Last weekend I built a handle for my video camera. The main aim of the handle is to make the camera easier to hold whilst snowboarding, for follow cam shots. So the handle needs to be above the camera, and (close to) parallel to the direction that the camera is pointing. There’ll be some other benefits too: using the camara with gloves on should be easier, and passing the camera to someone else (“hey, film me hitting this”) should be less drop-prone too.

This isn’t anything new, there’re loads of people making small, custom handles. In fact, I was actually intending to re-use the design that my dad used a week earlier…

However, when I unpacked his handle and detached the camera, I thought the handle itself was too light: he’d used rather thin, aluminium. With my dad’s design, he straps the handle to the camera at the top and bottom, which keeps it securely in place. But I didn’t want this. I wanted the camera to sit on the mount, attached only by the tripod interface.

So I started looking for a nice bit of steel.

Once found, it was a little harder to work with, and it needed smoothing off some at the edges. But the end result is pretty close to what I’d visualised in the first place. Here are some photos:

Nice, thick steel.

Hard to manipulate.

Not quite the right shape.

Smoothing the corners and trimming the handle width.

Just about done.

The finished product.

It’s definitely a substantial handle. Besides wanting it to feel solid, I also thought that the extra weight, providing it’s not too heavy to prevent use, would help to produce more stable footage.

I’m not sure whether or not opting for a heavier material will make a noticable difference, or any difference at all for that matter, but I wanted to try it out.

When I recently looked into camera stabilisation I realised that I knew nothing about it (still don’t know much), given some of my naive assumptions. I quickly found though, that some of the systems are based on a pivot (or gimbal?) plus some kind of heavy pendulum. I won’t try to explain it, it you’re interested, look it up.

I also found some related material, which you may find interesting: a still camera, tripod replacement for steady shots.

So I was thinking that if I’m snowboarding down a hill, moving around a lot, with a light video camera in my hand, the camera is going to shake. If I make the camera heavier, it should shake less. Will it make a difference? I don’t know, I’ll have to wait and see. I kinda like it though…

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