mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

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shutterhappens Forum Member • Posts: 91
mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

I tried two different cheap camera stabilzers (mechanical unit similar to steadicam, glidecam, etc) and ended up disappointed because after balancing the camera, rotating the camera to a different direction caused it to become unbalanced.

I have since learned that better stablizer allows you to "calibrate the gimbal" to fix this issue, as shown in this video at 1:30

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3XJ8eToaYo

Other than the brand featured in the video, are there cheaper brands that allows you to calibrate the gimbal? This feature is not commonly advertised so it's difficult to figure out.

Andrew S10 Senior Member • Posts: 1,161
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

Could you post links to the stabilizers that you've tried? Can you return them? If not, you could try drilling and tapping calibration holes in the gimbal, and it would be best if you could use a drill press.

Chinese stabilizers can have quality control issues, so it's best to order from a site that has a good return policy.

Glidcams are the only stabilizers I've seen that have calibrations screws. Steadicams don't have them, but they also have much tighter tolerances to begin with (see this video).

I have a laing P-4S stabilizer, it doesn't have the calibration set screws, but the bearing doesn't have much play eather, and the gimbal is vertically adjustable, which makes it much easier to balance. Motorized gimbals are all the rage these days, so used Glidcams should be pretty cheap, but their DGS is the only model with a vertically adjustable gimbal.

Also, most cheap stabilizers use standard bearings which incorporate thick grease, so you'll need to re-oil the bearing to get good performance out of the stabilizer. Here's a tutorial I made that explains the process.

DMKAlex
DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 5,196
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?
1

Glidecam is the real McCoy in mechanical stabilizer it is not cheap. I have found the need to balance the camera a big pain in the rear.

You can get a 3-axle motorized gimbal for $300 this day. I bought a Moza 2 years ago and never looked back.

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Boomanbb
Boomanbb Senior Member • Posts: 2,929
The problem with cheap

Cheap generally equates to lower quality which then costs you more to buy what you should have to begin with. I go cheap when its a throwaway item (angle grinder I needed for one project ) or I feel ok doing some DIY modifications to the item. Mechanical gimbals require precision bearings and tight tolerances, things you won't find cheap.

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Andrew S10 Senior Member • Posts: 1,161
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

For clarification, you still manually balance a motorized gimbal prior to engaging the motors, so you're in the same boat as a steadicam style stabilizer, the only difference is that Steadicam style stabilizers need tweaking from time to time, but that takes under a minute if you know what you're doing. Once you've attained the initial setup of static and dynamic balance with a steadicam, you won't need to change anything beyond minor tweaks, unless you change cameras or lenses, but the same goes for motorized gimbals.

Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 13,801
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?
1

Andrew S10 wrote:

For clarification, you still manually balance a motorized gimbal prior to engaging the motors, so you're in the same boat as a steadicam style stabilizer, the only difference is that Steadicam style stabilizers need tweaking from time to time, but that takes under a minute if you know what you're doing.

Motorized gimbals are far less sensitive to minor balance issues than balance-based gimbals, and they aren't affected by breezes or dynamic balance issues.  The difference in ease of use is like night and day, IMHO.

OzRay
OzRay Forum Pro • Posts: 19,370
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

I have two motorised gimbals, one for light-weight cameras and another for heavier ones. Once balanced and if I use the same camera/lens combination, they don't need recalibration no matter how many times the camera is taken on and off.

I also have a cheap Glidecam knock-off and it was only usable with a very light point and shoot camera. While the Glidecam style stabilisers have their uses, they are an absolute mongrel to balance and generally use, compared to motorised ones.

I think it this day and age, only the real die-hard, old-timers, want to use a Glidecam. This is completely different to those who use Steadicams in the movie industry.

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Andrew S10 Senior Member • Posts: 1,161
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

Both technologies have their pros and cons, and I personally prefer the look of a steadycam shot over a motorized gimbal shot. To me it appears that motorized gimbals are generally more susceptible to the vertical bobble that occurs while walking.

OzRay wrote:

I also have a cheap Glidecam knock-off and it was only usable with a very light point and shoot camera.

Mine is rated for 33 lbs, although I'm sure that's largely marketing hype, and I don't have the muscles to hold 33 lbs, I'd definitely need a spring arm and vest.

While the Glidecam style stabilisers have their uses, they are an absolute mongrel to balance and generally use, compared to motorised ones.

They are much easier to balance when the gimbal is vertically adjustable and you only have to loosen two clamps to make X-Y adjustments. Many of the knock-offs followed the original Glidecam design that lacked a vertically adjustable gimbal and required you to loosen eight knobs to make X-Y adjustments. Counter weighted stabilizer aren't all created equal, the really cheap ones are mostly garbage, but Came, Laing, and Kovacam have had good stabilizer designs and quality for upwards of five years.

I think it this day and age, only the real die-hard, old-timers, want to use a Glidecam.

I'm still in my 20s, do I count as an old-timer?

OzRay
OzRay Forum Pro • Posts: 19,370
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

I know people in their 30s that are effectively old beyond their years and those in their 90s that are still young. What I mean by that is that there are often young people who don't embrace new technology, listening to old hands in the belief that their views still hold true. Some still want to shoot film because they think it's better.

As I said, Glidecams have their uses, but you'll find fewer people using them as motorised gimbals become ever better and far cheaper to own. Steadicams are a completely different kettle of fish compared to Glidecams.

The other thing with motorised gimbals is that they offer far greater versatility than can a Glidecam. You can put a motorised gimbal on a slider, a boom arm, an Easyrig or even a Glidecam.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_PLhgMY3B8

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DMKAlex
DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 5,196
Re: mechanical stablizer that allows gimbal calibration?

Andrew S10 wrote:

For clarification, you still manually balance a motorized gimbal prior to engaging the motors, so you're in the same boat as a steadicam style stabilizer, the only difference is that Steadicam style stabilizers need tweaking from time to time, but that takes under a minute if you know what you're doing. Once you've attained the initial setup of static and dynamic balance with a steadicam, you won't need to change anything beyond minor tweaks, unless you change cameras or lenses, but the same goes for motorized gimbals.

The motorized gimbal's balance is a lot more forgiving than the mechanical ones though. I balanced my Moza only once, until I want to change camera/lens. If I use the same camera/lens, the balance lasts for over half a year. From time to time, I recalibrate it with the iPhone app, which is a piece of cake.

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