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DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)

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Offline DataGhost

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DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)
« on: 17 / July / 2008, 06:55:20 »
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I just finished building a grip for my S5IS so I decided to share it with you. This guide is aimed specifically at the S5IS, but other camera models will work as well. If you think you can build something like this, I'm sure you'll be able to work out how to adjust it to your camera model. The instructions are in a chronological order, according to how I made it. This might not be the best order.

Of course, read the whole guide before starting.
Tools required (you may be able to succeed without some of these):
- Milling machine
- Jigsaw
- Coping saw
- Dremel
- File
- Drill
- Screwdriver
- Clamp

First, imagine the type of grip you want to make, maybe it's a good idea to draw it somewhere if you're not that good at visualising stuff in your head. I decided to go with a normal portrait grip with a shutter button and possibly (later on) batteries. The shutter button can be attached with a tiny USB-cable, as we all know :) I don't have it in my grip yet, though.
Now, find a suitable material. I decided to use two blocks of wood. Also, find a way to secure the grip. If you only use the tripod bolt, it can twist and you probably don't want that. In my case, I used the part 'between' the lens and the camera, below the MF/macro buttons (lower-right corner in image 1).
To do this, draw the camera outline on one piece of wood and use a milling machine to *remove* it. In order for the lens-grabber to be strong (and nice) enough it'll have to be made from one piece of wood. Go about 1cm (0.4") deep, that should be enough. Except for this bit, the outline doesn't have to be perfect but aligning stuff is a LOT easier if it at least prevents any camera movement if you put it 'inside' the grip.


Image 1 - Camera outline removed from the block of wood

As we're going to remove the biggest part of the wood that makes up the camera's outline, we need a tripod bolt. It's quite tricky to properly align it and you may have to remove some useless pieces of the outline to make the job easier. After you marked the spot, find a suitable bolt for the tripod mount and drill a perfectly straight hole with that bolt's diameter (maybe plus half a mm, I used a 6.5mm drill for the 6mm bolt). Verify that it's aligned properly, this is quite important. You may want to do this before even cutting the camera's outline, which makes milling the outline slightly harder, though it's probably 'safer'.


Outline with tripod bolt

If you remove some more useless outline-wood (as I did so I could actually use the LCD), you'll end up with something like this:


Removed some useless junk, the grip so far

Now we need a way to control the bolt. You could just drill a hole through the second piece of wood and use a screwdriver to attach/detach the grip, but I decided to go with the more usual way (as in commercially-available grips): cogwheels. The only thing is, the placement of the tripod nut doesn't allow for direct control with one big cogwheel, as it'll come out through the front of the grip. I had to use three cogwheels to properly do this.
Using the right amount of spacing, glue one of the cogwheels to the tripod bolt. Please make sure it's perfectly in the middle or it won't work. My cogwheel had a bigger hole than the nut so this was quite tedious. It's slightly off-center but it works.
Remove the excess wood from the back of the grip, trim it to what you want to be the final result. Now you can align the second and third cogwheel. Drill holes only for the whatever is going to hold them in place and verify that the alignment is correct and the mechanism works.


Removed excess wood, drilled cogwheel holes, mechanism in place :)

Remove the cogwheels again and take the second piece of wood. Make it slightly bigger than the first piece (square, no fancy shape required yet) and if necessary, trim it to the desired thickness. Align the pieces, use a clamp to secure them, draw a rough outline of the cogwheels and drill holes for three or four screws, making sure they don't go through any of the cogs and don't interfere with the grip. I accidentally misaligned one of the screws so it goes right through the vertical grip-part, but luckily, it's not in an important part. Insert the screws and secure them, then remove the clamp and the screws.


Second piece of wood with screwholes and a screw

Draw a rough outline of the cogwheels on the *second* piece of wood and remove it using the milling machine. It's quite important to not go too deep, as this outline should hold the cogs in place so they won't go everywhere when you use them. Also, don't make it too shallow or they'll be stuck. If required, drill/mill extra holes to hold the axles for the cogs in place.
Insert the cogs and verify that your alignment was correct. Screw both pieces together again and verify that the cogs can still move and work correctly in both directions. The tripod bolt should now turn in both directions (clockwise, counterclockwise) and it shouldn't go up or down much.


Cogwheels and their outlines, final result

Test it on your camera to see if the mechanism also works 'in real life'.


Grip attached to the camera

Use the milling machine again to cut out the vertical grip-part. Make sure you don't hit any screws if you also misaligned a screw, like me :) Use whatever tools necessary (e.g. dremel, file) to create and smoothen the grip-form.
Remove all excess wood using whatever tools necessary and form/smoothen the entire grip into the shape of the camera. Smoothen all edges (except for the ones touching the camera, they don't need much smoothening) and feel around the grip to make sure you can't really feel the seams or other irregularities. Sand/file them away if required.


Final result

Now attach it to your camera :)


Final result attached to camera

Now all that remains (for me) is:
- Fill the area around the lens with something. Currently, it's still possible to twist the camera a little bit
- Fill some areas I couldn't properly reach with the dremel and which needed to be filled anyway
- Attach a second shutter button 'on top' so it's easy to shoot portrait images
- Paint it :)
- Maybe add something to put batteries in

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Offline dzsemx

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Re: DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)
« Reply #1 on: 17 / July / 2008, 14:55:21 »
:) nice work ;) but maybe it's too large...
« Last Edit: 17 / July / 2008, 14:56:55 by dzsemx »

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Offline true

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Re: DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)
« Reply #2 on: 17 / July / 2008, 20:31:23 »
Too large? Considering the size of the camera, I think it might be just right. Only, you lose manual controls... but for autoshooting, that looks like a nice, quality rig, Dataghost.

I'm guessing there's no holes that you could fabricate for pins (like what the DSLRs have on the edge opposite of the battery)?

Anyway... Very nice grip.
Canon P&S: 110HS, SX260HS, SX230HS, 2x A720 IS, 2x A590 IS
Canon DSLR: 5D Mark II, 300D IR-converted, 8x glass
MFT: DMC-GF1, DMC-G3, 7x glass

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Offline PhyrePhoX

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Re: DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)
« Reply #3 on: 18 / July / 2008, 02:42:44 »
you lose manual controls? how?


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Offline DataGhost

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Re: DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)
« Reply #4 on: 18 / July / 2008, 03:26:41 »
No, I don't lose any manual controls except for the converter ring release button, which is not really an issue for me, as I hardly ever take the converter ring off. The MF/macro buttons are well above the grip and still easily reachable :)

And no, the camera doesn't have any hole or pin I can grab onto, except for the tripod ring and a 1mm-deep small hole to allow the battery compartiment slider to move, but that's not going to be strong enough for anything.

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Offline true

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Re: DIY: Camera grip (especially S5IS)
« Reply #5 on: 19 / July / 2008, 16:19:03 »
Sorry, it's not like my 40D, where all controls (except AF button) are in easy reach when using the grip and shooting vertically. I don't mean "lose controls" so much as "controls aren't easily accessible when shooting vertically."
Canon P&S: 110HS, SX260HS, SX230HS, 2x A720 IS, 2x A590 IS
Canon DSLR: 5D Mark II, 300D IR-converted, 8x glass
MFT: DMC-GF1, DMC-G3, 7x glass

 

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