A steadycam is an essential accessory for those who want to film while in motion and achieve a steady shot, free of trembles and vibrations.
On the market there’s plenty of accessories you can mount a videocamera or a DSLR camera on, in order to improve the quality and the stability of the film. The prices range from about ten euros to hundreds or thousands of euros, but then we’re talking about very professional models.
Neewer steadycam is entirely made of aluminium. The stick can be extended from a minimun length of 15.2”/38,6 cm to a maximum length of 24”/60 cm. It’s quite affordable and well designed, it’s easy to carry and it does its job well, that is to say it stabilizes our videos, both on an amateur level and a professional level.
It’s a high quality product. In the upper part there’s a quick release plate with 1/4″ screw where you can mount DSLR cameras, whose weight ranges from 1.1 lbs/ 0,5 kg to 5.95 lbs/ 2,7 kg. Even action cams –that are way lighter than that – can be mounted on it, even though we might have to use some tricks that we’ll explain later.
Friction doesn’t affect the gimbal on ball bearing too much, and this is helpful, as it allows the device to work better. The size of the handle, which is made of aluminium as well and is covered by a non-slip surface, makes it easy to grip it even for those who have large hands.
The lower plate – where the weights are placed, that counterbalance the weight of our cameras set in the upper part – is well built, as the rest of the device, and its size doesn’t limit our movements.
The moment we balance our Neewer steadycam, we’ll need to have our camera lens perfectly prependicular to the horizon, therefore the isometric grid placed at the left of the slide we’ll use to adjust it will be extremely useful.
In order to balance the steadycam, we will slide it forward or backward. Instead, we’ll slide it towards the left and the right to balance the camera while we’re moving and correct eventual swayings. Unfortunately in this case we have no visual reference to help us, but it won’t take too long to achieve a perfect balance, as we will see in the video.
- Maximum Length: Approx. 24″/60cm
- Minimum Length: Approx. 15.2″/38.6cm
- Quick Release Plate Scale: 1.96″/50mm (Either side)
- Capacity Range: Approx. 1.1-6.0lbs/0.5-2.7kg
- 1x Stabilizer
- 1x Carry Bag
- 1x Stabilizer
Balancing a steadycam
There are many tutorials on the net that teach how to balance steadycams for every kind of DLRS cameras and videocameras, but in this tutorial we’ll explain you how to effectively use an action cam mounted on a steadycam.
Almost every steadycam on the market is designed to stabilize cameras or videocameras whose weight is at least 1.1 lbs/0,5 kg, but most action cams in the market (like GoPros) weigh not much more than 0.1 lbs/60 g, that means that they are way under the weight suggested by the manufacturers.
The weights provided within the steadycams are often too heavy if we want to use an action cam, so it is more difficult to achieve a perfect balance with them. The first thing to do is buy some small metal washers that weigh 0.01 lbs/6g, 0.02 lbs/10g, 0.03 lb/ 14g, until we gather a total amount of 0.6 lbs/300 g of weight.
Then we need to find a way to set some weights on the slide we will fix the camera to. There’s usually a groove there, that runs across the whole slide. We can fix some weights to that by using a small threaded rod. Two nuts will secure it all.
Once we have everything we need, we can start mounting our action cam on the slide and, thanks to the threaded rod, we’ll be able to use the weights provided with the cam in order to allow the steadycam to reach the intended position (see image).
In my case (I use an an Eken H9 action cam mounted in its open plastic case) I only had to add 0.6 lbs/300 g of weight.
Now we can start balancing the camera by moving the slide forward and backward, to the left and to the right, making sure we hold the steadycam perpendicular to the ground.
Once we’ve managed to keep the steadycam perpendicular, we have to set the angle of fall of the steadycam so it will last about two seconds.
After accomplishing this task, the steadycam should be in perfect balance and we can try it out: holding the steadycam by the handle, we move quickly from left to right. If we have reached a good balance, the lower counterweight should stay perpendicular to the ground and not sway in the direction we were moving.
We’ll also try moving forward and backward, the counterweight should stay in place all the same.
If this is what happens, then we have reached the best balance and our videos will be stable, not affected by tremors or swayings.
Tutorial balance steadycam for action cam
Stabilized movie video clip