Q: I’ve been looking into getting a Smoothee to take some great iPhone video, one of my buddies has been using them and making some fantastic videos, now I see that you’re advertising a new handheld Steadicam for the iPhone called the Volt, what’s the difference?
A: The Steadicam Smoothee is a non-electronic handheld stabilizer for iPhones, Android phones and GOPRO cameras (a GOPRO accessory mount is in the works). At first glance you might think that the NEW Steadicam Volt has pretty much the same features as the Smoothee, the big standout feature is an electronically balanced gimbal, which makes it Steadicam’s first gyro stabilizer. You can use it as a smartphone stabilizer or a GOPRO stabilizer, either way, you’ll get awesome video stabilization. The Volt also folds to a compact size making it easier to transport.
A great feature of the Steadicam Volt that sets it apart from other electronic gimbal stabilizers is that even if the long lasting lithium ion batteries run out and you lose the gyroscopic stability, the Volt is still balanced on the 3 axis gimbal and you can continue shooting stable video on the go, like with a traditional Steadicam. It’s the only handheld gyroscopic smartphone stabilizer to offer this.
Q: Do the Smoothee and the Volt come with carrying cases?
A: Glad you asked, a compact carrying case is in the works for the Volt, we’ll link to it when it’s available. The Smoothee comes with a belt clip, but if you would like to carry it in something a messenger bag is a good suggestion. Messenger bags can get pricey but as an example Domke makes a line of rugged canvas messenger bags for men and women. The smallest are the F-803 models with the main interior dimension of 12″ x 3″ x 9″, the Smoothee will fit inside that main compartment perfectly leaving plenty of room for other equipment.
Q: Why are there so many Steadicam models and how do I decide which one to buy?
A: Steadicam offers a full range of products from the high-end big rigs like the M-1, the first Modular Steadicam that is used mostly for larger camera packages in both film and broadcast to the Aero models. The Steadicam line of handheld 3-axis gimbal stabilizers use the same award-winning technology as the big rigs. These lightweight handheld stabilizers are designed for a variety of Smartphones, GOPRO cameras and even as a DSLR stabilizer. We also make the Steadimate, which is an adapter that can be added to a Ronin or Movi motorized gimbal to connect it to one of our Arm & Vests allowing for increased stable handheld video footage.
Q: I am not sure what Steadicam to buy for my DSLR camera and lenses.
A: All Steadicam Arms have a weight pay-load rating. The thing to know is that it’s the total payload, meaning the Steadicam Sled PLUS the total weight of the camera built-out as you will be using it. Build out your camera, ideally as a worst case scenario, meaning with the heaviest lens you will be using and fully accessorized, now weigh your total camera package. The A-30 arm as available on the Aero and Zephyr, have a total payload of 30 pounds. The Aero Sled weighs 9.75 pounds which includes the Monitor and battery mount, but not the battery, so this arm will carry a camera package of around 19-20 lbs.
Q: What is a Sled?
A: The Sled is referring to the vertical post that connects the camera stage on top and Monitor with battery plate on bottom. The Sled attached to the arm via a Gimbal, which allows you to “fly” the sled with articulated movements. The Arm is attached to a vest, which allows the Steadicam operator to effortlessly shoot longer video over extended periods of time. The Steadicam M-1, which is the first modular Steadicam, is a good example to illustrate this. Steadicam’s Fawcett Exovest and G-70x Iso-Elastic Arm are two companion pieces to the M-1.
Q: What’s the advantage of using a Steadicam over hand-held or dolly camera shots?
A: Steadicam is designed to remove the jarring motion of walking from the camera image. It allows you fluid movements of the camera that are not achievable in handheld operations (meaning holding the camera by hand, as opposed to using a handheld Steadicam for DSLR, GOPRO, Android or iPhone video), while not limiting your artistic perspective and movements, as would be from a dolly mounted camera. We offer a variety of Steadicam Workshops focusing on Steadicam technique designed for raw beginners to experienced Steadicam operators.
Q: Are there any good videos about how to use a handheld Steadicam, tips to getting a balanced gimbal, etc.?
A: Yes, we have some great Steadicam YouTube videos about balancing and using handheld stabilizers, here’s some links:
Steadicam Smoothee Balancing Guide.
Steadicam Smoothee Demonstration.
Steadicam Volt Demo featuring Garrett Brown!
Steadicam Merlin2 Demo.
Steadicam Curve Balancing Guide Videos.