Flycam Nano - budget stabiliser

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
I ordered one of these last Friday for £100 shipped and it turned up first thing yesterday morning. Technically, its 700g weight limit shouldn't even support the 550D and kit lens, but I've seen good results on it with a 5D MkII and 24 f/1.4 L so I wasn't too worried.

nano-6.jpg


From what I've seen so far, it's sturdy and surprisingly well made. Took a long time to balance the first time, but once you've got the right idea it's actually quite simple to do, though I wouldn't recommend using it without a quick release plate unless you fancy rebalancing every time you change a battery.

I'm not going to be one of those people who clog up YouTube posting video of their first run (or even worse, post a video when they "didn't have time to balance it") as it probably won't make me or the stabiliser look any good. However, I've been asked to be B cam operator on a music video the weekend after next and the DoP was very keen for me to try out a few shots with it, so if all goes to plan I'll be posting some of my shots up in a couple of weeks for you all to laugh at, alongside a review that's slightly more substantial than just my initial impressions.

If you have any questions please ask away - I know I was a bit apprehensive about dropping that much on a product that's not that established, but I've been very happy with it so far.

Ollie
 
This looks neat and all, but I don't really get the point.

You can chalk this up to inexperience, but I can't understand the idea of spending £100 on a stabiliser for a £600 camera. Especially one as light as the 550D (if this is designed for even lighter then that then I'm even more lost). What sort of shot will you use this for and what sort of problems have you had in the past that this will solve?

I'm genuinely curious about this, I just have no idea what a DSLR user would use something like this for...
 
This looks neat and all, but I don't really get the point.

You can chalk this up to inexperience, but I can't understand the idea of spending £100 on a stabiliser for a £600 camera. Especially one as light as the 550D (if this is designed for even lighter then that then I'm even more lost). What sort of shot will you use this for and what sort of problems have you had in the past that this will solve?

I'm genuinely curious about this, I just have no idea what a DSLR user would use something like this for...

Same thing any camera uses it for, steady...ish handheld shots. "ish" is all you're going to get for anything under several thousand dollars and not operated by somebody with a lot of experience. If you really practice with one (a cheapie like this or a Glidecam) you can get fairly steady shots doing a very slow controlled walk, but you're not gonna chase somebody down the street or anything.
 
Same thing any camera uses it for, steady...ish handheld shots. "ish" is all you're going to get for anything under several thousand dollars and not operated by somebody with a lot of experience. If you really practice with one (a cheapie like this or a Glidecam) you can get fairly steady shots doing a very slow controlled walk, but you're not gonna chase somebody down the street or anything.

What I mean was more a comment on the cost effectiveness. I get that the point is to stabilise the shot, what I am curious about is why you'd spend a sixth of the price of the camera itself solving this problem? The 550D is so light anyway and unsuited, for various reasons, to rigorous in shot movement that I'm curious to understand why you'd need that tiny bit of extra stability.

I'd heard that taping a bag on flour to the bottom of the camera has roughly the same effect (?)
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
This looks neat and all, but I don't really get the point.

You can chalk this up to inexperience, but I can't understand the idea of spending £100 on a stabiliser for a £600 camera. Especially one as light as the 550D (if this is designed for even lighter then that then I'm even more lost). What sort of shot will you use this for and what sort of problems have you had in the past that this will solve?

I'm genuinely curious about this, I just have no idea what a DSLR user would use something like this for...

The weight (along with ergonomics) actually puts the DSLRs at a disadvantage when it comes to stability. The lighter an object, the less inertia it has, so the easier it is to make it change direction. A shoulder-mounted broadcast camera can be pretty steady even when walking, because the weight of it means small, sudden movements by the camera operator are absorbed, rather than being transmitted as in the 550D.

It's not so much solving problems as another tool. I've only ever done one shot before where I wished I had a stabiliser - a long tracking shot across a field, in front of a group of people in conversation. In the end we went for a dolly with pneumatic wheels and some post-stabilisation, but it wouldn't have been my first choice.

Of course, it does open up new possibilities for shots too - having the time and space to setup a dolly is often impractical, and you can't stick it in a rucksack at the end of the day. Handheld tracking shots can be great, but sometimes it's too fast to look good, or the handheld aesthetic doesn't fit with the story.

Same thing any camera uses it for, steady...ish handheld shots. "ish" is all you're going to get for anything under several thousand dollars and not operated by somebody with a lot of experience. If you really practice with one (a cheapie like this or a Glidecam) you can get fairly steady shots doing a very slow controlled walk, but you're not gonna chase somebody down the street or anything.

Compared to someone with decades of experience operating gear that costs tens of thousands of dollars… you're spot on, it's not going to look good. Compared to other handheld shots (and I'm talking moving shots) it's miles ahead. Even with my inexperience it's a completely different look and feel - despite the odd shake and knock from my clumsy footwork (and walking backwards into doorframes) it glides really quite well.

What I mean was more a comment on the cost effectiveness. I get that the point is to stabilise the shot, what I am curious about is why you'd spend a sixth of the price of the camera itself solving this problem? The 550D is so light anyway and unsuited, for various reasons, to rigorous in shot movement that I'm curious to understand why you'd need that tiny bit of extra stability.

I'd heard that taping a bag on flour to the bottom of the camera has roughly the same effect (?)

As a proportion of camera cost, I think it's pretty reasonable. A decent tripod (and decent, not fantastic) would cost nearly a third of the 550D. While they are incomparable in quality and capabilities, a top-end Steadicam system would set you back at least £40k - support gear many times cheaper than the camera it's used with doesn't really happen at any level.

Doing that adds weight, and it's a trick I've used before, but it doesn't solve everything. By the time it's as stable as an ENG or cine camera, you've added so much weight that many of the advantages of using a DSLR have been lost and it's become very tiring to work with. I'm not going to go into the details of how a stabiliser works as there are plenty of websites out there that do so very well, but suffice to say it isn't just a case of adding weight.

I think that's the point. To take the totally crazy all over the place handheld of a DSLR, and with practice get to a point where it just looks handheld instead of totally spastic.

I think it does that and more. With a shoulder mount that cost £30 or so, I can get mostly static handheld shots that I'm really happy with - even walking it doesn't go all Jason Bourne. But I think this takes the shot to a different place really, in stability and what kind of shots you can do.
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
…I just wanted to add to that rather long post that it hasn't all been brilliant. The gimbal arrived unbalanced, which meant that the camera would be perfectly level facing one way, but turn it 90° and it would be all over the place. It's very easy to fix once you know what you're doing, but it did take me several hours of research and wanting to throw the whole thing out the window. (It's worth pointing out that this has been a problem on the much more expensive Glidecams - I'd happily save £2-300 for a few hours of frustration.)

I still don't feel very happy putting any footage up at the moment, as I'm still a bit all over the place and I don't think it would do it justice. I'll try and get some clips up in the week, and then with any luck post some of my shots from the music video when I've seen what it's like using it with the time and space limitations of a proper shoot.
 
We purchased the Flycam-nano just over two weeks ago.

It is what it is for the price, but you have to know it's limitations. We've shot a couple of commercials/tests, so i'll be sure to post over the next week.
 
…I just wanted to add to that rather long post that it hasn't all been brilliant. The gimbal arrived unbalanced, which meant that the camera would be perfectly level facing one way, but turn it 90° and it would be all over the place. It's very easy to fix once you know what you're doing, but it did take me several hours of research and wanting to throw the whole thing out the window. (It's worth pointing out that this has been a problem on the much more expensive Glidecams - I'd happily save £2-300 for a few hours of frustration.)

I still don't feel very happy putting any footage up at the moment, as I'm still a bit all over the place and I don't think it would do it justice. I'll try and get some clips up in the week, and then with any luck post some of my shots from the music video when I've seen what it's like using it with the time and space limitations of a proper shoot.

The "Throwing it out of the window", oh we shared that sentiment my friend. It took us just over 4-5 hours to balance/be pleased with the results.
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
We purchased the Flycam-nano just over two weeks ago.

It is what it is for the price, but you have to know it's limitations. We've shot a couple of commercials/tests, so i'll be sure to post over the next week.

Ah cool, I'd be very interested to see how you get on with it. It definitely has its limitations, but I still think it's damn good for the price.

The "Throwing it out of the window", oh we shared that sentiment my friend. It took us just over 4-5 hours to balance/be pleased with the results.

Hahaha (that was a bitter laugh). If it wasn't for the gimbal problems I think I would've been alright as I'd read up on it and did the initial static balance in 45 minutes or so. Sorting the gimbal/dynamic balance was a colossal pain in the arse…

I'm now very envious of the Glidecam HD series and the microadjustment feature on the top stage, but then they are three times the price!
 
Ah cool, I'd be very interested to see how you get on with it. It definitely has its limitations, but I still think it's damn good for the price.

Hahaha (that was a bitter laugh). If it wasn't for the gimbal problems I think I would've been alright as I'd read up on it and did the initial static balance in 45 minutes or so. Sorting the gimbal/dynamic balance was a colossal pain in the arse…

I'm now very envious of the Glidecam HD series and the microadjustment feature on the top stage, but then they are three times the price!

I fear for those who don't research before purchase.

How are you finding it on your arm? Tiresome?

Alot of people complain of the strain, and opt for purchasing the forearm-brace, or vest, DIY connect it to their shouldermounts...
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
I fear for those who don't research before purchase.

How are you finding it on your arm? Tiresome?

Alot of people complain of the strain, and opt for purchasing the forearm-brace, or vest, DIY connect it to their shouldermounts...

First day or two left my wrist a wreck, but I'm starting to get used to it now - wouldn't want to do a continuous shot longer than a couple of minutes at the moment though. I'd love a vest and arm, but it doesn't seem like a very wise purchase given the price relative to the Flycam. Connecting it to a shouldermount seems to defeat the purpose for me - you can use your arm as a shock absorber, but on your shoulder every step and subtle movement would be transmitted. The brace seems like the most cost-effective solution, but from the pictures it looks like it might be pushing your hand onto the gimbal, which stops it from working properly.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
What I mean was more a comment on the cost effectiveness. I get that the point is to stabilise the shot, what I am curious about is why you'd spend a sixth of the price of the camera itself solving this problem?
What does price have to do with anything? That's like saying, why would you use that $5K lens on a 1K camera? The quality looks great, but I don't understand why you would do that cost-wise. Your logic does not make sense. So if the camera was free, don't buy any accessories?
 
What does price have to do with anything? That's like saying, why would you use that $5K lens on a 1K camera? The quality looks great, but I don't understand why you would do that cost-wise. Your logic does not make sense. So if the camera was free, don't buy any accessories?

If the camera was free then I would be willing to buy accessories appropriate to the value of the camera. It's about value not price.

I'm not saying that it's not a good investment. I'm just interested to know why people spend so much (most DSLR stabilisers are considerably more expensive than this) rectifying a problem that is inherent to the type of camera that they've purchased. In my mind people who are buying cameras light enough to use this stabiliser are probably more in the consumer bracket than professional, after all, the Flycam Nano isn't even aimed at DSLRs.

My second point is one of what shots this will seriously improve and I get what you're saying now. 'It's not so much solving problems as another tool' is exactly what I didn't get to begin with. In my mind people were purchasing this to try and rectify a problem, whereas this is just another weapon in your arsenal.
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
I'm not saying that it's not a good investment. I'm just interested to know why people spend so much (most DSLR stabilisers are considerably more expensive than this) rectifying a problem that is inherent to the type of camera that they've purchased. In my mind people who are buying cameras light enough to use this stabiliser are probably more in the consumer bracket than professional, after all, the Flycam Nano isn't even aimed at DSLRs.

Sure, DSLRs aren't the most stable of cameras, but stabilisers are there to solve a problem that's prevalent on Flip HD cams all the way up to IMAX cameras. Given the costs of other DSLR accessories - lenses, shoulder rigs, follow focuses - it's a drop in the ocean, relatively speaking.
 

chilipie

Pro Member
indiePRO
I promised you footage… but the hard drive in my Mac had a wee tantrum last Sunday. I've replaced it and nearly finished restoring everything, but I won't be able to reinstall FCP until Monday, so it'll have to wait a few more days I'm afraid.

On the bright side, we've got a nice variety of locations over the weekend, so I should have some interesting bits and pieces to upload.
 
It's looking strong. Weaving through the crowd turned out well, too.

One of the guys had a University project for an "Experimental 5 minute Video", there's alot of the Flycam involved being put to the test on alternate terrain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-tA3vjU-Vk
 
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