April 16, 2015
NAB 2015

Steadicam Introduces a Bunch of New Stabilizers for Large Format Cams, DSLRs, & GoPros

Steadicam came prepared to NAB with a bunch of great tools for stabilization, including the Steadicam Solo, Smoothie, Curve, and M1.

Solo

Aimed at the DSLR market, the most notable thing about the Solo's design is its versatility. Although it can be operated with the Steadicam vest and arm, as well as handheld, it also extends to be used as a monopod. It's meant for DSLRs under 10 lbs. Also, the Solo is well-calibrated right out of the box, so if you want to switch between using it as a handheld stabilizer and a monopod you can.

The entire kit is $1495, which includes the Solo, the arm, and the vest. The Solo alone costs $499 and is currently shipping.

Smoothee Universal Mount

This stabilizer was originally designed for iPhones and GoPros, but now it comes with a universal mount, which will allow users to mount any smartphone to it, including an iPhone 6+. The Smoothee costs $149, but no word on how much the universal mount will cost. We'll keep you updated as we learn more.

Curve iPhone Adapter

Meant for the GoPro specifically, the Curve now has an adapter that lets you mount your iPhone to it. According to Tiffen, the new mounting adapter will be available "very soon" and should retail at about $35.

M1

Able to handle much bigger payloads for larger cameras, the M1 is meant to take users' attention off of configuration and maintenance, and on the task at hand. It's also meant to be versatile and flexible, allowing users to use the M1 on a wide range of projects.

The M1s that have already been manufactured have already been sold, but Steadicam says another large batch is on its way shortly. The tentative price for the whole kit (vest, arm, monitor, sled) is $49K, but without the sled and monitor it's around $20K.


No Film School's complete coverage of NAB 2015 is brought to you by Color Grading Central, Shutterstock, Blackmagic Design, and Bigstock.

No Film School's coverage of NAB is brought to you by Color Grading Central, Shutterstock, Blackmagic Design, and Bigstock

Your Comment

19 Comments

From my experience the stabilizers should be phased out because they do take a relatively long time to re-balance and do not work well with the long lenses. I.e. in my case rebalancing would be an at least 20-min long exercise. After two shoots my brain developed a "make do" habit which eventually lead to leaving the stabilizer at home. Eventually I gave it away to a filmmaker who was starting out.

Now, their arm -- at 2:14 -- is a whole different story. Put a gimbal on that arm... Hmm, I wonder what it would like. Would it take away those noticeable ups-and-downs as one steps?

I wish the stabilizer companies would realize that their product is obsolete -- people want a self-balancing gimbal. And this instead would focus on human-to-gimbal amortization such as the arm at 2:14.

April 16, 2015 at 9:15PM, Edited April 16, 9:15PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
4032

Steadicams will never be obsolete, they serve a different purpose to gimble rigs. They are designed for specific shots and purposes. Plus they don't take long to balance for a seasoned operator. Takes about 5 minutes tops (for me anyway).

April 17, 2015 at 7:14AM

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Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
582

I strongly disagree with you, Alex. It's pretty ridiculous to say you used it on two shoots and then say it takes too long to balance. The general learning curve I hear people say time and again (which I can confirm myself) is about 2 *years*! If you hit the steadicam forums, you'll see posts time and again where ops are bitching about shoddy gimbal work...because a good op is going to be smoother than a gimbal op. The Movi is great...I picked one up and did the equivalent of about a year or more of learning steadicam...it's great for the amateur, but at a professional level, steadicam will always have its place.

April 22, 2015 at 8:07AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2047

Oh "Dear" Steadicam, I really hope you enjoyed their prohibitive prices of the past. Now, your future will be dark.

April 16, 2015 at 9:47PM

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theuerweirich@me.com
Director of Fotography
327

I remember people used to have steadicam vs gimbal discussions in 2013. Non-vested stabilisers (like Merlin) have portability and operating time over gimbals -- just fold it up and throw it into your backpack, then unfold it and operate for 30 minutes. Vested steadicam vs basic gimbal has advantages including: can carry greater weight for longer periods; stabilises in six axes rather than three; capable of more subtle moves; fewer issues with device getting damaged, tricky to transport, not working properly, running out of battery, etc. And of course, gimbals have plenty of advantages to offset all of these, including ease of use, and a great variety of moves. Maybe the future lies, as Alex suggests, with a combination of the two.

April 17, 2015 at 12:45AM, Edited April 17, 12:44AM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
889

They definitely priced themselves well out of range for most of the Indie crowd... I've always considered the "affordable" options like the merlin to be rather cheap and kind of a joke in comparison to the alternatives that were popping up. A well-made Chinese stabilizer (they do exist) can be had for under $1,000 and smash the merlin in all areas. It kind of felt like, "hey kid! i'll sell ya this plastic vested base model we whipped up for all you poor folk, it's got tiny arms, but i bet it could fly that little photo-camera."
Times have changed though... Consider this. In the past, back when the brilliant Garrett Brown launched his company, things were much different. Most people couldn't afford to own hardly anything outside audio equipment and C-stands. Cameras were all a fortune and if they weren't they were shit, strictly speaking on the cameras that would be used in feature &/or TV, which would be the only times we'd see Steadi's used. So they were marketed towards the high-level pro's, production companies, and big budgets. A videographer w/a Steadicam wasn't a thing.
Enter the age of the Owner-Operator.
While Steadicam has been slow to adjust to the curve, especially considering the competition, I do think they still have a shot at a good future.
When it comes to the best of the best, I own a $1,500 Steadi-wannabe... it's nice, it works incredibly well. However, if you are familiar with these, and then you feel the STEADICAM arms w/Titanium springs and the highest level of materials from vest to sled... It's almost spiritual. The things look like they were engineered by NASA and feel even better!
They might drop in profit-margin, but you can't beat the quality.

April 17, 2015 at 3:07AM

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J.M. Anderson
Director of Photography
456

To clarify, I was speaking strictly on the past in mentioning their pricing outside of indie-budgets and the entry level gear.
The Solo appears to be a really big step in the right direction. Quality is on point and the price is great! If I met Garrett Brown, I'd shake his hand & thank him.

April 17, 2015 at 3:12AM, Edited April 17, 3:12AM

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J.M. Anderson
Director of Photography
456

It needs to be said, steadicam was never really an indie tool, it was always for large productions. They don't really have any serious competitors, flycam just aren't manufactured to the same quality and the chinese knock-offs are even worse for anyone who has used them. I think their pricing is fairly reasonable given the manufacturing costs and the quality of the product. On the subject of gimbles, they aren't really in direct competition to steadicam, they are a different tool for different purposes. I don't think their future is that dark, no more than Arri or any other manufacturer of premium production equipment.

April 17, 2015 at 7:33AM

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Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
582

There is a lot of direct competition with Steadicam. There's MK-V, XCS, and GPI Pro in addition to Steadicam. They're all in the tens of thousands of dollars, even used. Most people just haven't heard of them because they don't make gear for consumers and prosumers, like Steadicam. (Also, steadicam has become a genericised trademark, like Ziplocks, Lego's, and Kleenax, so a lot of the time, when people say "steadicam", they mean a camera stabilizer (not remote operated like a Scorpio) that's mounted to a vest that you walk around with (or mount to a golf cart or ATV or rickshaw...etc...regardless of if they're using a Pro arm or a Tiffen. It turns into a little bit Chevy vs Ford or Mac vs PC with people's gear (I'm understating it...it's worse than that, it's more like debating religion or guns.). Every op has his or her own an opinion...but whatever...almost everyone who uses these rigs are professionals, and as such, they all have their own opinions based on their experiences.

April 22, 2015 at 8:59AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2047

One thing I find frustrating about the Solo -- correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't tilt that head when it's in monopod mode, right? You can only shoot straight ahead?

April 17, 2015 at 12:38AM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
889

Looks like the M-1 is the replacement for the Archer given the price and payload.

April 17, 2015 at 7:15AM

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Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
582

The M1 costs 49.000$, the Archer 30.000$ and is still offered, that's barely a replacement....

April 17, 2015 at 3:44PM

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Gerard M.
1267

According to the Tiffin guy I spoke to at the BSC Expo, that is the intention anyway.

April 19, 2015 at 8:29AM

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Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
582

I picked up a Steadicam Solo (with arm and vest) last week and I'm extremely happy with it. I'm shooting with the Blackmagic 4k production camera and it works like a dream. Shot with Glidecam systems before and this system is so much better. Balancing is super quick and build quality is amazing. I've even modified it with a vmount battery and screen (which you can see here: https://instagram.com)/farmervision/)

April 17, 2015 at 8:22AM, Edited April 17, 8:22AM

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Nicholas Bradford-Ewart
Director/Producer/DP
67

Steadicam's time is passing, period. Steadicam owners like to claim that they are substantially different from gimbals - ok, then, someone post a link to a test of their substantive differences. In reality they are very subtle differences that only very large productions will have the resources to utilize. Gimbals are a gift to the indie filmmaking community and I'm thankful for them. I remember the first time I watched this video thinking "this is better than any steadicam I've seen" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40gaqKnM-P8

April 17, 2015 at 2:40PM

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Attention Creative
Writer / Director / Director of Photography
154

Well, taking a Steadicam Merlin as an example rather than a vested system... One big difference is portability -- fold up and throw it in your backpack vs bringing a pelican case and batteries and monitor and worrying about damage during transport. Another difference is operating time -- how long can you carry a gimbal continuously before you have to you set it down? You can do 30- to 60-minute takes with a Merlin if you have to. And another difference is price -- $200 for a used Merlin vs, what, $2000 for a Ronin M?

Of course, a Ronin M is also a lot smoother than a Merlin, and you can do more variety of moves with it.

April 17, 2015 at 3:57PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
889

Adrian, excellent points. Regarding portability, agreed - though, if you're going to give up that much stability for portability then you're cost point is critical. Ultimately I'm thinking of the mainstream indie filmmaker (like ourselves) - great shots and reasonable costs.

April 17, 2015 at 8:05PM

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Attention Creative
Writer / Director / Director of Photography
154

Gimbal based stabilization will never die. It has a more natural flow and looks much more pleasent than those jittering brushless gimbals.

Benefits over electronic gimbals:
- You can carry more weight (I am talking about 14lb cameras)
- With vest, you can carry it quite long
- Single operator mode
- You can control the camera much better (tilt, pan, height)
- No batteries required
- Balanced in 5min
- No jittering
- You can pass slim doors without problems
- No bumpers while walking
- No issues with electronics
- Can be better packed (fits in a slim soft bag), good for travelling
- Camera can be equipped with several lenses on set (requires only minimal adjustments)
- Camera size does not matter

April 19, 2015 at 2:24PM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator/Owner
1485

Right on...on all points. The jittering is what I hate most about electronic gimbals...I don't know if it's an inherent flaw, or something gimbal ops need to work on and get under control (just the way steadi ops have to learn how to start/stop the camera before walking or stopping walking to hide the motions with the momentum and a million other things that got developed and discovered over the years.).

One thing you didn't mention...long term health. It's really bad for you carrying a heavy camera out in front of you because it really strains your back...at least with regular shoulder mounted hand held camera operating, your spine is lined up with the weight over you instead of out in front of you. It's not only an issue of you just running out of strength on a long day with an electronic gimbal, it's just that it's not good for you. A steadicam vest distributes your weight, (as well as helps you keep your back straight), so it's your legs that get tired, not so much your arms and your back. Your back muscles get sore with steadicam, but it's not like, in a damaging way like holding heavy weight out in front of you.

April 22, 2015 at 9:11AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2047