Canon 5D Mark III + Sigma 20mm on Skyler MiniCam

Today I decided to try and balance the Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 20mm F/1.8 lens on the Skyler MiniCam. Sorry I don't have any interesting test footage right now, but i'll be shooting something later on today (which is why i'm balancing it). Still very happy I was able to find one of these units used at an affordable price. The form factor is much smaller (and better looking) than the Glidecam HD1000 or even Flycam Nano. Still it can fly just as much weight as either of them. The fine tuning knobs makes it easy to balance, and the tripod design lets you set it down on a flat surface. Can't do that with a Merlin.

You don't need this particular stabilizer to get good results, and i'm able to achieve just as good results from the Flycam Nano or any Glidecam Stabilizer. The benefits to this Skyler MiniCam is it's sex appeal, small form factor, and fine tuning knobs. I personally think it looks 100 times better than the Nano. If it were priced more competitively, this could really sweep the market. Unfortunately at a retail price of $600 dollars, it's targeted to the audience that might be shopping for something as compact as the $800 dollar Steadicam Merlin.

It's not all about running around fast. We use stabilizers to add slow camera movements and eliminate handheld shakes. It's a fast way to get some dynamic camera footage without having to setup sliders and cranes. Here's a few seconds or raw footage from the Canon 5D Mark III with Sigma 20mm on the Skyler MiniCam.

The guys did a good job using very cheap household flood lights for the back lighting, and in the front we used a very cheap DJ Pinspot LED light and balanced the cameras at 6000K (it was very blue). The 100 watt flood light bulbs run about $5 dollars each and were put on a dimmer switch. The DJ Pinspot LED light is used to create a very tight spotlight and we got it on sale for about $35 dollars.

find-price-button Skyler Mini Video Camera Stabilizer

find-price-button 100w Outdoor Flood Light

find-price-button DJ LED Pinspot Lighting

26 thoughts on “Canon 5D Mark III + Sigma 20mm on Skyler MiniCam

  1. Jay Stemple

    Thanks for the fast reply.
    Cost isn't an issue, This minicam is in my price range.
    Truth be told, I have had a Steadicam Merlin for about 2 years and used it at maybe one wedding because it was a PITA to balance.

  2. Emm

    Post author

    @Jay Stemple -

    1) Because you will be moving quite a bit with a stabilizer, stick to a wide lens, close down on the aperture, and focus to infinity. Just try to keep everything in focus, no shallow depth of field tricks is the easiest way to fly.

    2) You can attach any quick release baseplate system to the Skyler if need be. There are cheaper stabilizers that you might also want to consider like the new Wieldy that is showing up.

  3. Jay Stemple

    Firstly, I love your site, always helpful.
    Secondly, I have been doing wedding videos for about 4 years but am relatively new to using DSLR cameras and to stabilizers. So, I have 2 very simple (perhaps dumb) questions:
    1) When using a stabilizer such as this one with a DSLR with manual focus/zoom lens, how do you deal with having to refocus since that will alter the weight of the camera? Is there a particular type of lens one uses on a DSLR when using a stabilizer?

    2) I use Manfrotto quick release plates on all my gear... has anyone seen one of these Skyler MiniCam's with a manfrotto plate attached to them and would it even be possible?

    Thanks in advanc!

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Jerry also - I will be doing a video showing some of the stabilizers I have laying around and the differences. One of the benefits the Skyler has as you mention is re-balancing.

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @Jayhas - Haven't tried it yet. Working on a review to show you guys the old version and the new version. I have both now.

  6. What I like about this stabilizer is the threaded bottom to accommodate a monopod. Have you tried it Emm?

    Just that the price at 5x the original Nano is a bit too much.

    @oboypro - getting it balanced the first time is hard, but once you get it right, keep that setting then flying the nano is great. I still use my 60D/tokina/nano combo with a balanced setting I found more than five months ago:)

  7. PLEASE!! tell us your shooting settings when you post these. It's great to see how the stabilizer works, but I'm always curious to know the camera settings in the shot... ISO, aperture, frame rate, shutter speed, etc. Thanks!

  8. Jerry also

    Nice shooting Emm! That music shot looked smooth as a dolly would do. Thanks a lot for posting this, as usual.

    The $400 price premium over the flycam is a lot to swallow but I'm wondering if two considerations in addition to the quickness in re-balancing might justify it: this mini can be used as a kind of table-top tripod, though requiring control from the handle -- a taste of what you call the dynamic element remains -- or it can be slipped as is with the camera on, onto a monopod, also available from this mfgr. For event or documentary work, or even some kinds of narrative fiction this could be a huge advantage, no?

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Joel - I'm still using my Nano, and I haven't run into the same problems. I just do everything hand tight.

  10. Emm

    Post author

    @oboypro - I can get similar results in the Flycam. It's probably not as easy to balance as a Blackbird.

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Killer K - This is much better than the Opteka, but of course it's waaayy more expensive.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @allen - I've learned to balance a Glidecam pretty good. The Skyler has some advantages which i'll be doing a more thorough review of soon.

  13. mike_tee_vee

    Emm, I've concluded that you have incredible operating skills, and that you can make any stabilizer look good!

  14. allen

    Is it really easier to balance? I have the HD1000 and I like it, but balancing it perfectly is something I never really got the hang of and still find annoying. Is this one much easier to balance?

  15. Hay Emm, Do you have a 4 way macro slider? If so could you try putting it on the Nano and seeing if it makes it easy to balance?

    Just wondering if it would be a simple way to add a fine tune system to an affordable stabiliser.


  16. Looks smoother then Flycam but maybe that's because of the weight of the 5d?My main concern is speed and ease of achieving balance. How does this compare to a Blackbird in those terms?

  17. Joel

    And to be more accurate, it is not the qr knobs, but the "stage" adjustment knobs (I am not using the qr plate). So it is really not very functionable.

  18. Joel

    Emm ~ I am not liking the Nano tuning nobs at all. In fact, they are a significant detriment to getting proper balance. The qr nobs and threads dont seem to be matched correctly, or the threads themselves are just poorly machined, because they go thru loose and then very tight stages of adjustment. The bottom nob for the base weights also needs to be tightened with much pressure to get it to stay locked. After multiple loosening and lock sequences, it gets very difficult.

    Curious to know if this is the norm for the Nano, or I just got a poor copy?

  19. Emm

    Post author

    @Trivell - The aperture is closed down so it's pretty much always in focus with everything. It's also a wide lens + macro which means it can focus very close to infinity.

  20. Cool

    it helps that the sigma 20mm 1.8 is a decent wide and fast glass...i use it on crane/dolly shots

  21. Opteka should come up with these type of design at a affordable price, they cost alot. But with the video output and quality of video using this, it's worth the price...

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