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Pilotfly H1+


wolf33d
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Just got my Pilotfly H1+ yesterday, here's a sample of some basic walking / running / tracking moving subject footage.  Shot on A7R2, 4K @ 25p 1/60, creative style neutral, picture profile off, DRO lv4, no post processing.

Definitely seeing some very noticeable bob when walking, and some jitter at the end of my running test, but I'm hoping I can iron this out with some tweaks to the settings.  The A7R2 + 55 1.8 is about 75% of the rated weight limit of 1.2kg so I might need to increase the power on the motors.. the above was shot using the default profile 1 that came with the stabilizer.  There's a lot to play with in the SimpleBGC software so I'm hoping I can eliminate the bob after some fine-tuning.

Overall Pros:

- Does a good job stabilizing; pans are also nice and smooth, something I've never been able to do well hand-held

- Lots of tweaker controls; pretty sure I can improve my first day's results with some adjustments

- Bluetooth support for the SimpleBGC mobile app, so you can tweak every setting and run calibrations while in the field

- Inverted mode is very convenient, also feels more stable to hold the rig when up-side down as gravity is helping

- Nice and compact, doesn't look too crazy when in public settings

- Fairly lightweight for such a powerful device (780g)

Overall Cons:

- Pretty confusing to set up initially, especially when you get into the software.  For example there are 5 different profiles included but it wasn't until I asked on their Facebook group that I fully understood what they did.  There's a lot I'm still figuring out about this device.

- Battery life - unlike the CAME-TV which has encoders on every motor that reduce battery consumption, the Pilotfly is only rated at 1-2 hrs of battery (depending on size of camera/lens).  I bought an external battery charger with DC output so I can charge the Pilotfly (and my camera / phone / etc.) in the field.  So far that seems to be working but of course it adds another pound or so to your bag.

- Re-balancing for different lenses can be slow since you need to use a mini allen key and re-set a bunch of screws; thankfully my current lenses are somewhat close in weight right now so I can let the motors just compensate for the slightly un-balanced camera (at the cost of even shorter battery life presumably).  The Victor studios video linked below shows how if you really need to though you can crank up the motor strength really high and use a very unbalanced lens in a pinch.

- Needs some convenience features, like a way to lock the arms down when you're walking around.  Also have to be very careful when rotating the arms with the device turned off around as the camera and arms will flop around and it's easy to bang your lens against the screws.  I was trying to switch out of inverted mode and I somehow got into a spot where one of the screws was within half a centimeter of hitting the front element of my Zeiss 55mm

Overall it's still a pretty great device and I'm pretty stoked at the kinds of shots I can do with it.  I had a cheap old manual counterweight gimbal before (Hague MMC) and it wasn't bad but for almost the same weight this is pretty awesome.

Videos I found useful when researching / setting up the Pilotfly:

Dave Dugdale's Pilotfly vs. CAME-TV Single review

CheesyCam Pilotfly vs. Nebula vs. CAME-TV Single comparison

Viktor Studios Pilotfly review (in spanish with English subs)

Pilotfly's own tutorial on how to switch to inverted mode, swap pitch and roll

GH4 user unboxing / setup / test footage

 

 

 

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you can also buy a steadicam pilot for probably less than these gimbals and it uses physics not electronics to work and takes a lot less tweaking to get right.  

1. it cost $2795 brand new

2. it take months and years to get it right

3. still have to tweak it here and there.

4. big and heavy, inconvenient to go anywhere, especially if travel "light"

vs gimbal

1.cost $800 new

2.weight much less as no counter weight needed

3.once set you dont have to tweak again

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I own three steadicams.  It takes about a month to get good at it - then it's pretty small tweaking.

costs $2k used.  up to 10 lbs weight.

the gimbal once you switch the lens you have to tweak it?  I don't know - never seen how effective these little guys are but with the steadicam pilot you can put a remote follow focus on it and use cameras like the epic and alexa mini on it when you want to.  

 

 

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I own three steadicams.  It takes about a month to get good at it - then it's pretty small tweaking.

costs $2k used.  up to 10 lbs weight.

the gimbal once you switch the lens you have to tweak it?  I don't know - never seen how effective these little guys are but with the steadicam pilot you can put a remote follow focus on it and use cameras like the epic and alexa mini on it when you want to.  

 

 

With gimbal you can zoom in and zoom out and it still hold position, they are less sensitive in weight distribution compare to steadicam. And for the lens if they are similar weight the motor can tolerant some difference, I can change from UW lens to 50mm prime to 24-70mm lens on the go without tweaking the PID setting, the downside with not perfectly balanced setup is they eat more battery.

 

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Just got my Pilotfly H1+ yesterday, here's a sample of some basic walking / running / tracking moving subject footage.  Shot on A7R2, 4K @ 25p 1/60, creative style neutral, picture profile off, DRO lv4, no post processing.

Definitely seeing some very noticeable bob when walking, and some jitter at the end of my running test, but I'm hoping I can iron this out with some tweaks to the settings.  The A7R2 + 55 1.8 is about 75% of the rated weight limit of 1.2kg so I might need to increase the power on the motors.. the above was shot using the default profile 1 that came with the stabilizer.  There's a lot to play with in the SimpleBGC software so I'm hoping I can eliminate the bob after some fine-tuning.

Overall Pros:

- Does a good job stabilizing; pans are also nice and smooth, something I've never been able to do well hand-held

- Lots of tweaker controls; pretty sure I can improve my first day's results with some adjustments

- Bluetooth support for the SimpleBGC mobile app, so you can tweak every setting and run calibrations while in the field

- Inverted mode is very convenient, also feels more stable to hold the rig when up-side down as gravity is helping

- Nice and compact, doesn't look too crazy when in public settings

- Fairly lightweight for such a powerful device (780g)

Overall Cons:

- Pretty confusing to set up initially, especially when you get into the software.  For example there are 5 different profiles included but it wasn't until I asked on their Facebook group that I fully understood what they did.  There's a lot I'm still figuring out about this device.

- Battery life - unlike the CAME-TV which has encoders on every motor that reduce battery consumption, the Pilotfly is only rated at 1-2 hrs of battery (depending on size of camera/lens).  I bought an external battery charger with DC output so I can charge the Pilotfly (and my camera / phone / etc.) in the field.  So far that seems to be working but of course it adds another pound or so to your bag.

- Re-balancing for different lenses can be slow since you need to use a mini allen key and re-set a bunch of screws; thankfully my current lenses are somewhat close in weight right now so I can let the motors just compensate for the slightly un-balanced camera (at the cost of even shorter battery life presumably).  The Victor studios video linked below shows how if you really need to though you can crank up the motor strength really high and use a very unbalanced lens in a pinch.

- Needs some convenience features, like a way to lock the arms down when you're walking around.  Also have to be very careful when rotating the arms with the device turned off around as the camera and arms will flop around and it's easy to bang your lens against the screws.  I was trying to switch out of inverted mode and I somehow got into a spot where one of the screws was within half a centimeter of hitting the front element of my Zeiss 55mm

Overall it's still a pretty great device and I'm pretty stoked at the kinds of shots I can do with it.  I had a cheap old manual counterweight gimbal before (Hague MMC) and it wasn't bad but for almost the same weight this is pretty awesome.

Videos I found useful when researching / setting up the Pilotfly:

Dave Dugdale's Pilotfly vs. CAME-TV Single review

CheesyCam Pilotfly vs. Nebula vs. CAME-TV Single comparison

Viktor Studios Pilotfly review (in spanish with English subs)

Pilotfly's own tutorial on how to switch to inverted mode, swap pitch and roll

GH4 user unboxing / setup / test footage

 

 

 

What lens were you using in this test?

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I updated the settings to the ones recommended by Pilotfly for the A7R2 + 55mm 1.8 FE combo and also tried some smoother walker technique. Seemed to smooth out the bobbing a fair bit. Running still has a few jitters though.. think I might need to up the pitch power.

Here's the updated walking + running test (second part with tracking a moving subject is the same):

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