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The Camera Motion Research Blackbird Stabilizer Gives Glidecam a Run for Its Money

As I’ve said before, if you want a simple, no-nonsense review of a product, Dave Dugdale over at Learning DSLR Video is a good place to start. This time Dave takes a look at the Camera Motion Research Blackbird Stabilizer which is a camera stabilizer similar to the Glidecam and Steadicam Merlin products. Ryan has talked about the Glidecam in the past, but more and more companies have been getting into the camera stabilizer business in the last few years. Check out Dave’s review below.

Dave’s Blackbird review:

Here is Dave’s Glidecam review:


I know how complicated it is to get good results from any stabilizer — which is why a professional might use an Archer or MK-V and their daily rate is just about the highest of any member on set (for good reason). If you’re using a DSLR and need to get smoother-looking camera movements, and aren’t looking to spend a lot of money, one of these smaller stabilizers could do the trick. I’ve used the Steadicam Pilot in the past, but that might be overkill if you’ve never used a stabilizer before. Getting proper balance takes a lot of practice, and if your camera only weighs a few pounds (like a DSLR), the Blackbird looks like a decent option.

Camera Motion Research makes two models,  the BB100 which costs $470, and the 2050A which runs for $670. The higher-priced model has a few more accessories that come right in the box, so depending on how much you’re willing to spend, it might be worth the extra $200.

Links:

[via Learning DSLR Video - Blackbird & Learning DSLR Video - Glidecam]

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  • This looks like a great device. What I really like about it, is that it seems to have a really fast setup for better run-and-gun.

  • Michael Soomon on 07.11.12 @ 11:43AM

    selling mine if anyone is interested – Michael.L.Solomon@gmail.com – moved up to a Scarlet, which is too heavy for the rig

  • Having used both the Glidecam and the Blackbird, I think the Blackbird is better across the board. Better fit and finish, easier to set up, etc. It’s also priced accordingly.

    If I were going to buy one of the two, it would be the Blackbird for sure.

  • 20 bucks says one of the next posts is going to be about the Apertus Axiom.

    • We knew about it a week ago but there weren’t many specs available until they announced it at the LSM conference and then put the graphic online.

  • I own the Blackbird and use it with my 7D. It’s fantastic. Also, it works even better if more weight is added to the top, where the camera is. So for instance, I use mine with a SmallHD monitor mounted right on top of my 7D which gives me that extra weight as well as the ability to see what I am filming and thus, framing correctly. It’s a great stabilizer.

  • I think for stabilizing, weight is good. Weight is your friend. Weight gives you inertia, which means that it doesn’t want to wobble around. When I talk to and listen to the pro steadiflyers they often will try to figure out some way to make these new camera-rigs a bit more top-heavy. Just so they can put on some extra weight on the bottom. One cameraman even joked that the best steadi-cam-rig would probably consist of a quick-releaseplate mounted on a yard of railway iron. Few people would have the strength to wobble that.

    Flipside of this of course is that weight is… well… heavy. And having to don the role of occasional Glide-Cam flyer on a feature I fell in love with the vest and arm solution and I would probably not ever buy a rig that relies on my wrist as the sole supporter of weight. I’ve been intrigued by the forearm-strap-on-solution as a middle-ground but haven’t tried it myself yet.

    I am also a bit shocked that he so readily starts to use the weight-part to steer with. He says that using the recommended grip needs so much force to move the camera, but… that’s the whole point, I thought? You should be using only your finger-tips in order to keep it on a steady gliding motion and not jerk it around because of a slight miscalculation of applied force.

    Another thing I have noticed is that the difference between a cheap steady-cam and a simple fig-rig seems to be very negligible. And a fig-rig gives you a two-hand support and mounting options for a lot of accessories. This makes it weigh more (inertia-steadiness-yay!) and make it more heavy (arm hurts-awww!). But for the money I think I would rather go with a fig-rig than a cheap steady-cam.

    That is, until I can afford a full on solution with big rig, vest, arm, remote FF, wireless monitor and a SegWay, of course. :)

    • Daniel Mimura on 07.14.12 @ 2:53AM

      Yeah, weight is your friend… Newton’s 1st law…a body in motion tends to stay in motion…etc…

      Mass keeps it moving smoothly. A 35mm camera flies better than a D-SLR…

      I’ve been building weights threaded in 1/4-20 and 1/2-13 (15mm rod standard threading) to add ballast for lighter cameras.

      My big problem with the blackbird and the merlin footage shot with large chip cameras is b/c the focus. Stick to small chipped cameras b/c they’re too light to use with a wireless follow focus.

  • A great review.

    If you are after a seriously cheap yet AMAZING steadycam device google “sturdycam”

    It’s such a simple design and SO effective for DSLRs, such a great independent company with a really beautiful product!

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