Shooting hand held video with a digital SLR like the Canon 7D or 5D is extremely difficult if you want to avoid shaky camera movement.
There are basically 5 techniques you can use to create smooth videos with a digital SLR.
- Use a tripod. Unfortunately, this is no good for moving shots.
- Use a wider angle lens, because a zoom lens will exaggerate camera motion
- Deshaker software. Not perfect, but can produce good results in some cases.
- A camera lens with built-in image stabilization easier to use, but more costly.
- A steadicam is also more expensive and requires practice to produce good results
I wanted to try a steadicam and decided on the opteka because its quality looks decent, but its price is 1/3 that of a merlin or blackbird.
Setting up the opteka steadyvid pro is actually pretty easy, once you know how:
You can use your hands to judge a close approximation where the center of gravity for your camera and lens are (without lens cap and for a set zoom amount). Then position the opteka baseplate on the bottom so the camera is centered closest to your center of gravity. For my canon 7d and 10-22mm lens… the camera is on the center plus groove, all the way to the back position.
I am using only 2 weights, the largest weight + the smallest weight.
Do not play with the drop test … because it will throw the setup slightly out of balance each time you do it. Also, just setting the steadicam down will throw off the balance.
Basically, I have to mildly adjust my balance just before each shot. The balance will be fine for the entire video shot, but you will likely need to tweak the balance before the next shot.
This pre-shot tweaking only takes a few seconds and with practice, it isn’t a problem.
Here are a couple good example videos shot with my opteka … balance stays nicely througout the shot and it looks pretty good (if I do say so myself).
Be sure to watch in full 1080p fullscreen.