Camera Stabilisation – Two ends of the Spectrum

Cheap Steady Cam

Steady cam device

Steady camIn the spirit of frugal filmmaking I did have a go at making myself a small steady cam type of device. I followed instructions that I found on a frugal filmmakers website and I have to say that I’m not quickly good at this sort of home-made device. My engineering skills are not very good and the finished object only sort of worked. I don’t really have the sort of patience required to do this sort of job and I would be much better off to buy myself one of these devices ready-made. There are a number of these available from various places and from eBay, ranging from some that are quite inexpensive to some that are fairly costly. As with most things you get what you pay for and so if you want quality you might have to get the big wallet out instead of just using the small thin one. There are a number of Chinese manufacturers that are making reasonable looking steady cam devices and I saw one recently that would be suitable for the small size of camera that I now own, a Sony mirrorless camera and I am quite tempted.

If money was no object for a filmmaker

Then I would go for one of these new devices that uses electric motors to steady the camera on the gimbal. The latest one of these that I have seen costs around $4500 the DJI RONIN and if I had the cash I would buy one in a heartbeat. This is made by the same people that make the gimbal that fits onto the bottom of the quadcopters that people use with the go pro cameras. What you get is a frame that is like a sort of handlebars and the camera can either be dropped down from this, which is great if you need to get a shot from low down or you can have the camera so that it protrudes upwards. You have lots of versatility in terms of where you can position the camera height wise and also be sure that the shot is going to be incredibly steady. In the examples that I have seen they show the film in slow motion and I suppose that is because it shows the smoothness of the shot to the best effect. In the demo videos you see the cameraman running around following the fight scenes within a house or a footballer on a football pitch and the shots look incredible.

Ronin Features DJI

Costly for a frugal filmmaker – Great value for the professional

The advantage of using something like this is that you can get close up shots that are more intimate and could be just what you need for the emotion, look and general feel that you are trying to put into your film or video. Unfortunately I am not a professional filmmaker with deep pockets, but even so I would love to get my hands on one of these because I love any sort of technical gadgets. Looking at the specifications for this device it’s easy to see that you are getting good quality for your money. It looks like it would be sturdy enough to take the hard knocks of however many days filming and get the job done. One of the beauties of using an electrically controlled steady cam device like this is that it is easy to set up with the help of an application you use on your smart phone connected via Bluetooth. In the demonstrations seen in the video it looks incredibly easy and quick to set up.

Amazing technology and easy to set up

The DGI Ronin is an fantastic looking three axis stabilised handheld gimbal system is an incredible piece of kit. It has the three modes of use and also can be operated by one person or by two people. When operated by two people the second person can change the pan, tilt and roll of the camera so that there is even more precision available when using the device. You can put the small and light mirrorless cameras on it like the Sony NEX6 or even something as heavy as the Red Epic. The configuration is set automatically using the auto tune stability button and it works it out for itself the parameters needed for the weight of your camera. The DJI Ronin also has a power distribution box if you need to connect to other accessories such as a follow focus system.