Steadicam Smoothee Modified – Baby Merlin

It was only a couple of weeks ago I posted information on how to modify a Steadicam Smoothee, essentially making it a mini Steadicam Merlin stabilizer (a.k.a Baby Merlin). If you have a small camera, and you're a fan of the Merlin steadicam, this mod will come in at about 1/5th the price. In the past few days i've received some comments about successful modifications and am just waiting to see some of those results.

Today I just happened upon Vimeo member dhardjono with a recent video posted showing a modified Steadicam Smoothee and a GH2 camera. I happened upon it, because i've been wanting to get a certain lens for a while, and in this video the Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye (found here) was used on the GH2. Results are pretty impressive already removing harsh vibrations and quick jerking movements, but i'm sure with more practice, the results will be solid. If you want to build your own, I have my article posted here:

The Steadicam Smoothee stabilizer is currently on sale until the end of the month following the link (click here).

find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee for GoPro and iPhone

27 thoughts on “Steadicam Smoothee Modified – Baby Merlin

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @Slayer - A 50mm on a Sony NEX7 may be more like a 100mm. It's easier to track a subject with a wide lens, but you can try to any lens.

  2. Slayer

    Hey Emm,

    Thanks for the great idea and post...inspired me to get the Smoothee for my NEX-7 and HX9V. I just finished creating a QR plate for for the Smoothee which works quite well. Didn't want to butcher the GoPro mount as I will have use for that in the winter.

    Just wanted to ask, I need this to work indoors, which on the NEX-7, means the 50mm F1.8 lens. Do you have to use WA lenses generally with Steadicams, or can you rock a 50mm with no issues?

    I also still haven't figured out the best solution for the extra counterbalance weights yet...working on it.


  3. If you are using a wide angle lens, and you have the steadicam leveled to the horizon, most of your frame will be sky or ceiling.

    My Glidecam HD1000 works perfectly with the camera angled down slightly. Unfortunately, the Glidecam is awkward for me to travel with. I like the Smoothee's simplicity. I wished I could get it to work, but couldn't.

    I must have gotten a bad Smoothee, since it appears no one else is having this problem.

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Bob Peak - When you say 'camera angling down' i'm not sure if I would consider that normal for 'any' steadicam. I find the Smoothee or Merlin is balanced at the horizon and not very good with tilting shots. Also, any stabilizer is a two handed operation so one hand will control the steering, or prevent it from spinning.

  5. I bought the Smoothee and customized it for my Nex-5n. I did the customization and it worked out pretty well EXCEPT, when I have the camera angling down a little (normal when using any steadicam) it always wants to turn around and face me. Can't figure it out. Did I get a bad Smoothee, or is anyone else having this same problem?

    I tried taking the piece off that the gimball is screwed to, and turning it around. No solution. It still wants to turn around and face me when the camera is angled down.

    Please help.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Thinley Gyaltsen - No they don't have to match. It's all based on the Gimbal position. Imagine a seesaw (playground toy) with one person on each side. If the pivot point is not centered, you will need more weight on one side and less weight on the other.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @Thinley Gyaltsen - If it is swaying then you have too much weight at the bottom. Just because the camera is sitting straight on the top does not always mean it has the correct amount of counterweight. Try reducing your counterweights just ounces at a time.

  8. Thinley Gyaltsen

    Hi emm how are you ? My modification on cheesecam was pretty good as well the balance is , i tried many all the different walks & gently placing my thumb on the eye of the gimbal but I can still see little swing left to right In my footage even though the Bal was good am I doing it not right , if you can comment on this issue it would be a great help I have a shoot coming next Sunday I appreciate it
    Have a good one

  9. Mike

    @dhardjono - the vid looks more like shot with a very wide lens rather then a fisheye, even a diagonal one like the Samyang 7.5mm. Is there any de-fishing done in post?

  10. Daniel

    What adapter would you suggest for use with the GH2 for this lens. Would this be a good option for real estate interiors?

  11. Daniel

    There's a lot less distortion than I expected on that lens. Is that because of the crop factor on the GH2 or the quality of the lens?

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @Aries - It would be an awesome stabilizer for the HX9V. I just didn't do a demo because the built in IS is already amazing. It wouldn't really showcase the smoothie's abilities.

  13. Aries


    Do you think this would be a good steadicam for the HX9v? I recall you were experimenting with some inexpensive steadicams but I don't recall you using your HX9v with one.

    I'd be very curious to see some footage of the combined excellent in-camera stabilization of the Sony when paired with one of the light-weight steadicams you have.

  14. Joel

    The fly might not be perfect, but the GH2 video looks pretty good - especially in low light.

    And thank gosh dont live near B&H ... I would be broke.

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @syed - That Flycam C5 is designed to fly quite a bit of weight. You will have problems trying to get balance. If you purchase a stabilizer that is too big for the camera, then you'll need to add more weight to the camera by adding a quick release, microphone, LED light or something. If you plan to stay with the basic DSLR + Kit lens, a Flycam Nano is another choice.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @V25 - The Smoothee is 'not' a traxxas mod. It is the same design Gimbal used on the more expensive Merlin. I believe the Dragon may have something similar to a traxxas mod.

  17. syed

    HI emm,

    I live in the uk and here this thing is available at amazon uk, for about £150 and that too the iphone model not the Go pro, is there any difference between the two or is it the same thing. secondly i want to fly the 600d with a kit lens, would you think this is worth the purchase considering the price.
    I was also thinking about the new flycam c5 which costs about £200, your thoughts should i go for that instead. since the flycam nano does indeed have balancing issues with lighter cameras like the 600d

  18. V25

    Hi Emm,
    I'm having trouble deciding between the Steadicam Smoothee (which I would modify per your tips), or the SteadyDragon w/ the top sliding plate. The Smoothee looks to be more refined, especially w/ the top fine adjustment plate, but it has a balljoint (potential traxxas mod?) whereas the Dragon has a gimbal. Also, I'm not sure which counterweight setup is faster to get dialed in, between your smoothee added weight mod vs the counterweight system of the Dragon (kinda flycam-ish-like?). Thanks for all that you do for us!

  19. Emm

    Post author

    @Aries - The Smoothee is an option for smaller Micro Four Thirds type cameras, because the Flycam Nano is unable to fly a GH2 with it's own weight. You would have to add much more weight to the GH2 if you want to balance a Flycam. If you want to remain with a light load, the Smoothee seems to be a good option.

  20. Aries

    Hey, that's East Post Road in White Plains NY.
    B&H's NYC store is like a playground of cool stuff.

    Steadicam works decent but I wouldn't say the footage looks better than the Flycam DSLR nano even with the better quality gimble that has more range of movement.

  21. Emm

    Post author

    @Fabdex - If I had to guess, the unit is too bottom heavy. It literally only takes an ounce or two to throw it off balance and cause that swaying motion. Experience and practice with Steadicams will perfect balance and movement.

  22. Fabdex

    I agree that the video doesn't have any bumps, but that constant rocking on the side axis is pretty distracting. On a scale from 0 to 10, I'd say it's not higher than a 6. For me, anyway.

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