I'm going to make a movie now with a D7000 I'm going to buy. I want it to look as professional as possible, but I don't want to blow the budget. (I'm a 16 years old student..)

What equipment do I really need to make a normal movie with a few action scenes? Is it good enough with a monopod, or do I need a tripod? In that case, do you know a concrete product I can buy? Is a DIY Manfrotto Fig-Rig better than completely hand-held? My budget is around $200, but if it is like as important to spend a bit on this as a good camera, then of course I'll put some more money into it.

Do I need something like this to get smooth shots? http://viewitem.eim.ebay.no/NEW-MANFROTTO-701HDV-701-HDV-Pro-Fluid-Video-Head/280535333409/item

Thanks for your answer and time!


4 Answers 4


A fig rig would be an excellent choice for an action piece. If the fig is out of your budget range look at the Opteka X-Grip. Cheap ($30) and pretty flexible, especially if you mount it sideways instead of with the handle parallel to the lens barrel when the shot needs it.

Also if you have access to After Effects spend some time learning the stabilization and tracking capabilities. That will probably improve your shots, helps with rolling shutter issues too that you may experience on a DSLR.

Borrow a tripod. Lots of tripods sitting around in closets in this world.

Edit: Audio is the achilles heal of DSLR video. Make sure you take that into consideration. You can pick up some decent but cheap shotgun microphones that will plug into the D7000, that will help. Also consider grabbing an H4, or several H1s.

  • I actually use AE a lot! Isn't the new Warp Stabilizing effect a good choice? Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 19:00
  • And, I use The Foundry Rolling Shutter :) But can you explain what the fig-rig is used for, I mean, what's the benefits of using a Manfrotto Fig-Rig versus a homemade Fig-Rig? Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 19:03
  • I don't see any advantage in the real thing vs. home-made. If you have more time than money especially ;-). Warp stabilizer is great, but play around with multiple approaches on some test shots. I've seen surprising results from just regular "stabilize motion" on 5.5.
    – renegade
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 19:18

I have accumulated several tripods over the last 30 years and here is what I've learned that might help you.

1) If you want to do pans or tilts with a tripod be sure to get a tripod that has a fluid head and is heavy enough to support your camera with a good wind and not get any shake. A nice way to make these pans and tilts a lot smoother even with a fluid head is to add a deflated balloon to the tripod handle. Expand the throat of the balloon around the handle end so that the rest of the balloon lies like a limp rag. You may have to squeeze the air out of it after you insert it on the handle. Once in place, take your thumb and index finger and hold on to the loose end, gently move the camera with the head loosened for pan or tilt. You will immediately see how the movement is vastly improved for smoothness, so much so, you can even increase the focal length further with no camera shake. A 12" or 18" balloon works great and these are usually under 50 cents each.

2) It's far better to have a steady shot from the start then to rely on post production stabilization software to fix it.

3) "Portability links to opportunity". Remember this as a good reason to have a tripod that is so handy that you can almost stuff it in your pocket. I recently bought a JOBY Gorilla that has proven to rank very high on versatility and portability:


While this is no substitute for a fluid head tripod as it would not be very smooth for panning, consider the bendable legs that can attach to a fence or other pole to place the camera where a tripod would not fit. I have attach this to my car door to get some great tracking shots. Also, I have found that by bending the rear legs up to make a bicycle like handle bar and use the front leg as a balance or pivot point, you can really have some very smooth handheld shots with it. The key here is to get one that is heavy enough to support your camera. I am using my Joby with a pocket camera that weighs in at about 7.6 oz. (214g) while the tripod can support nearly 7 pounds so it is very stable. Your Nikon D7000 with a lens is going to be more than 2 maybe 3 pounds so you might want a heavier Joby.

I realize the following is out of your budget and mine too but if you are looking for really smooth dolly shots especially for product shots or small scale shooting consider this modified version of the JOBY invented by an MIT engineering student: http://cinetics.com/

  • Thanks for sharing your advice! Could this be good? Pearstone VT-2100 Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 22:40
  • The specs look fine: fluid head, 360 pan, supports up to 15 lbs and under $70 ! But sadly, I have no personal experience with it. I recommend a visit to a store that sells these to get a test drive and kick the tires a bit to see it in action. Tripods can be personal like buying cloths, you want to try them on for size before you buy.
    – filzilla
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 23:02

That depends on a few different factors. First off, you need to know what type of film you're shooting. If it has intense action scenes in which the camera needs to move around, then why use a tripod? If it is something quieter such as an interview, or a panoramic view of a landscape or a video indoors where the camera doesn't move around much, you might even be able to do it without the tripod. That will depend on the steadiness of your hand, though. Remember that if you are not moving the camera much but use the zoom a lot, you might want to consider using a tripod, even if you have a steady hand. Now, I don't know about products of this sort myself (I've never really used my DSLR for serious filming) but I believe that in most cases you can do just fine without a tripod.

Do some test filming and check the results, that should help you make up your mind.

  • Thanks! I believe it's going to be 10 minutes of action and mostly still filming, but because I'm going to pan I don't know if I should buy a monopod, a tripod or make a fig-rig.. It's all so expensive... Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 18:10

With a tripod, you will gonna end up shooting from a fixed position most of the time. If you visualize that the camera will be moving when you are filming then I guess a hand-held stabilizer for DSLR is a better choice.

  • Do you mean like the fig-rig? Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 18:07

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