A few years ago I built a €5 DIY Steadicam, which delivered poor results, due to the lack of balancing. It occurred to me that balancing is the most important part properly stabilizing a camera.
More recently I have experimented with the Canon 5D MII attached to the Glidecam Smooth Shooter, and I found out two things:
- You have to take almost all the weight off for it to balance properly with a small DSLR.
- There goes so much weight in the device itself, apart from the counterweights, that the vest and arm (and regular visits to the gym) become indispensable.
Through this website, I came across a new stabilizer from Hague Camera Support. It is designed to carry only a small DSLR like the Canon 5D, the 7D, and all the other little guys (Rebel T2i, 550 Nikon D90, etc…). Since the price is incredibly low for a stabilizing system, I immediately purchased one.
Shoot out of the box
The device comes out of the box almost completely assembled, so if you have some balancing experience, you can have it up and running within 5 minutes.
If you are not that experienced, the package comes with an instruction manual. Truth said, the manual doesn’t look very fancy, but it has all the required information you need.
I immediately got into setting up the system and doing some test shot, which you can watch below:
My first conclusions about this system
Although this is a cheap solution and doesn’t have the fancy full 360 rotational handle, it does have some nice features that make this system better than most DIY €5 solutions: the knob, right above the handle makes it (if properly stabilized) very easy to steer the movements with your second hand, just how you would control the glidecam.
The second advantage of this system, is the ease to adjust the balancing. When you need to change your lens, or tilt the camera, all you need to do, is loosen the screws in the baseplate, and shift it a few millimeters and tighten.
- The total weight of the system is very low, with all the weight at the right spot (low weight with a large moment of force).
- The system is small, even assembled, so you can easily bring it to a shoot, without expanding your run and gun kit, or attracting to much attention.
- The Motion-Cam is very cheap, (I got an early bird discount, but even without) it’s half the price of most Steadicams out there: € 154,- (ex VAT).
- Great ball-head with a knob on top gives you perfect control.
- Easy and superfast adjustable balancing.
- The system rotates around the handle and not in front of as with the more advanced Glidecam systems. This prevents the camera from making 360 rotations, without having to hand over the handle from one hand to the other.
- The tilting of the Ball-head is limited. If the arm swings a lot, or if you want to tilt more than, let’s say, about 45 degrees, the arm hits the handle. This needs some extra attention, during use. I found that in these cases, tilting the handle as well works, since you don’t have a vest with a spring-arm.
- The rubber handle has a cap at the bottom, so using it in conjunction with a spring-arm, or a tripod is impossible.
I’m gonna test the Hague DSLR more extensively on the next couple of projects, but my first impression is ‘a modest investment for an expensive look’.