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Those who shoot video with a mirrorless camera always look for the best way to stabilize their footage.
Tripods are great. However, if we want some movement in our shots, be it push-ins, pull-outs, or tracking shots, our primary options are narrowed to glidecams (handheld stabilizers) or gimbals.
But glidecams aren’t just for stabilization but are also great for many creative shots. You can do everything from dollying in and out to fast pans, spins, and more.
Here are some affordable choices that give you a lot of bang for the buck.
Table of Contents
1. The Raleno Handheld Stabilizer S60N – Best Bang For Your Buck
Weight Limit: Cameras Weighing up to 6.6 lbs. or 3 kilograms.
- Shortest Height: 41.5 cm (16 in)
- Maximum height: 60 cm (24 in)
Weight: 5.20LB / 2.36 kg
Best for: DSLRs, Mirrorless Cameras, and Action Cameras.
Pros: Lightweight, portable, and made entirely of aluminum. Two-way adjustable base plate is suitable for all DSLRs under 6.6 lbs.
The package includes the stabilizer, release plate, six weights, and a carrying bag.
Cons: The baseplate doesn’t work well with larger lenses (for example, the Sony 24-70mm G Series). The plate cannot slide far enough back, so a workaround of turning the base plate 90 degrees is required.
Though functional, this compromise is inconvenient, especially if you want to switch lenses.
Another problem found is that the handle cannot slide vertically. Being close to the base plate, it occasionally can bump the plate and shake the camera. This is only a problem in shooting at low angles, but can be frustrating if that is desired.
Description: Overall, the Raleno S60N is an extremely functional stabilizer at a very low price point. Made of Aluminum, it has a low weight while still feeling sturdy.
It can get you a smooth shot at an incredible price, though you may find limitations based on gear.
Check the current price on Amazon: Raleno S60N
2. The Sutefoto Portable S-60 – More Buck, More Bang
Weight Limit: Cameras Weighing up to 7.0 lbs. or 3.17 kilograms.
- Shortest Height: 42 cm (16.5 in)
- Maximum height: 60 cm (23.62 in)
Weight: 5.29 LB / 2.40 kg
Best for: DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras.
Pros: Portable and made entirely of metal. Suitable for all DSLRs with a load capacity of seven pounds.
The package includes the stabilizer, a release plate, six weights, and a carrying bag. It has an excellent construction, a comfortable handle, and a well-marked base plate.
Cons: The Sutefoto is a bit heavier and relatively bulky so fatigue will set in after a long day of shooting.
Additionally, the handle is not movable (similar to the RALENO). Occasionally it will come in contact with the base plate if you’re not careful. Getting a perfect balance can also be challenging, so practice is required.
Description: The Sutefoto is a sturdy and robust stabilizer at a very low price point. It can take a hit and can hold cameras up to seven pounds.
It can get you a smooth and balanced shot with time and practice, though care must be taken not to bump the baseplate.
Check the current price on Amazon: Sutefoto Portable S-60
3. The Neewer Carbon Fiber 60cm Stabilizer – Best Lightweight And Portable Glidecam – Great for Travel
Weight Limit: Cameras Weighing up to 6.6 lbs. or 3.0 kilograms.
- Shortest Height: 39 cm (15 in)
- Maximum height: 60 cm (24 in)
Weight: 4.75 LB / 2.15 kg
Best for: Video Cameras, DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras
Pros: Portable and light, but still made of a durable carbon fiber material. Suitable for all DSLRs under 6.6 pounds.
The package includes the stabilizer, release plate, six weights, and a carrying bag. It has a comfortable sponge handle and baseplate with a marker to record positions.
Cons: Make sure your camera weighs enough. Lighter cameras may require added weights to the baseplate.
Being so light, it doesn’t resist your body’s motion, so you may get a bit more camera shake when walking.
Additionally, if paired with a light camera, the overall lack of weight makes the rig susceptible to spinning in the wind.
Description: The Neewer 60cm stabilizer is lightweight and portable, working with cameras up to 6.6 pounds. It has an ergonomic grip, a carrying case, and a markable baseplate to record set positions.
It’s lightweight can cause issues if paired with a light camera, making it more easily affected by wind and body movements.
Check the current price on Amazon: Neewer 60cm Stabilizer
4. The Flycam HD-3000 – Best Glidecam For Bigger Cameras
Weight Limit: Cameras Weighing up to 8.0 lbs. or 3.50 kilograms.
- Shortest Height: 40 cm (15.75 in)
- Maximum height: 60 cm (23.62 in)
Weight: 8.82 LB / 4 kg
Best for: DSLRs, Camcorders, Mirrorless Cameras.
Pros: Sturdy construction with a high weight capacity of up to eight pounds. Even with a heavy lens and microphone, it should be able to hold any DSLR or mirrorless camera (for example, the body of the Sony A7r iv is only 1.47 lbs.).
Additionally, it comes with a carrying case and a quick-release plate, which is extremely helpful. It is easy to assemble and has micro-adjusters to ensure perfect balance.
Cons: The FlyCam HD-3000 is not light, and if you intend to use it on longer shoots, a support rig is a good investment. On its own, it is over eight pounds, and with the weight of a camera, it can be very cumbersome.
After 15 minutes, you may need to put it down. Additionally, the carrying case is small, requiring deconstruction to fit easily.
Description: The FlyCam HD-3000 is more expensive than the previous models, but durability and a higher load capacity come with that.
The heavier weight is cumbersome but also allows a smoother shot. It is less affected by the wind and body movement than the Neewer and Raleno but will fatigue you quickly.
The fact that it comes with a quick-release plate is extremely beneficial and saves you an additional purchase compared to the other stabilizers.
Check the current price on Amazon: FlyCam HD-3000
5. THE GLIDECAM HD-2000 – THE BEST OF THE BEST
Weight Limit: Cameras Weighing from 2 to 6 lbs. or .90 to 2.72 kilograms.
- Shortest Height: 38 cm (15 in)
- Maximum height: 56 cm (22 in)
Weight: 5.80 LB / 2.63 kg
Best for: DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras
Pros: The Glidecam HD-2000 has 12 weights, giving great control over balancing. The axis has no friction, and the weight of the stabilizer ensures a smooth shot and durability.
The adjustment knobs on the top plate are responsive and facilitate a quick set-up. Finally, the base plate (where the weights are located) also has wings that can extend, helping with stability.
Cons: The Glidecam HD-2000 is heavier than other options, which can burden the filmmaker. Additionally, cameras under 2 lbs. will need weight added on the top to help balance the stabilizer. Other than that, this is a great option!
Description: It’s hard to go wrong with the Glidecam HD-2000 if it’s within your budget. It is durable and features everything you need for a quick balancing process.
Unlike some other options, it doesn’t include a carrying case or a quick-release plate.
Make sure your camera is within the weight range before buying, but if it is, enjoy some super smooth shots!
Check the current price on Amazon: Glidecam HD-2000
Buyer’s Guide to Stabilizers. What Exactly is a Glidecam?
A glidecam is a weighted stabilizer that uses counterweights to balance the camera around a center axis.
Based on the weight of your camera and lens, weights are added to the bottom, and lengths are adjusted to keep the camera still during movement.
Glidecams have no electronic parts. Instead, they rely on gravity and the user for a smooth shot.
Furthermore, though Glidecam is a brand, many companies are making their own stabilizers (from Neewer to Flycam and Steadicam and more).
Therefore, I use glidecam to describe handheld, three-axis stabilizers for this article.
What is the Difference Between a Glidecam and a Gimbal?
Though glidecams and gimbals stabilize our footage during shooting, they are quite different, and both have strengths and weaknesses.
Gimbals utilize a three- or five-axis motor to stabilize footage, whereas a glide cam uses weights.
Therefore, the gimbal will produce a more mechanical movement, whereas the glidecam has more human control.
This means the glidecam requires much more practice to perfect than a gimbal. However, it can help produce a more organic look.
Furthermore, using a glidecam enables much more control over the speed of your pans and movements.
When to Use a Glidecam Instead of a Gimbal
Many videographers express difficulty in using motorized gimbal when needing to turn.
Certain gimbals are heavy, so twisting motions can be awkward, and matching the motorized speed to a pan can be difficult and limiting.
Because the construction of a glidecam centers around one pole, turning a glidecam with more control, compared to a gimbal, is possible with practice.
Many videographers also appreciate the lack of electronics in handheld stabilizers.
Firstly, this means no batteries, so if you are shooting somewhere rugged, that is one less thing to carry.
Secondly, electronic motors can tend to make shots look robotic. If you are looking for a more natural look or want more control over your camera, glidecams are a great option.
Finally, using a glidecam versus a gimbal is good if you’re worried about moving parts or complexity. The glidecam consists of three primary pieces, whereas a gimbal is significantly more intricate. More moving parts means more things can break, and it is harder to fix.
How a Glidecam Works
As mentioned, glidecam stabilizers work courtesy of gravity, using counterweights to stabilize the camera around a center axis.
There are no robotic or electronic parts in a glidecam, instead requiring the user to balance the camera independently.
The benefits of this mean that handheld stabilizers are independent of batteries, more durable, and often cheaper than electronic gimbals.
The downside is that the work is placed on the user to balance their rig.
However, with enough practice, glidecams are an excellent way to stabilize footage, and many videographers prefer glidecams to electronic gimbals.
How to Balance a Glidecam
As the initial assembly of a glide cam can be difficult and time-consuming, I have included some tips, tricks, and instructions that should get most handheld stabilizers operational and explain their functionality.
The below examples are from using a Glidecam 4000, though the general principles apply to all counterweighted stabilizers.
Step 1: assembling a glide cam
Though the specifics may vary between models and brands, the main steps are to attach the base platform to the telescoping pole (where the handle is located), and then attach the camera mounting platform.
Though these platforms have a camera mount, getting a quick-release plate is strongly recommended so you can easily remove the camera after balancing.
Step 2: attach the camera and the counter-weights
Once the Glidecam is together, attach the camera to the top. Make sure all screws are tight and the clamps secured, then add weights to the base.
The general rule of thumb is that, with the camera on top, the stabilizers should take two seconds to fall to a vertical position from being held horizontally.
If it is not perfect yet, don’t worry. Smaller adjustments to quicken the fall can be made later on.
Step 3: balancing the camera by making fine adjustments
After the camera is attached and a two-second fall is counted, place the glidecam on a flat surface.
Then, please pick it up and see which direction it falls. On the mounting platform, there will be two knobs.
One adjusts side-to-side movement, and one adjusts forward-backward flow.
Center the glidecam horizontally first, then center the front/back movement.
Finally, test the fall of the glidecam once again. If the weights were not entirely accurate and the fall was too long, we can lengthen the telescoping pole slightly to quicken the fall.
And there you have it. That is how a glidecam works.
Of course, locations of knobs and parts may vary between models and brands, so be sure to reference your specific manual. Once it is balanced and weighted, you’re ready to start shooting!
How to Use a Glidecam
As mentioned, using a glidecam-style handheld stabilizer takes practice, and many people give up.
But it’s worth investing the time to properly learn how to use a glidecam because it will help you get smooth footage in much more controlled matter than is currently possible with a gimbal.
- Use one hand to hold the handle of the glidecam, and place the other hand either underneath the glidecam or near the bottom (where the weights sit).
Don’t grab the steadicam – keep a light touch – and use your fingers to gently guide the pole every time you feel it is beginning to sway too much in a direction. This way, you’ll get much more control of your stabilizer.
- Bend the knee. No, I’m not talking about John Snow here. I’m talking about walking with your knees bent so you can walk “springy” way.
Practice walking without your head bobbing up and down, and you’re already on your way to get great-looking footage.
With these two basic things in place, you can move on to get more creative shots from your steadicam.
When to Use a Glidecam
There are many reasons you may want to use a glidecam.
Perhaps you want to get that perfect tracking shot or film somebody talking while walking down the street. Or maybe you want to make the next “Birdman.”
Because of the portability and ruggedness of glide cams are great for low-budget and outdoor shooting that still requires smooth tracking shots.
Though the initial setup can be time-consuming, practice helps hasten this process, and having a quick-release plate means you can have your stabilizer set up before filming.
Though well equipped to be used outdoors, because of the free-floating nature of a glidecam, high-speed winds can spin the camera, which will take practice to control or tilt the apparatus.
The glidecam is still an excellent option for any mobile shot and extremely useful for the “run and gun” filmmaker.
Glidecams will enable you to add a whole new degree of motion to your films, often at a very affordable price.
What To Look For When Buying a Glidecam Stabilizer
Many brands are making handheld stabilizers, and many have long lists of products rated for different weights and sizes.
Therefore, when making your purchase, it is crucial to know the weight of your camera, including the lens, microphone, or any other attachments you will have on it.
Within the Glidecam brand itself, the choices are many.
Options range from the Glidecam HD-2000 (rated for cameras 2 to 6 pounds) to the Glidecam XR-Pro (able to take cameras up to 10 pounds) and more. Therefore, it is essential to know your specific equipment requirements.
However, Glidecam isn’t the only brand making these stabilizers now.
Yelangu, Came-TV, Neewer, and Flycam carry highly rated products. Luckily, this article includes five of the best handheld stabilizers for 2019.
How Your Camera And Lens Affects What Glidecam You Buy
The type of camera and lens you plan on using will affect your purchase.
Be sure to look up the weight of your camera and lenses. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are very light. However, if you plan on using cinema cameras, that may warrant a higher-rated stabilizer.
For example, if you’re using a Canon 60D or Sony A6500, you should be good to go with almost all glide cams. However, the same stabilizer may not work with something like a Canon C200.
The lens and any camera accessories also affect the balancing process.
Smaller glass, such as pancake lenses like the Canon EF-S 24mm, will make the center of gravity much easier to find versus telephoto lenses.
Additionally, on-camera microphones, monitors, or cages will affect the weight and must be considered when buying and balancing.
How to Choose the Best Glidecam for Your Video Production Work
In addition to accounting for weight, your selection of a glide cam will require you to know your price point and expectations.
As with many things, you often get what you pay for.
Though the cheapest glidecams may work for many situations, if you plan on taking it out for some physically intensive projects, you will want to select the more durable models.
Furthermore, some of the cheaper stabilizers, though very functional, lack ergonomic features such as an adjustable handle.
Finally, the weight of the glidecam is a significant factor. Long shoots using these stabilizers can be physically demanding on the filmmaker.
It may be better to select a lighter glidecam to save yourself from physical strain in the future.
Accessories for Glidecams
Once you have your glidecam, you can start shooting. But, if you want to make your life easier, there are some accessories you may want to consider.
First off is a quick-release plate. Though technically not a must, this could be classified as near-essential.
Without a quick-release plate, you must recenter your camera each time before shooting. A quick-release plate dramatically reduces set-up time and means you can easily take your camera off the glidecam mid-shoot.
Glidecam also makes support vests for their stabilizers. These are very expensive and typically used for cinema cameras and large rigs. But you can get cheaper alternatives like this great vest from FLYCAM, which we found on Amazon.
In shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you should be good to go without this.
However, another recommended piece of equipment is a bag for your stabilizer.
As glide cams are adept at “run and gun” filmmaking, a good backpack or carrying case is worth looking into so you can easily take your stabilizer into the field.
Many models come with a case, which is something to consider, but backpacks and carrying cases can be bought separately.
There you have it! Those are my picks for the Top 5 handheld stabilizers for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in 2019 at any price range.
If you have any other glidecam recommendations, please leave a comment and let us know what you’re shooting with and why you like it.
Otherwise, good luck, balance those stabilizers, and have a great next film shoot!