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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DIY StringPod

I've read before about people using a stringpod (monopod made of string) to help stabilize their photos. I never really thought much of the idea, because I'm not sure how much stabilization you actually get (it can't be more than a stop, if even that much). However, now that I'm starting to play around with video a bit, I thought it would be worth a try. (When it comes to video, every bit of added stabilization helps) Here's how to make your own:

What you'll need: the shortest 1/4" bolt you can find (mine is 1/2"), a washer (I used a 2" washer for mine, more on why in a minute), and about 6' of a thin string/twine/rope/whatever. I picked all of these up at the hardware store for $3, but the actual cost is probably closer to $1 because there was plenty of twine leftover. Also, you'll need a pair of scissors to cut the twine. Tie one end of the twine around the washer. Set it on the floor, and measure out the twine so that the end comes up to around your chin (where the bottom of the camera will be when you shoot). Cut the twine, and tie the other end around the head of the bolt. Make sure this knot is tight enough so that it won't slip off the bolt when not in use. (Note that you can store the twine wrapped around the washer.) To use, screw the bolt into the bottom of your camera like so:

Drop the washer on the floor, step on it, and pull up on the string to apply tension. This is partially why I chose a larger washer - it provides a bigger platform to stand on, ensuring it won't slip around. It also makes a handy way to store the string, because you can just wrap it right up. This tension will help keep your hands from bouncing around while you shoot, which is what provides the stability. I did a quick video test comparing some zoomed footage shot handheld and with the stringpod:

DIY StringPod Test from Simon Hucko on Vimeo.

It doesn't make a huge difference, but I think there's some improvement. I also think that with a little practice I'll get better at cutting down on the "wiggle" you see at the end of the video (caused by the camera twisting around the string). Add in my trusty gorilla pod, and I have a nice little video kit that will fit in a jacket pocket, or can live in my camera/computer bag:


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