First came the Steadicam Smoothie a couple years ago and they teased us with the Curve about a year ago at NAB 2013, but now it’s finally shipping and I got one to test with. Smaller and more compact than the Smoothee but is it better?
The new design of the Steadicam Curve is brilliant in its simplicity and compact size – the engineering of the balancing weights and controls and the style, but does any of that make it easier to use than its predecessor, the slightly larger Steadicam Smoothee?
Sure, the Smoothee was designed for the GoPro Hero2 initially, then came the Hero3 and it still worked, thankfully, as did the adapters for the iPhone 4/4s, 5/5s, iPod Touch. I initially did a product review for the Smoothee here on PVC back in 2012, so I was anxious to check out the new Curve, since it was first debuted nearly a year ago at NAB 2013 and just recently released.
At first glance, the Curve is sleek and simple in design. It’s obvious that it’s meant for easy portability/pocket-ability and who doesn’t love the brilliant color options in hard anodized aluminum? It’s noticeably smaller than the Smoothee when held side-by-side (as our studio assistant “Lena Waybach” demonstrates below).
But in reality, someone with big sausage fingers like me has a difficult time getting the Curve to balance without it hitting the back of my little finger unless I point downward all the time. It feels a bit awkward at first, but you do get the hang of it after awhile and learn just how far the range of motion is that you can get away with any size hands or whether or not you’re wearing gloves.
Specs from Tiffen’s Steadicamcurve.com website:
- Colours: Black, Blue, Red, Purple & Silver.
- Mount: Uses existing GoPro®
- Hero® 2 & Hero® 3 mount
- Adjustable bottom weight
- Fine-tune knob
- Quick release handle lock for handgrip mode.
- Lightweight, durable aluminium frame
- Can be balanced with GoPro® LCD Screen.
- Product weight 1/2 lb (0.227kg)
Another thing I didn’t notice until I actually read the instructions (RTFM Jeff!) is that you MUST use the old GoPro Hero3 waterproof BacPac compatible housing with the Steadicam Curve – even if you have the Hero3+, because it was designed to work with the LCD back on and the “Naked” mount won’t work either. So if you don’t have a Hero3 already, then you must buy a Hero3 BacPac compatible Housing from GoPro (They still have not updated the Hero3+ housings to accommodate a BacPac). To me, this is probably the biggest drawback in design. The Smoothee had enough range of adjustment to accommodate any configuration or any GoPro camera – with or without the housings or BacPacs.
Still, for its compact and very portable size, it does manage to give you decent results over a handheld GoPro Hero3/3+ camera – given you do some practice with it and it’s not too windy where you’re shooting. I did some tests in and out of our offices to test it out and while I’m far from proficient at controlling the Curve, I did feel it was quite manageable, even with some 7-10mph wind gusts fighting me, or my hands not getting out of the way. (Practice makes perfect).
Check out the PVC Exclusive Video Tests below:
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