Never before have 3-axis brushless motor-driven handheld stabilizers been more needed than with release of the latest smartphones and GoPro cameras! I’ve had a chance to test both of these products from DSLRPros and give you a sample of how they work and what kind of results you can expect from them.
DSLRPros 3-Axis Smartphone Stabilizer
When I first shared the news about the DSLRPros 3-Axis Smartphone Stabilizer on PVC back in April, 2014, it was a while before I actually got a unit to test myself. We had a chance to give away a few at my Drone Workshop on CreativeLive when it aired back in July but I’ve since had a chance to test it with a couple different phones – including the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6*.
It works just like a 3-Axis gimbal like you’d find on a drone or other electronic stabilized system for larger cameras, such as the DJI Ronin. Only this small stabilizer is perfectly balanced to cradle a smartphone with it’s spring-grip clap design that easily adjusts for a variety* of phone sizes. (*Note: will not accommodate the larger smartphones like the Samsung Note or iPhone 6+)
From the DSLRPros website:
The world’s first 3-Axis smartphone hand-held stabilizer has arrived! Film just like the pros with cinema quality stabilization right from your smartphone. With sub-pixel stabilization on ALL 3-Axis (1st Axis: Roll, 2nd Axis: Pitch and most critically 3rd Axis: Yaw) you will have the power to capture compelling, high production value footage that was previously impossible to shoot on a smartphone.
Run, jump, spin and shake all while taking perfectly stable video from your smartphone. The new DSLRPros hand stabilizer for your smartphone will turn any smartphone with a video camera into a movie quality recording device. With 3 brush-less motors and a self tuning stabilizer system this gimbal will automatically calibrate to most smartphones you have. Just place your phone into the clip and power on.
*Note: This product is currently sold out of stock and is on backorder from their manufacturer and upgrading some new design features.
My Personal Results with the 3-Axis Smartphone Stabilizer:
Okay – so I was skeptical at first, I admit. I really only shoot video with my iPhone 5 when I need to capture a moment and it’s the only thing I have on me. I can’t say I ever really “intentionally” plan to take it to shoot videos or photos, but this stabilizer might change how I look at that in the future (especially with the new iPhone 6 capabilities – but we’ll get into that in a moment). The DSLRPros 3-Axis Smartphone Stabilizer delivers exactly as promised. Right out of the box, it’s intuitive and easy to setup and use immediately. You can also swap phones quickly between shots – even types of phones, because the spring-loaded clamp adjusts for each device you slide into it, and holds it firmly. Other than extreme movement or tilt up/down past the “breaking point” where the stabilizer will freak out a bit, it maintains an even balance of your device and delivers smooth pan and tilt in addition to stabilizing the shots. Of course it still takes practice to move slowly and smoothly so your footage is watchable.
First of all, the biggest problem lies within iPhone and the iPad(s) camera technology – where you will see the autofocus freaking out in some cases and auto exposure issues with the built-in Camera app. Using a third-party app like FiLMiC Pro will help you a lot with gaining some control over your iPhone/iPad camera, but alas, it’s still only an option on a multifunction device and not a dedicated camera, so keep that in mind.
BUT… enter the iPhone 6* and things change a bit. I only had a brief chance to see how it worked when my friend and colleague Sean Duggan came by to try out the stabilizer with his new iPhone 6 before he took off with it to a photography work he’s doing in Iceland this week. We ran some tests and shot some footage of one of my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopters taking off and flying at 240fps. What I was amazed about the most was the absence of severe rolling shutter that’s prevalent in smartphone cams and other point and shoot cameras. You’ll see an example in the video below. *Note: iPhone 6+ will not fit/balance in the stabilizer.
As you’ll see in my demo tests, the stabilizer is pretty forgiving, but it still requires some practice to make your shots really steady. Until we have true 4 & 5-axis gimbals that can counter the effects from human motion, you still have to take care of watching bounce and push when shooting. You’ll also notice some variations in exposure on some shots, the autofocus of the iPhone 5 confusing itself (see the airplane crash site) and just human error, but the stabilizer performs quite well in spite of ourselves. I’ve added in some Hyperlapse and of course, the iPhone 6 footage we shot in Slo Mo:
Okay – so yes, it’s easy enough to use that you can enjoy a delicious beverage while you’re shooting! 🙂
DSLRPros 3-Axis GoPro Hand Stabilizer
The DSLRPros 3-Axis GoPro Hand Stabilizer has even more features and capabilities than the Smartphone Stabilizer. It features three different stabilization modes and it’s got a metal handle with a robust design and allows a wide range of motion. You can mount it to a mic boom and have a quick and easy portable jib and shooting with your GoPro app on WiFi, you can easily preview shots as you set them up. Even better, now with the announcement of the GoPro HERO4, you can shoot in real 4K 24/30fps! And at $349. I do think this is definitely a useful piece of gear for great POV and B-roll shots!
From the DSLRPros website:
The world’s first 3-Axis Gopro hand-held stabilizer has arrived! Film just like the pros with cinema quality stabilization right from your Gopro. With sub-pixel stabilization on ALL 3-Axis (1st Axis: Roll, 2nd Axis: Pitch and most critically 3rd Axis: Yaw) you will have the power to capture compelling, high production value footage instantly.
In Heading Following Mode Pitch and roll locked, heading smooth rotation will follow the direction of the handle this is perfect for panning. In Heading And Pitch Following Mode Roll locking, heading and pitch smooth rotation follow the direction of the handheld. In Locking Mode Heading ,pitch and roll locking. The camera will not move in any direction prefect for very intense situations.
DSLRPRos 3-Axis Gopro hand stabilizer comes with:
- Stabilizer battery charger
- Stabilizer rechargeable batteries
- Stabilizer USB cord
My Personal Results with the 3-Axis GoPro Hand Stabilizer:
Using technology we’ve only just started to see in our UAV gimbals, this handheld stabilizer does actually so much more. I tested the various modes and preferred the 2nd mode (two clicks to control smooth yaw and pitch) the most because it allows free easy movement. But looking at my test results in post, and considering how the wide-angle lens of the GoPro distorts the horizon so much when when you tilt it up/down, I’m rethinking that and decided that the default mode that just stabilizes and provides smooth yaw motion (think “ease-in” and “ease-out” camera motion) would be best to help eliminate the strange distortions.
We also did a quick “boom” test outside our offices but it wasn’t long enough to properly see over the bushes between us and the view of the bay below. I think more testing is in order!
I’ll be updating this review once I get the GoPro HERO4 in and do some more test shots, but for now, check out a few clips I managed to get around the ranch:
For more information regarding the 3-Axis stabilizers that DSLRPros has to offer, check out their product page here.
Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com