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What Kinds of Stabilizers Are Property Video Shooters Using?

Published: 18/04/2017
By: larry

GlideCamLast week Bob in St Louis asked:

Which 3 axis gimbal stabilizers are real estate photographers using to shoot real estate?

When most people starting out shooting real estate video they start out with a slider and a jib. Here are some stabilizers that readers are using:

It's worth mentioning that just within the last year or two many people wanting to get into shooting walk through property video without having to go all out on gear have used the DJI Osmo.

As Fred Light recommended on a getting started in video post a while back, "There is a lot of expensive gear you need to do video so start out slow and make sure that video is really your thing. You can probably get started without a stabilizer unless you are going to only do walk through video."

What kind of stabilizers are readers using to shoot property video?

22 comments on “What Kinds of Stabilizers Are Property Video Shooters Using?”

  1. Great question... I'm starting to gear up for video... and I bought a Stedicam Solo... AND IT'S JUST TOO HEAVY.... After 10 minutes one has to take a break as it gets painful holding it. Wondering is the two-handed stabilizers easier to hold/use.

  2. I've tentatively stepped into the video waters as simply as i can. Between simple video head pans of rooms, slow slide shots while walking my steadicam knockoff sideways and shooting what is basically b roll footage. It's been well received for the bit I've done so far.
    I have found rapid arm fatigue with the steadicam trying to do a one take walkthrough and don't like the look so quickly switched to short 2-3 second clips.

  3. Just did a video with my osmo mobile with a Nexus 6P. Give me some feedback on youtube. The issue I found was that with the osmo mobile, the video had some unexplained jumps - either it was the phone itself losing frame rates or the stabilizer unable to correct for the motion properly - not sure which one it is right now. For what it is, I think it's came out pretty good but dynamic range and exposure was a bit problematic - even with locked exposures.

    I did videos with my T4i and the Ronin original but the Tokina lens I have seem to be soft compared to even the DJI Phantom 3 so I am looking for alternatives. Also, the weight of the entire unit, setup/disassembly and the overall size of the case are big disadvantages for RE videos. I haven't used it yet, but I also have the X3 w/ the z-axis stabilizer and from what I tried so far, I think it's the best bet - easy to set up, stabilized z-axis and don't have to worry about battery issue like with the mobile.

  4. Good to see this post - I rented a steadicam and found it too heavy with a dslr (maybe I was trying to make the clips too long) - as a female I don't have the arm strength of the guys to hold it out very long and was wondering about using the two handed versions, or a go pro, or something else. I also saw one that looked like a steering wheel, and another that sits on your shoulder. I've been using a slider for a few years but really like the look of the walk-through videos, and clients are starting to ask about it. Any advice for something not so heavy (i'm 5'6" and reasonably fit so not a 'shrimp' or a weakling) and good price?
    I've also got two clients that always have me shoot stills and video - asking if I could film them talking at the properties - they are looking to stand out from the competition. Is anyone doing that sometimes or on a regular basis - assuming you need to attach a mic to their
    shirt or jacket. I work in Vancouver and surrounding areas, Canada.

  5. Timing on this question is perfect. I’ve been researching this and will share the short version of what I’ve found so far, but will be glad to hear what others have to say.

    Most of the electronic stabilizers seem to be pretty good. If they have a short coming, it’s in their inability to stabilize the up and down movement created when you walk. Heavier rigs seem to suffer less and DSLR’s produce great video. That said, I’m not sure I want to go the gym just so I can take interior video.

    GoPro’s provide amazing video for their size, but most users agree that you need to practice walking smoothly. The Panasonic GH series, especially the new GH5, seem to be perfectly suited, but are expensive – especially when you add the cost of a stabilizer. Yes, the GH5 has internal stabilization, but you still need a stabilizer. If I were doing a lot of videos and could justify the expense, this is probably the way to go.

    What I’ve found that works surprisingly well, is simply using the electronic gimbal I already own – my DHI Phantom 4. By not attaching the props and walking it through an interior, it provides pretty good video. The weight is perfect, and the gimbal does a great job. I haven’t yet figured out a way to easily pan up or down, although a second person working the remote does work. A side benefit of the drone is, the interior video has the same look as the exterior.

    I have a P4 Pro on order (anybody want to buy a nice P4?) and expect the video from the larger sensor to give even better results.

  6. Good question and good timing. I think much depends on what level of video you are aiming to offer. In my quite small market, there are no realtors willing to pay for a high end, dedicated shooting session which would cost them at least as much as a still photo shoot. So I have been working on a method of shooting a video at the same time I am doing a still coverage. Video is usually tied in with a sUAV coverage. This way I only have to visit the property once and just have to add time to capture video and then have the extra time to edit it. It's a bit of a juggling act since the mental approaches are significantly different.

    Since I had to buy a GoPro5Black for another shoot, I experimented with using it for the video. It is small, can easily fit into a shoulder photo bag to allow me to haul it out after I have finished shooting a room with stills and have managed to hide my camera and tripod from sight. It has internal stabilization but with tests I found it was not enough so I bought a Karma Grip stabilizer. With the two together I find it does a pretty good job but as Gary mentioned, walking with it and not having the up and down motion not register takes practice and post stabilization does not help. So it calls for small, short, mincing steps with knees bent to keep it smooth. So I have been working on using on hand held side to side and rising and falling slide approaches and that seems to work quite well as long as I keep my feet planted and not try to step sideways, just sway from one side to the other. And yes, while you can lock down the up/down keeping the camera pointing further up or down you can't do the same with the sideways motion and as you pan there is a delay before the stabilizer catches up. Those are the cons. The Pros are that it is an inexpensive way of offering decent quality video to clients who might fork over for an economy priced video but not a high end video production. And since it is water proof, you can remove the camera from the Grip and dunk it into a pool or spa and bring it up, or run it through a water fall or even a particularly interesting shower head in a high end bathroom. Just not with the Karma Grip which is not water proof.

    A negative aspect of this camera/rig effort is that you can't manually lock in exposure. You can select the area of the picture you want to expose for but not to be able to set the exposure for the entire clip. So short clips are necessary in a scene where the exposure changes across the pan such as an interior with a hot window but darker interior.

    But the sharpness is quite impressive and I too am upgrading my UAV to a P4Pro to bring the aerial image quality up to the GoPro, an interesting situation. I shoot at 2.7k for the higher available shutter speed. But the GoPro is great for exteriors, has little barrel distortion and allows you to start right down a few inches above the water of a pool, stream, fountain or interesting tile work and rise up to see the whole scene and the gimbal keeps everything steady even as your knees crack.

    The last con for the GoPro is that since the only exposure opotion is auto, it does not always keep up with exposure changes and then suddenly catchs up creating a bit of a "flash" or sudden exposure change. I don't think the Osmo does this. If I had not already owned the GoPro, I would have invested in the Osmo instead. One drawback of the GoPro with Karma Grip is that the gymal obstructs the little viewing screen on the back of the camera. But I found that the EVO cell phone holder that can screw into a GoPro basket/tripod holder and attach to the GoPro Karma Grip collar. The EVO also comes with a clamp attachment so you can put the GoPro up on an extension pole and clamp the cell phone holder at the bottom of the pole at eye height to both see and control camera settings with on/off button for remote control. Did I mention that GoPro has wifi and its app for this type of use? Just like the Canon 80D with wifi. So I can use the same EVO on my 80D.

    Lastly with the Karma Grip, much has been made of the fact that it does not have interchangable batteries. But on a property shoot I have yet to use up a full charge which lasts about 1.75 hours. And even if I did, I find that one of those little cell phone portable battery chargers I bought on Amazon for about $12 that are about the size of a screw driver handle can plug in and keeps the Grip going for more time than I have ever needed.

    I would not recommend this video solution for those trying for a high end video production, but for economy productions that look professional enough for internet streaming if you work within the limitations of the equipment and create your shooting approach to maximize the pros and minimize the cons, it makes an inexpensive investment in order to bring video to your clients. But I do find to get the complete coverage I need, I still use my 80D for certain shots like those that need some zooming. It just means I have to reset the camera settings when I shoot stills again since I shoot for HDR.

  7. While I don't offer video I did at one point.
    In my opinion the steady cam is the way to go, but as Shane touched on, the unit can get heavy quickly.
    These units were made to used with a vest and articulated arm. While the vest can be a pain to wear in hot weather, it takes every bit of weight allowing your hand to simply guide.

  8. I've been using a Movi m5 for 2+ years now. It's been worth the investment to say the least. The customer support is second to none. I have modified it a little bit to allow me to use the gimbal inverted by default so I can see the back of my screen without a second monitor. I also created little feet, to allow me to set the gimbal down anywhere without a stand. I am often times hanging out a moon roof or car window while the agent drives to get dynamic shots of larger properties. I'm using the sony a7s + 16-35 lens on it. It's not too heavy but does cause fatigue after a while. I just set it down and take a small break, think about my next moves.

    I've seen the movi m5 go on sale for less than 2k. I think it's a steal at that price!

  9. Gary, In your experience, how did the Phantom 4 do in low light situations for interiors? I was actually considering upgrading my drone to the Phantom 4 pro and just shooting walk-through interior videos with that. But, I am concerned about the quality if the lighting is not adequate.

  10. Kathy - So far, the lighting has not been a problem so I can't give you a good answer. Everything I've shot (not much) has had more than enough light. I've seen some decent night time video from a P4, so it should be OK. My P4 Pro was just delivered and I hope that the larger sensor and expanded controls will make it even better.

  11. One common misconception is lighter is better... the lighter your rig, the harder it is to make your footage stable. For ten years I used the Steadicam Merlin with a 5D Mark II/III and it did the trick, although the learning curve was VERY steep. I have used the MoVI M10 for 3 years which I love. I bought the MoVi M5 because it was smaller, but it was also HEAVIER! (the M10 is all carbon fiber). I never use the smaller one at all... it's just hanging around as a backup. The Ronin? Both the regular and the "M" are a beast. ... you'd better hit the gym with those. The cheaper the gimbal, the heavier the gimbal, the weaker your back... the soarer your muscles... Good quality is worth its weight in gold. I balance my MoVI maybe once a month... I use it 4-6 times every day. I just throw it in my car and go. In three years, I've had ZERO issues. American made. Can't recommend more highly.

    Using GoPros, Osmo or the Phantom cameras? If you've got good light, maybe. But interiors typically have BAD lighting and most importantly, inconsistent lighting. Those cameras just won't cut it at the end of the day.

    Bottom line though is you still need to learn to balance gimbals and most importantly, "walk like Grouch Marx"...... Although the advertisements love to make it so.... none of it is magic.

  12. Has anyone had any experience with the Wenpod MD2? I have been researching stabilisers and am giving strong consideration to this however would love feedback from anyone that may have tried it.

  13. I shoot with the Osmo. Wish I could get the X4S camera that is on the Inspire 2 to work with my handle but I guess I'll be upgrading when that comes out. It's pretty good, but has quite a few weaknesses. The horizon goes off, all the time, while you are panning. The wide angle is nice, but sometimes a bit too wide. Exposure latitude SUCKS. Battery life is pretty crappy too since it connects via wifi. I used the Osmo mobile when on vacation (talked my brother into buying one) and it doesn't seem to have a lot of the mechanical issues that mine does.

    I've also picked up the z-axis stabilizer to go on it. Works great, but as you can see in my video you still need to walk the videographer walk. It doesn't take everything out of the z axis. A Rode mic is also a really good investment if you are going to use your setup for anything that needs sound. The built in mic is unusable and the teenie one they give you is not that much better.

    Filmed with Phantom 4 Pro and Osmo. Please forgive my color grading, I've learned more about it since I produced this video 🙂


  14. I now use the Zhiyun Tech Crane 3 axis stabilizer and use my Sony A7II. It does an incredible job and helps keep my video buttery smooth. Worth a look if you have never heard of it.

  15. I just bought a Zhiyun Tech Crane stabilizer for my GH5.... it arrives tomorrow... bought it based upon a positive Fstopper review/comparison... found a website that had it on special for $585.... no tax and free shipping.

  16. I have the Zhiyun Crane and used it unsuccessfully with my Canon DSLR and Tokina 11-16mm lens and successfully with a Sony A7Sii. I'm coming to the opinion that even thou gimbals do a fantastic job you still really need in-camera and (in-lens if you have it) stabilisation to make the most out of these smaller form handheld gimbals. The canon setup I mentioned has no stabilisation and is on the heavier end of the Zhiyun payload limits but did not work for me at all. It was just too jerky and unpredictable. I made a short video of it here

  17. Just purchased a zhiyun 2 gymbal to cradle the sony a7rii with 12mm venus optic lens. Don't need the crane for up to 7 pound payload but could in time. Real estate video is an evolution as you collect your gear and figure out what works and why. Until something better comes along. Tell the story using the best you can afford.

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