When a full Vest if too bulky, and when your arms get too tired from flying, an arm brace can sure come in handy. If you're not a DIY type of guy/gal, then your other option for a forearm brace is the bulkier Flycam version (below).
Flycam Forearm Arm Brace for Flycam and Glidecam HD Stabilizer
Something like this new Skyler MiniArm is most likely not going to be comfortable with your large Glidecam setups, but for all the new mini handheld stabilizers popping up and pocket cinema cameras, it should do well to provide arm strain relief.
These little Blue Hand Held Video Stabilizers have been available for quite some time, but tracking down reviews on the item are still scarce. I often get questions about these particular stabilizers, but it's not something i've had the chance to play with in person, so there's not much information I can offer.
This stabilizer collapses down to less than 10", with an adjustable X/Y top stage, and what appears to be a quick release plate, it looks pretty decent for a price less than $140 (includes free shipping). If anyone has any experience on these i'm sure other readers would like to know your feedback in the comments section. These are constantly rebranded, but you can find them via eBay (click here).
Laing P-03 DSLR Stabilizer. [Thanks Nitsan] This small vide camera stabilizer features a gimbal that can be repositioned on the telescoping post and fine tuning knobs at the top stage for simple balancing typically not found on other entry level systems. Priced at just over $200 dollars and found (here).
Lensse is a company that makes very simple and affordable Video camera stabilizers that support iPhones all the way up to heavy DSLR bodies. These stabilizers balance your camera over a ball socket gimbal, attempting to prevent the transfer of shaky hands into the camera while walking, and also keeping your camera level with the horizon. You can see the complete line of stabilizers they offer (here).
Recently Lensse has just announced a new Stabilizer version called the UniqueX. It shares many of the same features at their other line of stabilizers, but the highlight of this new stabilizer is the adjustable Gimbal which can be relocated to the center of balance. Just another way of fine tuning the balance of your setup. Specs state it will support cameras up to 3 lbs and retails for about $100 bucks. Check it out via Amazon (Click Here).
I have used and abused my Steadicam Merlin Vest over the years, and although the ISO Arm has lasted me this long, the actual worn vest has slowly been degrading. I love the Steadicam Merlin Vest, and highly recommend the performance it gives, but even at $1500 dollars for the vest only (seen here) this is considered the low end of Steadicam's Stabilizer Vests. There are other more professional Steadicam vests, but obviously much more expensive. While I continued patch-work on my Steadicam system, I took the time to test a few other vests on the market.
Plastic Chest Plate Cracked on my Steadicam Merlin Vest
Build quality on the few aftermarket Stabilizer Vests i've tried over the years were good, in fact many of the worn vests I thought to be more comfortable and better designed than the Steadicam Merlin Vest. The only problem was that each ISO arm on the vests seemed to require a decent amount of weight to work smoothly. The springs were basically 'too strong' to fly your basic Glidecam HD4000 and DSLR Camera. In order to work properly the stabilizer should float in the air and the ISO arm should be very flexible and responsive to movement.
For this new vest that i've purchased, the dual arms can be dialed down to fly an average DSLR lightweight setup, or dialed to support a heavier payload. The ISO arm is responsive, reduces movement that would normally transfer to the stabilizer, and allows the stabilizer to just float. I'm not a fan of a few aesthetic pieces such as the bright blue locking knobs and metal chest plate, but overall the build quality on the vest is good, lightweight, and comfortable.
The length can be quickly adjusted with a simple pull-pin, something the Steadicam Merlin vest does not offer. The Dual ISO arm can be repositioned on the left/right side, or removed completely very very easily. To attempt this with the Steadicam Vest requires more time and more effort. The buckles allow you to get in and out without having to lose your personal fitting.
Metal Plate, Quick Adjustment, Quick Release Arm, Reverse Mount
I purchased this Dual ISO Arm Stabilizer Vest with the brand logo Wieldy, but has since undergone various name changes. The common one found (at time of writing) is under the brand 'CAME' (terrible name). If you're planning to use this vest under a Glidecam or Flycam, the post diameter is just a bit small. You would need to find a way to increase the diameter a bit for a snug fit with the Glidecam or Flycam handle.
Wieldy Handle Diameter vs. Glidecam Handle Diameter
Video Camera Steadycam Dual Arm Stabilizer Load Vest
The vest is very helpful for longer video shots, but is not required. You can always purchase the vest at a later time and just start with the Wieldy Carbon Fiber hand held stabilizer. I have additional information and sample video footage shot with a Wieldy (found here). So if you are just looking for the Hand Held stabilizer, that can be found via eBay (Click Here).
One essential tool for long Flying Video Stabilizer (Steadicam) type shots is a Vest system with an iso-elastic arm. The vest helps to take the weight of the camera off the arms and distributes the load over to the body. The flexible spring loaded iso-elastic arm keeps the camera level as the operator runs, jumps, or climbs a flight of stairs.
I first purchased a used first gen Skyler Minicam and enjoyed it so much, I went out and purchased the latest model (then sold off the older one). It's a tiny little stabilizer that packs up small, performs excellently, and has amazing build qualities. Unfortunately it's a bit expensive compared to other stabilizers, so i'm happy to see another person like Carl Pendle from www.carlpendle.com using it. I'm not alone in this world..
This time Carl shows how to modify the Flycam Armbrace to fit the Skyler MiniCam for extended flight times. After the modification, he also shows a clever sling he uses to help him carry the entire weight, and stick around to the end for some fine examples of his Skyler Minicam in use. [Thanks Carl]. I have some additional information about the Skyler Minicam vs. Glidecam vs. Flycam (seen here) if you're still wondering what some differences could be.
YouTube member SteveSmithDOP gives us a tour around the new Flycam C5 Carbon Fiber stabilizer [Thanks Steve]. I've only seen a handful of videos from this stabilizer, and they've really seemed to have stepped up their build quality compared to the original Flycam stuff. They've even blacked out all the washers (weights) on the lower sled.
The Flycam C5 is said to support up to a 6 pound camera and comes in cheaper than a Glidecam HD1000 (rated at 3 lbs.). If you're looking to fly more than just a basic camera body and lens, this looks like a solid stabilizer for the money, and can be found via eBay (Click Here).
For those who wanted a better look at the Flycam Armbrace, here's a quick little show and tell. The Flycam Armbrace
is used to help carry some of the weight of a stabilizer off the wrist. Glidecam also sells a Forearm Brace (seen here), but it's bit more expensive and looks like it will only fit on the Glidecam due to the larger OD on the post.
One common question is 'Does the Flycam Armbrace work with the Glidecam?'. The answer is 'YES' the Flycam Armbrace does work with BOTH the Flycam and Glidecam HD1000, HD2000, and HD4000 stabilizers. It uses a smaller OD on top and steps to a larger OD for the bottom of the post (as seen in the video). Coincidence? You be the judge. Using an arm brace will help relieve some weight from the wrist, but keep in mind that it will not solve the weight carried from the Bicep and the stabilizer will still be just as heavy. The Flycam Forearm Arm brace can be found via eBay (click here).
Flycam Forearm Arm Brace for Flycam and Glidecam HD Stabilizer