How to Balance a Glidecam , Steadicam, Flycam DSLR Stabilizer

Ok, just to say I tried, here's a video trying to explain what I do to balance a stabilizer like the Glidecam or Flycam. This is one video I never wanted to do, because there are so many good ones already on the web. If you can find the videos on how to balance a Glidecam, that's pretty much the same thing for the Flycam. There is one thing those other videos don't talk about, and you'll hear me stress this several several times in the video. This most worthy tip comes in after 5:20 when I talk about moving the sled slightly upwards to reduce that awful rocking motion while you walk. The biggest problem with people trying to balance stabilizers is that they believe they need to really load up on the bottom weight to get the camera to stand upright. That's not true at all. You'll notice I begin to dial things in when my stabilizer is slightly at an angle. Once the stabilizer is at an angle, DO NOT ADD MORE WEIGHTS! Start adjusting the top stage to center the camera. If you can't seem to balance the camera by moving it on the stage, remember that the bottom weights can also be shifted back and forth to get the camera to stick upright.

Ok, now that the camera is upright and you think you have it ready to fly, check to see if it starts swaying. If the stabilizer is swaying side to side (like a boat in the ocean), then move the sled just millimeters upwards. Try try again and do it by just millimeters at a time. For the Steadicam Merlin - you will need to adjust the 'arch'. If you own one, you'll know what i'm talking about. The Arch is similar to the Glidecam Sled. Lower it and you'll be making it more bottom heavy. Close the Arch and you'll make it 'less bottom heavy'. For the Steadicam Merlin and Steadicam JR, you can also 'unthread' the Gimbal Handle. This is a design that Steadicam uses to change the center balance ever so slightly by unscrewing the handle. Balancing stabilizers takes patience and practice. Of course a few prayers and a three wolf moon shirt might help you get there faster.

115 thoughts on “How to Balance a Glidecam , Steadicam, Flycam DSLR Stabilizer

  1. There are more comprehensive tutorials out there, but none that have single handedly solved all my biggest problems. Thanks!!

  2. Vohaze

    Wow. This helps out so much!! Thanks a million!! I'm going to test that out now and see if I can fix the rocking issue!!

  3. Emm

    Post author

    @Nate - You didnt mention what stabilizer you are using so I can't say, but for the T3i you need something small like the Glidecam HD2000 or HD1000.

  4. Nate

    Hey great video Emm. I'm still having some trouble balancing my Canon T3i with the 18-55mm kit lens (I'm thinking that my setup maybe too light) It never seems to be top heavy and though I may get the stabilizer somewhat balanced it's nowhere near to how balanced it is in your video.

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @e11world - The height adjustment creates the lower sled to be more or less bottom heavy. Raising it up is less heavy, lowering makes it more heavy. You would have to apply the same principle to your product. Make it less or more bottom heavy by adding or removing weights.

  6. Very nice video and I have a question regarding the part around 7:00 where the whole thing just wobbles left to right when walking. What can I do if it's for a GoPro camera with a curve #7 shaped steadicam with the same issue. No height adjustment on it but I can remove a few washers from the bottom part and that's about it.
    Any suggestions?

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @Dennis L Sorensen - You didn't mention what camera + lens you are trying to balance. If you are having trouble, my first guess is that your setup is 'too light' and the stabilizer you chose 'is too big'. For any stabilizer there is a MAX weight, and also a MINIMUM weight that should be used.

    As a general tip, stabilizers work best when they are at their max load, so I typically try to find the smallest possible stabilizer that will be fully 'loaded' with whatever camera setup i'm trying to fly.

  8. Is there any "correct" drop time? You know where it's in a 90 degree angle and then you drop it.

    I having VERY big troubles of balancing the new Wieldy Mk2, but i think it comes to to this:

    1) I'm new to this and don't really know what i'm doing - eventough i have watched your video 1000x times.

    2) bad gimbal bearing will never give any good balance.

    Right now the closet i have been to having it stabil i had a drop time of around 4 and everywhere on the web it says it should drop in about 2,5 sec. When i have it to drop in 2,5 secs, it WAAAAY to buttom heavy. It begins to swing around when i fly it. So it there a "correct" drop time that i should aim for? or is it different for every stabilizer.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Dennis L. Sorensen - The Wieldy is a decent sized stabilizer, and i'm not sure how much weight you're trying to balance. One important tip to have in mind that no matter what stabilizer you choose, I always feel they work at their best when really 'loaded' up. If you're working with a lightweight setup, it will be harder to maintain stability as opposed to adding more mass to the entire setup.

    For projects when I know stability is key, I will often throw on extra weight with the camera (battery grip, LED light, etc), and sometimes add a monitor on the lower sled. Anything I can do to add mass will make the setup more stable even outdoors with a breeze.

  10. Hi Emm. Thanks for this wonderfull video! It's so much better than the others out there.. It funny to watch others videoes on how to balance. Cause after seeing yours, it seems that they never actuallys is balanced.

    But here is my question. You said that if it starts to bob around it because it's to bottom heavy and you need to raise the sled up. I totally get that. But how do you know if you have raised it too much? cause i see it swinger around no matter what i do (well atleast always a little). It will never stay 100% stable all the time (indoor without wind).

    I have bought the new Wieldy Mark 2 and the build quality seems higher (thou i havn't owned a Mark 1) but i just can't get it stable. When the top is too light it starts to swing around, and when it too heavy at the top it also starts to swing around.

  11. Ras

    Thanks Emm. My drop time is ~2.5-3s, moving the sled upwards might just cause it to drop wrong-side up! 😉 I'll give it a try though. Just came back from shooting outside and I notice the breeze really does tilt the stabilizer. Do you find that you need more weights when shooting outside? I remember you saying/writing somewhere that you typically get better performance with more weights...

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