DIY sound blimp project, commence
Having worked on a few sound stages, sets, and studios now, I felt the need for something to effectively suppress the rather loud shutter actuation and mirror slap of my D800. The “quiet mode” on that camera is a bit of a joke, and definitely does not cut it when sound is rolling on set. This limits when I can get behind-the-scenes/production shots without the audio crew wanting to murder me.
The classic solution is the industry-trusted Jacobson Sound Blimp, one of which Scott McDermott used on an on-location set of the NBC show The Moment that I assisted him on recently. It makes your camera look like something straight outta The Great War, which is both awesome and awful. There are no controls other than the shutter release button, and they cost almost a grand to buy.
Alternatively, and less effective, is a soft camera muzzle that I’ve seen ‘togs use at classical music concerts in auditoriums etc. The upside is that you can stick your hands into them and use all the controls. The downside is that you can still hear the mirror slap a few paces away. And you look like a sock puppeteer.
I cast about for other solutions, and came across several DIY tutorials based around a Pelican case, the best of which was this one. I love the fact it supports a removable extension tube for different-length lenses, so I can go long with my 70-200mm when I need to reach, or stick to my physically shorter 85mm prime when I want maneuverability and max light (both in photons and atoms). The fact that the whole rig ends up being completely waterproof is another huge plus for me (pool shoot ahoy!). So, without delay I ordered the Pelicase from B&H and raided my local Home Depot for the rest of the components needed:
I hope to be improving on the design in a couple of ways; the main one being the use of a wireless trigger for shutter release and autofocus. A wired one means you need an extra hole through the Pelican case which is troublesome to make watertight around the cord passing through. It also means you have to attach the button to the outside of the case somehow, and I’d rather just have a wireless trigger in my pocket that I can press through the cloth while aiming the camera/case with the other hand. I also opted for Lexan instead of the more fragile and less flexible glass for the rear LCD and viewfinder windows. It should be easier to cut to the proper shape, too.
The only big question mark at this point is how to do the front window for the lens. The above design had a plain piece of glass custom cut into a round shape by a local glass store, but this is a hassle and can cause ghosting because there is no anti-reflective coating on it. I thought about somehow using a spare 77mm UV filter that can screw onto the front, but that’s probably not a good idea since it would cause direct hard contact between the lens (which is where the most of noise emanates from) and the outer shell of the sound blimp, which I think might transfer the sound vibrations to the outside. I doubt the Lexan is a good choice optically; I’ll have to figure out a solution as I start building this thing over the next couple of days…
I will keep you posted on my progress right here, so stay tuned ~
How to build your own soundproof “Sound Blimp” SLR case for under $100 | pauloinstagram
[…] Dan Tabar was faced with just that dilemma as he tried to shoot on sets and sound stages without disrupting people at work. So he set… […]
I shoot often in orchestra with a soft blimp.
But I your easy better!
But, where do get the tube’s for the lens?
Mabe a weblink?
for US residents, just hit up your local Home Depot! You’ll find everything in the PVC piping section.. 4″ diameter
for outside the US, you can order these compoents online.. the 4″ stuff is a PERFECT fit. THe blog post i reference has instructions and links, like this one:
Thanks. I will look for it.
Build your Own Sound Blimp for your DSLR for around $80
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Underwater test of the DIY Sound Blimp – Dan Tabar Photography
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DIY ‘blimp’ case makes Nikon D800 silent and waterproof for $80 | Photography in Australia
[…] can read about Tabár’s plan and execution building his waterproof sound blimp here and here. Here’s a demonstration of […]
Looks like a lot of work. My solution would be to get your hands on a Nikon D3200. Admittedly it’s only a crop sensor body…a real “cheapie” at that…but there’s lots of very good Nikon glass that it will couple up with. Including possibly the 70-200 f2.8 zoom as a matter of fact; I do not know if the body will run the AF on that lens, but if not, there’s likely another lens that would work. Whatever the case, the shutter/mirror combo is very quiet. With the proper lens, this unassuming camera produces wonderful images. The idea of a factory made solution is, to me at least, a gift from the gods. I have several Nikon bodies…D200,300,700, and 800, none of which are in any way “quiet,” but the tiny D3200 is nearly silent. It’s really quite remarkable in that sense. If nothing else you should borrow one and see for yourself.
Hi! First, thanks for the idea and details, that’s great thinking :).
I’m wondering, you say “waterproof”, do you mean waterproof “enough” to get underwater?
Yes, see my video here 🙂
” I thought about somehow using a spare 77mm UV filter that can screw onto the front, but that’s probably not a good idea since it would cause direct hard contact between the lens (which is where the most of noise emanates from) and the outer shell of the sound blimp, which I think might transfer the sound vibrations to the outside.”
How about making the front of the 77mm filter contact the outer shell via a ring made of silicone kit – another cheap but excellent and dampening material? Easy to mold as well 🙂
Do you by chance have a step by step part and build guide for this? I can’t seem to find one but would love to build one. Thanks!
Now that I read the post more clearly, did you for the most part follow the instructions to the favorite example you linked to?
Yep, although i did improvise a bit. I didn’t have the same Dremel bit that he did, so my cuts didn’t turn out as neat. I also didn’t bother with a wired shutter release, etc
Great, thanks for the follow up.
I’m excited to build mine sometime.
How do you mount this on a tripod?
haven’t tried that yet, but conceivably it wouldn’t be too hard to attach a threaded plate
Would the Pelican case have a think enough base to create a threaded hole for a tripod to mount to?
Or would it be easier/better to simply attach a threaded plate?
I’m glad this question came up because it was something I was wondering about.