VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using at
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Old August 24th, 2011, 02:08 AM   #1
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VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

Hi All - My cheap and cheerful Libec monopod has finally bitten the dust. I was thinking of upgrading to a Manfrotto MN561BHDV Fluid Video Monopod but I also have a stedicam (Merlin) on my shopping list

So I'm now thinking that the Varizoom FlowPod might be the best of both worlds - certainly versatile and no swapping the camera (Sony Z1/FX1) around

Some advice would be great thanks


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Old August 24th, 2011, 02:21 AM   #2
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Re: VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

It's got some bad reviews:
I would recommend Glidecam HD over Steadicam Merlin. Heaps better IMO.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 03:09 AM   #3
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Re: VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

Thanks - just read those - completely put me off!!!!

This forum is worth it's weight in gold :)

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Old August 24th, 2011, 05:38 AM   #4
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Re: VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

Well, I disagree... I will never go to a wedding without a Flowpod. Agreed, it needs a strong arm (I got that during the years) but when you're well trained to it. it works wonders.
"A successful wedding videographer is the one that offers for viewing some excellent videos and some boring videos, and gets positive reviews for both".
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Old August 24th, 2011, 08:20 PM   #5
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Re: VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

In my limited use with a Flowpod, I found it very difficult to use and cumbersome, I'm sure more experience can help with that, but I didn't have the time to invest in it.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 10:21 PM   #6
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Re: VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

This thread may be moved to the stabilizer forum but I'll respond here as these particular units are common tools in event videography, and I'm guessing the OP is asking about their use in that environment.

First, the monopod...
My advice is that you get a monopod with a tripod head and pan bar on it. The Flowpod is great for quick-moving situations where you need to go from monopod to steadicam almost instantly, but it doesn't compare to a good monopod.

Now the Merlin...
I have some experience with the Merlin and did not care for it. I feel the "main post" above the gimbal whereby you lightly control the unit is awkward and that it cannot handle the weight that I choose to fly. Some people I know swear by this unit though as they are using smaller cameras.

Consider the Glidecam 2000 or 4000...
Many people have done very well with these units, and their popularity will probably mean that it'll be easy to find help with them if you have questions. I don't care for their handle placement, but it is nice to have the bottom weights distributed away from the main post for some added stability.

And now the Flowpod...
I am a dedicated Flowpod user and cannot foresee any reasons that would make me want to switch. However, I can only say that because I have modified it quite a bit in order to get it to work as well as it does. The thinking behind its design is excellent in placing the handle directly in-line with the main post and allowing for the low distribution of weight at the base of the unit, but there is give and take. For my purposes, the benefits are far greater than the drawbacks, and I am able to use it with both my Sony NX5 and Canon 60d.

Some of the modifications I've made to the Flowpod...
1. Added weight to the bottom of the unit. (To increase stability and to allow for the use of a larger camera. The included weights are not enough for many cameras.)
2. Rethreaded the top of the main post to accommodate a larger screw. (For added strength.)
3. Added a ring at the top of the main post to eliminate an inherent wiggling in the unit. (Poor design in this regard.)
4. Replaced the original quick release with my own. (To match all the bases on my other stabilizers.)
5. Replaced the grip with a new one incorporating a flange and hand strap. (To reduce strain on the hand.)

Some modifications I made in the past, but have since removed...
1. Added a belt clip to the main post. (Nice addition that I may add to the unit again in the future.)
2. Added the ability to attach "Antler" like weights for more stability. (Hardly necessary for my current purposes.)
3. Added a wrist support to the base of the hand grip. (My current setup is an improvement over this.)

I have also seen another Flowpod that had the top part of the main post chopped off in order to lower the center of mass of the camera atop it.

Here are some of the things that I think every handheld steadicam user should consider...

1. Are you willing to keep your camera setup exactly the same on all shoots? (If you plan to add and remove a receiver, microphone, etcetera from time to time, you'll need to rebalance. If you maintain the same setup though, the need to rebalance is minimal.)

2. Are you willing to practice? (It takes a lot of time to master a steadicam of any type. Additionally, the way you handle this type of stabilizer is different in some ways than you would a full steadicam with vest and arm. There's not a lot of information out there about these differences so you'll probably want to search out someone in the know and be prepared to spend some time experimenting with these variations. No doubt though, most of the main ideas of steadicam use remain consistent and it will do you wonders to read up on them in steadicam forums and literature.)

3. Do you have the strength to use the device properly? (A heavy camera will need a different placement of weight, and possibly additional weight. Also, a lighter camera will often need the addition of weight to increase stability. A heavier rig generally translates into more stability, as long as you don't reach the point that your hand begins shaking under too much weight.)

Bottom line...if this is your first steadicam, then you kind of need to just jump in with one and try it out. If you get serious about it, you'll probably discover the shortcomings of that unit on your own and at that point, you'll either decide to make some modifications or buy a better one. If you care to take a look, all of the samples on my website were shot on a Flowpod using most of the current modifications listed above.

Alec Moreno
Wedding Art Films - Southern California - Los Angeles - Orange County - Video
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Old August 26th, 2011, 10:09 AM   #7
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Re: VariZoom VZ-FP FlowPod - anyone using

The flowpod was my first stablizer in a way 5years ago. It worked well with the FX1 then (with some mods as well). However it is heavy thou. Other than that it doesnt work very well as a stablizer and monopod. Its in the middle. If u are not too demanding it might be a good tool, esp for one man ops.
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