Shoulder rigs are one of the most practical and affordable ways to drastically increase the quality of one’s footage. They offer footage comparable to that of a gimbal stabilizer (see the best gimbals here), but at significantly cheaper prices and with less technical issues like battery life and finicky, complex motor systems.
In this list, there are several kinds of shoulder rigs: one-armed, two-armed, and shoulder rig kits. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but in general, most people will find the most (and easiest) success with a two-armed rig. Still, there are plenty of use cases where a one-armed rig can be great, especially if you’re more patient about learning the process. No matter what you choose, a shoulder rig is a great way to help take your films to new heights. They add stabilization and a professional sheen, even for an inexperienced user.
Here are the 10 best shoulder rigs from lowest to highest price.
1. ePhotoInc Shoulder Rig
If you’re looking for a simple yet reasonably effective rig, this ePhotoInc Shoulder Rig is great for small cameras and basic configurations. One great perk is that it’s lightweight due to its simple construction. This product uses standard tripod screws, meaning it’s straightforward to attach a good variety of accessories. It’s the not the most comfortable or robust solution, but if you need a quick and affordable fix, it’ll get the job done.
- Easy-to-use and setup
- Smaller than more capable rigs
- Can be used as a cage and shoulder rig
- Easy to connect to other accessories as it has standard tripod screws
- Not all that comfortable
- A bit on the clunky side
- Could be more durable/li>
2. Neewer Portable FilmMaker System
This lightweight Neewer rig works with 1/4″ screws and is a great starter kit for people with small to medium DSLRs. It distributes weight effortlessly and easily with its sliding rail system, which also doubles as a slider rig. The one drawback here which is pretty minor is that the rig works much better when used with a counterweight. This adds some labor but can be obtained for about $5.00 if you’re using a bunch of washers, for instance. For many, this rig offers more than enough value and features at a great price point.
- Works with 1/4″ screws
- Lightweight for long shoots, distributes weight easily
- Solid for a beginner rig
- Build quality is great
- Can’t be beaten for the price
- May require adding a counterweight (about $5.00)
- Transporting is annoying; it’s on the bulky side
3. Opteka CXS-1
While this rig is a bit simpler than the item above, its all-metal construction and extremely lightweight make fast movement and run-and-gun shooting even easier. This is a great rig for people who want to move fast or who want to minimize the amount of weight they’re carrying. It offers solid stabilization and is praised for its compact and portable size.
- Couldn’t be easier to set up
- Reduces fatigue and helps with stabilization
- One of the more compact stabilizers
- Construction praised as solid and well-made
- It’s best for small to medium cameras
- May be too light for some people
- Some may find it uncomfortable
- Not for everyone
4. Neewer Pro Rig (Editor’s Choice)
This robust rig kit includes a shoulder mount, follow focus, matte box, c-shaped bracket, and top handle meaning it can pretty much do it all. It’s ideal for people with small to medium cameras. For cameras like this, this kit is provides high-quality footage and a huge feature set. Of course, at this price, these are hardly the best accessories, but they got the job done well. This is a great beginner kit to drastically increase one’s footage quality. It’s the editor’s choice because short of buying much more expensive gear, this is the most cost-effective way to take DSLR shooting to the next level.
- Praised as superb value for the price
- Adjustable to most peoples’ size and needs
- Excellent construction and workmanship
- Many features for the price
- Rig is on the bulky side
- Follow focus can be finnicky
- Matte box has plastic screw grips
5. Revo Sr-1500
For those who want a simple solution with outstanding build quality, the Revo SR-1500 offers a high-quality rig at a very reasonable price. Boasting excellent durability, a comfortable shoulder pad, and a nice offset for easily being able to see your camera’s screen, it’s an awesome rig for the price. While it’s not the lightest model around, it does have a decent weight (it’s not as light as other models at 5.2lbs), but for people who can handle it, this actually contributes to stability. As with most shoulder rigs and stabilizers, some customization tends to help; some people may feel the need to augment this with counterweights. For the money, this is a great, simple (yet effective) stabilizer.
- Build quality and construction is great
- Highly durable and well built
- Shoulder pad said to be firm yet comfortable
- Both 1/4″ and 3/8″ screws for base plate
- Called an amazing rig for the price
- Counterweights needed for long periods of use (as front gets heavy)
- Some people may not like the color (bright orange parts)
6. Ikan ELE-HVRFly
For those who like one-handed rigs, this Ikan HVRfly offers top-notch quality. It is a simple but very effective rig with an outstanding build quality. This rig has comfortable padding, great durability, and shooting one-handed frees up one’s other hand to do things like adjust focus and zoom. Therefore, with some practice it can be a very robust and practical solution.
- Solid workmanship and built quality
- Great for small to medium cameras
- Sturdy and configurable for different use cases
- Great value for solid quality
- The build can interfere with some camera’s LCD screens
- One-handed use can be difficult
- Not as many features as other models
7. FilmCity Shoulder Rig
For those who want many features and a highly durable, excellent build quality, this FilmCity rig is praised as offering near professional quality at a superb price. It has an attractive and sleek look with plenty of features including a quick release plate, a comfortable shoulder support pad, and a built-in counterweight. One downside is that it is a bit on the heavy side. Still, for people who want to take their shoots to the next level, this is an awesome DSLR shoulder rig with great quality on every level.
- Great for run and gun shoots
- Praised as the best value for the price, a near professional rig
- Attractive and slick look
- Quick release base plate makes things move faster
- Gets heavy after long periods of use
- Quick release plate can be annoying to use
- No vertical adjustment of shoulder arm
8. SunRise Shoulder Rig
While it is a bit pricier than comparable models, this SunRise shoulder rig might be worth it for people looking for rock-solid durability, an anti-slip handle, and an all-metal construction. Boasting a built-in counterweight and simple build, it’s also future-proof with plenty of upgrade potential. While it doesn’t offer the most bang for the buck, it is one of the most well-built units on our list. This is a very durable, well-made unit.
- All metal, high-quality construction
- Needs some adjustment, but professional grade gear
- Plenty of upgrade compatibility
- Anti-slip comfortable handle
- All-metal rig means great durability
- Somewhat heavy
9. Best Value Pr-1
Boasting an all-metal construction, a lightweight build, and superb workmanship, this aluminum beast makes for a rock star shoulder rig. Not only does it look great, it’s highly customizable and built to last. That said, it’s not for the faint of heart. It includes no instructions and all of that customizability (plus connectivity) means it may be confusing for some. Still, for those who are up to the challenge, this is very much a buy-it-for-life professional shoulder rig.
- Can be rearranged for different uses
- Great build quality and construction
- Aluminum looks great and professional
- Excellent connectivity options
- No instructions
- Not easy to carry around assembled
10. Ikan Ele-Ofly
Closing out our list is this Ikan Ele-Ofly. Needless to say, it offers a standard set of features including dual handles, a quick release plate, and a plenty of customizing plus adjustable screws. Beyond this, however, it is built of the highest quality metal. The shoulder pad is comfortable and built to last. It’s the top of its (relatively) budget class. While there are more expensive shoulder rigs out there, for most people, this is about as good as one could possibly need.
- Comparable to rigs that cost over $1000
- Great configuration options
- All-metal construction
- Lightweight yet sturdy
- Everything is adjustable
- Overkill for most people
- Quick release adapter may be a necessary mod; standard base plate was annoying