Top of Sidebar
Mission Statement
Books, Equipment, Software, and Training Reviews
Film Critiques
Community Section
Savings and Links
Bottom of Sidebar
Back to the Home Page

How to Build the $14 Steadycam

by Johnny Chung Lee

Why build a cheap steadycam?
Steadycams (or camera stabilizers) are attachments used to capture smooth looking video even when the camera and camera operator are in motion. The camera operator may walk (or even jog), move through tight hallways and doorways, and even climb up and down stairs without shaking the camera. Unfortunately, professional steadycams cost around $1500. Even the cheap 3rd party ones cost $600+. Not exactly a bargain considering many of us use cameras in that price range. So, I decided to make my own version. It turns out, it only costs $14. Not too bad. And I'll show you how to build your own right here (or you can buy a ready-to-use steadycam from me here. Whether you are an aspiring filmmaker, a videographer, the family documentarian, or just want more utility out of your video camera, you'll appreciate a steadycam.

If you know what you are doing, you can probably build one of these in about 20 minutes. It might take you an hour if you have to read this web page while you do it and aren't very good with tools . This steadycam design works with anything that has a tripod mount and should be fine with cameras that weigh less than 5 pounds. For heavier cameras, I would recommend building a large sled for better support and easier mounting or considering adding a professional tripod head . If you make it out of steel or iron as I recommend, you will have to worry more about the solidity of your camera than the solidity of the steadycam. But before we begin, I should warn you that improper or irresponsible use of a steadycam can quickly result in damage to your equipment and/or injury to yourself and others

The main tools you'll need to get your hands on are a drill and a stationary vise. It's possible to do it without the vise, but it's far more difficult and potentially dangerous. You can buy a vise for about $15 from Home Depot or Lowes and it's well worth the money if you are going to do any future projects. It's meant to be table mounted, but I just bolted it to a big board that I can stand on while I use it. Mounting it is important. I tried doing this once without mounting it (didn't have spare board at the time) . It was a p-a-i-n.  
You'll need drill and a 1/4" drill bit that can go into galvanized steel. So, cheap wood bits will probably not survive this project. This happens to be a very nice drill in this picture, but any power drill will do.

  You also need a wrench, screwdriver (type depends on the bolts you get), and a hammer. I had a little combo thingy I got from the dollar store. It actually works pretty well because the wrench part is a little bit clawed, so it grips pipes really nicely.  


Mission | Tips & Tricks | Equipment & Software Reviews | Film Critiques
Groups & Community | Links & Savings
| Home

Contact Us Search Submit Films for Critique