August 27, 2016 at 11:04PM, Edited August 27, 11:10PM

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Lightweight camera stabilizers for people with poor upper body strength??

I'm getting into freelance shooting and am looking to purchase a camera stabilizer to use with a small DSLR like the A7S, GH4, or Canon 5D for hours at a time. I normally just use a tripod, or go handheld, but I know a stabilizer would be extremely useful for fast-paced events like weddings where I will not have time to set up a shot, and will look much better than handheld footage stabilized in post.

The only problem is that I am 5'1'' and am crazy weak, so I have a very hard time using stabilizers like the DJI Ronin or Glidecam. As great as an Easyrig, or something similar, would be, I'm trying to stay under $300. Any suggestions for lightweight, affordable camera stabilizers? And yes, I know the most efficient solution is to simply build my upper body strength. I'm working on it...Thanks!

10 Comments

Have you considered the Osmo? It's double your $300 budget, but it does those stabilized shots very well. One of my coworkers combines Osmo and A7s footage all the time and it looks amazing.

August 27, 2016 at 11:34PM

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Regarding your strength training, good on you! In my own experience, when I train four days a week, I'm able to notice incremental improvements every 6-8 weeks. Or about 6-8 real gains a year. I was able to triple the weight I worked with (in the gym) after about 12 months of effort. My second year of training, I again improved my numbers by another 15%. Obviously not overnight in either case, but definitely worth the effort. Go for it!

August 28, 2016 at 4:48AM, Edited August 28, 4:48AM

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You need muscles in your back and abdominal to carry any stabilizer system. I.e. you have to do you exercises and as well practice operating the stabilizer system.

But maybe Josh's suggestion fits your needs. You won't find something with less weight.

August 28, 2016 at 6:00AM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator/Owner
2403

Core strength is key!

Michael Tiemann

August 28, 2016 at 6:03AM

Any type of affordable camera stabilizer is going to weigh about 4-5 lbs all by itself, so when you add on a light weight camera you are looking at a minimum of 6-7 lbs, which is probably going to be too difficult for you to handle over a long period of time.

I know you don't have the budget for this, but here is what I would recommend in terms of a very light weight and stabilized camera that produces an excellent 4K video image...

The new $800 Panasonic GX85 is very compact and very light weight, it shoots 4K video, and has built-in 5-axis stabilization, so handheld shots are a lot more doable with this camera. The North American version of this camera also has an unlimited shooting time, so as long as your batteries and memory card lasts you can keep shooting.

If you use Panasonic Opitically stabilized lenses with this camera ( like their 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS zoom lens about $1,000 ) you can switch to dual stabilization mode where the camera's 5-axis stabilizer will work with the optical stabilizer built into the lens, taking stabilization to another level.

In terms of total weight, the GX85 camera weighs 15 oz with battery and memory card, while the Panasonic optically stabilized 12-35mm f/2.8 lens weighs 11 oz, for a total weight of 26 oz, or 1 pound 10 ounces.

This is pretty light weight for a dual-stabilized camera that produces a very nice 4K image using a zoom that is equivalent to a Full Frame 24-70mm lens.

Here are some videos shot with the Panasonic GX85 camera
https://vimeo.com/search/sort:popularity?q=gx85

If the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom lens is too expensive, there is a $300 Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom that weighs 2.5 ounces and it's also optically stabilized, so you can use dual-stabilization with this tiny lens for a total weight of 1 pound 1.5 ounces.

Here's a hand-held video that shows how stabilized this combination is. ( I would download this video and check it out closely to see exactly what the results are like )
https://vimeo.com/174608592

I would also add on a light weight pistol grip like this $14 one : http://goo.gl/ULO9NV

August 28, 2016 at 8:33PM, Edited August 28, 9:07PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33383

One of the newer 3-axis gimbals combined with a lightweight camera should be pretty usable I would think. Not quite in the $300 range but the Zhiyun Crane is around $600 online.

Weight would be something like:

Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal (1000g)
https://www.amazon.com/Official-Zhiyun-Brushless-Handheld-Mirrorless/dp/...

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 (305g)
Panasonic GH4 (560g)

For a total of 1856g / 4.1lbs

Could maybe save half a pound by swapping the camera & lens for a lighter combo like the GX85 Jeffrey mentions above (at the expense of some image quality perhaps?)

I've been using my Pilotfly H2 (another fairly new 3-axis gimbal but slightly heavier than the Crane) with a Sony A7R2 + various prime lenses and I've found one of the keys to reducing fatigue is to switch to inverted mode (upside down, holding it like a walking stick) which requires a lot less wrist strength. Obviously the perspective is much lower (chest height) but that can be good for a variety of shot types (e.g. pans of people sitting at tables, low-angle shots, detail shots, etc.)

The Pilotfly H2 also has a two-hand holder attachment you can use to get even more stability and spread the weight across both arms.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1237788-REG/pilotfly_pfh2_h2_3_ax...
1200g / 2.6lbs

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1239338-REG/pilotfly_pfh2t1h_two_...
480g / 1.05 lbs

August 29, 2016 at 1:58AM, Edited August 29, 2:03AM

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tellure
105

Do yoga for your spine, stamina, flexibility and conscious control of your muscles. Go to the gym for your muscles and stamina.

August 30, 2016 at 6:16AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9916

Personally I think the best kind of camera stabilisers are those in the fashion of the glidecam/steadycam. My first stabiliser was a Neewer DSLR stabiliser which worked brilliantly with my 70D and it was dirt cheap on Amazon. Only something like £60! Compared to a Glidecam HD2000 it is lighter, still a bit on the heavy side but very manageable. It also depends on how many weights you need to balance it. But I would defiantly say try out a stabiliser that roughly resembles a glide cam as in my experience they are the most versatile and get the best results with DSLRs.

August 30, 2016 at 9:15AM

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Barry Sheerin
Cinematographer
181

Get the help of a fitness coach who can give you specific exercises for your upper body. Keep training. Or get somebody to do your camera work.

September 1, 2016 at 8:22AM

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gandulf charpentier
director of pornography
751

Surprised no one has said this yet, but why not carry it on your shoulder? Great way to handle the weight and easy to find cheap solutions. I mean, you can even build one yourself. A lot more stable than handheld, and if you're not looking for those sweeping shoots, just a fast way to move around but still get steady shots when standing still, It could work right? Also, you're 5.1 so the perspective would be the same as any stabilizer operator over 5.8 haha. Good luck

September 7, 2016 at 1:06PM

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Viktor Wallmark
Cinematographer
260

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