DV Info Net

DV Info Net (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/)
-   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

Charles Papert May 5th, 2003 12:33 AM


Again, I can't even estimate the weight of the Flowpod (it was a LONG three days at NAB, much information stuffed into the gray matter!) but I am very sure it weighed more than the JR.

Yet another possible way of working with a monopod type setup for the application you are seeking is to shoot handheld, but with the monopod attached and hanging under the camera. This will add some stability to your handheld shooting but you can retain the control you desire, plus have the hands-on access to zoom and focus.

The optical mage stabilizer built in to the camera is, to me, an underrated but highly effective weapon for long lens handheld work. To me, that combined with careful, practiced handheld technique results in really watchable footage.

I would think that, given the continuously moving backdrop of open water (much more forgiving than shooting boat-to-boat, or where a fixed horizon is a must), good handheld shooting would be just the thing for the situation you describe. Plus it leaves you mobile as well as directly connected to the camera controls. It's just my opinion, but I think that if I was hired to shoot this type of job, that would ultimately be my recommendation. I've done some Steadicam work on boats, including documenting the return to the ocean of a massive grey whale had been rehabilitated at Sea World (with a 43 lb. Imax camera on my rig, yikes!), and I remain a bit dubious about that flavor of shooting platform for that type of shoot.

Please let us know what you end up deciding on, how the shoot goes, etc.!

Wayne Orr May 5th, 2003 10:19 AM

A number of years ago, I shot Betacam off the coast of Nova Scotia for a music special. We brought along a Steadicam, but as Charles points out, in rough seas and wind, it is virtually useless, not to mention dangerous! I ended up switching to stix and was able to get useable footage on the ship, but every time you saw the horizon, it got ugly, because the horizon was tilting to and fro while we all seemed on smooth seas, which of course was just the opposite.

Spend some time with your eye glued to the viewfinder at sea and you have another problem; by the end of the shooting I became violently seasick, and I have never had motion sickness before in my life. But that thing of watching the horizon move and the boat's motion really gets to you. Be prepared.

Basically, if you have rough seas you are screwed. You need some heavy artillery, such as a gyro lens to deal with the situation. Not too likely for a GL2. Take a good shoulder mount and pray for calm seas. No imitation Steadicams, please. And have a strap on the camera in case you suddenly have to let go of your gear to grab something to hold on to.

Please let us know how it all turns out.

Charles Papert May 5th, 2003 11:30 AM

That's a good point, Wayne, I forgot about that. On the Sea World job I hard-mounted the Steadicam to the rail so I wouldn't have to wear it (for safety reasons certainly), and once we got out into the ocean, the swells were big enough that I had to muscle the arm the keep it from violently bottoming out. After 20 minutes of this, I was utterly worn out and ended up assigning one of the other crew guys to spell me babysitting the rig! With a single section arm like on the Steadicam mini or the smaller Glidecams, this would have been really ugly (although the mass is much easier to deal with).

And I got seasick too. Not a big boat fan, me!

Lisa Strong May 5th, 2003 02:08 PM

Thanks Wayne and Charles. I keep hoping that, cruising the Inside Passage - kind of like Alaska's fijordlands - will mean no big seas. I often use the flipout screen with a small hood for viewing. That would let me keep one eye on something else besides a pitching and rolling viewfinder image. But maybe scopalamine should also be on my equipment list. We'll be living on the boat too, so not many opportunities for "time outs" on solid ground.

The trip has been pushed from first of June to first of July, which gives me a little more breathing room for reviewing any new gear and practicing hand-held shooting. There are currently boats in the Monterey Bay running whale watching tours (whales are on their way up to AK.). That would be open ocean, but now it looks like I'll have time to practice.

I may also get some air time on a float plane while I'm up there. I've shot, I feel, unsuccessfully in a small helicopter with the door off with a GL-1. I had to slow the footage down in post to make two shots useable. Any suggestions for low-end stabilization in the air?


Strong Mountain Productions

Wayne Orr May 5th, 2003 07:22 PM

Based on my very limited experience shooting/flying, I would suggest trying to schmooze your way into the co-pilot seat. You get two perspectives and you can get great cutaways of the pilot.

Also, if there is a way to attach your camera outside the plan, and using a wide lens (or fisheye) to include part of the plane in the shot for perspective can work. This can get into touchy areas with the FAA, I believe.

Lisa Strong May 6th, 2003 02:19 PM

Called Varizoom yesterday (5/5/03) and they plan to ship the Flowpod in 3 weeks. I was hoping to try one out, if not buy it yet, in the Los Angeles area, but the guy I spoke to said they didn't have any pre-releases out there. Not even in LA?


Ryan Martino May 6th, 2003 05:41 PM

lisa -

i've made that trip. i went on one of the state cruise boats, not a commercial ship, and i was on the biggest boat they had at that, but here's the scoop:

there was not very much choppy water. most of the route is down these tiny little passages - some of which were barely big enough for the boat to squeeze through! but there was one section in particular that had the open sea to one side for a good while. that was bad, and i just had to sleep through it or i would have hurled for sure.

so you shouldn't have a WHOLE lot of bad motion to worry about, but definately the possibility exists...

have fun!


Rob Easler July 24th, 2003 05:30 PM

Varizoom Flowpod
Well I couldn't wait for a review of this thing from an actual owner, since it seems very slow in comming, so I bought one after a bit of reassurance from Don Beruebe's post. I just got it tonight so will shoot around a bit and will be open for any questions from those who might be interested in this thing.

Rob Easler July 24th, 2003 09:14 PM

{Revised 7-25}

Can't give a long term use opinion but here are my general impressions so far. I will compare it to the steadicam jr since I owned one of those for a while.

It seems to be a pretty good system. I have just recently got into using a mono pod for steadier shots and was liking the occasional shots with the steadicam, so thats what interested me in this product. I could have both in one device and not have to switch the camera. The steadicam was cool but when I put on my light with battery attached the steadicam didnt like it becuase it was too heavy, and the weight distribution was too funky. Since I wanted to try to use it at receptions, and would need a light for that, I thought something that supported a bit more weight might work.

I haven't used it at a wedding yet (my main use) but I think it will work well. It's not quite as sensitive as the steadicam jr. The slightest bit of wind wont blow it in the opposite direction but it is still sensitive. It's a heavier unit than the steadicam to be sure but to counter that you are able to hold it closer to your body because of the vertical design. It is quicker to balance than the steadicam because it is not quite as rolly polly. I think the steadicam has it beat in smoothness and flow of the shot. I can tell a difference in the shots. The Flowpod doesnt mask the up and down motion of steps as well as the steadicam did but it does get rid of most of it. We'll see what some more practise develops. There is a tiny bit of play in mechanism, not the gimble but the post the gimble is attached to and the plate and the plate itself can be a little jiggley but it doesnt seem to affect it much. With the monopod totally extended the camera eyecup sits right at my eye which is perfect. I am short however so a taller person would need to angle the eyecup up. Overall it is a trade off comparing the Flowpod and the Steadicam. The practicality of a monopod built in, the smaller footprint of the vertical design, less volitility in balancing and ability to handle more weight vs. the definate better flow and motion of shots, ability to mount on a tripod if a plate attached to the bottom, and a LCD screen of the steadicam.

I have never used the glidecam so I can't compare it to that but from what I have read, the flowpod seems at least easier and quicker to balance than a glidecam.

Neil Kissoon September 3rd, 2003 10:06 AM

Has any one used this Varizoom FlowPod Camcorder Stabilizer
that ZGC sells. I'm thinking of using one with my panasonic AG-DVX100,

Dan Russell September 3rd, 2003 10:38 AM

Save your money.This unit is not worth it.

Neil Kissoon September 3rd, 2003 10:41 AM

Thanks, Dan, any sugestions for a stabilizer/steadicam?

Yang Wen September 3rd, 2003 11:02 AM

The Smoothcam from Studio 1 is pretty decent considering the price. It works the same way as the steadytracker but is about $70 cheaper. The flowpod looks neat but I question how it actually functions, there isn't any apparent weights to the bottom of ths stick so it might just be a fancy monopod with a semi-gyro grip. I've only used the steadycam JR as a comparision to the smoothcam and I'd say it's definitely easier to use.

Charles Papert September 3rd, 2003 11:12 AM


You might want to do a search on this site under "flowpod"--while you are at it, you can search under "stabilizer" and various brand names like "glidecam", "steadicam JR" etc.

Neil Kissoon September 3rd, 2003 11:28 AM

Thanks guys as usual what do you think about this steadytracker extreme



Rob Easler September 3rd, 2003 02:20 PM

You can read a bit of a review for this unit in my post at this address..


Dave Largent September 3rd, 2003 06:02 PM

I heard that the Flowpod *does* have weights for the bottom.
Also, Dan, what do you see as the problem with the Flowpod?

Chris Hurd September 3rd, 2003 08:14 PM

FlowPod does indeed have weights for the bottom.

Dave Largent September 3rd, 2003 09:04 PM

Are you still planning the Flowpod review?

Chris Hurd September 4th, 2003 05:28 AM

Yes, it's just late, like everything else around here!

Eddie Jackson November 15th, 2003 01:19 AM

Varizoom Flowpod
Has anyone used this device? Please give your opinion on this camera stabilizing device, compare to Steadicam JR and the other popular one that I can't remember right now.?. Someone help. I want to buy one but I want the best one.

Charles Papert November 15th, 2003 01:49 AM

Trying doing a search through the archives here.

Dave Largent November 17th, 2003 05:14 AM

I hear if you go with the Flowpod you should get the optional
balancing plate and vise. Not essential but helps to balance more accurately -- and quicker.

Dave Largent November 18th, 2003 03:37 PM

Hey, for you guys with the flowpod. Does that thing have a head
on it? Or how do you tilt when you're using it as a monopod?
And how is the Bogen quick release used with that?

Dave Largent November 23rd, 2003 07:32 PM

Flowpod Question
Does the plate that the camera is mounted to swivel? In other words, when the Flowpod is being used as a monopod, how is the camera tilted upward and downward?
Also, can the Flowpod be used with a Bogen quick-release plate?

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:36 AM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2021 The Digital Video Information Network