can use your Zacuta Z finder.

Alex Huberfeld April 8, 2011 at 12:04 PM

I realized the microshouldermount was out of my price range and I wanted something a little more compact…following your advice of “keeping it small” so would you recommend the field runner by Jag35 with a Z-finder JR. Also thanks shane for all the advice.

Shane April 8, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Alex Huberfeld, that would be ver good as well as check out Cinevate. They have a couple cool rigs.

Alex Huberfeld April 8, 2011 at 3:46 PM

I checked out cinevate its a little out of my price range. But I like the simplicity of their rigs.

Alex Huberfeld April 14, 2011 at 12:58 AM

Hey shane I love your advice and how you take out the time to answer everybodys questions. I have one for you which rigs with body pads(redrock and zacuto) do you like…not a shoulder mount. Do you like this style of a rig.

Shane April 14, 2011 at 8:11 AM

Alex Huberfeld, I am not a big fan of it. I like the shoulder mount, feels more stable. There is a reason why we have been slinging 70lbs film cameras on a shoulders for years and that is because it is the most stable platform. Period

Alex Huberfeld April 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Hey Shane
I know that a shoulder mounted is very stable but I am using a T3i which is under a pound so I want a rig a lil more discrete so a shouldEr pad is the optimum choice and also which one do you recommend.

Alex Huberfeld April 18, 2011 at 1:43 AM

Hey Shane,
Just wanted to know what you think of the Zacuto Z-Cage for handheld work.(I would get a Mancam but i might be getting a sponsor from Zacuto unless you or Brian want to help me out by sposoring me with a Mancam) Does it work if you’re pulling youre own focus and can u get good stable footage with it?

Alex Huberfeld May 10, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Dear Shane im a lone operator and want to get a low profile rig that i can pull my own focus with. I am on the cheap side and dont know what style rig to get for all purpose shooting. Should i get something like a Captain Stubling or ManCam style rig or something shoulder mounted from Redrock or the Jag35 Field Runner (http://jag35.com/new/products/the-field-runner/). Thanks Shane i would really appreciate your help.

Alex Huberfeld June 29, 2011 at 10:27 PM

Hey shane do like the rig from jag35 called the field runner it even comes with zacutos rods. Do you lile that for documentary handheld and bts shoots. Also what focal lenghths of lenses should i get for my 7d for documentary.

Shane June 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Alex Huberfeld, yes I do like that rig. For your 7d if would use the 24-70mm Canon L Series zoom. Prime lenses 24,35,50,85,100mm Macro Canon L series. If you like Zeiss then I would go with the ZE lenses 18,21,28,35,50,85mm.

Alex Huberfeld July 3, 2011 at 2:42 AM

Would you add something like a tokina 11-16 and a slider since it doco and i dont know if ill be able to afford all those primes so ill get the 24-70 and i have a 30mm 1.4 from sigma so which primes should i get.

Alex Huberfeld July 4, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Hey shane do you know if the nikon ai 50-135 f3.5 is good as a budget option for the 7d

First Look: Viewfactor Contineo « Eric Diosay August 10, 2011 at 4:39 PM

[…] rig versions depending on what/how I am shooting at the moment. My favourite is the ManCam (a la Shane Hurlbut) that offers excellent balance, a small footprint and a quick change from hand held to sticks. This […]

Neel September 7, 2011 at 3:21 AM

Hi Shane,
Firstly, thanks for a great blog and spending the time posting and writing about your experiences. Its great to have someone of your skill set share!
I just have a quick question (it may have been asked before but I missed it, so I apologize). With your lightweight setup, what sort of aperture and shutter angle are you working at? I don’t see a matte box for ND’s, so I’m wondering how you get the most out of the lenses.
All the best, and once again, thanks for taking the time to read this.

Shane September 8, 2011 at 12:26 AM

Neel, you are so welcome and thank you for your support. I use tons of Tiffen WW ND filtration. Usually 6 to 7 stops worth. I like operating with a 1/50 degree shutter and around a 2.8.

Cody Airth December 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Hi Shane,
Quick question, is there a way to put my handheld rig on a tripod?

Shane December 11, 2011 at 3:10 AM

Cody Airth, what kind do you have?

Alex Huberfeld March 4, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Hey Shane im gearing up to do a short film and its zacuto sponsored so i have a lot of gear its my first film so is there anythings i should avoid to keep it from looking like amateur quality. Any way to add a stylized look like slow dolly moves throughout the whole film. Also how do keep away from it looking like every other idiot with a t2i. Also do you think to regular audiences (not film people) associate handheld with amateur.

Shane March 6, 2012 at 2:13 AM

Alex Huberfeld, you have to jump in there. What is the story telling you to do. Don’t move the camera just because it is cool. Let the characters and the story motivate the motion. Experience is what will build you as a filmmaker. I love handheld and have shot at least 8 of my films that way.

Alex Huberfeld March 6, 2012 at 10:14 PM

I know handheld looks great but since im only 16 people will attribute it to the fact that im a amatuer

Ian smith March 7, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Hello Mr. Hurlbut

I am in the greater Indianapolis area and am looking for a dp for a feature film to be shot within the next yr. I want to go for a really good dp for the vision of the film. The budget is 175,000.00 what would the going rate be for a dp of your calibre? It is a military film with a quite unique storyline. Dealing with PTSD. We are perusing the USO american legion and other military support groups. It started as a short film and 3 writers and production companies recommended extending the vision. Any advice on finding a dp and possible producer. This is my first feature and I want to do the best I can to bring this film to life.

Ian Smith

Shane March 13, 2012 at 1:08 AM

Ian smith I can set you up with a bunch a very talented DP’s that will rock your film out. Please contact me via email and I will send you some names.


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