If you are planning on filming some high-quality movie scenes you are going to need the proper tools. Finding the best steadicam or camera stabilizer can help you to create professionally filmed scenes that will be sure to impress.
Inevitable shakes from hours of holding your arm in one position, natural twitches of the body and vibrations while walking will break down that wall of illusion and could leave the end product looking unprofessional.
The steadicam, originally created by Tiffen, helps to overcome that using a specialized rig for seamless shooting while moving up and down steps, indoors and out and meandering through crowds to get those groundbreaking shots – without using the jibs and cranes that are off limits to the small scale photographer.
When choosing the best steadicam for filming your project, choose something to best suit your camera and budget. With the right investment however, a decent model will give you that added professional touch.
Which Steadicam Gives the Best Filming Experience?
When looking at the best steadicams on the market bear in mind you want something that’s best suited to the weight of your camera to allow you to capture seamless footage. The ones below are ideally suited for DSLRs – if you are using a GoPro or camera of similar weight you will want to look into a handheld stabilizer specific for these.
For DSLRs though, your best option will have a vest attachment to free you from the action and a quick release so you can easily mount it to your nearest tripod. We tested each of the top models on the market and you can read our reviews here:
Glide Gear 5050
This steadicam is at the top of the range. It is sturdy and well-made meaning it eliminates the pendulum sway you can find on some lower end models.
- Adjustable central post
- 3 axis gimbal
- Offset padded handle for added comfort
A camera can be mounted easily on the removable top plate and the light aircraft-aluminum construction offers tight tolerances for your most ambitious shoots. The ability for finer adjustments and a quick release mount gives you full flexibility over when and how you shoot and allows you to easily demount the camera when not in use. If you have the budget we highly recommend this model as it provides a perfect balance between comfort and quality.
As with all steadicams perfecting balancing comes with time, but the Glidecam HD 2000 works flawlessly once you are fully familiar with it.
- Supporting up to 7lbs
- Telescopic central post
- Easy to adjust counterweight
This is enabled through a telescopic central post for your perfect positioning. An evolution of the Glidecam HD-2000 and HD-4000 pro, users of this predecessor will find better camera balance, gimbal movement and easier adjustments. With the added comfort of its ergonomic handle and fine tuning gimbal lock it makes high quality filming on long days a breeze.
SevenOak SK-SW Pro 2 Carbon Fiber DSLR Stabilizer
The carbon fiber and chrome features makes this a really good looking camera mount and the fact that is light and easy to use make it a great choice.
• Max length: 45cm
• Min length: 72.5cm
• Max weight: 3kg/6.6 lbs
You can unscrew the 4 removable chrome counter weights to adjust depending on your camera and the length is easily adjustable for adapting to different shots.
This is a nice mid-range option with adjustable teeth for extra precision in movement.
Flycam 5000 Camera Steadicam
Flycam 5000 combines precision and execution with comfort. The vest support takes the weight off your arm enabling the use of weightier models without compromising your picture quality. Ideal if you will be shooting for several hours.
- Supports Cameras weighing up to 5kg
- Includes comfort arm & vest
- 16 counter weights at 80g each
For professional shoots, it eliminates shaky camera work and blurring while avoiding the need of a more cumbersome dolly and track. What you have as a result is the ability to spend hours on what you love, focus on the shot and get the fluidity you need.
Glide Gear DNA-6001 Vest and Arm Stabilization Kit
Glide gear combines their two top stabilization systems to give an unparalleled performance. The DNA 6000 is a vest and arm support brace that takes the weight off your arms while allowing the movement of a handheld stabilizer. Glide Gear has learned from other uncomfortable, cumbersome vest-and-arm systems with 6061 CNC-machined 6061 anodized aluminum and stainless steel, making it lightweight and durable.
- 6061 CNC-machined aluminum and stainless steel
- One size fits all adjustable
- Suitable for left and right handers
- Includes separate deluxe padded carry case
- Supports up to 3kg
An adjustable chest plate allows you to fit the vest to your size, while the arm can be mounted either side making it ambidextrous. The DNA-5050 Stabilizer in this DNA-6001 Vest and Arm Stabilization Kit slots nicely into the support arm to allow optimum movement in and out of shots. Whether you’re taking shots on the run, around corners or upstairs it enables you to get the maximum smoothness possible.
Opteka SteadyVid SV-HD Camera Stabilizer
This steadicam is nice and affordable and is perfect for the entry level filmmaking. It has a quick release plate and safety mechanism to keep the plate in place.
• Max length: 23.6″
• Min length: 14.6″
• Max weight: 6 lbs
It will take a DSLR or camera up to 10lbs in weight and is highly flexible and allows for shooting at high and low angles. It is sturdy and robust when filming but with a lightweight aluminum frame.
The gimbal is sturdy and flexible though the grip can slide when moving with the camera if you have a heavy load and there are 2 places to add weights to counterbalance.
What is a Steadicam?
A steadicam or steadycam as they are also was originally a brand of camera stabilizer use to keep your camera steady when filming and taking photographs. In a similar fashion to all vacuum cleaners are known as hoovers, camera stabilizers have adopted the name generally.
How to Use a Steadicam Stabilizer
So you’re investing in a steadicam – now how do you get those dream shots you lusted after? Our first point of advice is that before buying, check your model comes with a manual or at least some form of tutorial online.
As you will have noticed, steadicams come in different shapes and sizes, so we’ll start with the simplest handheld gimbal. Depending on what you’re using – smartphone, GoPro, DSLR or above, there will be some form of attachment.
Smartphones typically snap in using the adjustable bracket. You’ll have to check before you buy that it fits yours – most phones fit into the popular stabilizers. If it’s designed for a smartphone like the DJI Osmo the bracket will be built in – some others will include a smartphone bracket. If not a simple trick is to buy a selfie stick or phone tripod as these come with brackets. Once you have one it works the same as a GoPro or DSLR. Screw your camera into the mount so that it aligns squarely.
The next step is to set the counterweights. Add weights sparingly until your stabilizer holds at an angle. Your job is then to adjust the position of the camera on the stage – or length of the sled if possible – until it balances vertically. If your stabilizer swings from side to side keep making millimeter adjustments until you get the balance. Once you have the balance you want you’re good to go!
Now we move onto supports. Some versions like the Flycam offer an arm bracket to take the strain when you mount a heavier DSLR. This takes the strain off your wrist for longer periods. Set up your camera as above, then put on the arm bracket so the insertion part faces your wrist. You then remove the stopper at the end of your steadicam handle and insert the arm bracket connector. Shoulder mounts work similarly. Attach your camera as above and adjust the shoulder pad and/or distance of your camera mount to the grips to adjust the balance you want. Depending on your camera you may want to add counterweights as well.
Finally, if you are using an arm and vest steadicam, start by mounting your camera on the sled like you would a normal handheld and balance accordingly. Then put on the vest, connect the arm to the vest and snap your mount into the steadicam arm.
Steadicams are a crucial accessory to bring your film or video to the next level. They smooth out human imperfections, allow more dynamic shots and add the extra edge you want. Plus for longer videos, something like a mounted steadicam or vest and arm is infallible to save your body wear and tear. Decide on your budget, the features you want and camera needs select one right for you. No matter how much you have to spend, taking on one of these is sure to take your photography up a notch.
In summary, the best steadicams for filming are:
- Glide Gear 5050
- Glidecam HD-2000
- SevenOak SK-SW Pro 2 Carbon Fiber DSLR Stabilizer
- Opteka SteadyVid SV-HD Camera Stabilizer
- Flycam 5000 Camera Steadicam
- Glide Gear DNA-6001 Vest and Arm Stabilization Kit