Stabilizer/steadicam vs Gimbal - how to decide

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orey10m Regular Member • Posts: 178
Stabilizer/steadicam vs Gimbal - how to decide

How do you decide whether you need something like this:

which I'll call a "stabilizer"

or a motorized gimbal like this?:

gimbal

What are the considerations?
Price obviously, as it seems you can get the stabilizers for cheaper.

Complexity - gimbal has more moving parts, requires battery, charger etc. Stabilizer is simpler in execution, still need to 'balance' both.

Results/effectiveness - do they both achieve basically the same thing? This is probably where i need the most input and feedback from you all in making this decision.

What's the best application for each?

I'd love something small and single handed. And right now I'm shooting video with two non-stabilized lenses (one is a fish eye though so it's super wide). (That may be the first thing that needs to change..I get a stabilized lens...but I'll tackle that in a separate thread )

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PhilPreston3072 Senior Member • Posts: 2,583
Beware of Glidecam copies

I don't have a gimbal but do have a Stabilizer to speak of.

If you do choose to go Stabilizer, beware of brands other than Glidecam.  I bought a Flycam Nano three years ago and it has been unusable only until now.   Even when well balanced, it failed to glide because first, they tightened the nuts holding the handle to the main post too tight, causing a swinging motion.  That was easy to fix, just needed a bit of loosening.

Second, which was a pain to correct, was that the main bearing holding the main post was not degreased in the factory.  Any grease or oil in the main bearing prevents the main post from turning freely so you'll still see hand jerks happening in the video, especially if you have a light camera setup.   After many many attempts at degreasing and using all sorts of degreasing agents and lubricants, it finally freely spins, but I would've been happier to pay a bit more for a Glidecam where all this stuff has been sorted in the factory.

This music video clip by Tom Antos was filmed with a motorized, single handle gimbal and Sony A7.  The shots are great except for the running shots where you can see the bumps.   Not sure if newer gimbals can overcome this.

This youtuber summarises the key differences in use for stabilizers and gimbals.

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joema1
joema1 Contributing Member • Posts: 720
Re: Stabilizer/steadicam vs Gimbal - how to decide

orey10m wrote:

...What are the considerations?
Price obviously...Complexity - gimbal has more moving parts, requires battery, charger etc. Stabilizer is simpler in execution, still need to 'balance' both....Results/effectiveness - do they both achieve basically the same thing? This is probably where i need the most input and feedback from you all in making this decision...What's the best application for each?...I'd love something small and single handed. And right now I'm shooting video with two non-stabilized lenses (one is a fish eye though so it's super wide). (That may be the first thing that needs to change..I get a stabilized lens...but I'll tackle that in a separate thread )

My documentary team has several gimbals and stabilizers, including the big Glidecam HD 4000 on the X10 vest: http://glidecam.com/img/products/lg/x-10/Glidecam_X-10_Andrea_9159_Final_SM.jpg

We also have the smaller HD 2000 and 1000 Glidecams, plus several smaller "stick type" gimbals.

A skilled operator can get the best results using the X10, but it requires lots of practice and is very physically demanding. I can operate it for about 10-15 min then I'm exhausted. With the X10 you can run (not walk) yet it mostly removes the jarring vertical motion.

We also have the Zhiyun Crane and use a GH5 on it. Despite the low price it works quite well, however no gimbal without vertical damping will take out the vertical "bobbing" motion of your walk. This means the operator must carefully learn how to walk smoothly.

We have two little DJI Osmo gimbals and they work very well in good light. We have the DJI Z-axis arm (see below) and it really helps damp vertical motions, almost as good as the big Glidecam X10.

For us a better solution would be a DJI X5S camera on a Z-axis arm. That would be a complete package that we could unpack and use without mounting, balancing or extensive calibration. The larger micro-4/3 sensor would provide greatly improved low light vs the little Osmo X3. The Z-axis arm would provide vertical damping. Unfortunately DJI has never made this. When they redesigned the X5 camera for the Inspire 2 drone, they moved some of the camera electronics to the airframe which means an all-new special Osmo handle would be required to host the X5S camera.

The whole system would be expensive, probably $2500, so not many people would buy it since they could put a mirrorless camera on an inexpensive gimbal and still get good results.

Here is a prototype: DJI X5 camera prototype on Z-axis arm: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/p_sfNJFdzLI/maxresdefault.jpg

To directly answer your question, a mirrorless camera on a less-expensive gimbal works well, provided you learn how to walk and operate it. Even the iPhone gimbals can work well in good light. I would suggest those over a regular Glidecam HD 1000 or 2000.

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OP orey10m Regular Member • Posts: 178
Re: Stabilizer/steadicam vs Gimbal - how to decide

Thanks for the info. Yeah I have the inexpensive m43 camera covered, as I am using a Z-Cam E1. Form factor-wise it's like a big go pro, so just a rectangle box. It's much bigger than a go pro though, probably 3 times the size, so those little go pro compatible gimbals wouldn't be able to support the weight, which has led me to look into the 'next size up' and ask about stabilizers and more formal gimbals.

I think it's going to be a balance of finding a stabilized lens I'm happy with, then finding the right size object (stabilizer or gimbal) for my applications that will be strong enough to balance the camera, but just barely.

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OP orey10m Regular Member • Posts: 178
Re: Stabilizer/steadicam vs Gimbal - how to decide

Actually I would really dig something like the tiny "Steadicam Curve" , but able to  handle the Z Cam E1. It has a little ball joint "gimbal" built into a traditional counterbalanced stabilizer.

Does anyone know of a slightly larger/stronger version of this product?

It seems the Steadicam "Merlin" overshoots it a bit (and a lot by price).

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Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,560
Zhiyun Crane M, done

orey10m wrote:

Actually I would really dig something like the tiny"Steadicam Curve" , but able to handle the Z Cam E1. It has a little ball joint "gimbal" built into a traditional counterbalanced stabilizer.

Does anyone know of a slightly larger/stronger version of this product?

It seems the Steadicam "Merlin" overshoots it a bit (and a lot by price).

No, no, no. I tried this. It does not compare to a 3-axis motorized gimbal. It is way too small anyway for the camera in play here. But a larger one would be just as lousy.

The mechanical stabilizers are very, very difficult to balance. And they are too heavy for extended use. You will never use it after your first experience. I tried.

The 3-axis electronic gimbal does the job, is light, and has a battery life of 12 hours, so you never even have to think about power when using it.

Get the Zhiyun Crane M. It works fine. Here's an example, with your camera mounted:

https://youtu.be/WBRrK-6P3UE

Static and walking shots are smooth, and I could shoot all day with the combo.

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DMKAlex
DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 4,132
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

Markr041 wrote:

orey10m wrote:

Actually I would really dig something like the tiny"Steadicam Curve" , but able to handle the Z Cam E1. It has a little ball joint "gimbal" built into a traditional counterbalanced stabilizer.

Does anyone know of a slightly larger/stronger version of this product?

It seems the Steadicam "Merlin" overshoots it a bit (and a lot by price).

No, no, no. I tried this. It does not compare to a 3-axis motorized gimbal. It is way too small anyway for the camera in play here. But a larger one would be just as lousy.

The mechanical stabilizers are very, very difficult to balance. And they are too heavy for extended use. You will never use it after your first experience. I tried.

The 3-axis electronic gimbal does the job, is light, and has a battery life of 12 hours, so you never even have to think about power when using it.

Get the Zhiyun Crane M. It works fine. Here's an example, with your camera mounted:

https://youtu.be/WBRrK-6P3UE

Static and walking shots are smooth, and I could shoot all day with the combo.

Mark,

Would the Zhiyun Crane M work with compact like my Sony RX100M4?

I reviewed the 3D illustration and cannot figure out how to mount the M4 without having the viewing screen blocked by device's mechanism.

Also, how does the crane control the camera functions like zooming, on/off, etc.? How is the camera connected to the crane's control? Is it thru some cable? Where the cable plugs into the camera?

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Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,560
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

DMKAlex wrote:

Markr041 wrote:

orey10m wrote:

Actually I would really dig something like the tiny"Steadicam Curve" , but able to handle the Z Cam E1. It has a little ball joint "gimbal" built into a traditional counterbalanced stabilizer.

Does anyone know of a slightly larger/stronger version of this product?

It seems the Steadicam "Merlin" overshoots it a bit (and a lot by price).

No, no, no. I tried this. It does not compare to a 3-axis motorized gimbal. It is way too small anyway for the camera in play here. But a larger one would be just as lousy.

The mechanical stabilizers are very, very difficult to balance. And they are too heavy for extended use. You will never use it after your first experience. I tried.

The 3-axis electronic gimbal does the job, is light, and has a battery life of 12 hours, so you never even have to think about power when using it.

Get the Zhiyun Crane M. It works fine. Here's an example, with your camera mounted:

https://youtu.be/WBRrK-6P3UE

Static and walking shots are smooth, and I could shoot all day with the combo.

Mark,

Would the Zhiyun Crane M work with compact like my Sony RX100M4?

I reviewed the 3D illustration and cannot figure out how to mount the M4 without having the viewing screen blocked by device's mechanism.

Also, how does the crane control the camera functions like zooming, on/off, etc.? How is the camera connected to the crane's control? Is it thru some cable? Where the cable plugs into the camera?

Yes it specifically works with the RX100. In fact, you buy a Zhiyun for-Sony cable that attaches to the gimbal and to the multiport of the RX100 and then you can control the zoom and start/stop video using the buttons/stick on the gimbal. This is useful because using such controls on the camera itself will obviously create camera vibrations and it is also more convenient.

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OP orey10m Regular Member • Posts: 178
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

Yes, but for that price I should have just bought a Panny GX85 I think, with the stabilization built in to the body (for my purposes at least....I'm trying to use the camera around and underwater. Too hard to stabilize once it's in a waterproof case).

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Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,560
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done
1

orey10m wrote:

Yes, but for that price I should have just bought a Panny GX85 I think, with the stabilization built in to the body (for my purposes at least....I'm trying to use the camera around and underwater. Too hard to stabilize once it's in a waterproof case).

Leaving aside the underwater bit (which I do not think you indicated in your original post), IBIS and OIS do not compare with a stabilizer.

You cannot move with the camera, any camera, IBIS or not, and get steady footage. You can do that with a stabilizer.

Even for static shots, no way IBIS and OIS give you the same stability. I have the GX85 and I have the Crane M. I can assure you in-camera/les stabilization is inferior to using a gimbal. I also shoot lots of handheld with and without a gimbal.

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OP orey10m Regular Member • Posts: 178
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

I'm sure that's true about a gimbal providing way more stability than IBIS and a stabilized lens.

The thing is, I don't think I need rock steady footage for what I'm going for. A bit of shakiness will be acceptable (and I'm not really willing to spend what it would take for it to be completely eliminated.)

The way I see my options (and I should have seen this from the beginning, but that's all part of the learning process/fun):

Spending Level 1- $200: Z Cam - still a fantastic deal I think. Great sensor, small form factor, 2 batteries, etc. Fits in waterproof case, but isn't stabilized at all. Extremely shaky. I'm using unstabilized lenses.

Spending Level 2- $340: Z Cam body + $140 Panasonic 12-32mm. If I added this lens, then I'd at least have some lens stabilization going on while recording video. Also it's autofocus, which I don't have an autofocus lens currently lol.

Spending Level 3- $400: used Panasonic GX85 body-only. Will fit in the waterproof case and be 'pretty stable'. I have lenses that will work, but I'm starting to think I might like the 12-32mm. I think I'd really like the 12-35mm, but that's a much more expensive lens.

Spending Level 4- $540: if I added the 12-32mm to the Panasonic GX85.

Spending Level 5- $600: Zhiyun Crane M + Z Cam. Wouldn't work with waterproof case applications. Think I'm willing to sacrifice some stability for the 'form factor' of just having the camera in a waterproof case, and not carrying around a gimbal.

I think I'm going to buy the 12-32 and try that on the Z Cam like you have. Maybe that will end up being good enough for me.

If not, then maybe I'll ditch the Z cam and buy the GX85 + then I'll already have that 12-32mm lens to go with it.

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uncle dunc Contributing Member • Posts: 518
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

If not, then maybe I'll ditch the Z cam and buy the GX85 + then I'll already have that 12-32mm lens to go with it....

Keep in mind, if you're on a gimbal or stabilizer, you won't be able to zoom while shooting unless you get a power zoom lens and a camera with a remote jack for an external controller or a wifi app with a phone or tablet.

I'm trying out a 40cm (16") stabilizer with a GX85 this weekend. It's Intended use is real estate video. I'll come back to this thread and post my thoughts. There's a YouTube video of Fulltime Filmmaker using the larger Glidecam stabilzer for real estate work, but he looks like a weightlifter. i'm thinking, for real estate, you're not doing extended shots, you're doing a series of short shots, which should mitigate the weight issue.

slothead
slothead Regular Member • Posts: 202
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

Markr041 wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

Markr041 wrote:

orey10m wrote:

Actually I would really dig something like the tiny"Steadicam Curve" , but able to handle the Z Cam E1. It has a little ball joint "gimbal" built into a traditional counterbalanced stabilizer.

Does anyone know of a slightly larger/stronger version of this product?

It seems the Steadicam "Merlin" overshoots it a bit (and a lot by price).

No, no, no. I tried this. It does not compare to a 3-axis motorized gimbal. It is way too small anyway for the camera in play here. But a larger one would be just as lousy.

The mechanical stabilizers are very, very difficult to balance. And they are too heavy for extended use. You will never use it after your first experience. I tried.

The 3-axis electronic gimbal does the job, is light, and has a battery life of 12 hours, so you never even have to think about power when using it.

Get the Zhiyun Crane M. It works fine. Here's an example, with your camera mounted:

https://youtu.be/WBRrK-6P3UE

Static and walking shots are smooth, and I could shoot all day with the combo.

Mark,

Would the Zhiyun Crane M work with compact like my Sony RX100M4?

I reviewed the 3D illustration and cannot figure out how to mount the M4 without having the viewing screen blocked by device's mechanism.

Also, how does the crane control the camera functions like zooming, on/off, etc.? How is the camera connected to the crane's control? Is it thru some cable? Where the cable plugs into the camera?

Yes it specifically works with the RX100. In fact, you buy a Zhiyun for-Sony cable that attaches to the gimbal and to the multiport of the RX100 and then you can control the zoom and start/stop video using the buttons/stick on the gimbal. This is useful because using such controls on the camera itself will obviously create camera vibrations and it is also more convenient.

Does the "for-Sony" cable come with the Crane-M?  I just ordered the Crane-M *it will get here on Tuesday 2/27) but there were no questions regarding camera model for camera interface.

Thanks

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Tom
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Oly E-P2IR
and Lots-O-Lenses

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uncle dunc Contributing Member • Posts: 518
Re: Zhiyun Crane M, done

....  Spending Level 2- $340: Z Cam body + $140 Panasonic 12-32mm. If I added this lens, then I'd at least have some lens stabilization going on while recording video. Also it's autofocus, which I don't have an autofocus lens currently lol.

Spending Level 3- $400: used Panasonic GX85 body-only. Will fit in the waterproof case and be 'pretty stable'. I have lenses that will work, but I'm starting to think I might like the 12-32mm. I think I'd really like the 12-35mm, but that's a much more expensive lens....

Panasonic's AF for video is not reliable. It can lock on quickly, but then it'll get distracted and lock onto something else, or it'll keep focusing and refocusing -  hunting - which pretty much ruins your video. I don't know how you control focus through an underwater case, but the GX85 does have MF + AF, which means you can half press the shutter button (or assign the AE Lock button) to acquire focus via whatever's in the focus box. Then it'll hold that focus till you refocus somewhere else.

Getting back to stabilizers (which won't work underwater) they do give you a smoother shot than hand held, but it's tiring after a few minutes, plus they have a tendency to sway back and forth. If you're shooting with a wide angle lens, the swaying is acceptable. With a regular lens, not so much. I'm thinking stabilizers work better with larger cameras. All that extra weight (and a longer stabilizer shaft) is going to help slow down the swaying that plagues the smaller stabilizers made for lighter cameras.

One possible solution for you would be to get a large GlideCam stabilizer, mount a quick release plate on it, and mount a matching plate on the bottom of your underwater case. Use the GlideCam for out-of-water, and then unhook it for underwater. I do agree that Glidecam is the way to go for stabilizers. I bought the little $79 Yelangu, and it's a solid piece of gear, but if you twist the handle, the camera moves, which sort of defeats the purpose of the thing. Granted, for the cost of a new Glidecam, you could get a motorized gimbal, but if you're leaving the camera in the underwater case, the gimbal would have to be pretty heavy duty.

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