Just a few months ago Flycam introduced a Carbon Fiber stabilizer called the C5. (here). To confuse the market even more, they've recently released another set of Flycam Carbon Fiber stabilizers called the CF3 and CF5. Although these look much better than the original C5, I still can't get over the ugly counterweights and painted blue accents. I personally would rather just have plain metal washers in place of those plastic tubs.
The CF5 is a larger and longer stabilizer for heavier cameras, and the CF3 is the smaller version at a max height of 25". These new carbon fiber stabilizers use a quick release lock to adjust the telescoping post up or down (better than original Nano), comes with it's own quick release plate, foam padded Carry Bag, and comes in cheaper than the original C5 Carbon.
I get it. Sometimes you fly a stabilizer around and need to take a pause for a long static shot. These things can get quite heavy, so being able to stand on it's own could be beneficial for event shooters. Varizoom offers a Monopod / Stabilizer called the FlowPod (seen here), but when used as a stabilizer, it didn't really work out very well. Varizoom also makes a Crossfire Stabilizer (seen here) that doubles as a small Tripod too. None of them I think work very well, mainly because of the Gimbal setup they are using.
Wondlan also recently showed a Carbon Stabilizer that can be extended to work as a monopod, and they used a better Gimbal system like the Glidecam type stabilizers. I think they fell short a bit here because the sled was a little too small. If you think you need a stabilizer that doubles as a stand, here YouTube member NitsanPictures shows how it could be possible to modify your own with a Glidecam, and possibly even the Flycam by connecting to the 1/4" female thread under the post. It seems to work pretty good, but I think there are other Monopod designs that would make it easier to telescope when needed. [Thanks Nitsan] If you guys haven't seen a Glidecam Stabilizer in use, check out some of my old videos.
Earlier this year Wondlan released a Carbon Fiber Stabilizer that doubled as a short monopod when you're not running around. A neat idea, but so far we haven't seen any real solid tests of perfect flight capabilities. Now Wondlan throws in a much smaller unit made from Aluminum to support cameras in the same range as a Glidecam HD1000 (found here).
There's a few image comparisons between their larger Carbon Monopod / Stabilizer and new Mini Stabilizer fully extended and collapsed. Wondlan makes some pretty cool products with good build quailty, but this Mini Stabilizer is being offered for slightly more than a Glidecam HD1000. For such a small unit, it's even priced more than Flycam's new Carbon C5 Stabilizer (here).
My advise is to just go with what works, and has been proven for many years. I honestly don't see anything new being brought to the table here, so why jack up prices? If you're curious to see more images and specs, the new Wondlan Mini Stabilizer can be found online (click here).
Not long ago Wondlan released a telescoping Carbon Fiber Video Camera Stabilizer, and now Flycam's caught on to the design. Although they look similar from afar they are indeed much different, and it appears that Wondlan might be the better build quality. From what I noticed though, the Wondlan has a shorter counterweight sled which could lead to twisting and swaying. I haven't tried one yet to know, but there are some examples out there that show this.
Yup, within the first few minutes the Steadicam Smoothee walked through the door it was laying helplessly in pieces on my workbench. As I suspected, it's quite easy to modify this little stabilizer. With a quick release adapter, a top stage that can be fine tuned Left/Right & Forward/Back for easy balance, and one of the smoothest Gimbals on the market, i'm calling this the 'Cheesycam Baby Merlin'. If you haven't seen how smooth the Gimbal is, check out the earlier video (here).
The original Steadicam Merlin will run you about $800 dollars (click here to see), and I know there's a ton of people who want something similar for their GH2 or Sony NEX5n cameras. With this DIY, you can have just about the same features for 1/5th the price! Here's how I went about the mod.
Peel Back the sticker at the base and you'll find a few small screws. Remove the metal plates inside so you can drill through the base.
I reassembled the base (without the metal plates) and then drilled through the center (almost center - oops). Using a 3/8" Drill Bit, I was able to stuff a 1/4 x 20 coupler perfectly inside.
On the underside of the coupler, I added a washer and 1/4x20 screw to keep it from pulling through the top. On top I added my weight bracket. You could use just about anything here, and my counterweight was at 13.6 oz. which is needed to counter balance the 5D Mark II + 50mm F/1.4 (2.6lbs total).
If you want to build your own counterbalance that can swing left to right, and allow you to adjust weights up or down, check out this little mock-up using basic off the shelf parts (below). An Eye Bolt will be at the top of your counterweight setup (attached to the base of the Smoothee). A threaded coupler will allow you to attach a long all-thread rod. You can use heavy washers on the rod and a pass-through thumb knob at the bottom. You'll probably need a second thumb knob above the washers to clamp them down. If you need to make it less bottom heavy adjust the weights upwards. If you need to make it more bottom heavy, adjust the weights downwards.
Click image for larger view
Or you could also start with one of these slotted metal Dual Camera brackets to build up your swinging counterweight system.
Dual Metal Camera Bracket
Not really a cost saving idea, but If you really wanted that finished look like mine has, then here's where I cannablized the lower counterweight bracket from.
Opteka Video Camera Stabilizer
For the Quick Release plate, I used a hacksaw to cut straight across and filed it down flat.
Drilled a hole down the middle of the QR plate, and added a screw underneath. I had to trim a bit underside to get the screw to fit.
There you go! A modified Steadicam Smoothee made into the Cheesycam Baby Merlin. A nice stabilizer with an adjustable top stage, a Quick release mount, Fine Tuning knobs for quick balance, and adjustable weights underneath with movement to counterbalance uneven weight.
Originally modified to use with my Sony HX9V or Canon S100, but sturdy enough to rock my Canon 5D Mark II + 50mm F/1.4 (2.6lbs.) This is a no-brainer awesome Stabilizer for all kinds of smaller cameras like the Micro Four Thirds, or Sony NEX5n / NEX-7 type cameras. Right now these little Smoothee stabilizers are on sale (click here).
Is it me or is this something new from Flycam? I don't remember seeing something exactly like this before in their product line. It's a new body vest support for those Flycam DSLR Stabilizers. It doesn't look like your typical spring loaded isoelastic stabilizer arm, so it may not be used for walking or running shots. It looks like it's just a system to help carry the weight, like the Body Pod system available from Glidecam (found here) - only it looks better.
The new Flycam Body Vest / Stabilizer Arm can be adjusted up/down, left/right, and angled in just about any fashion you can think of. The different joints in the arm can be locked in place, but I wonder if it can still be used and redirect some of that weight if it's left fairly loose.
So far it's only available as a combo with a Flycam, but it doesn't look extremely complicated if it's a DIY build you're looking to tackle. Found below (click here)
Some BTS of a DIY stabilizer we put together last minute. Working with the GoPro 3D Rig we wanted to get an unusually low tracking shot. A wheeled dolly would have a hard time in the urban streets, so a slightly modified Flycam Nano was the solution. The Flycam Nano received an extension below to hold the GoPro 3D Rig, and an extra GoPro was used to output the video up to the SmallHD DP6 monitor. A few counterweights taped to the top was added to balance it all together. I need to get the awesome footage from the GoPros later..it was quite amazing to get flying shots at that super wide low angle..
(Above) Video was just for fun, don't take it seriously
I've probably tested more stabilizers than the Brady Bunch Family has fingers and toes (combined). Not everything makes it on the blog, because it just ends up as wasted sapce. Now i'm not saying some of these stabilizers 'won't fly'. What I look into and weigh in on is Stabilizer vs. Price. With enough muddling around (a few days and a few modifications), you can probably get some decent shots with most stabilizers.
Since I just posted about questions on other Random stabilizers I don't think is worth the asking price, here's another one for you - not to consider. Besides looking quite odd, the current asking price is several times that of other stabilizers which are easier to fly and faster to balance. The handle has shock absorption, the stage can be positioned forward/back, and the weight can be shifted left/right. The odd color choice and design might have been based on old Buck Rogers technology. You would think the tripod stand base design would work well to sit your camera down, but it acts as a counterweight. If you are required to shift that weight to an angle, it will no longer sit as a tripod and just topple over.
The video demo was shot just for fun, and it was the first time out with it. It's definitely not easy to fly. I don't agree on the price tag running several hundreds of dollars while there are already existing units on the market that are much cheaper and already have proven results. If they dropped this down to about $80 dollars, it might be worth considering for those on a budget and a lack of aesthetic appeal. There is also a low mode version, and a kit that doubles as both low mode and tripod base mode found on eBay (click here).
Wondlan's new Leopard Stabilizer system comes in along with some of the cheapest Dual Arm Vest + Stabilizer kits. How well does it work? Hmm..There's a few videos that are showing up over at Vimeo for you to take a look at. One demo above, and an instructional type video showing how to assemble the entire kit and balance (below). So far, nothing else online from an actual 'owner' especially here in the US. I'm more interested in how comfortable the vest is and if it might be available seperately. The spring design and dual arm looks to be of very high quality and much better than the Flycam junk vest stuff.