April 16, 2015
NAB 2015

A Sub $3K Gimbal for DSLR Filmmakers: Meet the Letus Helix Jr.

If you're a fan of Letus' modular gimbal stabilizer Helix, but don't need quite as much power, the Helix Jr. might be more up your alley. This smaller gimbal is geared more toward DSLR and mirrorless cameras, like the GH4 and A7s. Letus gave us a demo, which you can watch below:

Technical Specifications

  • Magnesium alloy frame (2/3 the weight of aluminum with better vibration dampening)
  • Weighs 4.75 lbs (2.2 kg) with battery in handheld mode
  • Weighs 3.65 lbs (1.7 kg) in "fly" mode and no battery
  • Payload capacity: 7 lbs (3.2 kg)
  • Includes 2600 mAh Lithium Ion battery .5 lbs (0.2 kg)
  • 16 in (40 cm) span handle to handle (handheld mode)
  • Quickly converted between handheld and "fly" mode in less than 3 minutes
  • Flat bottom design. Set it down without a stand
  • Super easy balancing
  • No software changes needed between camera swaps / weight changes
  • One Letus JuiceBox and charger included

The great thing about the Letus Helix and Helix Jr., as well as the DJI Ronin, is that users can easily transition into different shooting modes to fit with whichever camera move they're going for. This was an exciting development in gimbal stabilizer technology, which is already incredible to begin with (we all remember when the MōVi came out back in 2013). The Helix Jr., though, offers the same technology, only on a smaller scale -- something that DSLR filmmakers will definitely appreciate.

The Helix Jr. is currently available for $2899, but the larger Helix won't be ready for about another 8 weeks. It will cost $12K, $15K, and $18K depending on, we're assuming, models, kits, and add-ons.


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

13 Comments

With the Dji Ronin-M on its way for less than $2,000 this gimbal along with others in this price range really don't make much sense.

April 16, 2015 at 3:59PM, Edited April 16, 3:59PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1027

Well, Helix is a better design and better made product. If you Google round, you'll see some negative reviews of the original Ronin (eg http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/stabilizers-steadicam-etc/527426-dji-ronin-e...), but I'm not sure anyone has a bad word to say about the original Helix, apart from price.

April 16, 2015 at 5:05PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
1084

And yet there are other reviews where people state that the Ronin has been the best gimbal they have ever used. Here's one...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUYShIIUANE

For me, I'm looking for a gimbal that's no more than $2,000, and the Ronin-M appears to be exactly what I am looking for. I like that it's completely tool-less, I like that the cross-bar handles can be removed, I like that it has a bluetooth thumb-controller ( that still works when the cross-bar is removed ), I like that it comes with larger remote for a second person to control the camera while one person moves the gimbal, I like that it will auto-calibrate when I change cameras or lenses, and I also like that it's a 5 lb magnesium gimbal that's rated for camera's up to 8.5 lbs. This looks like a good camera weight range for me.

http://www.dji.com/product/ronin-m/feature

April 17, 2015 at 12:48AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31335

I'd agree in most cases, but the Helix has an excellent form factor and several features such as the ability to be set down on a flat surface without a stand, the ability to easily tilt downwards simply by rotating a handle, and the ability to make the camera spin around it's primary lens axis. I think those things make the Helix different enough from the proliferation of 3-axis gimbals hitting the market that it could still gain some footing in the sub-$3K price range even has the Ronin-M is available.

April 16, 2015 at 5:10PM

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David West
Filmmaker
870

The price is one factor but the helix seems to be an all around different beast. Others below have commented on many of them already. I'll add one more, having used the Ronin quite a bit. The weight is an issue, but what adds to the weight is the distance you have to hold the ronin from your body compared to the helix. This leverage or lack there of compounds over time. That being said, I'm still torn between the two gimbals. I've seen a bit of jittery footage at the edges from the junior footage out there which scares me a little. Same with the defy g2x. Weight can sometimes be an asset.

April 16, 2015 at 5:28PM

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I've used the Movi, the Ronin, the Helix, the Helix Jr and some others. I just bought the Helix Jr. to use with my RED Dragon after demo-ing it at NAB. Simple, rugged design, compact, intuitive. I thought it was tremendous value for money.

April 16, 2015 at 5:12PM

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scott pommier
Director
167

Did he just say the motor is as strong as an m15 and you can put 15 lbs on it? Not what the specs say as far as payload but if this is true it might just edge out over the ronin M for me!

April 17, 2015 at 12:25AM

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It's rated for a 7 lb maximum load. I don't know why they are overloading it when they demo.

April 17, 2015 at 12:54AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31335

They left the dreaded twitch in the footage as well!

April 17, 2015 at 1:29AM

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It intends for the smaller class cameras, more of the form factor than the strength of the motors. The motors can handle well above 15lbs if you can balance it. We made the monitor mount that allows you to easily balance it, so we put on more than 12lbs and the motors only run at around 60%.

April 17, 2015 at 2:50PM

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Hien Le
154

It won Best of show on the Pro Video Camera Accessory Category

April 17, 2015 at 3:30PM

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Hien Le
154

If it was say, $1800, I'd go for it right now. No Joke. I'm guessing that the response in sales will make it so sooner than later (or you're a small company content to not make mass sales). Just a little late to the party after the Ronin a year ago and coming out just at the same time as the Ronin-M (which will be sold at that proper price point). Drop the price and DJI has a competitor. If not, I assume DJI wins this battle on price alone.
At a price below $2000, I'm picking this Letus jr. But with the price difference, I'm going Ronin-M. I don't have that extra $1000 to drop on form factor. Simple truth.
Let me know when the price goes down...Hopefully I won't have bought the Ronin-M yet because once I get one, I hope to have it for years.
;)

April 21, 2015 at 11:20AM

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Joe Shmoe
filmmaker
81

This looks great. I'm torn between this and the Defy G2x. The Defy seems similar in most respects but is only $2000.

But the Helix Jr. holds more weight. That won't matter to me now but it'd be nice having the capacity for more weight if I eventually get a bigger camera (or get a gig where I rent a bigger camera).

I'm just not sure which to get.

April 17, 2015 at 3:59PM

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Why doesn't anyone mention the CAME 7800? It has a way better price point, $1200 and it ships fast. Now a gimble under $1800 is perfect for low budget guerilla filmmakers like myself

May 7, 2015 at 6:12PM

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Tery Wilson
DP/Editor/Web Designer
81