Video Stabilizers

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Gary Eickmeier, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Anyone ever have any luck with these hand held video stabilizers like the
    Flowpod or the Opteka or the Glidecam? I tried once again, and will probably
    send it back. They just jiggle all over the place, no matter how carefully I
    balance it. No control over camera direction as far as pan or tilt. I am
    going to try a different path, one of those that look like two bicycle
    handles with a camera bar in between. I would think that will be VERY
    controllable and just as smooth. My shoulder mounts usually bounce as I walk
    along, so just taking it off my shoulder will be an improvement. Would just
    be used for a few moving camera shots to spice up a shoot, not for long hand
    held shots of wedding toasts or altar returns.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Mar 20, 2013
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  2. If a low viewpoint is not a problem, take a look at this:
    FOREGRIP (now $15 at
    You can add weight to the bottom for a greater "hanging-pail" effect for
    stability. These come in two slightly different versions (the Zeikos top
    is slightly tilted downward toward the front; the ProGrip top bar is
    with the base). Also, unless you know that a longer camera mounting
    length above the base is OK for what you want to put on it, it may be a
    idea to trap the thick screw retaining washer inside with the tip of
    smallest finger, take out the mounting screw, and add a large washer to
    shaft before replacing it (to shorten the mounting screw's extension
    above the
    base). This item is cheap, light, and well-made (I like mine for
    "flying" the
    camera around and under plants in gardens...;-).
    David Ruether, Mar 20, 2013
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  3. Thanks David. Don't know how you found this thread, tried to post a new
    thread on this subject but it thought I wanted to post again in this old one
    of the same name, so here we are. Steve King posted an intresting thought in
    the Walking Along a Path thread.

    I am going to try the

    next. It has those two handles that will permit me to hold with two hands
    and have total control over the rig vs the dangly swing and sway of the
    Glidecam ilk. Will let you know.

    Gary Eickmeier, Mar 21, 2013
  4. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    Gary, if you experienced swing and sway I would guess that you did not have
    the device adjusted properly for the camera. I'm replying based on my
    experience with the GlideCam. My camera operator and I must have spent two
    to three hours experimenting with both the length of the pendulum (about 6
    inches of adjustment) and the amount of weight (very large steel washers) on
    the fore and aft bottom plate the first time we used it. Later, we could
    adjust the rig for lighter or heavier cameras in less than half and hour.
    Once everything was set up correctly, the GlideCam allowed us to achieve
    some remarkable shots akin to a full-bore SteadiCam rig, chest harness and
    all. Up stairways, across construction floors littered with materials, over
    rough exterior terrain. That said. I've talked to several camera people
    who like the FigRig. Maybe you will prefer that.

    Steve King

    Steve King
    Steve King, Mar 21, 2013
  5. Gary Eickmeier

    Brian Guest

    Just out of interest can you run with a GlideCam and produce a steady video
    Brian, Mar 22, 2013
  6. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    I doubt it. Depends on who's doing the running and how fast he has to move,
    I suppose. A cameraman that I frequently work with is 6' 5" tall. When he
    takes big strides in a semi-crouch, he can move pretty fast and still
    control the camera. It's not running as in, "I'm going to catch this
    crook," or I'm not going to get caught by the bear. Depends on your
    project, but it seems to me that a running shot would have some tolerance
    for a bit of camera bounce, maybe even a desire for it. I've just returned
    from screening some shots taken in the North Dakota oil fields. The crew
    extensively used GoPro cameras mounted on equipment and on hard hats to get
    shots from the worker's POV. Note that most of these shots were very wide.
    But, even though there was a lot of movement of the workers and the
    equipment, where the cams were mounted, the shots are very usable. I don't
    think any human operated stabilizer is going to give you the steadyness in a
    "running" shot that a dolly on 100 feet of track will give. On the other
    hand, setting up a stabilizer requires one person a half-hour or so as
    opposed to a crew of five or six minimum and a couple of thousand dollars a
    day in rental charges for the dolly and track. Dolly track is hell to level
    and stabilize on soft ground, which takes a lot of time.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Mar 22, 2013
  7. Steve King wrote:

    Hi Steve -

    Yes, I have latched onto the theory about the balancing of the rig, but this
    particular product does not have a set of weights that are flexible enough
    to balance it perfectly. I tried adding accessories to the camera to counter
    what I could not do at the bottom, but still not balanced right.

    But a deeper question for me is why are these things attached to a gimbal?
    Why not just put handles that you can control with both hands precisely as
    you need? What is the design principle of having the free gimbal that my new
    one will not have?

    I have tried the Varizoom Flo Pod and now this Opteka Pro, and struck out
    both times. Swing and sway wobble city every time. It won't even stay
    pointed in the direction you want, you have to use two fingers at least on
    the rotation axis, and then it is shaky at best. What we need is damping or
    solid connection on that axis so we can at least point the camera where we
    need to without the other hand interfering.

    Still assembling and studying my new one, the EV2 Ikan.

    Gary Eickmeier, Mar 24, 2013
  8. I have recently found a drug that stopped my tremor. (WHEW! But
    it does have some unpleasant side-effects - but, still...!;-)
    I have an old Steadicam Jr., but with a tremor and jerks, it
    didn't work - but now I may try it again. That has a finger
    contact "thingy" at the gimbal to use to steady and direct the
    rig. If it does not work for me, I will go back to either my
    new (similar to the) Cowboy shoulder mount (which I modified):
    or to my own rig, described (read the last line...) and shown: Both have worked reasonably
    well even with the tremor... If the Steadicam Jr. doesn't work
    well for me, I will sell it cheap.
    David Ruether, Mar 24, 2013
  9. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    I think the primary reason for the free gimbal is to maintain a horizon.
    The supporting arm (your arm) plus the weight of the stabilizer dampens
    motion (bounces, etc.). And, the gimbal also allows the camera to be panned
    with your free hand.... finger-tip control. If the gimbal were fixed in one
    axis or the other you couldn't maintain a horizon. Also, you could only pan
    by swinging your arm and whole body. My cameran says its like learning to
    ride a bike. It seems impossible until your body learns how. Then, it's

    Steve King, Mar 24, 2013
  10. Maybe also I would need the right kind - but the Flopod was fairly similar
    to the Glidecam.

    In any event, I tried the Ikan and it is a dream come true. Total control
    over every axis, and smooth as glass. The smoothness is because it is not
    resting on my shoulder as I walk. The total control is because I am holding
    it with both arms and hands and I have control over level, direction, and
    tilt just by pointing it where I want. My arms are less tired because I am
    not supporting an entire Glidecam and camera with the one arm, and I WANT to
    swivel my whole body to pan anyway because I am staring down into the LCD as
    I film and if I rotated it away I wouldn't be able to see it. Generally, we
    both need to rotate our bodies toward the direction of the shot, but I don't
    need to also keep the camera from rotating with my forefinger and thumb.

    And curious metaphor you used - like riding a bicycle! I AM riding a
    bicycle with my two handlebar arms!

    Gary Eickmeier, Mar 25, 2013
  11. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    Glad you found a solution! If I had bought a SteadyCam or an Ikan before I
    bought the GlideCam I might be praising them now.

    Steve KIng
    Steve King, Mar 25, 2013
  12. Gary Eickmeier

    Brian Guest

    Sometime in the near future the tripod arm will be s thing of the past and
    we will be controlling the camera's directional movement by moving our
    hands over the camera without touching it. I've seen a few videos that have
    been mounted on a tripod with jerky movements when the camera is panned.
    Brian, Mar 26, 2013
  13. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    Smooth camera movement is a function of the quality of the tripod (its
    rigidity in space), the qaulity of the head, and the skill of the operator.
    Motor drive of pan/tilt will not overcome poor functionality of tri-pod and
    head. You gets what you pay for.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Mar 26, 2013
  14. kisd89$eca$:
    MUCH as I dislike using tripods for shooting video (I like
    both the framing AND the viewpoint to shift while shooting),
    nothing beats a ***GOOD*** (read, "expensive - REALLY, VERY-
    SERIOUSLY EXPENSIVE!") Pro-grade fluid-head tripod for smooth
    panning and tilting. Too bad about the negatives, though...
    David Ruether, Mar 26, 2013
  15. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    An easy-to-use professional tri-pod system costs, on the low end, about
    about as much as your typical prosumer HD camera. I find it amusing that
    whenever tri-pods are mentioned, you can't help expressing your predjudice
    against their use. Your preference for hand-held shots is a matter of style.
    You write as if you only have one trick in your bag, and I suspect that
    isn't true. The wide angle shot that opens Stanley Kubrick's "Barry
    Lyndon", as an example, a view from a highland of a horse-drawn wagon in the
    far distance making its way up a country road towards the camera position,
    that holds on the screen for minutes is mesmerizing, a shot impossible to
    make without a stable camera platform and no less art than what you do. A
    well rounded movie maker uses all of the tools and techiques available
    according to the shot and effect desired. Just my opinion. I guess I harp
    on my point of view about as often as your do on yours;-) I'm concerned
    that a newcomer to making videos might not recognize the difference between
    a personal style choice and and an issue of right or wrong.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Mar 26, 2013
  16. Gary Eickmeier

    HerHusband Guest

    I guess I have a similar bias towards monopods. The vast majority of what I
    film is vacations, hiking, and that sort of thing. The monopod is extremely
    portable, gives me a much steadier shot, and takes practically no time to
    setup. Not to mention they're dirt cheap, I think my Opteka MP100 cost less
    than $20. It's basically just a collapsable stick with a bolt on top.

    That said, there are many situations where there is no substitute for a
    tripod. I usually turn to the tripod when I want to film myself, such as
    working on a home improvement project. I usually time lapse these so
    projects that take hours or months can be condensed into a few minutes. I
    use a very low end tripod I picked up for less than $40. It's not real
    smooth for panning, but for stationary filming it works great.

    Of course, I've been known to prop the camcorder on a rock or something to
    get a steady shot when I don't have a tripod with me.

    I also have an Ultrapod II that I've strapped to guard rails, trees, and
    posts for steady shots. It also makes a decent tripod when I'm out hiking
    or something.

    I even do handheld on some occasions, though I'm usually too shakey to pull
    that off successfully.

    I use different techniques for different situations, but the monopod does
    seem to offer me the most versatility.

    Anthony Watson
    Mountain Software
    HerHusband, Mar 27, 2013
  17. kisnt1$iht$:
    Of course (to most of the above...;-)! We all work differently, and
    (I would think, obviously...;-) with different needs, aims, and styles.
    We also express our opinions freely here. One of mine is that video
    is NOT necessarily a still frame with some motion going on inside it
    (which I saw in the past as the predominant-with-no-variations approach
    to "motion" image-making). With the advent of cheap and compact high
    image-quality gear, it is now possible to be free of the old viewpoint
    restrictions. You did notice in the above (I trust...;-) the "I" in the
    opinion, without a "you must" anywhere about? And, BTW, I have at times
    suffered with cheap "pro" tripods and fluid heads, and I do know the
    functional difference between a jerky-movement set that costs a few
    hundred dollars, and ones that costs a few thousand dollars. Isn't
    it useful to point out that a cheap tripod used for video work
    essentially limits the shooter to a very fixed viewpoint? And, that
    there are other options? Anyway, it seems to me in the above that I
    was merely agreeing with your post, and in the process, mentioning
    some of *my* "prejudices"... 8^)
    David Ruether, Mar 27, 2013
  18. My viewpoint is weddings. It would be unthinkable to not have a good tripod
    shooting the ceremony. But for everything else, shoulder mount city. I am
    now interested in the moving camera effect because so many out there are
    doing it with good effect. It can be overdone, of course, but what
    fascinates me is being able to walk with the camera and not notice the bump
    and grind. Something held up to your eye, like movie cameras of old, would
    have the nasty motion artifacts. A camcorder mounted on a shoulder mount
    would probably have it because the shoulder moves up and down with the body
    as you walk. But a camera held by the arms without touching the body, now
    that is a pretty good Steadicam. That leaves the only choice between the
    Glidecam style and the Fig Rig or Ikan style, and I am partial to the

    None of this can be done for hours on end, but the occasional moving camera
    shot is great for variety and viewer attention, and is a staple of
    Hollywood. I have a wedding coming up April the 6th, and I may keep the
    camera on the Ikan rather than transfer it to the shoulder mount. Will let
    you know how it goes.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Mar 27, 2013
  19. Gary Eickmeier

    Steve King Guest

    Game. Set. Point. All in good fun. The cheaper the tri-pod the greater the
    demands on the operator. At some quality point it is indeed impossible to
    do an acceptable pan/tilt, and the longer the lens the quicker that point is
    reached. And, as I have said before, I enjoy your posts. There are many
    areas of photography and video, where I am the student and you are the

    Steve King
    Steve King, Mar 27, 2013
  20. Gary Eickmeier

    Brian Guest

    Are you referring to a low quality view finder?
    View finders are also found on mid priced cameras and the quality is good
    often use the view finder in bright lighting conditions. It also helps me
    concrete on what I'm recording as it blocks out what is happening around
    However if I'm recording with the camera while walking with people about me
    then I use the LCD screen as I can avoid bumping into people, its a lot

    A camcorder mounted on a shoulder mount
    Brian, Mar 29, 2013
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