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-   -   Varizoom Flowpod...Any owners yet? (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/stabilizers-steadicam-etc/10851-varizoom-flowpod-any-owners-yet.html)

Rob Easler June 14th, 2003 11:56 AM

Varizoom Flowpod...Any owners yet?
I have yet to read about anyone who has been able to use this thing yet and give an opinion. Is there no one?


Ken Tanaka June 14th, 2003 12:14 PM

I've not heard much yet, either. I think that production might have been a bit slower than expected after the NAB introduction. The units may just now be hitting the retail channels.

I expect to be reviewing one here as soon as I can my hands on one.

Charles Papert June 14th, 2003 08:45 PM

I played with it at NAB and had mixed thoughts about it--it may be just the thing for users who like the "Swiss Army Knife" approach in that they will switch between monopod and stabilizer, but if you are just looking for a stabilizer, there are more appropriate units out there.

K. Forman June 15th, 2003 11:39 AM

Charles- I guess the question is, is it a functional tool? Does it work like it's supposed to, or does it half-ass two jobs?

Charles Papert June 15th, 2003 02:34 PM

As a monopod, it seems fine--after all, that's not a particularly demanding application. As a stabilizer, not so great in design. Ideally, a handheld stabilizer is as light as it can be, using the minimum amount of counterweight as possible, situated as far from the center of gravity as practical (principle of leverage). The connection between the camera and the counterweight (the center spar) should be absolutely as light as possible while maintaining enough strength to remain rigid under the inertial forces applied to it. Also, the more spread out the counterweight mass, the more inert the system will be. That's a good thing, it helps keep the rig level and not be so "touchy".

In the case of the Flowpod, the collapsed sections of the monopod make up a mass that has the opposite weight distribution than the ideal described above. Thus one is carrying more weight which is being utilized less efficiently.

In addition, I found the pan bearing somewhat sticky. It incorporates a plastic tension knob, but even with it backed off it wasn't as smooth as the gimbal on the Steadicam JR, for instance. Because of the minimal masses involved with a lightweight stabilizer, the performance of the gimbal makes a big difference.

Now, these are observations based on a brief exploration on the NAB show floor, not having spent a lot of time with the unit. I do believe that the design, while clever, makes it less ideal than other dedicated units. However, as I said before, it might just be thing for those looking for "casual" stabilizing, and for whom a dual-purpose system will be ultimately more handy.

K. Forman June 15th, 2003 02:49 PM

Very good review Charles. Thanks for your insight.

Boyd Ostroff June 15th, 2003 04:21 PM

Charles, what do you think of the steadytracker as a low cost stabilizer? ProMax sells it for about $200.

Charles Papert June 15th, 2003 08:24 PM

I'm not entirely sure that the Steadytracker will do much more than a lightweight tripod with the center column extended and the legs spread apart (but not extended). That's the setup I used back at NYU in 1984. If you already have such a tripod, your cost is 0.

A gimballed system will always provide more isolation from the operator and thus have the potential to produce more stable footage in the angular axes (pan/tilt/roll). For fast running shots, something like the Steadytracker will do nearly as well. You would see the difference in more subtle precision shots.

Thomas McKay June 18th, 2003 11:18 PM

FlowPod Status
This is Tom McKay from VariZoom. The FlowPod actually has shipped in limited numbers although I see no one here has yet to use one of the production units. Charles mention of the unit at NAB sticking is true actually all eight pieces for NAB were "sticking". Unfortunately in our rush to have the units ready for NAB an oversized washer was used on the main ball bearing. This caused the inside sleeve to receive the resistance of outside edge of bearing as the washer was in contact with both. This bearing is enclosed and pinned and it could not be adjusted at nab so I oiled the heck out of it and made due with what I had.

All the responses have been good from purchasers of the FlowPod.

No one has complained about weight and I believe the testimonials and user reports will be positive as they turn up.

All steady systems are arm killers to a degree but I think users will appreciate how close you can hold the FlowPod to your body.
The narrow design allows users to keep it close keeping arm fatigue to a minimum.

During the show we had many attendees hold it out away from their body just out of habit. Once we corrected the positioning they quickly realized the advantage of this design and the fatigue they were spared.

I am waiting on my video guy to shoot a demo. He is hard to find at times and usually busy but well worth the wait. If he is reading this please call. Once the video is shot it will be available on the site where viewers can see the smooth footage it can help produce.

The Nab response caught us by surprise and we are currently sold out and weeks behind.


Phil Mathews June 20th, 2003 08:18 AM

Tom McKay....in your early literature, you listed the Sony DSR-250 as being able to work with the flowpod. Is this true or is this camera too heavy?

Thomas McKay September 23rd, 2003 08:36 PM

FlowPod DSR250
Hi Phil,

Sorry so late to reply. Yes the DSR250 was mistakenly listed. The XL1 is about as heavy a camera as you can support on the FlowPod.

The DSR250 is not so much heavier but the center of gravity is higher and would require more weight to counter balance.

<<<-- Originally posted by Phil Mathews : Tom McKay....in your early literature, you listed the Sony DSR-250 as being able to work with the flowpod. Is this true or is this camera too heavy? -->>>

Phil Mathews September 23rd, 2003 08:49 PM

thanks for replying

Yow Siang September 30th, 2003 09:19 AM

ordered flowpod
After very long consideration, I have finally ordered the Flowpod. The pull factor is the fact that it can easily extend to a monopod and then easily convert back to a stabiliser.
Hopefully with some practise I would be able to do smooth moving shot with it.

Will post a wedding video shoot with it on this 11 October.

Dave Largent October 1st, 2003 12:39 AM

I've been considering the flowpod myself. What cam are you using it with? I'll be looking forward to your clip. Have you ever used a hand-held stabilizer before?

Yow Siang October 1st, 2003 03:24 AM

no expereince before
Hi Dave,
I have no expereince in handheld stabiliser, this will be my very first. Longing to produce smooth shot when following subject, especially the bride and groom for my instance. Also will be useful for walkthrough shots for interior of buildings.
I am using a XM2.

What about you?


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