BlackBird DSLR Video Camera Stabilizer

First off, sorry on this one. This little stabilizer was a tough one to talk about. There's so many different features on this stabilizer, it's mind blowing. I had to totally skip any mention about balancing it and just spent several minutes going over the different parts. If you want to learn about balancing, the BlackBird comes with an instructional DVD as well as a full booklet with lots of pretty pictures. It almost doesn't matter where you start by placing your camera, you'll always have more than enough lateral to compensate and center the camera to balance. Weather has been very spotty here and i've been caught up with other projects to really get something good online about this one.

In any case, here's a quick look and a few first time samples. There's no denying the resemblance of the design to other stabilizers on the market, but of the ones I've used (and i've used quite a few), none of them has as many different options or features as this. One thing I mention most on this blog about stabilizers, is that I find stabilizers work best when they are 'loaded up' to their max weight. This stabilizer has even been specifically designed to balance both super light and heavier cameras by adding in the Gimbal extension. Dropping the Gimbal allows the stabilizer to become extremely 'less bottom heavy', thus able to support light weight cameras. The unique 'adjustable friction gimbal' also adds to that same purpose. It's well designed, fairly priced against it's competitors, but definitely the most fully featured of the bunch all similar to this design. You might also want to check out the other video demo in this article: http://cheesycam.com/dslr-video-stabilizer-blackbird/.

You can find more information about the BlackBird Stabilizer at their website: http://www.camotionllc.com/

The BlackBird stabilizer can also be found at B&H below
blackbird-stabilizer
find-price-button BlackBird Camera Stabilizer by Camera Motion Research



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29 thoughts on “BlackBird DSLR Video Camera Stabilizer

  1. Shawn Strong

    How about a shootout between the 3... Blackbird, HD2000 and Merlin using the same camera setup. That would be kool and insightful. Or is there any vids out there with the above?

  2. Emm

    Post author

    @Moe - For the T3i and Sigma 30mm you need a smaller stabilizer like the Glidecam HD1000.

  3. Moe

    Hi Emm,

    Bro, I just got my first steadicam (the Opteka steadyvid pro) and it didn't work out for. I tried and tried balancing my T3i sigma 30mm f/1.4 and Canon XA10 camcorder for weeks and still no success. watched every vid on drop time and calibration but to no avail.

    I've seen a bunch of vids on youtube for the blackbird and they really seem to be easy to set up even for a novice with all the fine tuning options, plus the friction gimbal setting is another unique plus. The shots I saw had the magical floating smothness typical of glidecam HD 2000/4000. B&H is selling a blackbird basic for $469 while an HD 200 is $499. and Im leaning towards the Blackbird. It's nice also since it can handle very light cameras, but i take your advice and try to maximize heaviness for more stability.

    The Skyler mark II is soooo sexy and compact but I don't think its work $600, well, at least for me.

    After all of your stabilizer reviews so far, the Skyler mark II being the most current and like by you, which do you think I should go for the HD 2000 or Blackbird CMR?

  4. Tom

    Thanks Emm! Since I doubt I will be buying the Vest&Arm anytime soon (and it seems the BB should be easier on the arm), and I also hear good things about how fast the Blackbird is to set up (get stabilized), I am leaning toward that. I'll try to figure out whether it is worth to buy the entire kit or not for my purposes.

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @Tom - Some people have a preference with the way the Gimbal is on the Glidecam, and some like the Gimbal on the Blackbird (or Merlin). The Blackbird I believe holds more than the HD4000 from glidecam. I reviewed the kit which comes with a table clamp to park the stabilizer, and a few other pieces. You can contact them at their website for more information, I forget what would be different from just the Blackbird.

  6. Tom

    Hi Emm, great review, thanks!

    Can you clarify whether you reviewed the full kit, or just the blackbird? (what is the difference in terms of what comes with, do you know?)

    I'm planning on (for recreational use), use this with a Sony A77, and a variety of lenses (the biggest ones are a couple of Tokina 2.8 zoom lenses). In addition, I am planning on adding an external mic. Which one do you think would give better results? The Glidecam 2000, 4000 or the blackbird?

    Thanks!

  7. Faz

    Hi Emm - what stabalizer would you recommend for an ethusiast (not a professional). I have a Canon 7D. Price is a consideration. Thanks!

  8. @Emm - HAHAH.. "if your knees are shot like mine..LOL"

    COINCIDENTALLY... I had 3 past knee surgeries on my Left knee. "Terrible Triad + 2"

    1st surgery - torn ACL, MCL, LCL and Both Medial & Lateral Menisci

    2nd surgery - torn medial and lateral menisci

    3rd surgery - hyperextended ACL and torn medial and lateral menisci (I ONLY have about 35% left of each menisci on my left knee!!)

    EEK!!

    Maybe I should get the vest and not the blackbird/steadicam/merlin! LOL!

    thanks bro!

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Marcel - I agree, there's nothing like having those fine tuning knobs when you need a quick balance. The HD2000 should be able to carry a DSLR camera and an LED light, but the BlackBird can fly heavier loads than both the HD1000 and HD2000 if you wanted to try for LED light and small Monitor (might be overkill). For weddings, I know having an LED light on the steadicam helps during those dark receptions. Either setup you choose, they can all be adapted to the Steadicam Merlin Vest if you're knees are shot like mine..LOL.

  10. Hi Emm,

    What would you choose between a blackbird and a glidecam hd-1000/hd-2000??

    My work is Predominantly in weddings and I will just be flying a nikon d7000 with a 17-35mm f/2.8, or some real light wide prime.

    might add a little screen on top of camera.. but still indecisive about it.

    (I have tried the flycam nano. LOVED IT.. however, it took FOREVER to balance it. Even my buddy who is a very good handler/operator of the merlin had a hard time balancing it. I ended up selling it. looking for a "peace of mind" in "fine tuning" for balancing such as the glidecam HD series or the blackbird. It's a step better.. but just makes it a little easier so i don't have to keep unscrewing the stage/base plate screws of the nano and re-adjusting it.

    thanks!

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  13. i'm going to use a 5DII with lens like 24-70mm or maybe my nikkor 28mm f2.8 AIS (if i get an adapter - i think i'll get one) and a zoom H1 for audio. I would like to have the ability to add a monitor and some lighting when i want. what would be the best ?

    the blackbird is a smaller stabilizer than the HD4000 ?

  14. Emm

    Post author

    @Theirry of JetT-photo.com - It's best to use the right stabilizer for the camera. If it's a light camera then use a smaller stabilizer, but if you are using more weight then go for a heavier one like the HD4000.

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Neil - The Merlin and Glidecam are two totally different style of stabilizers. If you were to compare this over the Merlin, I would choose the BlackBird. (I used to own the Merlin). I like using the Glidecam style personally because it's easier to 'tilt'. Some guys like StillMotion are always recommending the Merlin as their choice, so I guess some guys have a different preference.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @allen price - The HD1000 is a great little stabilizer, but can only support up to a certain weight like a DSLR body + Lens. For very small cameras The HD1000 is a good choice. For slightly heavier setups the BlackBird can handle it. There's videos of this thing flying a Sony EX1, and that's pretty heavy. I personally like the Glidecam style stabilizers more because it's easier to 'tilt'. These designs are best flying with a straight horizon.

  17. Nice review. I like the various options. One question I have is whether it's comfortable to hold. The fact that the arm with the counter-weight sticks so far up from the bottom is also a question of mine. Did it ever fee like it might interfere with an arm movement?

    Great work with the roundup and video, btw.

  18. Neil

    Nice review Emm. Now for the tough question... Where would you say this fits in terms of the competition? Above or below the Merlin or the Glidecam in terms of ease of balance and ability to achieve smooth shots????

  19. jason

    I was recently debating getting the Blackbird or the Glidecam HD2000. I wound up going with the Glidecam for a couple of reasons. The first reason was watching Vinny Minton's footage of rollerbladers that he filmed using a Glidecam HD2000. If this guy can rollerblade through a park while using a steady-cam and get shots this good, it says a lot!
    http://vimeo.com/19690247

    The next reason was pointed out in a forum; you can't grab the center of gravity with stabilizers that don't have a center column like the Blackbird, Merlin, Varizoon, Hauge, etc. The center of gravity exists just below the gimbal joint and is the best place to control pans because it causes the least disturbance to balance.

    Another reason is having the handle offset like the Glidecam actually absorbs some of the bounce of walking through your wrist. Having used steady-cams like the Merlin i'm familiar with this problem. Using the Glidecam is more tiring but the results are worth it!

    I'd also caution against using any stabilizer that doesn't have a wide sled like the Varizoom flowpod. It's very important to have spread out weights on the bottom or your pans will be jerky.

  20. you've used a few stabilizers Emm, how's this one compare? I've talked to Rich at Camera Motion Research, and I'm probably going to pick one up at NAB. It looks like a great package.

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