Monthly Archives: July 2014

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Now that the Birdycam has started shipping, i'm hearing a few questions and comments about tuning the PID settings to work better with a lightweight camera. I myself found the system oscillating when my setup was too light weight. Here's a video showing you a few simple settings you can change to get it working better.

Now just from experience I know what to sort of look for, but there's no exact magic number. All I could tell was that I needed to reduce my PID settings and those are numbers that seemed to work. In fact I tested my 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS with my new profile and it still worked just fine.

After making changes to your system you should take it out and use it as you normally would, and then decide if you need to make further changes. Always make changes to one area at a time instead of making large blanket changes across every tab. Most importantly always make a backup or document your prior settings before you make any changes. If you have any other questions, you can leave a comment below.

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Yesterday I met up with SatoStudios to check out the new DJI Ronin Gimbal, so I decided to bring out the Varavon Birdycam as well to shoot a few BTS clips. This footage is shot with a GH4 camera and although I find this footage to be incredibly smooth, I believe that I will have to tune up some of the PID settings to get best results on this super lightweight setup.

What you see in the video is still using the existing profile that was shipped with the unit, but it may be time to dig a little deeper. Since the Varavon uses the same Alexmos 32 bit software as the other gimbals, I can create my own custom settings. [BTW, you should not attempt this unless you know what you are doing].


varavon birdycam pre-order
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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Here's my first look at the new Varavon Birdycam (RTR) 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer. This stabilizer was popularized over other stabilizers in it's price range, mainly because of it's unique design which takes away the most tedious part about working with Gimbals - balancing your camera! So how easy was it? Well in real time (nothing sped up), I walk you through the exact steps on obtaining perfect balance with the Varavon BirdyCam Stabilizer.

Anyone who chooses to receive the Birdycam will first recognize the quality of parts and craftsmanship that went into the design. Almost every inch of the Birdycam is metal including thumb screws and clamp knobs.

Birdycam GH4 Birdycam Sony A7s
Birdycam shown with GH4 and Sony A7s

The next thing you'll immediately notice is the ease of use. The folding handle design is quick to setup, tilt and roll locks are super handy during balancing or when placing the gimbal down. The most impressive feature of course (sure to blow away even MOVI users) is a frame surrounded by tool-less fine tuning adjustment knobs that allow for super accurate incremental adjustments for perfect balance.

Birdycam BMCC Wireless Transmitter Receiver
Birdycam shown w/ BlackMagic Design Camera and Optional Wireless Video System

Testing out my Canon 5D Mark III + Sigma 20mm the profile installed on the gimbal worked incredibly smooth right out of the box. No PID tuning required (yet). So far my expectations has been exceeded from what I originally thought I knew about this gimbal. For the price, it's hard to beat the convenience and feature set. For more information about the product, check out the Birdycam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer product page (click here).

varavon birdycam pre-orderpreorder birdycam varavon 3 axis gimbal stabilizer
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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Having come back from a recent project where I needed to place Lav microphones on three subjects, it's always a good idea that you have some type of backup plan. Here's an audio tip I thought i'd share using the new Alzo 3.5 mini stereo to XLR adapter.

The Alzo 3.5 Mini Phone Female to XLR Stereo Adapter Cord is simply advertised as a way to connect a basic stereo microphone into a camera that offers dual XLR mic inputs. One important feature I think they missed in their product description is the ability to use the cable for backup audio recordings. By splitting your signal into separate tracks you can record one at a normal level and one at a lower level in case your original audio becomes distorted from peaking (clipping).

So the next time you place a microphone to a subject, think about making sure you have a backup audio in place. I highly recommend you consider this tip in your future audio setups. You can find this Alzo Stereo to XLR Y Cable (click here)

alzo stereo to xlr cable splitter adapter microphone audio backup
find-price-button ALZO 3.5 Mini Phone Female to XLR Stereo Adapter Cord

It's a good idea to always carry a few of these cables in your audio kit, and if you're working with XLR body packs or microphones, there are also XLR splitters available (found here).
XLR Audio splitter backup audio recording
find-price-button XLR Female To Dual XLR Male Y Cable

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HDSLRnow brings us another excellent overview of an affordable EVF holder along with a clever Manfrotto QR base mounted HDMI lock(found here). I would suggest watching this video review entirely as it shares some clever new products.

For additional gear reviews consider following HDSLRnow via Twitter, and to find more information about these products and more check out the website (click here).

SmallRig-HDMI-Lock-manfrotto-577 Coollcd SmallRig-S-rail-1437-NATO-rail coollcd SmallRig-EVF-Mount-1432-shoe-mount coollcd
find-price-button HDSLR EVF HOLDERS AND HDMI LOCK

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Shortly after you pick up your first video camera, you're shopping for a tripod. The next common piece of equipment for video makers looking to add dynamic camera movements would most likely be a slider. At this point, you may end up finding out the tripod you purchased doesn't quite work well with your new slider, and you may end up still on the hunt for a decent video head to mount 'above the slider'.

Libec Video Tripod Fluid Head Slider ALLEX S Kit
Libec ALLEX S Kit Fluid Head + Slider + Tripod

From my understanding, this is one reason LIBEC has created the ALLEX Kit. This is a combination of popular video equipment designed to work seamlessly together offering you Pan, Tilt, and Slide camera movements. The 'base' ALLEX Kit includes a 75mm Bowl Tripod, 75mm Bowl Video Fluid Head (which can also mount on a 3/8" flat base), and a new 8 roller bearing video slider. The equipment can be mixed and matched or used independently. We had a chance to take these products out to show you how this system comes together.

The ALLEX T aluminum 3 section 75mm bowl tripod comes with a mid-level spreader collapses down to 29.5 and and reaches a max height of 64.5". The tripod has wide rubber foot pads with integrated spikes to prevent sliding on dirt, gravel, or grass. Included is a padded carrying case with shoulder strap.

rubber pads spiked feet allex tripod

The ALLEX H Video Fluid Head is a 'Dual Base' that mounts to both a 75mm bowl or a standard 3/8" flat base. There is a fixed counterbalance, illuminated bubble level, and holds a 9 lb payload. The fluid head also uses a drop-in style quick release plate which can be especially helpful when using rigs (cages, shoulder rigs with handles, 15mm rails, follow focus, matteboxes).

drop in plate allex libec fluid head video

The ALLEX S Slider uses 8 greased ball-bearing wheels (4 top / 4 bottom) and can support a max load of 33 lbs. Tabletop legs allow the slider to be used on the floor and leveled with independent height adjustable feet. The carrier includes a tension adjustment knob, brake knob, and bubble level. The slider shares the same dual-mount as the Video Head which can be placed on a 75mm bowl tripod or directly to a standard flat base with 3/8" thread. A padded carrying case with shoulder strap is also included.

Libec Allex slider 8 bearings

The ALLEX S Kit will especially appeal to early shooters looking to put together a nice combination of sturdy Tripod, smooth pan/tilt Video Head, and smooth roller bearing video Slider. The system offers great quality, travels neatly, easy to assemble, and easy to break down. For more specs on the LIBEC ALLEX S Kit, check out the product page (click here).

Libec Allex Slider Tripod Video Fluid Head Kit System 2
find-price-button LIBEC ALLEX S Tripod + Fluid Head + Video Slider Kit

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To clear up any confusion, the dovetail is part of the cage and cannot be removed, but you can still mount any quick release you want. Check out the video for a closer look at the Varavon Armor Cage for the Panasonic GH3 / GH4 cameras.

There is an optional base with 15mm rails available at the website, but you could easily add the entire Varavon Cage to the top of any 15mm baseplate - as you would with a bare camera body. Here are some additional images, but for more information about the Varavon GH3 GH4 Armor Video Cage, check out their website (click here).

Varavon-1  Varavon-2

Varavon-3  Varavon-5

Varavon Armor Cage FH3 GH4
find-price-button Varavon Armor Cage for Panasonic GH3 / GH4 Cameras

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pdmovie wireless remote focuspdmovie receiver focus video

If you're looking for an affordable yet feature packed Wireless Follow Focus system then you may have seen the PDMovie Remote Air. Available in a few different packages, B&H currently has at least one of the PDMovie Wireless Follow Focus kits in stock, and here's an overview video via iKan Corp.

Different bundles are available for Single Channel (1 motor), Dual Channel (2 motors), and packages with Standard Motors and High Torque motors. Find out more details about the PDMovie Remote Air WFF at B&H (click here).

PDMovie Remote Air Wireless Follow Focus iKan FF WFF
find-price-button PD Movie Remote Air Wireless Follow Focus Systems

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If your camera (i.e BlackMagic 4K) or external video recorder (i.e. Atomos Ninja) requires a Solid State Drive for capturing, here's a good deal. Included with your purchase is a 10 Year Warranty on this 480GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD deal today (click here).

Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD
find-price-button 480GB Sandisk Extreme Pro Solid State Drive

[Tip:] If you're running out of space on a MacBook Pro, you can also take advantage of the fast SSD speeds to make your own Thunderbolt External Drive to edit video with using an external adapter (article here).