How To Balance CAME H4 Hand Held Stabilizer or Any Stabilizer

I've been fortunate enough to operate many stabilizers over the years, and it's amazing how they continue to improve while at the same time become more affordable. Here's a look at yet another new product - the CAME H4 ultra portable Hand Held Video Stabilizer.

As a bonus, i've taken the time to walk you through the steps on how to balance most hand held stabilizers. During the (lengthy) balancing process in this video, you will learn the importance of many key features that will benefit you when shopping for any stabilizer.

Although you may find cheaper stabilizers on the market, many of them will lack a quick release plate with multiple mounting options, fine tuning knobs, an adjustable Gimbal handle, telescoping post, and folding counterweights. Without these features it would be extremely cumbersome to dial in perfect balance.

Cheesycam CAME H4 Hand Held Stabilizer Top StageCheesycam CAME H4 Hand Held Stabilizer

If you're looking for great example footage from this unit, hang tight i'm still working on this. For now at least I have a short demo in the video above. I can assure you that this CAME H4 Hand Held Stabilizer is as good or better than any portable stabilizer i've used in the past. The CAME H4 build is a combination of Carbon Fiber and Aluminum with a very high quality anodized finish.

For DSLR Cameras relative to the size of a Canon 5D Mark II/MarkIII, the baseplate fits nicely with access to the battery door. The stabilizer folds down to a minimum height of just 12" inches and comes with a padded travel case. For more information, visit the product page at http://CAME-TV.Com

Cheesycam CAME H4 Hand Held Stabilizer Compare
find-price-button CAME H4 Ultra Portable Hand Held Video Stabilizer

You can also find this product available via Amazon (found here) and for International eBay (found here).



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119 thoughts on “How To Balance CAME H4 Hand Held Stabilizer or Any Stabilizer

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @Andrew - No mine did not have any play to it. If it can't be tightened then it should be replaced.

  2. Andrew

    @Emm - yes, there are for each for bottom and top plates. I've tightened all of them. Did you view the video I shared, does that amount of movement (slop) seem in line with what your unit has? To me, it's unacceptable.

  3. Emm

    Post author

    @Edward C - Swaying is typically caused by being too top heavy or too bottom heavy. Most likely too bottom heavy. A lot of stabilizer use is practice practice practice. It takes two hands to fly these stabilizers (not one). You have to learn to control carrying with one hand, and steering with the other. You also have to practice your walking techniques.

  4. Edward C

    I bought the H4 and having a difficult time getting the everything stable. I'm still getting a slight sway when walking. IMO I believe the H4 is a defect off the line. I'm using a A65 with a Rokinon Cine 16mm T2.2 lens and I can balance the camera to where is does not drift to any side, then when I adjust the height of the gimbal the camera goes off balance. I tried different combinations yet still the system sways. Any suggestion? Btw I'm novice to stabilizers and gimbals.

  5. Curtis James

    Bought a Came TV H4. First time ever stabilizer user.
    I been watching videos especially the cheesycam balancing H4 vid, for the past week while waiting for it to arrive which. I don't know what the big deal is?
    I balanced it within the first 3 min out of the box, switched to a much heavier setup (A7s metabones adapter 24-70 2.8 Nikon) and balanced it as well.
    For those of you complaining about the screw, it fit fine on my d800, A7s and Metabones adapter.
    For people having issues I have two words, HOME DEPOT. 1/4" 20 thread you should have a ton of these 40 cents. If not steal the screw from a different quick release plate or add a quick release plate to the H4 cheese plate. Worst case put a wide thin washer in-between the camera and quick release plate. 25 cents

    I'm realizing the more weight definitely helps so I added a 2" diameter washer in-between the smaller and longer counter weights. It makes a huge difference. If I'm using a lighter lens with the A7s I add a Aluminum spacer which raises the camera and adds weight as well as add a few heavy washers to the front of the cheese plate to try to get the weight as spread as possible

    I actually want to move the counter weights out further from the centre pole but because the threads on the weights are metric 8mm course thread its quite difficult to find the parts locally. I believe this would increase inertia significantly.

    Honestly if your hating on the H4 you should just forget about using a stabilizer. With its adjustable Its about as easy to balance and setup as possible

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Noel - Yeah I think it will work. It might be a little on the light weight side of things, but you can always add something like a Quick Release system to the top.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @Jayce - Honestly I would personally use a different lens when flying, but if you want to fly that lens you are looking more towards a Glidecam HD4000.

  8. @Emm Thank you! Turns out a rubber washer did the trick with the plate/screw (as expected). I also tightened each screw at the legs and they are now relatively similarly snug. Success! Thanks again.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Stanton - I would shoot a few pics and maybe a video to show them what you're talking about. Mine was very stable at the legs. As far as the camera on the top plate, you can try adding something like thick cork from a hobby store.

  10. Hi! This puppy showed up in the mail today. Very nice build, apart from 2 things. I'm hoping you can assist.

    1. Cheese plate doesn't secure itself tight to the base of the Rebel t3i. I had seen a review from a Nikon user with this issue, but not from Canon users as of yet. Should a rubber washer do the trick to secure the screw and plate to the canon body?

    2. The 3 legs are not equally stable. It appears each of the 3 leg bolts/connections are tightly wound, yet 1 leg is "floppy", meaning the h4 itself does not stand balanced. Is that common and just an issue I will need to work around? Or is this something worth sending back for a whole new unit?

    Thank you so much! And thank you for making such a wonderful balancing review. I look forward to taking advantage of it once I fix these issues. Cheers!

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Kiri - Yes these systems are pretty easy to balance, but there's a minimum amount of weight these stabilizers need. Your setup is just too light.

  12. Kiri

    Thanks Emm. I've spent a couple hours experimenting with heavier lenses to test out the theory. I believe it actually has a lot to do with the vertical position the handle. With a top weight (heavier lens) that allows the handle to be placed nearer the top, the system seems more stable in general.
    With the lighter lens setup, I have to put the handle all the way at the bottom, which seems to be making it more unstable (even though it is 'balanced'), than the lightness per-se. Does that make sense?

    I'll keep experimenting and see with what I can come up with. It's quite frustrating though. The major reason I decided to buy this stabilizer was because it looked relatively easy to set up ><

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @Kiri - Yup, sounds like your setup is still too light. The more mass the better. Maybe try throwing a quick release system with your camera or maybe throw it into a cage. It sounds like your just trying to balance something too light.

  14. Kiri

    I cannot for the life of me get this balanced :(
    I'm using a G6 and have tried the lumix 20mm lens (I think that setup was too light), now I'm trying the olympus 9-18mm lens.
    I have followed all the steps in the video. I have achieved a drop time of 2-3 seconds, I have the camera balanced so it does not rotate from any of the positions when setup on the pole.. and yet when I actually try to hold it, it sways around and does not stay centered. Any ideas?

    Note, I have taken off the smaller weights from the bottom because the camera/lens setup is so light. Is it possible its still too light?

  15. Chris

    I just got mine today and the screw that secures the quick release plate is totally bent. Really unfortunate that I have to send this back when I need it for an upcoming project. It came in a beat up box with the bag and stabilizer inside. The bag served as "padding" but clearly that wasn't enough.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @Derrick - A vest doesn't really work well with these small stabilizers. Typically there isn't enough weight to load up the ISO arm and get the springs working.

    You can't really pull focus or zoom in and out once it's on this stabilizer, so I like shooting with a Prime lens. It will be smaller and lighter than a zoom. If you are using a full frame camera, I like something around a 20mm or a 24mm lens. If you are using APS-C check out the Tokina 11-16mm or the Canon 10-22mm.

  17. Derrick

    First off I would like to say you're videos are HUGELY informative and I appreciate your effort in helping the photo/video community! Really awesome videos. But I am curious to know, have you ever used the h4 with a vest and arm and if so which one do you recommend? Also in your opinion what would be your "Go to" lens when shooting with this stabilizer? I have a canon 6d with a 24-105 Lseries lens and it's pretty heavy. I also have a 50mm 1.8 and that may be too light and the DOF is so shallow I don't think it would be ideal for flying. Any thoughts?

  18. K C

    Thanks for your valuable instruction video. I would recommend to my friends. To solve the mounting problem the easy way for me is put 1/16 thick cork sheet on the top of the plate ( or layers of masking tap as needed) it will fill up the gab and sercuite the camera.

  19. Simon

    Hi Emm

    Thanks for the advice, I might look at one of Came TVs 2/3 axis stabilisers suspect they might be better for my needs.

  20. Emm

    Post author

    @Simon - If you want to use a recorder with your Canon, I would have to say the H4 is not the right stabilizer. You would have to look for something larger like the Laing P04 or Wieldy.

  21. Simon

    Hi Emm

    Very interested to view your review and stabilisation guide. I once a very cheap stabiliser and it was a total disaster, but clearly the Came H4 is far better product and I am considering ordering one.

    My questions is this: having recently bought a Ninja Blade so I can record ProRes 422HQ straight from my 5D mk3 sensor, I would like to be able to use the Ninja with the H4. How would you recommend mounting the recorder, on top attached to the camera or with a clamp close to the bottom of the stabiliser? Or is it not advised to try and mount the recorder to the H4?

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @Bill - The plate is proprietary. If you want to make things easier, you would have to add a qr base over the H4.

  23. Bill

    Hi thanks for the review!
    They are so helpful. I ended up getting one as well.

    I was wondering from your experience with this product. Does the quick release plate fit on benro s4 video head?
    I'm hoping to find a monopod that takes the same release plate so I don't have to change it all the time.

    Any tips or product suggestion would be great!

  24. Emm

    Post author

    @James - I prefer it, but that's subjective. I only fly smaller cameras and have been doing it for a while. Regardless of the handle, you definitely have to build up a tolerance with flying. It's like working out, the more you do it, the more comfortable you are at performing that technique. When you first get a stabilizer you'll get sore, but practice and it gets easier.

  25. James

    Hey Emm!
    Whats your opinion on the angled handle? How does it effect the ergonomics and operation of the stabilizer?
    Thanks!

  26. Nacho

    Doesn't this support up to 5Kg? Wouldn't it be ok to use with a GH4, a plate and follow focus?

    I don't know if I shoulde by this (or the LAING H3 or H4 which seems to be the same) or the LAING P4S. The P4S can load up to 15Kg so it seems too much for the GH4 with a plate and FF.

    Any suggestions? Thnaks in advance!

  27. Emm

    Post author

    @Joss - No it will not work with a BMCC (large cinema camera). It will work with a 5D, but I think the 24-70mm may be a bit heavy.

  28. Joss

    Hi! Will works with a 5d mark II and canon 24-70 2.8 (I)?
    Bmcc will works to? Have a similar size like 5d...

    Thanks!!

  29. Emm

    Post author

    @Kyle - you wont be able to use a follow focus on this stabilizer and that would be too much weight.

  30. Kyle

    Can I attach a cage say the GB-3 Gearbox Video Cage from P&C on to this is I possibly wanted to add a follow focus to the stabiliser?

  31. Emm

    Post author

    @Anthony - Oh yeah sorry misunderstood. It should support that weight with a battery grip.

  32. Anthony

    Thanks Emm,

    I mean using the GH3 with 12-35 and battery grip only ON the H4. I'm not wanting to mount an H4n on it which is what I think you understood???

  33. Emm

    Post author

    @Anthony - I would limit the amount of weight on the rig, these things can get heavy quick. I don't think you can fit a battery grip, and if you want to run an H4 it would have to be mounted to the handles.

  34. Anthony

    I received mine a few weeks back but haven't had the chance to play with it yet. It's a very well made bit of kit though. I'm planning on using it with an Arca Swiss qr base and plate for a bit of extra weight and for quick changes to and from my other jibs and tripods.

    Quick question to Emm, have you tried using the H4 with a GH3, Lumix 12-35 and the battery grip with battery in it? Too top heavy???

    Ideally, that's how i'd like to run it.

  35. Dave

    Emm - Thanks for your videos, as they are very informative. I like your trick of flipping the stabilizer upside down for low angle shots. Clever.

    I have a GH3 and I'm a bit concerned about being able to use the CAME H4 with it. Adding weight via a QR plate to the GH3 would certainly help, but it also adds another point of failure. All the same, the CAME H4 seems like one of the best options at this time. If other GH3 and GH4 users have tips on getting the H4 balanced, please share!

  36. SpartaBear

    @Daniel Hupert @Josh

    I can relate to the frustration of wanting for things to work right out of the box, but clogging this section with posts about a non fitting base screw...?
    I don´t exactly know how many screws I own (maybe 15), but I consider them a stable.
    A company offering to pay for that screw while being on the other side of the world, what`s more to ask for?
    Just order a freaking 1/4 screw and be over with it http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_9?rh=n%3A502394%2Ck%3A1%2F4%22+screw&keywords=1%2F4%22+screw&ie=UTF8&qid=1402216476&rnid=2941120011

    @Daniel Huppert
    If your tech reporter at the station you say you work, really falls for your "pitch" maybe you could name the piece "Screw you China!" or " She CAME, but I didn't screw her."

  37. Josh

    @Daniel Huppert

    I had the same issue. I shoot with Nikons (the scourge of DSLR video). I tried to use a washer between plate and head- too large. I guess I could grind it down, but meh. Tried it between plate and camera, eh. Camera won't last long without sliding off. I had a thick baseplate that came with my lcd viewfinder. I used that to screw into. Worked fine. If you find a better solution or anything let me know, and vice versa.

  38. Emm

    Post author

    @Jeff Brandt - I can't stress enough about practicing, and that it takes weeks to months to get really good with stabilizers. My first Glidecam 2000 experience was a nightmare. I wrote about it somewhere in this blog. I spent a whole weekend frustrated and almost threw the unit out the window.

    Be patient and practice. Even these motorized gimbals can be just as frustrating. With any tool it is about learning, practicing, and getting better. Try adding more weight with a good quick release and practice your handling.

  39. I too just got the came h4 stabilizer. I'm using a GH3 and the panny 25mm f 1.4. I followed Emm's instruction pretty religiously. When placing the handle on a light stand and placing the stabilizer in the horizontal position, I could never really get all 4 sides to balance. 3 out of 4 but not 4. My guess on that is the the cheese plate is sliding. I tightened the thing as far as it could go but it still isn't locked in place. The other thing is that like someone else noted, you can't use Emm's advice on a GH3 when it comes to extending the the bottom legs as far as they can go. The camera isn't heavy enough. I spent maybe 45 minutes trying to get the thing balanced and my best shots looked like a drunken sailor walking down the street. - much swaying side to side. Can think of few things that I've done recently that were more frustrating.

    Emm - way back when you started trying to use a stabilizer, was the learning curve this steep?

    The headache with this is starting to make a 2K brushless gimbal look like a bargain:)

  40. OldCorpse

    You are right, Emm. I actually have the Manfrotto QR, so I might try that. I did want to try adding the battery grip too, plus maybe another cheese plate that actually might improve the CAME cheese plate position to be closer to the center of gravity of GH3+12-35 lens, so it needs less stage adjustment.

  41. Emm

    Post author

    @OldCorpse - Sounds like you could solve many of your issues by adding a quick release system like the Manfrotto 577. This will add more weight, lift the camera higher (which makes it heavier on a stabilizer), and also allow you to remove it for quick battery access. Not to mention with a QR plate underneath you can quickly move to a manfrotto tripod.

  42. OldCorpse

    I bougth the CAME H4, and it arrived pretty fast, so that's good. I figured I should give some feedback for those who are in a similar situation. The "bad news": the GH3 with the Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 lens is too light for the Came H4. What I mean is that the recommendation Emm makes, that you extend fully the lower part of the stabilizer, is impossible, because that makes the weight too heavy even with the gimbal as low as it'll go. So you have no choice but to shorten the lower part, which means you now have to set it every time... but by compensation, I guess, if you extend the gimbal all the way down, you don't have to re-set that part. Now, this is not a deal-breaker by any means, but something to be aware of. Maybe using different (heavier) lenses or adding weight with a battery grip or an additional cheese-plate might change things again.

    The other thing is that with the cheese plate that comes with the H4, once on, you don't have access the battery any more (door is obstructed).

    Suggestions for improvement: add some kind of rubberized strip or surface to the cheeseplate so that it doesn't slide; also, it would be neat to have some kind of markings on the shafts of the H4, with numbers (like there are on the cheeseplate), so that you can write down how far to drop the gimbal and/or weights, instead of experimenting every time.

    I'm still trying to balance out the GH3 w/ the 12-35 lens - and I'm a complete 100% newbie at this, since I never used a stabilizer before. So far, I have a bizarre issue, in that none of the balancing methods give the same result. After trying to get the best possible cheeseplate position (really, there is only one option with one hole - I think the same one Emm used on his Canon), I then put it on a tripod and a 15mm rail through the handle, like Emm did. I tried to balance it using the stage knobs, in the upright position, and got both bubble levels pretty much dead in the middle... so far so good. Then I went to the balancing it sideways like Emm showed, allowing gravity to pull it this way and that. I was shocked that the first balancing effort was actually WORTHLESS - it required a full 3-4 turns of the stage knobs to balance out, not just a single turn like for Emm. In the end I got it to stay in whatever position I put it, without twisting or turning - "perfectly" balanced. Next, I adjusted the weight/gimble shafts and got it to a 2 second drop. And then came the test, I took it off and held it - total failure. The camera is visibly lens-heavy. Somehow all that "perfect" balance wasn't "perfect" at all. Wow - three balancing actions, and every one dramatically different and not agreeing with each other. Clearly, I have a lot to learn and experiment.

    Thank you Emm for the great instruction video. If anyone has any tips as to why all my balances are so totally off from each other, I'm all ears.

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