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Short review + test video with 3 stabilizers at once

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  • Short review + test video with 3 stabilizers at once

    I ordered the SolidLUUV and the Action Gimbal, and of course once they arrived I took them out for testing.
    Long story short - both are great! I'm looking forward to getting the most out of them on my next holiday.
    The SolidLUUV is probably the best designed portable hand-held physical stabilizer that I've ever seen.

    Here's a quick video I recorded on December 3rd but only edited today (first attempt at using DaVinci Resolve instead of my regular NLE):

    I'm recording with two cameras in my hands and one on my chest, which means that:
    • The Action Gimbal's result is representative of what you'd get in a 'focused recording' situation I think. If you hold it in your hand, you'll be able to get it smoother though.
    • The SolidLUUV's result is wobbly because I'm using my left hand (untrained) and not focusing enough on the 'LUUV' way of moving. However, the result is still very smooth.
    • The RX100 IV's result is wobbly because I'm not focusing enough on keeping my hand steady. The result shows that actually the internal active (optical + electronic) stabilization works quite well, but there are still some noticeable 'shaking' artefacts.
    • In my opinion, the SolidLUUV's result is the most smooth of all, I just need to work on my 'LUUV' way of moving a bit more to get rid of the wobble.
    Some history: I've been wanting to get a good portable stabilizer for a while. It should support at least my Sony a6000, preferably at the time I wanted it to support my Sony HDR-TD10 as well, but I'm rarely using that anymore. Anyway, so I got a Sevenoak SK-W01. That is when I found out how difficult setting up a stabilizer could be. The Sevenoak was still too large, was not symmetrical (a large tube with weights protruded at the bottom end, bent backwards, and could easily be touched accidentally - even wind could move it), and most of all it was finnicky. Yes, if you open/close/tilt your LCD screen, use the zoom on your lens, or have a strap hanging out, all of those will affect weight distribution. An LCD screen mounted above or at the side of the camera will cause wobble due to wind resistance. Spoiler alert: SolidLUUV doesn't solve those things either (that's simply not how physics work). However, the Sevenoak would just not stay calibrated. The camera would easily rotate or slide a bit if I moved around for a while, requiring constant readjustment. Also, this meant there was no good way to mark any 'setting' - you could write down the number of weights, but the cheese plate position and 'openness' of the arm were major factors as well, and there was no way to get them right consistently.

    Enter SolidLUUV's Kickstarter. At first I thought they managed the impossible - a stabilizer that only needs me to twist some ring to the right position. Of course, in my enthousiasm, I was wrong. And this is perhaps the reason we are not seeing so much activity here: SolidLUUV does require setup as well. It also requires its own way of operating, if you want to avoid the wobble effect. That may be disappointing to some, but it is actually unrealistic to expect anything else from this type of setup.

    What do I like about SolidLUUV?
    • Major benefit: The fully 'discrete' design (as opposed to 'continuous'), meaning I can configure it one way, write down the settings, and it will behave consistently when I put it together the same way and with the same gear on it. Took off my camera, reattached it a few days later, worked perfectly right away. Love it.
    • The rubber on top of the cheese plate. If you tighten the screw well, you'll notice when you loosen it later that the cheese plate will still 'stick' to the camera. This is awesome - it prevents the camera from moving during filming.
    • The symmetrical design of the whole thing - there's nothing sticking out that would get caught on something.
    • The design of the rubbery thing that you need to hold. It gives you extra control, while dampening your motion sufficiently not to cause discomforting motion in the recording.
    • The fact that it fully works upside-down as well. This allows for some truly awesome shots, as filming near the floor will increase the sense of speed even more.
    • The cheese plate can be detached from the stabilizer without unscrewing the camera if you're in a rush (which I usually am) - sure, having the cheese plate attached to your camera is a bit awkward, but on the a6000 it's not that bad and when you're on the go it beats unscrewing the camera itself. However on both of my Sony cameras, keeping the cheese plate attached means I can't swap batteries or SD cards.
    • Theoretically I could use the Sevenoak one-handed, but with the SolidLUUV I can actually do that and get a stable shot :P Very useful, since sometimes I need to use my other hand to take a picture of my wife with her phone for Instagram. Or navigate the environment, whichever is more important at the time :P
    • That despite the relatively tricky setup process, there is also a way to make some quick balance adjustments using the adjustment ring.
    • The smoothness of the bearings. The Sevenoak would get 'stuck' or would 'skip' ever so often, the SolidLUUV is just pure smoothness.
    What don't I like about SolidLUUV? Just a few minor things:
    • The handle somehow feels like it may be the first thing to break, especially considering my main use is with the a6000 (more weight for camera + more weight in the SolidLUUV to balance that out = heavy setup). This is just a feeling. the design looks sturdy.
    • Sometimes when moving the SolidLUUV down, or at a low angle, my hand or even the handle will touch the top of the SolidLUUV, negating the stabilizing effect. This is something some more training on my side will prevent though.
    Also, and this is not SolidLUUV's fault, it was a bit disappointing for me to find out: that sharing weight setups (or more precisely: copying other people's hard work :P) is not as easy as I hoped it would be. One reason is that something as simple as a UV filter or a wriststrap can change the entire balance already. However, I managed to balance my a6000 to my liking and will try the same for my RX100 IV eventually.

    Originally I wanted to get the UltraLUUV for smartphones, with the idea that any time I upgrade my smartphone camera, my recording quality would improve. However, the UltraLUUV ran into delays, and I started to realize: recording with my phone is a horrible idea. I need that phone for other stuff, and I have some great cameras. So I changed my perk to the UltraLUUV Action perk, and got the Action Gimbal and the Stick-That-Probably-Has-A-Cool-Name-Too.

    Let's start with the stick. It's great. It is strong and solid, it can carry my a6000 no problem (not that I recommend that). I will most likely not use my action cam for anything other than 'on-body' or 'on-vehicle' or 'on-guitar' filming though, so the stick will get used for 360 cam or maybe RX100 IV.

    Then on to the Action Gimbal. It feels so weird to use at first. Especially when you attach it to your chest, it's like you're a cyborg, the way it balances your moves. It is quite noisy when your mic is close to it, but then again, I would never use the audio from my action cam directly. It works exactly as I hoped. Some more different sizes of bracket would be nice, though I managed to squeeze in the SJ5000+ by tilting it a bit and using the longer screws so my main requirement is fulfilled.

    For now, I have not used either stabilizer yet besides some test shots like the ones in the video above.
    Once I do record something that's shareable, I'll post it here as well.
    Last edited by Zwavelbron; 07-01-17, 11:14 AM.

  • #2
    Hi Zwavelbron, this is so great! Thanks so much for taking the time to come up with such a detailed review and for sharing.