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.

 116 Comments





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

  1. Sharmaine

    Hey, I recently got the Canon g7x mark ii. And I'm having extreme difficulties trying to balance it. It weighs 314g. Any advice?

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

  3. 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!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @Ras - Sway is typically caused by being too bottom heavy. Try adjusting the sled slightly upwards to make it less bottom heavy. Also keep in mind that swaying can be caused by wind resistance. A light breeze outside or a breeze while walking can tilt the stabilizer. It's all practice and a two handed operation. You will carry the stabilizer on one hand, and control pan/tilt/steering with the other.

  14. Ras

    I love this video. In fact, I only bought my Glidecam HD-1000 after watching it and thinking I could probably manage to balance it. So thanks Emm! Follow-up question: moving the sled upwards = making the rig more top-heavy, right? My rig is balanced (I'm using a Canon Vixia HF100 with wide-angle lens and external shotgun mic but it's still no more than ~1.5 lbs) but I get a slight sway/pendulum when walking with it. Should I add more weights (one under the camera) two on the sled maybe? Or just play with the height of the sled? Thanks!

  15. I could not get rid of swinging with my Merlin, so I just purchased a small Glidecam. I can tell right away that it's smoother but it still swings back and forth slightly. I am going to try your tip and see if it eliminates the program. Thanks for the great tip, Emm!

  16. Thank you so much. I have been looking for a video that will show me what things to look for to balance my home made steadicam "Silver Flyer". I have been working on it from a month now. Hopefully now I'll be able to balance it. I hope that I will find the right kind of washers/weights. I'm from the state Himachal Pradesh in India.

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @mike - Depending on what you are shooting a slight breeze will cause the setup to rotate around while walking. If you've practiced enough, you will not have jerky movements with the steering hand. I constantly have my hands on the stabilizers the entire time, it's just takes practice to prevent a jerky look.

  18. mike

    What about spinning around on its own? When I am balancing, even when I think I have it, it will still rotate around in a panning motion. This is an issue when I am filming because it becomes jerky when I am trying to correct the self spins. I do always use my other hand to direct it, but it seems like I am doing this quite often. Is it normal? Some days are really good, other days it seems like I just cannot balance the darn thing too.

  19. Emm

    Post author

    @David - I am guessing you purchased one of the larger stabilizers? It is probably too big for your camera.

  20. David

    My flycam appears to be bottom heavy even if I don't have any weights on it. I find it strange being that I use a canon t2i with lenses (18-55mm & 55-250mm). I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong

  21. RobG

    @ John Heagney - go to your nearest engineering store (tools, car parts etc) and ask about Heli-Coils (Or Google for them; here's a video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFYa6sjhh_E). They are threaded inserts specifically made for repairing stripped threads, and come in most common thread sizes.Installed correctly, they are stronger than the original thread - I have used them on car gearboxes, spark plug holes, cylinder heads, cylinder blocks for head bolt threads, and carburettors, in cheap aluminium, cast iron and steel. Amazing things. There is an initial cost (Heli-Coil kit, cotaining the correct thread tap and drill), but the results are well worth the expense.

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @John Heagney - That did not happen on my unit, but I think someone else mentioned it on their unit. I am only using the Nano, not Nano DSLR.

  23. Great video ... even as a refresher. Just one question: Have you gotten comments about the adjustment screws stripping? Actually, the screws don't strip ... the screw holes on the frame do. Of the eight adjustment screws on my fly-cam, five stripped the frame, rendering the balance adjustments useless.

  24. Emm

    Post author

    @anoel06 - I haven't used any other Flycam stabilizers. For larger ones, i go with Glidecam.

  25. Emm

    Post author

    @anoel06 - Sounds like you'll be comfortable in a 2000 model Glidecam. There are HD models and there are XR models. The HD models have fine tuning knobs, and the XR models don't. The XR models are cheaper than HD. Check them out: Glidecam Stabilizers (click here).

  26. Emm

    Post author

    @anoel06 - Adding a mic or LED light adds height to the top of the camera. It's not just about adding weight, but also about moving that weight further (higher) from the center of balance. The Nano would be too small for a setup like that.

  27. anoel06

    Hi Emm! Just discovered your videos and website and what an awesome job you have been doing! You have been helping me (and from what I can tell, others) tremendously!

    My question is: Would a flycam nano be able to hold/balance a canon 60d with a mic and/or led light? (I mostly use a 50mm lens at the moment, BTW...)

  28. Emm

    Post author

    @Andy - Loading up the stabilizer to it's max weight always seems to make it fly better for me.

  29. I'm using my flycam nano with a gh2 and a sigma 18-50 2.8 lens. With the standard weights the stabilizer comes with the setup is way to bottom heavy, so I had to resort to going to the hardware store and picking up 2 bolts and about 20 fender washers. It now seems less stable. Should I somehow make the top of the unit weigh more and add the stock weight on the bottom or is it fine now? Also, how would I go about making the top heavier?

    Thanks, Andy

  30. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - Sounds like you could just use some practice. These things take time to learn how to fly well. Just keep practicing.

  31. Howard

    Great website! I have a question: I am new to Glidecam and have a small camera. I added weights to the stage and I am at just over 2 lbs. The stabilzer is balanced perfect, no sway when walking but I get a slight bounceing, bobing. I want to say its my footsteps because its not an up and down its more of a pulsing or pushing look with each step. Any ideas?

    Thanks for your reply

  32. Emm

    Post author

    @Kris - It's all in the bottom weight. Either you're still too bottom heavy, or maybe not bottom heavy enough. Millimeters at a time, and practice practice practice. It's also a two handed operation all the time, not one.

  33. Kris

    Hey emm!

    im still getting the swaying effect when i start walking/running.. anymore tips?

    Cheers! 🙂

  34. Pete

    Most boring video in the world, my ass. I was hanging on your every word.

    Thank you so much, kind Sir!

  35. Yugi

    hello, someone can you helm me, to adjus the trabilizer of camera, i'm juts receive the thing and......
    i have a lumix panasonnic's FZ100 camera
    i'll wait for your answer, thanks

  36. Sergei

    Emm, thanks for the answer. It's a fantastic job on the pointed video. It feels like you are also riding a skateboard, but you are just running after her and no any shakes, right?
    I'd purchase a flycam to try it. From your previous posts i found out that the most simple and the cheapest one is Flycam nano from India on Ebay. I'll use it with small JVC camcorder and for the future with Canon-60D.
    Is it a good choice for the begining?
    Thank you.

  37. Sergei

    Emm, thank you for the review. Couple days ago i have found out that there is such a thing as a flycam. I came to your web-site from dealextreme.com where it were discussing cam holder.
    I have additional questions to you all guys concerning methods to shoot with flycam. As i understood right it is possible to shoot only vertical objects that means axis of lens is parallel to horizon?
    1. How to shoot bottom from top (axis is perpendicular)?
    2. How to shoot at any angle (axis at any angle at horizon)?
    3.How to shoot at the ground level, for example, fly in short grass, or child?
    Any video links to "how to" would be interesting.
    Thank you.

  38. erik

    HI Emm thanks for the tips, seem s I got there. For my Canon 60d with kit lenses I only use 4 weights in the end, thanks again, erik

  39. erik

    @emm thanks so much. I will give it another go. I have spent the last 12 hours fiddling with it 🙂

  40. Emm

    Post author

    @eric - The side to side swaying is usually from too much bottom weight. Sounds like it's still too bottom heavy.

  41. erik

    HI Emm, awesome videos and tutorial. I received mine today. I got a 60d with only the 15-88 kit. I ordered a quick release plate from the guys as well. I am having trouble with the side to side wave. I do not seem to get that fixed. Also for this camera I use and the lens, how many weights to you suggest to use? Thanks again,

    erik

  42. Emm

    Post author

    @mike_tee_vee - You fly with two hands, and it can be tilted. It should stay fairly smooth with practice.

  43. mike_tee_vee

    After balacing. can the Flycam nano be angled downwards? Or must it be held up right in order to be functional?

  44. Emm

    Post author

    @Leo Telles - Once you have it locked in place, you should not require rebalancing. Little changes like lens cap, or swinging out LCD will change balance significantly.

  45. I`m using a Glidecam HD1000 with a manfrotto quick release adapter, but everytime i`m going to use it i need to fine tune a little bit with the top knobs, it`s normal? because seems very balanced.

  46. JR

    Thanks for all the coverage on the Flycam Nano Emm! I ordered mine last Sunday on eBay, paid for it Monday morning and it arrived Thursday. How they could ship from India in only 3 days I don't know but that's awesome! Last night I threw the Canon 60D with EF 28-135mm on it (almost exactly the same weight as the Tokina 11-16). First impression, the stabilizer by itself was smaller than I expected though of very good build quality. Loaded with DSLR and lense its quite heavy. May have to get a brace or start doing a lot of pushups! The videos here at Cheesycam are extremely helpful in learning how to balance the Nano, so it took me about 1-2 hours to get comfortable with all the parts and reasonably dialed in. I cannot wait to fly!

  47. Emm

    Post author

    @ibro - Can you shoot a video of what its doing when you are using it? Right now, it just sounds too bottom heavy

  48. ibro

    okay now that i have everything fixed, i cant get it to balance for the life of me.. emm could you help. i have the GH2 with the stock 14-42mm. i have been trying to balance it with two weights each at the bottom, but it still wobbles... any tips would be appreciated!

  49. Emm

    Post author

    @ibro - Someone else had that problem, but managed to loosen it up with a wrench. It might just be on very tight.

  50. ibro

    hi emm, try as i may, i cant seem to loosen the bottom post. am i doing something wrong or are there defective units out there? thanks

  51. Denys

    Hi,
    me again 😀

    ehm I shoot short video to show my problems ... why is the flycam begin to bounce, when I tilt the handle?

    look here: http://vimeo.com/18386687

    thanks for your tips, they helped me to balance a bit more 🙂

    greets

  52. Emm

    Post author

    @Denys - Spin it around, it should stay balanced the whole time. If it's not balanced when spinning it around, also check to see if the Gimbal (bearing) is loose in any way. Tighten that up. When walking - these stabilizers, including Glidecam are operated with two hands. Use one hand to keep it from spinning.

  53. Denys

    Hello,

    can you help me ... I have flycam nano and 550d with tokina 11-16, but i cant balance it ... when I begin zu fly it starts to spin ... what is the problem?

    thanks

    btw. your blog is awesome...

  54. Victor

    I'm having a balancing problem with the glidecam and made a quick video showing the problem. I have it balanced when holding the handle, but if I rotate (spin) the glidecam 180, then it's completely out of balance. The video shows much better than I can write it. Any ideas? Thanks!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9sDmaFLZL0

  55. Emm

    Post author

    @Leo - that would be a sight to see, but unless you are pulling focus, you might not need a monitor. you can frame fine without one.

  56. Leo Telles

    Emm, do you think I can putt a lilliput on the front-bottom part of the flycam (maybe taking off some washers in that part) and still be able to balance it right ?

  57. Box

    Thank you for the video. I followed the steps and balanced the nano but found out that it will only stay balanced in one direction.

    After countless hours figuring out the physics of it all I found out that the problem is actually located at the gimbal bracket. If your flycam goes off balance when you point it in another direction, this may help.

    Would be good to have a light stand handy to help hoist up the setup else it will be really tiring.
    1 Balance the flycam first in only one direction, left or right. Try as much as possible to have the bottom weights equal on both sides.
    2 Once it is balanced, spin it the other direction.
    3 If it remains balanced, you're one of the lucky few who got a good unit, if not:
    4 Take note of the side that is tipping down, and slowly unscrew the screw (no. 4 allen key) holding the side of the gimbal bracket, quater turn at a time. This shifts the bracket slightly.
    5 Repeat steps 1 to 4 until balanced.
    6 If you want the setup to feel safer, you can remove the bearing (there is a black spacing inside) and add small washers after the spacer before tightening the bracket back.

    Its time consuming, but its really worth the time balancing the thing, especially if you have the tendency to spin it around the axis.

    Hope the tip helps!

  58. William

    Thanks Emm! My Flycam just arrived today (it took six days from the time I ordered it) and it's flying beautifully. Can't wait to try it with the forearm brace. Should be here soon.

  59. Emm

    Post author

    @Kelly - actually the handle is very small, but hasn't been a problem for me. Maybe because I practice Tiger Claw technique. LOL.

  60. Yeah the company is definitely backed up. Probably even longer now that cheesycam has gotten a hold of one......glad I got mine BEFORE it became popular. Oh by the way Emm, how you liking the handle? I hate how small it is, so I replaced it with a 1 1/2 inch thick wooden dowel with a hole drilled in it to bolt it to the gimball.

  61. Emm

    Post author

    @Danial - The stabilizers are different sizes designed to support different camera weight. Bigger ones for bigger cameras, smaller ones for smaller cameras. You need to decide on what camera you will be using and that will give you an idea of of what stabilizer to get. The HD4000 is huge, but I sometimes fly with a microphone and an LED light, and audio recorder. It gets heavy after a while.

    A vest doesn't do much for stabilizing the video, it's just there to make it easier to carry the weight for long periods of time.

  62. Danial

    Hi Emm,

    I love your reviews for low cost DIY setups. I am thinking of getting a stabilizer for DSLR usage. I need an opinion should I go with a HD4000 or a Flycam Nano?

    How important is the usage of a vest, caused the Glidecam HD4000 and Steadicam Merlin Vest sounds like a very interesting setup. I am trying to do interior shoots with a video cam so should I go for a full vest setup or a nano would be good enough?

    Your thoughts would be very much appreciated.

  63. SVPxJERRY

    @Kris - I purchases mines on 12/1, it shipped out on 12/4, and I received it on 12/7 from the same guys in India. Pretty fast IMO. I'm pretty sure they're selling tons of these right now (like everything else Emm does a review on), so they're probably backed up.

  64. mojo43

    @Kris - Mine shipped right away. Still waiting but I heard that they come pretty quick. The probably just have a lot of orders at the moment.

  65. @Kris. It took me almost 1 week in waiting before they sent me the Nano. Maybe they're having 'peak seasons' at the moment on their manufactured.

  66. CJ

    You do a great job explaining thing, the hooked on fonix way! I watched your video and my baby was flying like a bird. Thanx!

  67. Kris

    Anyone else have problems with these guys taking forever to ship? Ordered Monday morning- tomorrow is Friday. Still hasn't shipped and they keep telling me it will- Was supposed to ship Tues... then Wed... then Today.... now its tomorrow.

    I might want to reconsider ordering from these eBay people selling you this from India!

  68. Andrew

    hey emm – does the nano allow you to tilt up and down – not just glide left and right – like the HD1000? love the shot you did walking down the stairs from the HD1000 test footage.

  69. Rabby

    Thanks again, I tried Merlin while ago a friend of my has it, and pretty much gave up. This is really helpful, even though I have yet to order the Nano. Now I am going to.

  70. Emm

    Post author

    @Chris - the tips for Merlin are in the bottom ofthe article. lock the arch dial in the middle and then try compressing the arch millimeters each time. you can also try to thread in or unthread the gimbal a little each time.

  71. Chris E

    I'm using a Steadicam Merlin and I think it's the hardest device to achieve perfect balance! There just seems to be so many things to adjust to find the balance. Any tips? I'm using a 60D with a Tamron 17-50 2.8 VC.

  72. Kris

    I ordered the Flycam Nano from the eBay guy... man they suck- ordered it 3 days ago and got an email saying it was in "dispatch" and it would be shipping soon. Emailed him again today and he said its "still in dispatch, will email when shipping"

    I guess thats what I get for ordering from some half ass country

  73. Emm

    Post author

    @SVPxJERRY - If you plan to fly for a long time, the less weight the better. Of course having a longer extension means you lose some of that compact package the Nano was designed to be. Then again, I find that the more weight loaded on the bearing, the better it flies.

  74. SVPxJERRY

    I have to agree that this video is more useful and imformative than all the ones I've seen.

    From your experience, do you think having less weights with the sled lowered down, or more weights with sled more raised is better? Or would there even really be a difference in performance for either?

  75. Emm

    Post author

    @Anthony - did you know I had to try and shoot it 4 times! The camera kept cutting out on my 12 minute limit, LOL. That's why I changed it to SD so the video would run longer.

  76. Anthony

    I know you think that making this video was lame, but it's much more useful than you think. This helped me out a ton and I've seen all the other ones. You underplayed it's usefulness but you explained it better and gave pointers not available in other tutorial. I did find it funny that you were visibly upset with having to make the "boring" video. haha At least you're always thinking of fun things to show us...

  77. Emm

    Post author

    @Jeremy - for the Jr. you would unthread the Gimbal handle. Be careful, there is a tiny push lock button you press before unscrewing. Unscrewing it one full turn at a time makes a huge difference in weight ratio.

  78. Harlan

    Great tip Emm. I get that slight rocking with mine and thought I was balanced. Im going to try your tip. This video was worthwhile because I had to search to find decent videos to balance mine, and after that, NONE told me how to hold it while flying it. Thanks brother.

  79. THANK YOU!!!! especialy about the bobing and swaying, i have that horribly on my steadycam jr, and man it drives me bonkers, but after seeing you adjust the stage on the nano, i think i might pick up one of those instead.

  80. Brute Wolf

    What about the SteadyTracker from CobraCraneUSA? I purchased this one and have been reasonably pleased. I couldn't really find any head to head comparisons, except one done by videomaker a few years ago. They rated the SteadyTracker "easily the best" since the adjustment was quickest (I can do mine in three minutes or less) and there's no gimbal on it, so it supposedly has the shortest learning curve. Do you have any thoughts on this? Would I be getting better results with a gimbal-based device?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



RSS Feed Widget


Top Selling Drones