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Pistol grip 3-axis gimbal stabilizer

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Hi, folks, I know there are already a few threads around specific pistol grip stabilizers, so I thought I'd make a general topic for anyone with a question on one, or has experience using one to share it here. 

After my recent week long trip with the NX1 and its kit lens, I found the OIS can be a mix bag (works wonders at times; has a lot of jitters other times). And the 45mm prime is unusable without a tripod. (And I may add a Samyang 24mm f/1.4 in the future to the setup). Any advice on which pistol grip has worked well for you (or might, for my case)?

 

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43 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

I got a bargain 2ndhand on a Nebula 4000 Lite thus is what I have. But check out a CAME TV Single as well.

Thanks, I did check out Dave Dugdale's comparison review a while back and Pilotfly H1 looked more sensible for my taste. Portability is a big factor. Came-tv doesn't look like it can be packed away without a huge pelican-like case. Also, you can't use the Came-tv in an inverted mode (the pistol grip on top of the camera).

EDIT: To add, Came-tv has the advantage of 10 hours of battery life, whereas Pilotfly seems to be more around 2 hours. Came-tv has changeable batteries; Pilotfly in-built. I often head out to places with no electricity, so battery life is a big advantage.

Dave's review: 

 

 

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I have the Beholder DS1 and so far I really like it. Here's a pretty good look, and there are many others on YT. You can adjust without tools, it can be inverted on the fly (my favorite feature), it has a 32-bit board and batteries last a long time. Comes with a nice padded case that's not too big, two sets of batteries (and the batteries are cheap, you can easily get more on amazon) and extras. There are sellers on eBay that will take a best offer lower than retail.

 

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13 hours ago, The Chris said:

I have the Beholder DS1 and so far I really like it. Here's a pretty good look, and there are many others on YT. You can adjust without tools, it can be inverted on the fly (my favorite feature), it has a 32-bit board and batteries last a long time. Comes with a nice padded case that's not too big, two sets of batteries (and the batteries are cheap, you can easily get more on amazon) and extras. There are sellers on eBay that will take a best offer lower than retail.

2-3 hours of battery time seems to match with NX1's battery life too. Pretty good. Would have similar change cycles. Still, I am amazed by Came-tv's baffling internal 20 hour battery life (it was 10 hour before and changeable apparently). 

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9 hours ago, SR said:

2-3 hours of battery time seems to match with NX1's battery life too. Pretty good. Would have similar change cycles. Still, I am amazed by Came-tv's baffling internal 20 hour battery life (it was 10 hour before and changeable apparently). 

Came Single is $1000, I paid $650 for the DS1, the Single weighs more but the DS1 has a much higher capacity - 2.6 vs 3.8 pounds.

Interesting they they're claiming 20 hour life when they use the same batteries as the DS1, but only 2 cells for the Single compared to 3 for the DS1.

9 hours ago, mercer said:

I was looking at the Lanparte HHG-01. It's made for the iPhone and GoPro, but I think it may work with the BMMCC. Plus they make a cheap monitor for a complete Micro rig. Monitor and gimbal can be had for less than $400. 

Without a battery or lens the Micro weighs more than twice what a GoPro weighs (88g just the camera, 150g with housing vs 301g for just the micro body), I seriously doubt a GoPro gimbal will be able to handle the weight of the bare camera, much less one with a battery and lens. It will also be much more front heavy than a tiny go pro or a flat phone, that gives the small motor gimbals issues. I know someone that tried to rig his RX100 to one of the GoPro gimbals and it wouldn't stop vibrating, it was too heavy and it weighs just 298g with battery and card.

Not saying it won't work, but it seems unlikely. For a few hundred more you can get a larger gimbal that will work with no issues.

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2 hours ago, The Chris said:

Came Single is $1000, I paid $650 for the DS1, the Single weighs more but the DS1 has a much higher capacity - 2.6 vs 3.8 pounds.

Interesting they they're claiming 20 hour life when they use the same batteries as the DS1, but only 2 cells for the Single compared to 3 for the DS1.

Without a battery or lens the Micro weighs more than twice what a GoPro weighs (88g just the camera, 150g with housing vs 301g for just the micro body), I seriously doubt a GoPro gimbal will be able to handle the weight of the bare camera, much less one with a battery and lens. It will also be much more front heavy than a tiny go pro or a flat phone, that gives the small motor gimbals issues. I know someone that tried to rig his RX100 to one of the GoPro gimbals and it wouldn't stop vibrating, it was too heavy and it weighs just 298g with battery and card.

Not saying it won't work, but it seems unlikely. For a few hundred more you can get a larger gimbal that will work with no issues.

Yeah, you're probably right. I know it can accept more weight than just the GoPro/iPhone due to the fact that they have an hdmi monitor for it (which would help more with the counterbalance) and since I only would use the Micro with small c-mount lenses, I thought it might just work. I guess the good news is that B&H carries it, so it can always be returned fairly easy.

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13 hours ago, The Chris said:

Came Single is $1000, I paid $650 for the DS1, the Single weighs more but the DS1 has a much higher capacity - 2.6 vs 3.8 pounds.

Interesting they they're claiming 20 hour life when they use the same batteries as the DS1, but only 2 cells for the Single compared to 3 for the DS1.

DS1 looking better already! I will look more into it. Thanks. Less weight and more capacity is definitely a plus. I use my NX1 with a 45mm (variable ND) as well as a videomic (and god knows what I'll be adding in the future).

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19 hours ago, mercer said:

Yeah, you're probably right. I know it can accept more weight than just the GoPro/iPhone due to the fact that they have an hdmi monitor for it (which would help more with the counterbalance) and since I only would use the Micro with small c-mount lenses, I thought it might just work. I guess the good news is that B&H carries it, so it can always be returned fairly easy.

I own the lanparte gimbal and I wouldn't even bother trying a micro on it

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Interesting topic, I'm also looking for a small footprint gimbal for my a7s or the new a6300.

Portability is a big issue, and ease of use. 

I came also across this one in a dutch camera store (havent tried it out): http://www.feiyu-tech.com/products/31/

There are so many different things to choose from, it drives me crazy :)

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I have the Pilotfly H1+.  If you are a run and gun one camera one lens guy, this thing is perfect.  But prepare to spend hours tweaking it to perfection.  Not only do you have to tweak for smooth motion w/o vibration, you also have to calibrate it for battery life.  But once you get it tuned, you really can just hit the trigger and capture amazing video. The organic camera movements are what I like about it the most.  Walking, panning, still etc.  The battery life however, is abysmal.  About 1.5 hours if you've calibrated it optimally.  Badly calibrated (too much unnecssary power to any of the motors), you can zap the battery in about 15 minutes.  Where this power goes is beyond me.  A well tuned CameTV Single can run for 10 hours.  The H1+ for 1.5 hours.  Even a perfectly balanced and calibrated H1+ will die in 1.5 hours where the motors are not doing anything.

The external battery attachment to the base sold for $65 is actually an amazing addon because now you can shoot for 7-9 hours no problem.  All day without worry.  But keep in mind while the H1+ looks like a well crafted professional piece of electronics, the battery attachment's make and quality is insanely poor.  About the quality of imitation tupperware that you get at a dollar store.  But again, the batteries inside of it is what counts.  

Switching lenses is a hassle for every time.  But as long as you got the recipe down, you can do it on your smartphone, and it's not too bad.  But don't even think about trying to switch lenses on set if you don't already have the perfect set of numbers written on a notebook.  Change bodies on shooting day?  That's crazy talk unless you've practiced switching bodies like how a soldier practices how to disassemble/reassemble his rifle.  Then you can balance it and change the PID settings and calibration under 5-10 minutes.

Another thing about the H1+ is that it uses LiPo batteries.  The battery inside the H1+ is LiPo.  The batteries inside the external battery attachment, LiPo.  The alternate external battery solution they also sell is LiPo.  LiPo batteries are extremely high maintenance.  If you are going to buy a H1+ you should become an expert on the maintenance of LiPo batteries.  The fact that Pilotfly doesn't tell you to do this is a bit irresponsible.  my guess is because Pilotfly comes from the hobby R/C business and they just kind assume people know how to take care of LiPo batteries.  There are probably dozens to maybe even hundreds of LiPo battery fire videos on YouTube.  

In hindsight, should I have bought the CameTV Single?  For the battery life, the ease of changing lenses, bodies, I think this was the CameTV Single would have been a better purchase.  Reading about so many people with CameTV Single's battery issues, although I'm sure a handful of people are indeed experiencing battery issues, I believe most of this has to do with the lack of balance, lack of knowledge about calibration.  People have it so poorly balanced that the motors are working overtime, and on top of that, they probably are told to not worry touch the PID settings which leads to people not really knowing how to troubleshoot their issues effectively.  It's no surprise the battery dies really quickly for some people.  Becoming an expert at the H1+ makes me believe I can rock the CameTV Single for 10 hours on a single charge without battery issues.  But without becoming an expert in 3-axis gimble calibration and Basecam SimpleBGC, I don't think I'd know how to troubleshoot a CameTV Single if I bought that first because I would think my battery is defective.

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16 hours ago, SR said:

]Looks interesting, but don't most pistol grips already be able to do this much? (I'm asking, as I really don't know.)

Sure. The Nebula 4000 started all of this, but was kinda iffy to work with, I mean, one of the reasons you might pick up one of these is because a mechanical glidecam takes too much practice. But this in turn takes way too much digging into balancing and tweaking of PID settings. 'Ain't nobody got time for that'. That's why I skipped the Nebula at first and waited for better days to come. Of course we had the Freefly MOVI that boosted the triple handle (2x sides, 1x top) gimbal stabilizers... then DJI came out with the Ronin and Ronin-M. Then we had everybody doing these kinda of things, especially the GoPro/smartphone ones. Feiyu Tech for example really jumped on that one. Then we started to up the controllers to 32-bit and dual IMU. One of the latest things is including 'encoders'. We get to see a lot more toolless designs for easier set-up. Slowly but surely it's getting to the point that you can bind-n-fly sorta say. DJI also released the Osmo, one of the first to really have a ready-to-go character, but from what I've gathered it needs to mature a bit more still... any one of these solutions for that matter.

I was really impressed with that one Pilotfly H1 video where they followed the kid on this little train.

Motion looked so fluid, organic and effortless compared to for example the Nebula 4000 which always seemed to have some mechanical correction going on, kinda throwing you off and distracting too.

Don't know. I know Dave Dugdale went with the Pilotfly because it's nice and low profile. Doesn't attract too much attention and is one of the lighter solutions. I kinda like that too! At the moment people seem to enjoy the Beholder one. I've seen good things with the MinisturdyFlight as well.

There are a couple of things I really think are important:

  • organic movement (latest and best tech!)
  • easy set-up (maybe self balancing, you put it on a plate and mount it, the handheld gimbal will move the plate to a neutral position)
  • no arm bracket on the left of the camera, but moved to the right. This way a vari-angle screen can still flip-out!
  • low profile: compact & light, yet able to carry a little load
  • remote control (perhaps even motion control system possibilities like Kessler's Cinedrive)
  • battery life
  • support
  • price!

Still don't have any of these solutions, because I don't think they're ready for prime time quite yet. But it's getting there.

The next generation of Pilotfly handheld gimbal stabilizers could surprise us. It will probably have encoders. And atleast from what I get from the picture... it might be the case that you can get one gimbal solution, to be 2 stabilizers. With the 2-in-1 unit you can use it as a pistol grip handheld stabilizer as well as to configure it in a Ronin-M kind of way. Actually, closer inspection shows one is branded T1 and other H2, so probably two separate units. They did seem to have swapped the arm bracket to the other side as well, allowing vari-angle screens to flip out.

At some point someone will come out with a terrific solution that does most things well... and with all these rapid advancements I think it could be any day now. :grin:

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Beholder DS1.

Wonderful.

Be prepared to spend zero hours tweaking it.
Be prepared to spend zero hours balancing it.
Be prepared to switch from a heavy camera to a light one by pushing a little button 3-times.

I think the Beholder DS1 wins for exceptional engineering. 
And it is EXTREMELY compact and easy to tote around.
Got mine with 2 sets of batteries that each last about 3-hours. So 6-hours of shooting without a recharge.

This thing has changed the way I approach nearly ALL my shooting.
 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, DPStewart said:

Beholder DS1.

Wonderful.

Be prepared to spend zero hours tweaking it.
Be prepared to spend zero hours balancing it.
Be prepared to switch from a heavy camera to a light one by pushing a little button 3-times.

I think the Beholder DS1 wins for exceptional engineering. 
And it is EXTREMELY compact and easy to tote around.
Got mine with 2 sets of batteries that each last about 3-hours. So 6-hours of shooting without a recharge.

This thing has changed the way I approach nearly ALL my shooting.
 

 

 

I was going to ask about this after I see your breakdown over at the other forum. Glad you like this one. How hard is it to eliminate the bounce when you walk? Can you get a good take each time? Is the BMPCC and 18-35 a good combo with the ds1? I assume a little lighter and wider lens like the 11-16 is better. 

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1 hour ago, Jonesy Jones said:

I was going to ask about this after I see your breakdown over at the other forum. Glad you like this one. How hard is it to eliminate the bounce when you walk? Can you get a good take each time? Is the BMPCC and 18-35 a good combo with the ds1? I assume a little lighter and wider lens like the 11-16 is better. 

While the DS1 could take the total weight of the pocket PLUS speedbooster PLUS the Sigma 18-35mm..... I don't think it will work with a lens that long.
But it's funny - I've never even tried it. I should. My assumption was that the center of gravity with a bazooka like the 18-35mm wouldn;t ever work. 
I'll see if I can use the lens support of the Speedbooster as the mounting point.

The DS1 also has a small extender plate for center-of-gravity issues, and I suppose if I mount the Sony NP970 battery holder I have directly ON top of the BMPCC, it might make the center of gravity work out.

Now I kinda feel silly for never even trying it.
Guess I'll go test it all out.

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7 hours ago, DPStewart said:

Beholder DS1.

Wonderful.

Be prepared to spend zero hours tweaking it.
Be prepared to spend zero hours balancing it.
Be prepared to switch from a heavy camera to a light one by pushing a little button 3-times.

I think the Beholder DS1 wins for exceptional engineering. 
And it is EXTREMELY compact and easy to tote around.
Got mine with 2 sets of batteries that each last about 3-hours. So 6-hours of shooting without a recharge.

This thing has changed the way I approach nearly ALL my shooting.

That's exactly what you wanna hear about a device. God knows there are enough things that could go wrong in the field (with no electricity, no laptop, etc), and you don't want the stabilizer to be added to that list.

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2 hours ago, SR said:

That's exactly what you wanna hear about a device. God knows there are enough things that could go wrong in the field (with no electricity, no laptop, etc), and you don't want the stabilizer to be added to that list.

It's unfortunate that there wasn't coverage of the beholder from the likes of Dave Dugdale.  I think he got a preproduction model and he's shrugged it off ever since and seemed pretty fed up with it.  I bought the H1+ because of his recommendation.  But maybe Beholder is nicer.  But, DPStewart said that be prepared to spend zero hours balancing it.  But in the video, it looks like you gotta balance it.  I can balance the H1+ in a few minutes.  Requires a tool.  PID settings....especially with a different lens and/or body, well that's another story.

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