Steadicam Smoothee (modified) Test

Made some slight mods to support a heavier camera and lens. Now it's a Canon 7D + Tokina 11-16mm on a Giottos quick release plate. I needed to pull the front heavy camera a bit backwards. Threw on some extra counterweights from a Flycam Nano, and then performed a slight test. Brings me back to my roots of flying an expensive Steadicam Merlin, except this one is only 1/5th the price.

find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee for GoPro and iPhone

42 thoughts on “Steadicam Smoothee (modified) Test

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @Enrique - The Giottos uses a 1/4" mount (like a camera). My smoothee was already modded to mount with a 1/4" stud in my directions.

  2. Enrique

    Hello, Emm.
    You said that you mounted the Giotto's QR on the Smoothee's. I guess the Giotto's doesn't fit on the Smoothee's and you had to customize it somehow. Could you, please, be more specific about how you did that?
    Thank you very much for your help.

  3. Eddie

    Hi Emm,

    I'm trying to get the baby merlin working without swyaing..

    I'm trying to equalize the weight.. but I'm not sure what I'm equalizing.

    Right now it's this.

    1. Camera with shaved quick release plate.

    2. Everything else.

    Is that correct?

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Stephen - Sorry forgot to check on that. I'll try to remember the next time i'm in.

  5. Stephen

    Hey Emm, you are certainly the man. I have my smoothee and quick release all set up, with an aluminum bar and a solid piece of cast iron to counterweight. basically, I know its bottom heavy, but i was wondering if you got around to weighing what you used to add as a counterweight so I dont hack too much off off of the bar. thanks for being our low budget guru.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @George - Keep adding weights until the camera barely stays right side up. You have to make it just 'slightly bottom heavy'. If it's too much weight at the bottom, the camera will sway. Just barely make it bottom heavy, and then try to adjust the camera balance using the top stage and fine tune knobs.

  7. George

    Emm, thanks for putting this together. I've got my Smothee all modded up for my 5D MKii with a Canon 1.4f 50mm lens. I'm having a hard time getting my setup balanced. Would appreciate it if you could let me know what weights you think would work. Much appreciated, thanks!

  8. Bill

    Thanks. I have the same Giottos plate you used, and I know the 60d is maybe 5oz lighter than the 7D. I appreciate your time Emm. Take care.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Bill - I'll try to weigh it when i'm back in the studio. I also added a Quick Release adapter to that added additional weight to the top. The 7D is also heavier than the 60D.

  10. Bill

    Emm, You mentioned bottom heavy, for swaying, I didn't ad weights for the test with the GoPro. I have not flown the 60d yet, still in process of modification. I flew the GoPro w/ thumb and forefinger lightly on the gimbal as per instructions, but I was on stairs trying to go quickly. My goal is to follow runners for short periods. I know a guy who does this but he has a Merlin and his stuff looks great! But I'm hoping to do it w/modded smoothee.

    Anyway, do you have an idea about the weight you had on for your 7d test? I am using stainless washers for weight. Thanks again.

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Bill - Flying any Steadicam is usually a two handed operation, but the design of Merlin or Smoothee can be flown with one hand, BUT one finger on the Gimbal to steer. So you could do two hands or you can do one hand + one finger for steering. You could do a drop test with a Smoothee. If you're getting a swaying motion (like on a boat) then you're still probably bottom heavy. It takes very little to throw off balance. Even inserting an SDHC card after balancing will throw it off.

  12. Bill

    Hello Emm...I'm working on modifying my smoothee. Did you ever weigh your weights for this test? I am using 60d with 11-16mm and wanted to get in ballpark. Also, is this mostly two handed operation? I was doing stairs with the GoPro on w/LCD and no added weight, with one hand holding per instructions. I got a lot of side to side movement. Also, since there is no "drop test" is it just playing with weights until you find the right mix? And last, My smoothee like to turn to right by itself, easy fix? My Glidecam had gimbal issues and needed adjusting so I wonder about the smoothee gimbal. Thanks Emm.

  13. Jerry

    I'm looking into buying a lens to fly with do you recommend the Tokina 11-16mm over the Canon 10-22 those are the two I'm debating from...any help would be greatly appreciated

  14. pops

    @Emm... I just received mine today. This little thing is awesome... I don't feel like I need to work out 60 days prior to shooting with it. Obviously, this is only with the GoPro for now. Let the modding begin! Super easy to balance as well. SOLD.... lol

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Bill - Yes, the Smoothee is originally designed to fly a GoPro, but appears to be able to handle up to small DSLR weight with some modifications.

  16. Bill

    Emm...I am looking for a stabilizer that I can use for either the GoPro or Canon 60D w/ Tokina 11-16mm lens while hiking and running, so I need lightweight. Looks like this one could fly either one. What would you suggest? Thanks!

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @JSS - There is no hole. Instead of trying to stick something in the handle, maybe you could place the entire handle into a clamped down pipe as a dock.

  18. MK

    Emm - so there is no hole on the bottom of the handle for a brace? Is there any way to set this up for balancing without having to hold onto it with one hand such as a docking bracket or resting stand?

  19. Emm

    Post author

    @mike_tee_vee - Not all image stabilization is designed to work the same. The Sony works well even when moving with a steadicam.

  20. mike_tee_vee

    How does image stabilization affect flying performance? Would footage with the Sony HX9V appear smoother with IS on, versus off?

  21. Emm

    Post author

    @getem - This would fly that setup if you mod it similar to what I did, but there is also no option for a brace or vest to help carry the load. The Flycam handle will accept a brace or vest. The Smoothee is awesome and a good solution for those smaller lightweight setups.

  22. getem


    I have a Canon 60d and just recently purchased the Tokina 11-16mm lens. Which should I consider buying based on your experience?

    This modified Steadicam Smoothee or the FlyCam Nano?

  23. Emm

    Post author

    @Birchblaze - I say its perfect for micro four thirds sized cameras, but I am personally at around 3lbs.

  24. Emm

    Post author

    @Yiow - Some people have a hard time balancing if your stabilizer is too big. The HD2000 is a decent flyer but it needs a lot of weight to balance. Thats the reason I use the Nano and the HD1000. Thats all you need for a DSLR and lens.

  25. Hi Emm,
    Nice neighbourhood man ! and thanks for sharing another great work.
    Could you please provide a link to the Giottos Quick Release that you used on this mod !? They have many of them at B&H and i don't want to buy the wrong one. Yet again you saved me a chunk of cash because i am building four of these for my grade 12 students ( one of them is my son ).

  26. I am so buying this as soon as I get home.

    Emm, would you say the smoothee is easier to balance than the full rigs? I have the HD2000 for about a year now, but I could never get the. Andes quite right, there is always minor drift no matter how much I tweak it. I know you say in order to fly the cam properly, a lot of it depends on the skill of the operator, but just generally speaking, which one do you think is easier to achieve balance?

    Also, how do you mount the Giotto QR onto the smoothee QR?

  27. Emm

    Post author

    @Jerome Demers - It's originally designed to fly very very light cameras (iPhone and GoPro) so it should work fine with the modified counterbalance. I didn't do a test because the Sony HX9V already has amazing image stabilization. I'll try to do more next week, this weekend is busy for me.

  28. Emm

    Post author

    @Ron - I'm really just showing the ability of the Smoothee, but for 5-6 lbs, You would have to go with something bigger like the HD4000 or Blackbird.

  29. Emm

    Post author

    @JSS - Both stabilizers are good, and with practice you can fly anything smoothly. There's alot of practice and operator experience involved in balancing and flying. This type of setup is something people with very light cameras might want to look into since the Flycam can't fly a lightweight setup very well. As you get into heavier setups, you would be looking in to something like the HD2000 and above.

  30. Ron

    So do you think this is a better option than the Flycam Nano for a mid-weight DSLR, like you are showing in the video? Or is the other better?
    For a 5-6 lbs. needs what would you consider is a better purchase a Blackbird or a Glidecam or....? What would you suggest???? Thanks!

  31. JSS

    Thanks for the vid EMM. So how does the modified smoothy compare to a Flycam Nano when flying DSLRs? I have a nano but I like the idea of being able to make fine adjustments by just turning a couple of knobs. Should you ditch you nano for this? What are the pros and cons for one over the other?

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