How to Setup an Easy DIY Overhead Camera Rig

Whether you shoot portraits, still life, fashion, beauty, or even video, there will be a time when you’ll need to shoot overhead for some reason. Don’t ask me why, I’m just sure that one day you will. So while I can’t help you with when and why, I can share the latest video from Peter McKinnon explaining how. Watch this tutorial to learn all about setting up a secure, compact, and efficient overhead setup.

In his recent video showing what’s inside a Canon 1DX Mark II, McKinnon shot most of his footage from above. I’m sure that like me, you wondered what his setup was like, and it’s precisely what he unveils in the video above.

His setup isn’t complicated at all and uses mostly equipment that studio photographers will own: a c-stand or light stand, a boom arm, and a clamp or grip head to hold the camera. One thing not to forget though is a counterweight of some sort. It could be a sandbag, a strobe, a backpack, or anything heavy that you have at your disposal. Also note that if you need an even more stable setup, you could install a second light stand or c-stand on the other end of the boom arm and use another clamp to fix it to the stand, basically recreating a backdrop support, which actually replaces this whole setup as well.

Have you ever shot overhead footage or pictures? What kind of setup do you use? Do you think McKinnon’s setup is a good idea or does it not look sturdy enough to you? Be sure to share your experience in the comments below.

[via Peter McKinnon]

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Johnny Rico's picture

He didn't even say that you should have the grip head tighten in the direction that the weight is boomed out.

16mm Camera's picture

A simple search "overhead setups" yields a bunch of videos that show cheaper setups and explain it more quickly. But they're not Peter McKinnon I guess. I wonder what these guys would do without him ;)...or what he would be doing without THEM. Symbiotic relationship going on here.

Sorry to sound salty, just it's the Peter McKinnon feed so far for 2018.

Samuel Zeller's picture

That's the problem with social media. The great content is often done by pros who don't try to amass followers (because maybe they're busy shooting) and you end up with videos like this on "photography" websites haha

I've done a bunch of these before and while his setup might work well for photo, it's going to be terrible for video unless you have a lot of time to wait for things to "settle down" and stop moving and nobody moves again. At a minimum you want to use a second c-stand on the opposite side and run the bar to both so there's less opportunity for movement.