Slap on a Pistol Grip handle to your DSLR and you've got the feel of a Vintage shooter. These little handles are especially effective when combined with an LCD View Finder for another solid point of contact. Anyone thinking what i'm thinking? Yeah I think they are just begging to be DIY'd and Modified with a built in remote button to start / stop video, or even just a plain shutter release for Photography. Any takers? If so, here's an article to give you a head start http://cheesycam.com/diy-remote-video-trigger-for-canon-dslrs/
The Barska Camera handle was probably the most popular pistol grip stabilizer, but Opteka's got their own now. If it wasn't for the recent price drop of the Barska, they would be going head to head on price. Opteka's new Pistol Grip handle is just a few dollars higher now, but it does come with a QR feature to quickly remove the handle from the camera body. Barska's Pistol grip has a solid alignment pin that needs DIY extraction before it can be used on a DSLR, and that for Barska could be the 'deal breaker'. Either way, these are excellent cheap little stabilizer additions for run-and-gun shooters....
[Update] Apparently there is a handle with a Trigger [Thanks Casper], but the price is pretty steep. They've listed them as compatible with Canon, Sony, Nikon, and Panasonic cameras, but I can't imagine the Video mode being triggered through a hard wire. Canon's can only start / stop video through infrared. The cable is probably there for the shutter release, for other camera models maybe it can actually start video mode.... Found below.
The Opteka CXS-1 is a fairly inexpensive ready built video camera shoulder support rig. Besides the obvious mount for the camera, the stage has a few extra mounting points if you want to get creative and add some extra accessory brackets. The Opteka was designed for cameras up to 20lbs (so they say), but no matter how much or how little weight you place on the stage, the shoulder support is not a 'complete hands free' solution as stated on the box. I think the claim to be a 'complete hands free solution' is a bit misleading. There's no possible way this thing will hang over the shoulder without using hands to support it. The shoulder pad only meets the top of your shoulder, and doesn't go completely behind like the $24.00 dollar shoulder support.
As you can see though, with a counterweight added, the contour of the shoulder pad will eventually allow you to balance a Camera like the GH2 (as seen in the video). I'm using my DIY counterweight from my other rig just mounted to an already existing slot in the rear of the shoulder pad. The slot allows me to slide the weight left and right to level out the balance too.
The build quality is pretty nice, especially for the price using all metal components with an anodized finish. If you're a first time DSLR shooter with light accessories or have a lightweight camcorder, this type of stabilizer should suit you fine. It's also one of the better looking 'cheap' shoulder supports out there. There is only so much horizontal offset and vertical height adjustments, so depending on your frame, you may not be able to get the camera to the 'exact' position you need. Quick release adapters, battery grips, or DSLR's with variable LCD's should help correct some of that lack of positioning. You can choose to use just two of the hex bolts instead of three if you want to get a bit more 'inset' or 'offset'.
No padding on stage
The handle can be removed and inserted directly into a camera if you're looking to shoot without the shoulder support. The stage is also not 'padded' so if you're experiencing some slippage, you'll need to DIY some type of cushion to the stage. Cork or a rubber pad should suffice. Being that the shoulder pad is an all metal build, it would be very easy to drill some new accessory mounts for your portable audio recorders or wireless receivers. There are a few large clamp knobs that should allow you to break it down into a few smaller pieces if you need to pack it up for traveling. Overall the Opteka is a great lightweight stabilizer for the price, and you'll be hard pressed to find something that looks as polished in it's price range.
I've seen a few cheap DSLR related items spin off into some success. Here's another new stabilizer on the market that I think is going to have a good future. It's coming in at $99 bucks available on Amazon and $99 on eBay with Free Shipping. Although the price is going to help make it popular, it helps to be designed fairly similar to another rig that goes for more than $250 dollars. Designed with aluminum and stainless steel, it can adjust your camera forward/back, left/right for an offset, up/down, and also can be modified for left or right shoulder shooting. A good 1" thick foam shoulder pad with metal shoulder support, i'm thinking it would be a great platform for drilling in accessory mounts. The handle can also be removed for going uber-simple.
The description claims a 'hands free' solution, but i'm curious if it really has that ability. If it does, then it's going to give the cheap plastic $24.00 dollar shoulder support a good run for the money. I should have my hands on one soon to be used with my new Sony A55. Looks like it will be an excellent light weight camera stabilizer for other cameras like the Panasonic GH1/GH2, Canon T2i, or Nikon D3100, but it does claim to be able to support up to 20lbs of weight.