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-   Monopods (incl. FlowPod) (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/monopods-incl-flowpod/)
-   -   Varizoom Flowpod (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/monopods-incl-flowpod/12413-varizoom-flowpod.html)

K. Forman April 22nd, 2003 08:16 AM

FlowPod by Varizoom
I just saw an ad for the FlowPod. It is a monopod, that can be used as a steady cam. Varizoom has them listed at $399, and a pretty good price I think. I gots to get me one!

Will Fastie April 22nd, 2003 08:39 AM

Yes, and it gave me the idea of trying my cheap monopod to see if it would work as a steady cam. The result was not the kind of rock-steady image you usually see with the real thing, but it wasn't bad! A lot cheaper, too.

K. Forman April 22nd, 2003 09:05 AM

Just out of curiosity, what kind of monopod do you have, and how much?

Will Fastie April 23rd, 2003 08:13 AM

I bought a Bogen 3016 monopod on eBay for $23; the Manfrotto model 679 (new version of 3016) sells for $32 at B&H. I then added a Manfrotto 3299 compact quick release adapter (B&H $28), which uses a 3157 plate (the RC2 system) and a 3423C FlexHead (B&H $16), which is a rubber device that allows me to move the cam a bit without having to move the entire monopod.

Bottom line on this little kit was about $80.

The RC2 quick release system is designed for lightweight cams; my GL2 qualifies. Having the 3299 on the monopod means I can quickly move the cam from the 3130 head on either of my two tripods to the monopod.

In thinking about home building a steadying device, I've often thought about using a 3016/679 with the 3299 as a starting point. Attaching a small counterweight to the bottom of the monopod would allow the weight to be adjusted by moving a leg section down, thus changing the moment of inertia for whatever happens to be on the mount. This is surely no substitute for some of the excellent (and inexpensive) homebuilts at homebuiltstabilizers.com, though.

I don't have to do very many motion shots at all for my project, so I think my current monopod arrangement, as is, will suffice.

Chris Hurd April 23rd, 2003 08:17 AM

A monopod is always a good idea. Flowpod is different... there's a gimbaled handle plus a low-mode cage. We'll have a review on dvinfo.net as soon as it's shipping.

Matt Gettemeier May 3rd, 2003 12:15 PM

Hi, I'm new to this forum... but I want to do you guys a MAJOR service.

This may not be a substitute for a good steadycam but it's quite effective and CHEAP.

A beautiful bogen monopod is about $50 at your local camera shop. Anodized black, of course. Then go to any local fitness store and pick up two 1.25 pound weights. They have a hole in the middle and they make 'em with the same finish as Gitzo's gray and black gloss. Price? Less then $5... now pop off the little rubber foot on the bottom of the monopod and wrap a little tape (gaffers, hocky stick-sticky, whatever you like) around the area the weights will sit 'cause the hole in the weights is too big. Slip weights on, use a grommet or whatever you like to keep them from sliding over the rubber foot (you may not need anything) and put the rubber foot back on using glue OR NOT... I used nothing and never lost the weight in one full year... I just occasionally check to be sure they're tight.

Anyway, total cost? Less then $60 for a stabilizer/monopod that works AMAZINGLY well.

Try it. The primary thing steadycams do is get the center of gravity OFF the CAM... putting the center of gravity in the middle of a long stick (look at ANY steadycam, this is what's happening) is how you dampen jerkyness and odd motion. The weight at the bottom of the monopod also gives you the benefit of level shots brought to you by our caring mother earth who's main interest is in trying her damnedest to suck that monopod straight to her core.

If you want to use a gimbal system to accomplish the same thing you can, but this little trick is cheap and it works! Your arm provides a good few inches of suspension to boot!

Again, if you really want a steadycam but can't afford one yet... here's your answer. You should have a decent monopod ANYWAY. If you get really nuts like I did you can put some foam pipe insulation at the balance point and wrap it in gaffer's tape... now you have TWO-WAY suspension STILL at a total of sub-$60...

Have fun kids.

Charles Papert May 4th, 2003 12:45 PM

Something to play around with using a monopod setup is where exactly you place your hand on the post.

If you turn the whole thing sideways so that it is horizontal, then use your hand as a fulcrum (balance point), by turning it sideways so that the pole rests on the edge of your hand, you can easily figure out where the center of gravity lies. You may even want to put a mark or some tape there. Now when you turn it vertically, experiment with placing your hand at this point or above it (holding the pole below this point will make the rig top-heavy which is undesirable). The more bottom heavy you make things, by holding higher on the pole, the more "stable" the rig will be but at the sacrifice of requiring more force to tilt up or down. Also, a sudden stop or start will cause a bottom-heavy setup to pendulum out.

For a short profile camera, a weighted monopod will work pretty well, but for longer cameras (GL2 on up) having a horizontal extension at the bottom will make a radical improvement in stability (like a tightrope walker).


Lisa Strong May 4th, 2003 05:54 PM

Ship Date?
Any word on when Varizoom plans to start shipping the Flowpod? Did they have one demo-ing at NAB? Has anyone actually played with it? Comments?


K. Forman May 4th, 2003 05:59 PM

According to their site, they will be shipping soon. Right now, they are taking preorders, and are offering a bonus to buyers- a cage to undersling your cam.

Lisa Strong May 4th, 2003 08:39 PM

Yes, I saw that, but "soon" is sort of hard to pin down. I'm traveling to SE Alaska to photograph humpback whales from a boat the first week in June. I'm a tripod shooter, but all I've spoken to about shooting on a boat - and shooting whales - say you have to hand-hold. The boat moves to much to make the tripod worthwhile, and the whales are pretty unpredictable about where they're coming up next. You have to be fast, and the folks who have given advice insist that it all happens too fast for a tripod. But hand-held - egads! I'm looking for a bit more stabilization that that. The Flowpod looked interesting. I imagine also being able to lower the camera over the bow when the dolphins are bow-riding with that low angle attachment (it better be strong.) But if soon isn't soon enough, I'll stop wondering about it. I'll call them tomorrow to see if they know how soon soon is.


Bryan Beasleigh May 4th, 2003 08:55 PM

Have aread on this thread. It may help.


Lisa Strong May 4th, 2003 09:17 PM

Thanks Bryan. I did read through that thread, then got sucked into the Digitaljournalist site for an hour. The L-bracket is an interesting prospect. I have a double handled - guess that'd make it a U-bracket - for a Scubacam that's also going. That might be a possibility. It's all going to take practice, and sea legs, and a sixth sense for the wildlife. It just makes me anxious about getting decent footage.


Strong Mountain Productions

Bryan Beasleigh May 4th, 2003 09:51 PM

The U bracket sounds like the ticket. Holding the camera with both hands , with elbows tucked in tightly against your torso will give you amazing stability. I did use my mini rover on board a rolling ship. With the camera locked in as described your whole upper body and camera will move together. I leaned back against a bulkhead or wall and rolled with the ship. Try it and you'll know what I mean imediately.

Charles Papert May 4th, 2003 10:00 PM


The issue that you will likely find shooting out at sea with a gimballed system is that wind is a major factor. You end up clamping down on the post which usually minimizes or even negates the stabilizing effect. Bottom line is that you will end up with an image that is not much more stable than handheld, and most likely harder to control.

Also, you need to factor in the weight issue: I played with the Flowpod at NAB but I can't recall it's actual weight--remember to add that on to the camera your are using, and now think about carrying that burden in one hand for extended shooting.

For me, the most interesting factor in this unit is that it converts quickly over to a monopod system which can be a very useful tool. It does have solid construction, but I found the gimbal to be a bit stickier than the one found on the Steadicam JR. Also I consider a stabilizer design that has such a narrow footprint i.e. the masses are so close to the center of gravity, to be less than ideal.

The interesting effect of using a stabilizer on a boat is that when shooting with the boat in the foreground, the horizon stays level but the pitch of the boat is apparent. Very different from shooting off a tripod, where the boat is fixed to the camera but the horizon goes every which way.

Lisa Strong May 4th, 2003 11:22 PM

Charles --

"The issue that you will likely find shooting out at sea with a gimballed system is that wind is a major factor."

Mmm. Very true. We'll be traveling in the Inside Passage of central SE AK, so no actual open ocean, but certainly wind.

"Also, you need to factor in the weight issue"

I've used a Steadicam JR, and I do need a vest to really make it useful. I'm not a wimp, but I don't have the arm strength to operate my GL-1/2 for very long with that thing. And time is something you generally need a lot of for wildlife. I considered bringing it, but you can't be zooming in or out to capture the pod of killer whales that comes up off the starboard side (or was that port). I thought the Flowpod might be an interesting/versatile piece of stabilization gear - use it as a monopod; use it as a quasi-steadicam. I'm generally so tripod-oriented, I'm nervous about getting good footage hand-held. I'm currently editing another shooter's footage for a museum exhibit on marine mammals. The guy is an excellent still photographer, so granted, video isn't his game, but he doesn't have a lot of stuff that bowls me over after being out there so long. The ocean is pouring out one side (look, those poor whales have to swim uphill); the image jerks around when zoomed out too far for hand-held. It's a lot easier getting a good still shot - all you need is everything to be framed up right for, oh, 1/250th of a second.

"The interesting effect of using a stabilizer on a boat is that when shooting with the boat in the foreground, the horizon stays level but the pitch of the boat is apparent. Very different from shooting off a tripod, where the boat is fixed to the camera but the horizon goes every which way."

And that is the problem. I will actually be shooting some action on the boat. I think the tripod will be fine for that. It's the wildlife off the bow that I'm concerned about. The GLs have a 20x optical zoom lens, which I love for terrestrial wildlife. But it will be unusable on the boat.


Strong Mountain Productions

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