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Old June 21st, 2010, 11:41 AM   #1
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A homemade stabilizer for handycams

Hi guys,

I'm new to this group. Since I got my Canon Vixia HF S100 last year I've played around with a few ideas to keep the little guy stable. Not "jogging with Rocky" stable, but at least some improvement for everyday use.

The contraption in the photo has gone through several evolutions, but this now is the settled on solution. The 5/8" aluminum rod used on the vertical and side-arm pieces is hardware store bought, cost $20 for 3ft and cuts easily with a hacksaw. The other bits are throw-offs from various hobbies. The angle clamp that attaches the side-arm is from a broken mic stand (those cheapo Chinese ones that cost ~$25). It can easily be slid up and down and variously angled according to preference and comfort. The chunky rubber hand-grip is a for a BMX bike ($10 a pair). The camera attachment piece on the top is actually a dual flash bracket for still photography that I paid $20 for and never used. It has a slidable standard camera thumb screw on one side, on the other is a flash shoe to which I attached a 5/8" dia. mic adaptor (that's the Rode M3 in case you are interested).

I find the angle backet, which is heavyish steel, gives enough extra mass to help reduce micro-movements as well as lowering the centre of gravity, producing a slight gimbal effect.

The system is very comfortable in prolonged use for my documentary stuff and I have much improved stability when holding shots, slow walking and panning etc. Another benefit for me is for street interviews; the slight displacement of the lens to the right means my subject isn't staring along the camera axis, but a little off axis, giving a less POV look and more a two man (cameraman + interviewer) set-up look.

Terence
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Last edited by Terence Morris; June 21st, 2010 at 10:19 PM.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 07:36 PM   #2
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That's pretty cool. Can you hook it to a waist belt or anything? Can't quite tell from pics?
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Old June 21st, 2010, 10:03 PM   #3
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Hi Mike,

That did cross my mind and would probably be easy to implement. However, I find the whole rig, including camera and mic, fairly lightweight in practice and have not felt the need. Because the arms are in a fairly relaxed posture close to the body as opposed to being raised makes it quite easy to maintain shooting position.

Not shown here, I usually attach an around-the-neck strap that can take the weight of the rig if needed. The prime purpose of this is leave both hands free on occasions I want to retrieve something from a pocket or make some adjustment etc, as well as being a safety harness against dropping (Yikes!).

For a heavier camera I think a belt may be a good addition.

-Terence
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Old June 21st, 2010, 10:28 PM   #4
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Hi Terence

Very neat!!
Since you have "canabilized" your mic stand, clamp the legs onto the bottom of the post add a bunch of washers to the end of each leg and you have a decent bottom counterbalance!!

I use a monopod with a mic stand bottom and a swivel handle near the top and voila, you don't exactly have a gimbal but you can get pretty stable shots with it. If you can balance your camera "holding point" so it's close to balance when you rotate the whole thing to a horizontal position, it will work very well in it's normal vertical position.

Chris
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Old June 21st, 2010, 11:23 PM   #5
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Yes, I see how that works. Hey, nice camera too!

In fact it was through using a monopod on a still camera that I had the idea for the video brace. Even when the thing was off the ground it had a kind of stabilizing effect. I suppose the wrist joints effectively become kind of damped gimbals for the vertical.

I'd planned on getting a small barbell for added weight at the bottom of the pole as you suggest. For what I'm doing at present it seems good enough, but I might try it on shots where there's a lot of maneuvering.

-Terence
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 06:25 AM   #6
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Hi Terence

Since you have a light camera (my HMC72's clock in at 8lbs!!!) instead of a barbell rather try to shift the weight outwards..so a horizontal tube with weights at the ends will have a better stabilizing effect than two weights close together. If you spread the weight you can also use less which means less weight to carry!!

A 2lb barbell has two 1lb weights spaced probably not more than 6" apart. If you spread each "end" say 2' apart then you can drop your end weight by at least 50% or more on either end!!!

The blackbird stabilizer uses the same effect and it's weights are tiny!!!

Chris
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 07:03 AM   #7
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Thanks for the tips Chris - I didn't realize that, but it seems to make a kind of sense: Having blurry images now about arcs subtended by the weights...yadda.

-Terence
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