DIY Video and Photography Projects

23Oct Affordable Quality Sound AspenMics Lavalier Microphone for DSLR Video


So eventually everyone should have wireless audio systems as part of their kit, but a decent set (on sale) can put you back $500 bucks only to capture audio from one subject. When you start placing a LAV mic on 2 subjects, then your costs immediately double up to $1,000 bucks. I recently helped on a project to record from 3 subjects having a conversation, and well let’s just say that was over $2100 dollars worth of wireless audio equipment. I know most people can’t afford to dive in to such expensive equipment right ways, so until you’re at the point where you really need it, there are some excellent workarounds. Here are just two suggested ways to do this.

The easiest, most affordable, and straightforward way is to place a lav on your subject and run a stereo extension cord back to your camera. You can then monitor audio, adjust levels, and not have to worry about syncing audio in post.
10 foot lav extension cord
find-price-button 10 Foot Extension for 3.5mm Stereo

If you can’t have your talent tied down to a cord, you can always place an audio recorder with the talent. I use this technique, and I know many others who also do this with a Zoom H1. It’s under $90 dollars and the audio quality is quite good. You can also use your iPhone as a portable audio recorder with many available sound recording apps. The drawback of course is that you can’t monitor the audio, adjust levels on the fly, and have to sync the audio in post. The benefits are that you can afford to have multiple recorders for multiple subjects and don’t have to worry about the possibility of wireless interference and drop-outs. Some even say that audio may even sound better than some wireless systems, as the recorders can capture the full sound.


zoom h1 recorder aspen mics
find-price-button Zoom H1 Portable Audio Recorder

So now that you have a few ideas on how to capture audio through a Lav Mic without a wireless audio system, the question now is what’s a good lav for the job? Well in this video I run though a list of inexpensive microphones that all have 4+ Star Ratings on Amazon, and also introduce you to one of my new favorite under $50 dollars.

Here’s how you can use your iPhone as a Portable Audio Recorder with the RODE REC App and an overview of the basic settings you should configure.

I like using DropBox to export my files, but you can also do this via USB and extract the file through iTunes. Here are the steps to do this.

Of course I can’t forget about people who are using Android devices, so here’s how you can use the popular sound recording application RECForge II from the Google Play Store.

If you’re curious about what the sound quality is like when using a Samsung Galaxy S4 as a portable audio recorder, i’ve put this little demo together (below).

Here’s a link to the various Lav Microphones mentioned for your reference. Although they have excellent ratings on Amazon, I found a few small things about each one that should be considered. If my opinion is worth anything, I would personally set my sights more towards the Rode SmartLav+ or the AspenMics Lavalier microphones.

azden lav microphone
Azden Lav Microphone
sony stereo lav microphone
Sony Stereo Lav Microphone
Olympus Lav Microphone
Olympus Lav Microphone
audio technica lav mic
Audio Technica Lav Microphone

Now keep in mind that the Rode SmartLav+ is latest version of this lav mic (don’t buy the old SmartLav). Also the Rode SmartLav+ is designed as a direct TRRS Lavalier, so you’ll need an optional adapter (found here) if you plan to use it with an audio recorder or if you want to connect this to your DSLR Camera. Combined with the adapter you’re looking at about $95 dollars each Lav.

The Aspen HQ-S is the stereo version and will work directly with any camera or audio recorder. If you want to use the HQ-S with your iPhone, you’ll need to purchase the kit that includes the TRRS adapter. The AspenMics are currently available at $45 dollars, so you can basically pick up two for the price of one Rode.

rode smartlav plus iphone lav
find-price-button
Rode SmartLav+ iPhone La
aspenmics lav stereo iphone trrs adapter
find-price-button
AspenMics HQ-S Stereo Lav

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22Oct F&V Metica 7″ HDMI+SDI Plus and SpectraHD 4 EVF


Snapped this photo earlier today. A couple of awesome new monitor products from F&V shipped over and I can’t wait to start shooting with.

I saw these Metica and SpectraHD EVF Monitor products earlier at the NAB show. The all metal casing just feels incredibly high quality, but still extremely lightweight. The Metica 7″ Monitor is available in a few different models starting at just $399 (found here).

Some of the software features you’ll find in each monitor are Software Features Include: Histogram, Vectorscope, False Color, Zebra Pattern, Focus Peaking, Frame Guides & Safety Area, Overscan & Pixel to Pixel, DSLR Scale, H/V Image Flip, Image Freeze, Image Zoom, Audio Columns, Timecode, and more! Here’s a quick video overview from the F&V Website.

fvlight meticametica monitor review
find-price-button Metica 7″ High Resolution Monitors HDMI+SDI

The SpectraHD 4 is a small 4″ high res monitor that can convert signals and is available with a Loupe attachment making it a true EVF solution.
fvlight spectra loupe evf 4 inch monitorspectrahd 4 evf monitor fvlightspectra HD 4 spectrahd
find-price-button SpectraHD 4 Monitor EVF

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22Oct Great Savings on Sennheiser Wireless Mic Systems


There’s a great deal going on with Sennheiser Wireless Mic systems. Just for reference, here’s a very basic kit on [Notice the Full 5 Star Reviews] Amazon for $629
sennheiser discount g3 wireless lav kit

And here’s the same system with a current price at B&H for $629
bhphoto sennheiser

This same exact kit over at Adorama today drops down to just $499 Instant. No rebates, no mail-ins, just instant savings.
Adorama Sennheiser Deal

That’s just the basic kit. You’ll actually save up to $200 dollars off some of the other bundles which include the Wireless XLR transmitter (for handheld microphones). So if you have not found the time to purchase a wireless audio kit, the time is now. I can’t stress enough how many people have been using these kits over the years, and i’m sure they’ll have great things to say about it.

I own a couple of sets myself, but these discounts may have me buying another set (or two) just in case. This sale is just really hard to pass up on. One set (to record one subject) includes a transmitter, lav mic, and receiver. If you do a lot of interviews with two subjects, you may want to grab two sets. Even if you’re just recording one subject with two camera angles, you can set both receivers (running into the camera) to the same frequency so that both camera angles capture the same audio. Super handy for multi-camera angle shooting.

Find out more (click here).

sennheiser wireless kitsennheiser kit wireless
find-price-button Sennheiser Wireless Systems G3 Diversity Receiver

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22Oct $31 Dollar Sony A7s Cage PreOrder


SONY-A7S-Cage-1518_04

If you’re just looking to mount a few accessories to your new Sony A7s (A7/A7r) camera this new SmallRig Half Cage should give you that added flexibility. It might even be a good little half cage for other small cameras as well. Retail price $62 dollars, but if you pre-order now they’re offering it up for just half the price at $31 dollars (click here).

SONY-A7S-Cage-1518_02SONY-A7S-Cage-1518
find-price-button Sony A7s Cage PreOrder

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22Oct RODE NTG-2 Shotgun and VideoMic Pro Savings


Adorama is currently offering savings for both the RODE NTG-2 Dual Powered Shotgun Microphone and the RODE VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun mic. I checked a few other sites, and indeed there is additional savings to be had up to $60 OFF.

The RODE NTG-2 is a handy shotgun microphone as it is a ‘Dual Powered’ microphone. This means if you have an audio recorder that does not offer Phantom Power, you can simply throw a single AA battery into the mic.

Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone
find-price-button Rode NTG-2 Dual Powered Shotgun Mic

The RODE VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun mic is just one of those microphones that offers great sound for the price, and currently it’s even cheaper. It’s been around for a few years and practically a main piece of gear in any video shooter’s kit.

Rode VideoMic Pro rdvmp
find-price-button RODE VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun mic

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20Oct 30% OFF 8 and 10 inch PVGear 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails


Missed the last FREE 15mm Carbon Fiber Rail Deal? 30% OFF on #PVGear 8″ and 10″ 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails isn’t bad – Limited Time. Limited Inventory (found here).

pvgear 30 percent off sale
find-price-button Limited Time 30% OFF 8″ and 10″ 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails

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18Oct CAMETV 7800 Gimbal Tricks – How Stable Is It?


Earlier today I had a comment about the CAMETV 7800 Gimbal and how people may want the ‘camera over handles’ mode. In this mode you don’t have to raise your arms very high and will have less fatigue. Not exclusive to the 7800, any 32 bit Alexmos / Basecam gimbal can perform various positions and remain incredibly stable. In this video (below) i’m demonstrating just how stable these gimbals can be with the right configuration.

Now I realize the DJI Ronin is the best bang for the buck and it is an amazing system to carry heavy payloads. The main reason I use other gimbals is because i’m typically working with smaller cameras. I don’t need to travel with the bulk, and I don’t need to run around with the weight of the Ronin. If you watched the video above, you can see how even me (small guy) can man handle these all carbon fiber gimbals with just one hand [try that with a Ronin]. Even while switching through all of the different positions, the 7800 remained completely stable.

With this stability in a sub $1300 dollar gimbal like the 7800, you can see why it’s really hard for me to go with a heavier gimbal like the Ronin. Unless of course there’s a need to carry such a heavy payload, i’d rather just borrow a friends or rent one. Otherwise i’m happy to work with a more convenient system. As you can see in my video i’m using a heavier Canon 5D Mark III with Sigma Lens. If you’re shooting with a GH4 or Sony A7s, these smaller lighter gimbals should make your life much easier when you have to pack, travel, and shoot all day.

Now the tricks I show on the CAMETV is not limited to nor exclusive to the 7800. Any gimbal running the new 32 bit software that has a properly balanced camera can operate just the same. It’s extremely time consuming, but i’ll try to do more videos on showing you a step by step process on balancing soon, but if you guys have any questions let me know.

CAME-TV 7800 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7800 RTR 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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18Oct Unboxing the CAME-TV 7500 7800 RTR 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizers


Here’s a look at unboxing and setting up the CAME-TV 7500 and 7800 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizers. Touching on the newly updated (7500) version, there are very slight changes but mostly cleaning up the wiring, especially around the battery cable. They consider this system RTR, but there is some small assembly to the top handle and of course you need to balance your camera. To see an original unboxing video about the CAME-TV 7500 (click here).

cametv 7500 3 axis gimbal stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV RTR 7500 3 Axis Gimbal

Moving on to the most recent Gimbal Product from CAME-TV is the new 7800 Gimbal. Once again CAMETV is trying to offer up an ‘affordable’ Ready-To-Run system and has added more improvements over the 7500 version. The 7800 model now offers a monitor mount, quick disconnect side handles, and a quick release baseplate – which makes it even easier to balance a camera.

What I didn’t show in the video was how to remove the side handles. The side handles can be removed without tools by rotating to loosen the clamp.

cametv 7800 handles
Remove side handles by twisting to loosen clamp

The top handle I suggest removing from the bottom of the dogbone clamp, so that you can better fit the system into a hard case like the Nanuk 945. The interior dimensions are L 22 x W 17 x H 8.2, which fits pretty snug, but still has lots of side space for your accessories (monitor, batteries, cables, tools, etc).

Nanuk 945 hard case gimbal stabilizer cametv 7800 7500
find-price-button Nanuk 945 Hard Case for 3 Axis Gimbal
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I also suggest getting a better charger and spare batteries if you plan to run all day. I suggest these batteries:

find-price-button 20C 3S 4000mAh 11.1 LiPO Battery

And here’s a charger for these batteries. They charge must faster and keep the batteries working great for a long time:
find-price-button Balance Charger for NiMH/NiCD/Li-PO/Li-Fe Battery

Without spending too much time getting super accurate balancing on my gimbal, the 7800 performed very well right out of the box and without tuning any of the PID settings via the software. While you may not have to dive into the software, I still encourage people to at least ‘understand’ the software.

Now i’m not the only one this week who has unboxed one of the new 7800 gimbals. MDIFilms earlier today left a comment on this blog about their experiences setting up the system with a GH4 camera. They’ve provided a few different tutorial videos below, and interestingly enough they too did not have to tune PID settings out of the box (for their GH4 setup).

While it still takes a lot of patience and understanding how to balance a camera properly on a gimbal, the design improvements CAME-TV adds to each new gimbal make the ‘Out of Box’ experience better each time – while still keeping the systems affordable. The CAME-TV 7800 is available now, and is currently discounted for the month of October, 2014 (click here).

CAME-TV 7800 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7800 RTR 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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17Oct Huge Discounts on Edelkrone Modula Systems


Edelkone Modula Discounts

If you’ve been a fan of Edelkrone rigs, they are currently offering up some major discounts on the Modula Series. Here’s a look at how the Modula systems can be configured differently.

There are several different Modula models starting from the Modula 3 to the Modula 9+. The most expensive combination listed on their website drops more than $1k off the list price. You can find out more about this deal over at the Edelkrone website (click here).

Modula Series Edelkrone discount
modula series edelkrone
Edelkrone Modula Series
Read More Button Edelkrone Modula Series

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16Oct DIY Gimbal Stabilizer Support Backpack


Earlier this morning I was talking to a friend about the weight of his DJI Ronin Gimbal, and he asked if I had any suggestions about a support system to carry the weight. He mentioned during his research, one of the more affordable options out there was between $649 – $849 dollars from a company called the Atlas Camera Support.

Atlas Camera Support Dual Rods
find-price-button Atlas Camera Support

It’s definitely more affordable than say an EasyRig, but design wise it’s not overly complicated to create something with a similar function. In just a few minutes of thinking about how I would go about this, I had a working prototype using an old camera backpack and a couple of fiberglass rods. Here’s what I came up with.


Look Ma! No Hands! Cheesycam DIY Gimbal Support BackPack

My DIY Design is very simple. A few conduit pipes are tucked into an old camera backpack and held in place with a block of wood. The Fiberglass rods are simply dropped into the pipes and removed when not in use.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (1 of 4)

Here are some additional details that are important for choosing a support backpack for this project. Choose a backpack with a chest clip and a waist belt. A Waist Belt is a must! You can find both of these features in a good camera backpack or sometimes you will find this with a good hiking backpack. These straps will keep the backpack snug up against your body and allow the rods to bend without pulling the backpack away from you. Here’s a couple of backpacks that give you an idea of what to look for.

amazon dslr backpack
find-price-button AmazonBasics DSLR BackPack with Chest Clip and Waist Support Belt

The Fiberglass rods I chose are just common Tent Poles, nothing special. Tent poles are designed to flex and they are also offered in various thicknesses. The ‘thicker’ the tent pole, the more weight it will support, but the harder it will be to bend. You definitely want some ‘bend’ with your pole to absorb any bounce. I picked up a 4 Tent poles for $10 dollars at a sporting goods store. I only used two. I know what you’re thinking – what if they snap? Keep Reading..

FiberGlass Tent Poles
find-price-button Fiberglass Tent Poles – Amazon

These Fiberglass rods have a very thick wall to them, but are also hollow. So to add a fail safe, i’m using 100lb rated Metal Braided Wire Cables running through the poles. If for some god forsaken reason one of these rods should break (which is very very difficult to do), the cable will keep things from coming apart. I’ve looped the cable at the end and ran it back through the rod, essentially doubling up the cable inside.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (2 of 4)

Heavy Duty Ultra Redundant Setup
As i’ve mentioned, if you want to carry a heavier system, you can look for the larger fiberglass rods. Another idea to carry extra weight, and to add additional redundancy is to double up these smaller rods on each side – essentially having 4 rods total. With two fiberglass rods on each side with cables running through, it would manage heavier systems, still remain flexible, and would add incredible fail-safe redundancy.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (4 of 4)

I left about 6 inches of loop hanging at the end for me to attach an adjustable strap to the gimbal. This ‘middle strap’ is so you can adjust the height position of your gimbal. If you want the gimbal higher, shorten the strap. If you want the gimbal to sit lower, lengthen the straps.

adjustable straps gimbal fiberglass rods

This was just a quick 15 minute prototype I whipped up, and now i’m going to clean things up a bit more with a second version. The next version I’ll try to find a slimmer backpack, and I will have the pipes tucked all the way into the backpack (totally unseen). I’m also going to make a new design for the adjustable strap.

So if you can’t DIY this project, go out and find someone to DIY it for you! Of course, there’s always the option of purchasing the Atlas Camera Support, but I do think a backpack makes for a better fashion statement. It’s also comforting to know that my design has a “Fail-Safe looped 100lb Wire Cable” run through the rods adding both strength and redundancy. As always, thanks for checking out this project and hopefully it will help you on your projects while saving you a few bucks. If you have any questions leave a comment.

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16Oct Glide Gear Horn Stabilizer Grip


The guys over at Glide Gear recently shared an interesting little Handle Grip called the ‘Horn’. You can mount your camera directly to the Horn simulating a Fig-Rig style setup along with a few accessories such as an LED video light.

The most interesting thing about the Horn of course is the ability to add a stabilizer (a.k.a steadicam) to the Horn allowing you to use two hands instead of one. Now you can minimize faitigue by distributing the weight across two hands. Best of all, you’ll still be able to add accessories that would otherwise be impossible to add with just a stabilizer itself.

The Glide Gear Horn is available at just under $60 dollars, and more info at the product page (click here).

Glide-Gear-Horn-Stabilizer Glide gear horn two handed stabilizer
find-price-button Glide Gear Horn Stabilizer Handle Grip

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14Oct The MegaMast 28 Foot Tall Carbon Fiber Camera Stand


In the last year Quadcopters have really exploded and have become incredibly affordable. I really enjoy taking my quadcopters out any chance I get, but there are too many instances where it’s just not possible to use for an “aerial-style” perspective. Even if they can finally set down some proper rules and regulations to the use of ‘drones’, there will still be many situations where it would be impossible, illegal, or irresponsible to fly.

palo-alto-test1
GoPro on 10 ft Painter Pole – Hiking around Monterey Bay, CA grabbing Aerial Images

Prior to flying a camera, I’ve been experimenting with P.A.P. [example photo above] – Pole Aerial Photography (a.k.a Aerial Mast, Elevated Aerial, or Telescoping Mast Photography), and i’ve recently even shared an article about a sturdy 12 foot Budget Tripod I can use for video. For those of you who love adding “aerial-style” perspectives to your projects, then you really should take a look at this new 28 Foot tall Carbon Fiber MegaMast.

I’m sorry I didn’t grab any still images as an example, but I plan on doing so this week. I have a couple of Real Estate projects that i’ve been dying to add aerial images to (and was unable to fly a noisy copter). When I get some of those images, i’ll update this article, but for the time being you can see just how high this massive beast climbs to.

While the MegaMast can be positioned up to 28 Feet, you don’t have to use it at full height. The MegaMast can still add unique camera angles at 10 feet or even at just 15 feet. The extension on the legs are a clever design to not only add more width to the base, but can also be individually adjusted for uneven ground (like when used on a sloping driveway).

The MegaMast weighs around 16lbs, and collapses to just 69″ inches, so it’s certainly manageable for one person to travel with and setup. For additional stability, the MegaMast will have an option for some type of guy-wire cabling, which is not available at the moment. To find our more about the MegaMast, check out the website at Seaport Digital (click here).

Product Description
* Give your real estate photos a lofty advantage in the competitive housing market.
* Reach above the crowds at events like concerts and graduations.
* The MegaMast will give your camera an “aerial” perspective from 27.5″ (8.4m) in the air without the need to fly expensive drones. The risers are made of sturdy carbon fiber tubes with large latches to make setup quick.
*A rigging system is available separately to keep the stand steady in windy conditions.
Features:
> Made of sturdy, light-weight carbon fiber tubes.
> 27.5′ (8.4m) tall for “aerial-style” perspectives.
> Easy latches make setup quick.
> Supports up to Full-frame DSLRs.

cheesycam pole megamast aerial photographyaerial pole photography megamast
find-price-button MEGAMAST 28′ CAMERA STAND

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13Oct 12 Minutes and $12 Dollars – DIY Metal Stand for 3 Axis Gimbals


If you caught my Instagram feed, I just received a few more gimbals to test out. I’ve been meaning to get another Gimbal Stand, but didn’t want to dish out the big bucks. Here’s a simple DIY frame using a single 10 Foot piece of 1/2″ Electrical Conduit. You can find this at most hardware store for under $4.00 dollars (for all 10ft). You’ll also need to have access to a pipe bender, so hit up your electrician friend, or run down to a hardware rental store. It’s sooo easy anyone CON-DU-IT.

Once you have the basic bends in place, it’s just a matter of sitting them side by side and clamping them together. Now I threw this together very quickly, but after thinking about it a bit more I should have gone with a 1″ metal hose clamp.

If you want to dress it up, you can always cover the conduit with pipe insulation, add end caps, or paint it black. Anyways, now that many of you guys are diving into the world of Gimbals, I thought this little quick project could help you save some money – Enjoy!

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12 Minutes and $12 Dollars. How to #DIY All Metal Custom #Gimbal Stand. Any size you want http://cheesycam.com

View on Instagram

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12Oct FREE Set of 6″ 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails with Purchase of 12″


Reminder, the FREE Set of 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails deal at PVGEAR ends tomorrow. Limited time and limited quantity. These are made from real Carbon Fiber (not fake plastic ones) – super lightweight and super strong. [only available for USA residents lower 48] USE PROMO CODE: pvgear6

Not only does it make your rig look more professional with the flat black carbon fiber, but it’s also an excellent way to shave weight from your Rig. I also use Carbon Fiber rails for the top bar of my custom mini gimbals (seen here). Converting a few of my setups from metal 15mm rails to 15mm Carbon Fiber, I was literally able to take off a couple of pounds. You can also see a pair of 20″ Carbon Rails used with my ENG Lens Rig (seen here).

More about the deal over at the website http://pvgear.com

PVGEAR_free6_promo_grande

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10Oct 4K Video with the GoPro HERO4


Taking this setup out with my family today. Let’s see what type of footage I can come back with. My fast sd cards did not come in so I may not be able to shoot with ProTune.

#Kamerar Kampro #RodeMics VideoMic #GoPro #Hero4

IMG_6816.JPG

Just checked my mailbox. Yup, that is a brand new #HERO4. @GoPro support has been very responsive and I shipped my other unit back to them. They said they were unable to duplicate the weird problem I had, but will test my unit once they receive it. Outside of that, i’m still excited to shoot with this HERO4, and I should have a video up next week with some samples.

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09Oct New CAME-TV 7800 Version 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer


CAME-TV has a lineup with some of the most affordable gimbal stabilizers available, but the low cost tradeoff is that they may lack some of the conveniences like tool-less adjustments of more expensive systems. Of course since they operate using the same Alexmos / Basecam 32 Bit control boards and Dual IMU sensors, and are tuned using the same software as more expensive gimbals, the CAME-TV still provides incredible camera stabilization.

CAME-TV’s first DIY 7000 Gimbal Kit started with an 8 Bit controller and later was upgraded to a 32 Bit controller with Dual IMU sensors. Following the success of those two models, CAME-TV followed up with a new 7500 (RTR) Ready-To-Run model. If you have the time and patience to learn how to properly balance and tune, the CAME-TV gimbals can offer some amazing dynamic camera movements.

As an example, check out all of the sweeping footage shot in this San Francisco Car Show video {below}. These shots were captured using the CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal by SatoStudios.

And now the most recently improved product release in the ‘7000′ series from CAME-TV is the new 7800 model. The 7800 gimbal is based on the RTR 7500 model but now adds a slim camera Quick Release along with modified side and top handles (finally all black in color). The new 7800 gimbal ships mostly assembled, pre-configured with profiles, and is available now at a (currently discounted) price of $1280 US (click here).

CAME-TV CAME 7800 GimbalCAME-TV Gimbal Stabilizer Quick Release
find-price-button NEW CAME-TV 7800 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

CAME-TV Gimbal Stabilizer 7800 new
find-price-button NEW CAME-TV 7800 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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