July 13, 2013

The Ghost is the Most Affordable Gimbal Stabilizer So Far, but Does It Stack Up?

The Ghost StabilizerAs I'm sure we all know by now, gyro-stabilizers have been popping up left and right since the MōVI first came on the scene (as many of you predicted.) Developed by filmmaker Jesse Spaulding of SIC Visuals, the Ghost is the latest brushless gimbal camera rig, and it looks like it's more affordable and has a longer battery life than some of the rigs that we've covered thus far. From the videos I've watched, it looks pretty solid, allowing for nice and smooth movement over difficult terrain, but this rig is only stabilized on 2 axes with a 3rd controlled manually. Does it show in the footage?

"Developed, machined, and fabricated" in Spaulding's shop in Missoula, MT, the Ghost are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to go into production. The Ghost looks and operates like other rigs -- with one exception: it only has 2-axis programmed stabilization, while the third access is manual. The developer says that they will offer a 3rd axis in an upgrade kit somewhere down the road.

Check out what the Ghost can do in the video below, and see if the lack of a 3rd programmed axis shows or not. This first video comes from its Kickstarter campaign.

Specs:

  • Weight: Approx. 39oz/ 1105 grams
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): Approx. 18 x 12.5 x 8 (450 x 320 x 200mm)
  • Startup time:Approx. 5 seconds
  • Runtime: Approx. 2.5 hours/battery
  • Maximum Camera Dimensions (W x H x D)Approx. 7 x 8 x 8 in. (18 x 20 x 20 cm)
  • Camera Weight:  Up to 3.5lbs/ 1500
  • Materials:Carbon Fiber Construction
  • Adjustable Axis:Fully adjustable in all 3 axis to achieve perfect balance
  • Firmware: Open Source
  • Motors: Rewound Brushless Motors
  • 100% designed and assembled in the USA

According to the information on Kickstarter:

[The Ghost] supports cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III, or Nikon D800. The system can support up to 3.5lbs. This is about equivalent to the Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-105mm Lens.

As of right now, the Ghost's Kickstarter is already 70% of the way to their $20,000 goal with 46 days to go. This is due to people snatching up the $1,595 and $1,995 perks, which get you the Ghost unassembled or pre-assembled, so I think it's safe to say that is what you can expect to pay for the rig.

The Kickstarter ends in August, and the developers have plans to produce, assemble, and then ship the Ghost in December.

What do you think of the Ghost? Does it lose some fluidity since that 3rd axis is manual? Let us know in the comments.

Links:

Your Comment

42 Comments

The most important part of the stabilizer is to eliminate the "shaking" effect, which is mostly vertical, is it not? Then the 2nd axis is to keep the horizon level. I guess only having the manual pan is no big deal. But he is pricing it on par with the 3-Axis units.

July 13, 2013 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

DLD. It's priced on par 3 axis units that can't take the weight of a 5d

July 13, 2013 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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BeSteady, pitching on Kickstarter in a couple of days, is $2,500 with 3-Axis rig that can take up to 1.5 KG (5D would work). I suppose it's in the ballpark.

July 13, 2013 at 6:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Well the 2.5 hour battery life is certainly a plus. Curious there were no notices in either Ghost video about post stabilization not being added..? Certainly doesn't beat the BeSteady One in construction grade and engineering. I'm iffy about the Ghost.

July 13, 2013 at 5:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Razor

I recognized the battery - it's a cheap battery bought for €20 on eBay with a sticker of their own on it. You could buy 5 of those batteries and never have to worry about battery life.

July 13, 2013 at 6:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kaito

http://www.ebay.com/itm/290658952256?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

July 15, 2013 at 1:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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farbeyond

With so many of these things coming out by everyday, random people I think it's safe to say that everyone here needs to stop being lazy and make their own. It's not hard to get your head around how to make one.

July 13, 2013 at 6:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tyler

I think this is the answer right here. How hard is it to buy a brushless gimbal and throw some handles on it? It seems like that's all these startups are doing. Then they're marking it all up 300% and touting themselves as engineers and revolutionaries.

July 14, 2013 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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you guys are so wrong but, hey, try it.

July 14, 2013 at 12:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

^ haha. Yeah guys, email a video of your version to the guys at nofilmschool, and you can your very own story about your awesome rigs you made so easily.

July 15, 2013 at 9:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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This is not a critique of this particular offering but rather of the technology in general which all seem to rely on the same basic design.

Most of the shots I have seen taken with these are wide shots at a distance and I have to believe it's the way the camera is situated about belly button level when held normally. I am usually much closer to my subjects so how do you hold it then, it would seem very awkward to have to lift it up higher using the same hand position shown in this video.

Having a second person to control tilt with a RF controller doesn't work, obviously, for the one man crew type of shooter. As far as the steadiness of the shots themselves, they don't seem that much better than old style steadicams. And how about operating these in the rain or mist? Those brushless motors are exposed to the elements (in this model anyhow don't know about each and every one) and would seem prone to problems.

Has anyone taken into account the issue of noise?  As seen in this demo video, usually there is no sound, could that be because those motors are loud? Too loud for interviews? I don't know.

So I see several issues which I would like to see explored in more depth by someone with actual hands on experience with one of these units.

July 13, 2013 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Steve, a camera operator might try a support rig like Atlas or EasyRig, where a strap hooks up to the stabilizer's middle handle from the above. You'd still have to raise the cam up if you have an eye level shot but, depending on the strength of the supporting rods (there are options), the cam itself might be almost weightless as the support helps it spread over the entire body.

@marklondon - a lot of these brushless gimbal rigs come from folks in the RC world. That's also one of the reasons that can handle the light (GoPro, NEX) cameras but need a redesign for the heavier (5D and above) units. Of course, an RC chopper can take great panoramic shots in open seas ... presuming you can land it back on top of the deck and collect the footage.

July 13, 2013 at 11:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Would simply having longer handles to get a higher camera angle for eye level shots work? These smooth shots are exciting, and am looking fowrad to getting one when the price point settles and reliability issues get worked out. The great thing about a Glidecam is that there are less parts to go wrong and no battery issues to worry about. Glidecams are not that hard to use if super wide lenses (14mm-24mm) and post stabilization is used. Would be interested in seeing how these new brushless/gimbal rigs do with 50mm-100mm range lenses.

July 14, 2013 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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rob

(disclaimer - I've never used any of these but ...) From the available videos from Atlas, one might just choose a longer fiberglass rod - or more than a single if the rigs' weight becomes an issue - if you want the camera dangling above your head. Most of these support rigs are designed to have your camera suspended somewhere around the eye level for a quick shoot capability anyway.

Now, someone who's worked with the Glidecam type of a stabilizer, the question ought to be whether, given the type of cinematography you do, the extra $2K for a brushless motor stabilizer is a worthwhile investment or whether you're better off investing either time or money (or both) into some other method of taking moving shots. A 36 foot rubber track + dolly combo can be had on eBay for ~ $350 and is capable of absolutely stable lateral and vertical movement indoors and outdoors, only limited by the length of the track and the fairly deliberate speed of the hand pushed dolly. Then there are moving platforms such as roller skates, electric skateboards, Segway type scooters, etc., that are should be sufficient for a shake free shot (depending on the surface and speed) with the Glidecam anyway. Laforet/Civan used a cameraman on roller skates in their original MoVI video. Segway - modded to work hands free - is a frequent platform tor a Steadicam. Then there is my favorite - suspended cable - which gives super smooth shoots, especially when working in an area where a quick descent or ascent is required.

July 14, 2013 at 4:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

I've checked out the Ghost in person and the whole system is totally quiet and smooth.
I do know the version in the video is a prototype, so they are making changes and close to including a 3rd axis.

July 14, 2013 at 12:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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climberboy2005

I love all these, I look forward to owning one of these gimbals at some point, and I REALLY dig that its people in places like Montana making them and selling them. That's the part that feels revolutionary to me.
Just about to shoot a big yachting project for a major broadcaster, and thinking of throwing something like this in the mix.

July 13, 2013 at 7:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Best engineers in China are working right now, day and night to make such stabilizer for around $500-$700 it will be available very soon.

July 14, 2013 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Peter

$500 is too much. Here's a $210 video stabilizer in the "spirit" of the 3-Axis gimbals.

http://www.amazon.com/RPS-Studio-HDSLR-FloPod-Stabilizer/dp/B006KWR2BM

Which looks like a copy of Alzo's Smoothy Rig that is sold for $157 directly.

http://www.alzovideo.com/alzo-video-camera-stabilizer-smoothy-rig.htm

It doesn't look that impressive on video, alzo ... eh, although, the idea seems to have some merit.

July 14, 2013 at 1:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

If anyones listening, waiting eagerly with $$ to see who will be first to release a model capable of supporting higher pay loads. Sure there are many more like me.

July 14, 2013 at 9:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Don't support China! Support the local start-ups.

July 14, 2013 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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climberboy2005

+1

July 14, 2013 at 12:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

I’m Australian. Australia is considerably more local to China than the U.S, which I assume is what you are referring to by supporting local? That said I buy products from the U.S all the time and I have been talking with gymbal companies in Europe. Business is global. As is the internet and NFS ;)

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July 15, 2013 at 9:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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+1

July 24, 2013 at 11:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mike D

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Monkey-Gimbal-Lemur-DSLR-3-axis-brushless-motor-handheld-multirotor-gimbal-/281132548984?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4174ce4378

Here's one from Poland I found on eBay. 3 Axis, brushless, without the controller, for a $1,500 outright purchase (or bid, starting at $1000). There are YouTube - Darek Czarnecki Channel with several other videos as well - links and they look pretty good (there's some shaking, once you get a horizontal line of reference but the guy seems to be just running around in slippers on a barely mowed lawn ... worth watching for the beautiful Polish countryside alone)

July 14, 2013 at 2:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

I think the sweet spot of pricing will fall somewhere just below 1000$. For units that can stabilize stuff up to 5 lbs. This may take another year and will mean buying straight from china or korea. And I also expect someone merging the "old" idea of transferring the camera's weight to the torso with the new electronic gimbal designs.
As someone above wrote, combining these gimbals with an EasyRig like construction could be the way to go to really chance the "floating camera" world. Since the Freerun/Parcour hype, we are pretty used to people jumping from one apartment building to the next, I guess we`ll soon see some uninterrupted chase scenes through scattering windows onto moving trucks or helicopters in flight... Ahhh pass me the popcorn...

July 14, 2013 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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SpartaBear

But wait... there's more! Eight More Brushless Gimbal Camera Rigs http://cinescopophilia.com/8-more-brushless-gimbal-camera-rigs-and-a-bre...

July 14, 2013 at 10:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Razor

Why do you have the need to spend money on a crutch?? Why no just learn how to properly hand-hold a camera?? Jean-Pierre Beauviala shows how to walk while hand-holding. At approx 40:46 in the video http://nofilmschool.com/2013/07/watch-documentary-camer-that-changed-fil... he shows how to walk with bent legs (slides along floor). For rough terrains you can lift the camera off your shoulder and use your bent arm like a steadycam. Watch the entire video to see how smoothly a Pro can hand-hold a camera.

If you are hand-holding a small camera GH2/GH3/BMPCC no-one notices you. Use a Cage or Gimbal-Rig and everyone will know you are shooting a movie. Thirty seconds after you step out on the street the police will be there asking to see your Film Permit.

July 14, 2013 at 4:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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c.d.embrey

99 percent of the kids using them won't have access to a camera with a global shutter. Heck even with these rigs we should expect wobbly crap to flood the Web in the coming months.

July 15, 2013 at 1:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Greg egan

funny he put his sticker to the battery for hiding...wondering how much he will sucking the money from the customer for this :
http://www.ebay.com/itm/290658952256?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

July 15, 2013 at 1:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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farbeyond

he prolly just gets his stuff from china (like this place http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__317__85__Batteries_Accessorie... ). Most of these 'start up' and 'designed' in `USA` gimicks are nothing more than reshippers scams...especially with this gimbal stuff. This dudes crap looks very much like this: http://www.goodluckbuy.com/3-axis-fiberglass-ptz-w-4008-brushless-motor-...

but whatever... 'those that will be deceived... be deceived'

Not saying these gimbals are not cool. I just built one and I am working on another. Geeze, maybe I should start a scampain on kickstarter... all I need now is some graphics.....yeah :)

July 15, 2013 at 11:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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yin

July 17, 2013 at 11:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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yin

Interesting. Wish there was footage of this in action.

July 17, 2013 at 12:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Is there a distributor in Calgary, Alberta , Canada. If not where can I purchase a Ghost and what is the cost?
Cheers
Jim M.

December 3, 2013 at 3:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jim Moule

I'm a brushless gimbal builder myself. I would like to adress some of the misconceptions there are regarding building on of these camera mounts.

First of all, my apologizes in advance as my post will be long and will be dived in two pages (with permission of the blog's admin). Please also understand that I am not writing this in order to sell you a gimbal, altought I would be happy to offer you my services, but I just want to adress a few issues I saw in some comments above.

My topic is to help those new to these systems to have a balanced view of what is involved in making one of these gimbals, as to avoid discouragement based on the comments of some people, that altought they may have had best intentions in their opinions, they are still wrong in their information and knowledge of how these gimbals work. Not to mention it belittles our hard work.

Some people believe that building a gimbal is easy, that the only thing requierd to make one work is to throw a gimbal kit, perhaps a few CF rods and putting it together with some brushless motors and electronics and that's it! And yes, they are actually right, in part.

The construction part of it, ie., assembling a kit is actually an easy and uncomplicated process for the most part.

The next step, however, involves the controller unit that "controls" how the gimbal reacts to the external movement, basically speaking. There are a few brushless gimbal controllers out there, Alexmos being one of the favorite ones in the market. I will adress this controller since most pros use it on their gimbals.

This controller is basically a printed ciruit board that once tuned up, via your computer by connecting a USB cable (among other connectivity options), it provides your brushless motors the "right input signals" to basically stabilize each axis according to the information the controller it's getting from the 2-3 axis gyro and accelerometer sensor.

Altought programing one is not rocket science, it still involves a lot of learning and patience to custom tune up one according to your gimbal's dimensions and specs.

Many people have bought kits based on the false assumption that it was going to be a "super-easy job" to program it, but end up having to sell their items on ebay because they got stuck in the tuning process, even though their gimbals were, for the most part, well assembled, these individuals decided to sell them due to the difficulty, or perhaps lack of patience, of programming the Alexmos controller.

Does this mean that you should only buy "ready to go" gimbals? No. It means that there's more to the process than just assembling the gimbal. You need to learn and study how the the Alexmos controller works first, then apply your new learned knoledge to the controller's settings in order to get proper feedback from the motors.

There are plenty of tutorials and guides, videos and other tips on how to tune up a board which I will provide links for in the next step.

Continued on part II....

December 12, 2013 at 1:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Part II

........If you head to Basecam Electronics (simplybgc.com) you will find plenty of guides and tutorials on how to program the Alexmos controller. Also, Aerialpixels.com has an extensive FAQ and tips on how to do this in their website. Again, not trying to discourage you here, if you are not willing to put some time and patience into this, this is probably not for you! If you are willing to learn, and delight in electronic/mechanical work then this is probably for you.

As a quick example of what I usually go through to get a gimbal working ok ( I'm not going to detaill all the steps involved, as it would take several pages, and this is just for teaching "example purposes" only.

You should check the links above for details on how to do this yourself). Therefore, you should consider that at least you will need to do and have the following:

* Obviously have an assembled gimbal with its motors installed and servo plugs connected to the motor's plugs (if your motors don't come with them already installed)

*Buy an AlexMos controller for your gimbal. If you have a two axis gimbal then you only need a two axis controller, that is, one sensor that controls tilt and roll, and the main controller. If you have a 3 axis gimbal then of course you need to get a 3 axis controller consisting of two sensors, one sensor that takes care of pitch and stabilization, and another sensor for yaw, and the main control unit.

* Solder header pins, battery cables to the Alexmos controller, or similar stabilization board system. AlexMos controllers don't come pre-soldered, altought a few companies offer them pre-soldered for a basic fee.

* Understand how the IMU sensor works and how to place it on the gimbal in relation to the axis of the motor, (XYZ coordinates) THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT failure to correctly place a sensor will result in all sorts of problems later. Again, check those sites above for info on how to do this, I'm just quickly describing what's involved here)

*Study how to tune up the controller once you installed the driver for the controller and Simplebgc software (available at simplebgc.com) in your computer. Then learn how to browse through the simplebgc's menu, and learn how to connect the controller to the proper COM port on your computer. Once done, you need to to tune up PID settings (related to motor settings basically), power settings (again motor config), sensor placement (selecting which axis of the sensor points up where and adress this in the axis boxes in the software) and then basically learn the other configurations. Once again, all these details are already covered in the manuals provided by simplebgc.com, this is just basicall a very short summary.

* Then learn how to balance a gimbal, which is very easy to do.

Therefore, I do not discourage you if you want to build your own, but do not build one under the wrong advice given by some users who may have never tuned up a controller before. As for the others please understand I'm not attacking you by saying these things, but your views are incorrect and you should not be arrogant in your thinking.

Tuning a controller is actually rather frustrating and could take hours, if not days on some gimbal setups. Therefore, the prices you see are pretty consistant with the work involved to make one gimbal work! Which is not that much considering you are getting almost CineFlex quality for just a couple thousand bucks, where in the past you only had servo driven camera mounts which did not have the speed and precision brushless gimbals have.

I encourage you to check those sites above, don't take my word for all this, but learn first and then give your opinion on how easy or difficult it is to build one.

But I will tell you that professionals, who have no time to mess around with PID settings and other stuff just buy RTG (ready to go) gimbals and are happy to get something that alraedy works, why? Because time is also money, and many a times they make more money than what they spend on a gimbal product. You have to acknowledge this.

So, you may ask perhaps, is it that complicated to build one? Nope, it's actually not overly complicated if you read the tutorials, but it just takes time and a willingness "not to destroy the gimbal once it starts shaking" due to wrong PID or power settings. :D Just take a few days on and off, change values on the software and see what the gimbal does.

Now, if you are trying to get in this field and are in no hurry and are willing to learn, then by all means I encourage you to build your own gimbal and learn how to tune it. it's actually rather nice to have a working rig at the end of a hard day tuning one!

Thankfully there are new controllers coming up that will bring the cost of these gimbals down while offering ease of use and tuning. Remember that after all, brushless gimbals are still in its early stages.

Best wishes in your gimbal building!

December 12, 2013 at 2:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hi!
How can I buy it? And how much is that?
Thanks

December 17, 2013 at 1:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Heitor Florence

The servo stabilizers are known to be the best options for conferring protection to the electrnonic devices. Thus these devices are considered to be vital for enhancing the endurance of the devices. Servo Stabilizer Manufacturers, Isolation Transformer Manufacturers

December 22, 2013 at 4:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Folks, we are proud to anounce we have actually the most affordable gimbal for DSLR's, probably in the world. Our product can handle the 5D Mark III and similar size DSLR's.
The ghost is indeed a good product and value, but check ours and you will save a whole lot more while receiving a comparable product.

Here's our ebay listing. Contact us with questions or comments at info@providentialsystems.com
www.providentialsystems.com

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=321295786133

January 11, 2014 at 3:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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There is a whole community of DIY gimbal groups and I just got myself via ebay and completely assembled for dslrs (like 5d3) for less than $600 and it comes with 3 motors and 3-axis controller board, and off the box it's working fine (just need software fine tune still), let's hope the price will continue to drop so this will become more affordable.

January 26, 2014 at 11:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Johnny

That Alzo rig is a bona fide piece of crap lol. The footage in the video isn't even remotely smooth.

January 30, 2014 at 1:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Bob

The Ghost is for sale now here: http://sicvisuals.com/

March 21, 2014 at 11:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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August 3, 2014 at 2:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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