CAD models for photographers – dollies, tripod, Nikon D90

Roughly 2 years ago something very interesting happened in the world of semi-professional digital photography - the addition of high-quality movie shooting mode to most DSLR type cameras. Suddenly you didn’t own just a photo camera, you could shoot professional looking movies too.

Since most shooters already owned a few decent lenses too, then the upgrade from mere snapper into future Steven Spielberg didn’t break a bank.

The whole change had an interesting by-product - a number of new accessories meant to turn shooting movies with your DSLR into a better and more convenient process. Let’s be honest - the form factor of a digital camera isn’t perfect for movie making. The shape of the camera means that it’s not very stable so the image can be jittery, the screens have improved but are still not very good for accurate focusing and working in bright sunlight, it’s hard to get a smooth motion without expensive dollies or steady-cam harnesses and so on and so on…

Fortunately - if there’s a will, there’s a way and photographers are like a gang of MacGywers, they’re super creative when it comes to finding cheap solutions that do the trick.

Imagine my excitement as an ex-photoenthusiast when Bob Jenney joined GrabCAD and started uploading very interesting photography related models. The most practical ones are probably the three dolly setups. Made from 80/30 parts and skateboard wheels these have to be the simplest and cheapest solutions out there.

Need extra smooth action? Here’s a setup that rolls along on rails.

Here’s Bob Jenney himself explaining the why’s and how’s:

A smooth surface is key for any dolly. A track dolly adds stability, but a skilled operator or grip is important with either configuration.

The goal with these dolly designs was to produce a simple, inexpensive and infinitely variable solution for hobbyists to semi-pro videographers. With the recent proliferation of high quality video from DSLR's, the need for low cost stabilization options has risen considerably.

By utilizing 80/20 parts, the end user can create their own dolly configuration and also quickly adjust the width and length to suit the location.

Bob has more interesting photography-related models up in his portfolio so do pay him a visit. And of course there are more photography-related CAD models available.

Another vital part of DSLR-movie equation is using the camera screen for precise image evaluation. LCDVF is an accessory that gives you more stability when shooting handheld movies and also turns the camera display into a high qauality electronic viewfinder.