Stabilizer Recommendations

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by scem0, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. scem0 macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2002
    back in NYC!
    I've just upgraded my video setup to a GH4 (4k! yay!) with a speedbooster and a new lens or two.

    I'm a bit concerned about video stability because

    1) the primes I like and can afford do not have image stabilization
    2) The camera itself doesn't offer any image stabilization
    3) I need to be mobile out of necessity - I film moving, dynamic subjects.

    My old camera had image stabilization and was relatively light. It also didn't have near as much depth of field. So I could generally move around, and if I concentrated on steady movements, I'd maintain good focus with limited camera shake.

    The GH4 will be completely manual focus, out of necessity. That's perfectly fine by me - I don't mind manually focusing, and prefer the look of the results to boot.

    BUT, since the camera isn't stabilized, I'd like to stabilize the camera and still allow myself the ability to manually focus the shots myself. My ideal rig is as follows:

    1) The GH4
    2) A 7 inch monitor attached to the hot shoe, since I'll always have to see where my focus is (it's not very heavy)
    3) a lightweight shotgun mic, also attached to the camera

    What would be the ideal stabilizer to keep those three items steady, but allows me to follow focus with a free hand. That rules out any kind of steadicam - I can't afford and don't have another person to pull focus 100% of the time. I don't have the option of autofocusing because I'm using adapted lenses. So a shoulder mount rig with one handed operation, then?

    It seems like shoulder rigs put the camera right in front of your face, though. I haven't used one before, so I'm pretty clueless about shoulder rigs. If I want to use the 7 inch monitor, then the camera has to be a bit further away.

    Also, it seems like most shoulder rigs have two handlebars. Does the camera 'dip' if you take one hand away to correct your focus? If not, then that is fine.

    I appreciate any advice one might have!

  2. v3rlon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2014
    Earth (usually)
    Gimbals are pricy still for anything larger than a GoPro. I believe that rig comes in a $2000. A Merlin or GlideCam would be less.

    Or a tripod. Those are steady and cheap.

    Even a gimbal will only be "sort of steady." If you want run&gun, focus yourself, and cheap, I think you are going to have to pick just 2.

    Shoulder rigs 'dipping' will be dependent on how well you can compensate, but yes, they will to some extent (possibly below threshold of perception if you are really good).
  3. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
  4. v3rlon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2014
    Earth (usually)
    You are a [deleted expletive] for making me want a new $559 toy.
  5. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    You gotta spend money to make money and video isnt cheap
  6. v3rlon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2014
    Earth (usually)

    A penny saved is a penny earned.

    By the commutative property of mathematics, 55995 pennies saved are 59995 pennies earned.

    And I do not do video as a main function of my living. Vijadh (video is just a damned hobby).

    Really is a cool development though, just like gimbal stabilizers
  7. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    You may not like this answer, but as a professional DSLR documentary videographer I face this same situation. IMO the best solution is restrict yourself to optically stabilized lenses. On my 5D Mark III I usually use the 24-105 f/4 and 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, often hand held.

    No matter how good the lens optics of primes, if you must shoot hand held video IMO optical stabilization is a must. You cannot fully stabilize shaky material in post because frame blur cannot be fixed. There are also warping effects from angle changes that cannot be totally fixed.

    A member in my team has a GH4 and my recommendation were use the 12-35 and 35-100 f/2.8 which are both optically stabilized zooms. You can't be guided by some lens review done on a tripod or optical bench. In the real world of documentary filmmaking, you often must be mobile and hand held. A stabilized zoom lens will often produce a better final result than a non-stabilized prime in those situations.

    For scripted narrative filmmaking where you can set up the shot, primes work OK. For certain interviews, primes work OK. Non-stabilized primes don't work so well for hand held documentary filmmaking, whether you have a rig or not.

    The Sony Alpha A7 Mk II has stabilization in the body, which allows using non-stabilized primes. However the GH4 is an excellent choice. With any camera you must learn the strengths and weaknesses and work with those.
  8. v3rlon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2014
    Earth (usually)
    Joe's advice above is pretty much it. 12-35 and 35-100 give you a GREAT range of focal length (24-200 in 35mm equivalent) and f2.8 is about as good as you can hope on a zoom like that. Going to be expensive though.

    If you can give up some aperture, you could use the 14-140 with Mega OIS at about $500 at B&H.

    Still, compared to a $2200 gimbal stabilizer that will still get jerky when you go to pull the focus yourself, you see what I mean.
  9. sarge macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003

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9 January 27, 2015