Tag Archives: flycam


When i'm traveling with a stabilizer, my goal is always to travel as light as possible while still being able to pull off long smooth dolly-like shots at my destination. Here's a closer look at the new XCAM Sabre Mini Video Stabilizer that I think addresses those two main points for me.

Off the top of my head, I don't know too many mini stabilizers that offer so many details, while still being able to fit in a travel pouch. The Carbon Fiber Post adds a nice aesthetic and sheds some weight as opposed to the previous version. The larger diameter post is also easier to handle when steering (flying with two hands), but you'll see in the video many times i'm just working with one hand.

The top stage offers a quick release for fast setup and breakdown, and to dial in your center of balance with fine tuning knobs for both left/right and forward/back adjustments. Outside of that, the adjustable Gimbal along the Carbon Fiber post and telescoping lower sled add another dimension to getting perfect balance with different types of cameras.

Telescoping Sled Supports Heavier Camera Systems

Build quality is very nice and if you're not a fan of the blue anodized finish, the XCAM Sabre is also available in all Black. You can find additional information about the XCAM Sabre at the web listing (found here).

find-price-button 2013 Version XCAM Sabre Mini Telescoping Stabilizer



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.

The problem has always been that the price of these vest systems were often out of reach. Here's a new Single ISO Arm Camera Load Vest System on the market that appeared recently. Quality, Style, and build looks much sturdier than the ugly Flycam Vest system (seen here), and this new vest runs just under $370. That's cheaper than a basic Rokinon Cine Lens. You can find the new vest available via eBay (Click Here).

find-price-button Budget Single ISO Arm Camera Stabilizer Load Vest



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




There's a million different little stabilizers on the market, but about a month ago (maybe a bit longer), the Steady Dragon brand upgraded the Gimbal to a universal joint. This type of gimbal provides the maximum amount of range compared to the little Ball-and-Socket type like found in the Hague MMC. The Steady Dragon seems to have all the right parts with front and rear counterweights, side to side weights, and adjustment of the camera forward and back.


With the optional camera plate, you can also add side to side from the top stage. A Tripod mount is also available so you can dock your camera. There's ways to create your own stabilizer with U-Joint from a Traxxas RC, but If you're not the DIY type, this little stabilizer looks like a good start for small cameras and under a hundred bucks. The Steady Dragon states it's rated to balance cameras just around 3 lbs and you can find some demo videos following the link (click here).

find-price-button Steady Dragon Video Camera Stabilizer Streadicam



The Skyler MiniCam has been a work in progress floating around the Internet for a very long time, but this is the first time i've seen it available on eBay. A clever little stabilizer which stands on it's own like a tripod, looks to have great build quality, and very simple fine tuning knobs. A 1/4-20 thread under the stabilizer allows you to mount it on a Monopod so that you can don't need to dismount your camera.

Skyler MiniCam stabilizerSkycam MiniCam Stabilizer

Unfortunately the asking price of over $620 dollars is a big umm..'heck no' for me. It's too bad they couldn't get the Skyler under the $200 dollar price tag, I think it could be a hit. I guess if you want to compare the price to an $800 dollar Steadicam Merlin, it's not looking so bad, but there's so many more stabilizer options now for under $300 dollars. If you're still curious, there's some additional demo videos of the Skyler MiniCam stabilizer in use over at the auction page (click here).

Skyler MiniCam StabilizerSkyler Mini Camera Stabilizer
find-price-button Skyler Mini DSLR Video Camera Stabilizer Steadicam



Thanks to an email from Matt, The Tokina 11-16mm is back in stock. This was my first 'Tokina' brand lens I picked up because of some excellent reviews and I admit this thing has become one of my favorite wide lenses for cropped cameras like the T2i, T3i, 60D, or 7D. It is possible to mount this lens to a Full Frame camera like the 5D Mark II, but only when it's zoomed out to it's 16mm. When used in that manner, this thing is wicked wide.

The Tokina 11-16mm is one of my favorite lenses for Flying with a Steadicam / Glidecam stabilizer (many others favor this lens too for flying). Unlike Canon's 10-22mm, the Tokina can also maintain a nice wide aperture of F/2.8 throughout it's range for low light imaging. The lens has a solid build and very sharp, so if you're missing this super wide range in your lens collection, this is definitely the lens to get (click here).

find-price-buttonTokina 11-16mm F/2.8 for Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras



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These are two of the most popular and smallest DSLR stabilizers. I'm not going to say one is better than the other when it comes down to the actual video footage. End results between these two micro flyers would be the same once you have them fine tuned and balanced. The main differences to consider between these two is cost, quality of build, time to balance, and handling.

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First no surprise here, the Flycam Nano can come in about three times cheaper than the Glidecam HD1000. The Flycam Nano comes in a bit smaller than the Glidecam but this also means it won't handle as much weight. If you want to stick to the smallest flyer but are concerned you might be pushing the limits too much, then the HD1000 might be the safer bet. The Flycam being the smaller stabilizer can pack down smaller for traveling. Of course the Flycam Nano can easily handle a 7D + Tokina 11-16mm (and then some), which is about the average weight needed for most entry level flyers. The Flycam might be a better choice for smaller cameras like the Sony SLT-A55 or Panasonic GH2.

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The Flycam build quality isn't as polished as the Glidecam. Cheaper materials, painted metal instead of anodized plating, lack of fine tuning knobs, tiny handle, and non-professional looking weights. That's what helps keep the cost down. The Glidecam is far superior in build quality, but fancy plating alone doesn't make it a better flyer.

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The Glidecam handle is much larger and more comfortable to grip. The Glidecam handle is the same width as it's larger HD2000 and HD4000 siblings making it possible to use the HD1000 with a full Vest. The Flycam has a much smaller and shorter handle designed to be used with an optional Flycam Arm Brace.

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The Glidecam HD series stabilizers also have fine tune knobs. The fine tuning knobs allows micro movements of the stage making exact placement of the camera much easier and faster to the center of balance. This is a great feature for anyone who seems to change out lenses, cameras, or accessories that require the entire stabilizer to be rebalanced. If you're pretty much set with the camera + lens combination for flying, a Flycam Nano with a quick release adapter should do the trick. No need to rebalance.

Here's a sample video with the Glidecam HD1000: http://cheesycam.com/glidecam-hd1000-dslr-video-stabilizer-demonstration/

Here's a sample with the Flycam Nano: http://cheesycam.com/flycam-nano-stabilizer-abused-with-7d-tokina/

2011-01-26 11.18.522011-01-26 11.19.06

find-price-button Glidecam HD1000 Video Camera Stabilizer

find-price-button Flycam Nano Video Camera Stabilizer


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Above is the only example I know of showcasing a Hollywood Lite Camera Stabilizer. When I first mentioned the stabilizer on this blog, the auction sold lighting fast from this article: http://cheesycam.com/hollywood-lite-video-camera-stabilizer/. This is a discontinued type of stabilizer that is designed to support cameras up to 4 lbs. I can't imagine it was very useful in the old days of heavy cameras, but with all the new lightweight Canon T2i's, Sony Alphas, and Panasonic GH2's coming around, it's seems to be relevant once again. Now i'm not saying it will fly a 7D, but for those GoPro Video makers, or iPhone Video junkies this might be an inexpensive solution. Cody left a comment and wanted to share that another thought to be extinct Hollywood Lite stabilizer shows up online again. On auction now and up for another day.

find-price-button Hollywood Lite VS1 Video Camera Stabilizer

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Big thanks to Mark H. for taking time out to make this video. Here Mark is showing us his DIY arm brace for his Flycam Nano stabilizer. The Flycam Nano is proving to be a very popular small stabilizer, but one thing to note is that even the handle comes in small. If you're not practicing some type of Shaolin Tiger Claw Death Grip (like myself), you might want to look into swapping the handle out with something a bit larger, or better yet work with an arm brace. If you don't know, the handle to the Flycam Nano is hollow and resembles the Glidecam stabilizers. With it's hollow designed handle, it can accept the same arm brace that is used with the Glidecam stabilizers. Of course that original brace (if you're lucky to find one) retails for about $150 dollars.

Mark takes a simple medical use wrist brace found in any local pharmacy and adds a custom DIY bracket to transfer most of the weight away from the wrist, allowing you to fly a bit longer, and possibly a bit steadier. For those with Steadicam Merlin's or Steadicam Jr's this idea will also work for transferring that weight over from your wrist. Mark also makes a good point to talk about how handy an arm brace is to have when you can't travel with a vest. As an owner of a vest myself, I can attest that it's a huge pain to travel with. It's also not very quick to get in an out of and is sometimes a bit dangerous when you're surrounded by fast moving kids. This would be the ideal situation in which you could take advantage of a solid arm brace.

[Thanks Mark]

For something like this, you'll probably want to go with the wrist braces that have a 'splint' like Mark's to attach a bracket.
Wrist Brace with Splint