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What Kinds of Stabilizers Are Property Video Shooters Using?

Published: 28/03/2019

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Last week Robert asked:

I am looking to enter the field of real estate video.  I was wondering what is the best 3 axis hand held gimbal you or your readers might recommend - or would a good dolly work for interiors. I shoot primarily with the Canon 5D Mark III and a 16-35mm lens.

Bob in St Louis asked another question:

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

Shane in Canada also asked us to find out what video stabilizers PFRE readers are using. Shane says:

I searched the PFRE site for 'video stabilizers' and the most recent discussion is April, 2017. I'm researching motorized Gimbal stabilizers as I'm bored with the slider and clients are asking for walk-through style. Which video stabilizers are most experienced property shooters using in 2019? Colleagues have suggested 1) Zhiyun Crane 2; 2) DJI Ronin-S; and 3) double handled DJI Ronin-M.

When most people starting out shooting real estate video they start out with a slider and a jib. A good 3 axis handheld stabilizer is quite expensive. Here are some stabilizers that readers are using:

  • Freefly MoVi M10
  • Freefly MoVi M5
  • DJI Ronin M
  • Glidecam HD-2000
  • CAME-Mini
  • Comodo Orbit Handheld
  • DJI Osmo
  • Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis

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."

In addition, some related questions:

  • What are the pros and cons of 1 stick or 2 handles?
  • I'm female so weight is an issue. I've tried a mechanical Steadycam with a DSLR a few years ago and it quickly became too heavy to hold out with one hand while using my other hand to turn it. I need to shoot long enough clips for large properties.
  • Are walk-through videos quicker to shoot and edit vs. slider on the same property?
  • What are the best cameras for the widest video dynamic range?

Yes, my sense is that the demand for video walk-through is on the increase and that more and more real estate photographers are adding it to their services. Also, I hear about a lot of real estate videographers using the Panasonic GH5 on the Zhiyun Crane 2. See Grant Johnston's evaluation of the Zhiyun Crane 2 here.

What gimbal stabilizer and camera are readers using to shoot walk-through videos?

Larry Lohrman

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

  1. I have been using a Freefly MoVI M5 for several years. Prior to that I was using the MoVI M10... and for ten years prior to that, a Steadicam Merlin.

    I find most are using one handed gimbals from China (Zhiyun Crane, Ronin, etc)...

    I have tried a number of them and found all of them slightly buggy, very fiddly, VERY heavy and I sent them all back.

    The MoVI, although probably on the higher priced end of things is PERFECT. It's lightweight, I NEVER balance it (maybe once a year if I knock it against a wall or something), and it lives in my car in a plastic box with a pillow on the bottom. I grab it and run.. no balancing, no fiddling... nothing. It's a workhorse and I use it 4-6 times every single day, day after day. ZERO problems. Ever. Great AMERICAN service if you would need it. And being an early adapter, my M10 I paid $15K for, and my M5 I paid $5K for. And I would do it again today in a heartbeat... it's that good.

  2. I have a iKan Beholder EC-1 with the two handle set up. It's light. Works well for Sony a6500 cameras etc. Not hard to use and it doesn't weigh much. This costs far less than the newer ones and works fine. It is well reviewed as well. I am selling one system if interested, as I am keeping one for lighter cameras and buying an new one for heavy cameras.

  3. your camera weight will be the determining factor. I use zhiyun crane2's and use the double handle aw well as cabled remote with sony a6300's this will hold the sony a7 cameras as well. Heavier cameras require stronger motors.

  4. I am still in the learning mode but last year I purchased the Zhiyun-Tech Crane v2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer, with the two hand handle bar.
    I am finding it very smooth while panning or tilting, but when I am walking around the outside of the house, I can see some movement (or slight bouncing while walking), trying to learn how to walk slowly with no bounce.

    I am using it with my Fuji XT-2 and 14mm f-2.8 lens. Still trying to learn The Davinci resolve editing software.

  5. I use the MOXA Air with my Sony A-6500 and the 10-18mm lens and I like it. I use it with the two hand grip bar and a FreeWorld monitor. Since I don't get that many video projects and the ones I do get are coupled with my still photo jobs, I have to keep close watch on my expenses and I find this rig works well and covers my bases. I tend to use a combined slider and gimbal set up or for small shoots just use the gimbal since it is faster to move through the house with. I sometimes use a monopod with the ball joint on a mini-tripod which often helps me keep the rig steady. Using a Manfrotto quick release between the MOXA and the monopod made it fast and easy to attach and unattached. Grant (above) has given the MOXA a decent nod of approval which is good enough for me.

  6. I personally use the Moza Air 2, as it remains the best solution in its price point at $599, featuring the highest payload of 4.2 kg / 9lbs, while maintaining features like 4-axis stabilization with 8 follow modes, the unique “Inception” mode, a 45-degree roll arm position for unobstructed view, and an ecosystem of accessories to adapt to any filming style and workflow. The stabilizer will keep up with the most demanding situations with 16-hours of battery life using an included 4x 18650 batteries and charger. For those not familiar with the 18650 batteries, they are commonly used in eCigarette mods, with additional batteries and chargers easily replaceable at your local stores. All though with 16-hours of battery life, a film maker can easily operate this from sunrise to sunset with plenty of battery to spare for night shoots if necessary. It has excellent build quality and the design is well thought out. You can find my full review listed here.

  7. I've used steadicams, Ronin, Ronin-M, Ronin S, Zhyiun Smooth Q, and Kessler Cineslider.
    I honestly love what the Cineslider does and with the exception of the 40# of slider and tripod, it's what I'd choose every time (for the right look).
    Right now I'm adding an additional $99 per shoot using the Zhyiun Smooth Q gimbal with my Galaxy S9 to do 2 minute Zillow walkthroughs and cutting them with Animoto vs using Premiere. The quality isn't the same as using a real camera and nice glass, but it's portable, cheap (I think the Smooth Q was $89 and the Z-Axis stabilizer for it was $49) and small enough it rides around in the car all the time.

    @Eric M Hilton - look into getting a Z-Axis or 4th Axis stabilizer for your gimbal. It's a little parallel-bar spring device that you balance for your gimbal and when you walk it removes most (if not all) of your step bouncing.

  8. I just picked up an Osmo Pocket as an all-in-one solution to try out video as a new service. While certainly not perfect, the image seems comparable to my iPhone, the gimbal works well and it truly does fit in your pocket; making it's a very easy addition to my kit. If you're thinking about getting started with video, it's a pretty easy leap for $350.

  9. Ronin S.Built like a tank. Battery for days. Balanced once in past 3 months. DJI service is great.

  10. Since adding video to my bag of tricks in 2017, I have used the Ronin M. It has worked well, but I have not. I am not so good at the ninja walk on straight-away sections so sometimes there is bobbing up and down that I don’t like so much.

    Chris Miller posts so much stuff about different gimbals on Facebook that I was almost convinced to get the Pilotfly Adventurer with the spring-loaded crossbar handled to knock out that fifth axis bobbing motion. The only thing that concerned me is that the Adventurer uses an “overslung” configuration where the camera is above the crossbar while my current Ronin M is an underslung gimbal where the camer hangs down from the crossbar. I feel that the underslung setup is better because there’s times where you want to drop the camera down low while still walking forward. While focusing in on fireplaces or something. An overslung setup would make that very very hard.

    Enter the Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab.

    At first I thought that this gimbal was silly. I thought it was one-handed only with the new “suitcase” grip configuration. It is not. It’s a two-handed gimbal but it is held with one hand OVER the other. This is completely unlike my two-handed Ronin M which has the wide crossbar with grips on the left and right side.

    This vertical grip configuration on the Crane 3 Lab is likely a game changer. One of the biggest problems on the Ronin M and likely the Movi is that the crossbar inevitably smacks into a doorway thus jolting the video which then requires one to backtrack and re-film that portion of footage. With a two-handed vertically oriented grip the whole thing as well as your arms are held in tight to the body. This would be a big advantage as you probably wouldn’t smack a door jam ever again.

    The design of the Crane 3 Lab allows one to seamlessly go from two-handed carry while walking to dropping down and going one-handed suitcase carry for a low shot, then back again. This will allow for nice, big, high-to-Low then back again and keep moving kinds of complex shots that will likely look very good and increase creative ability even on the basic types of walk-through video tours that I do.

    Did I mention that the lower handle splits open to become a stand? Well it does.

    You know those annoying times when you just get your gimbal ready to go and agents or sellers decide to rush around doing last minute stuff leaving you standing there holding that bugger in frustration? Well that happens because crossbar style gimbals have no stand. But the Crane 3 Lab does.

    It also has the ability to cable into your camera to control iso and other camera settings on the fly as well as it also has follow focus control built in. I wouldn’t use any of that myself but the in-line two-handed grip and the stand alone have me wanting it.

    I’m probably going to get it this year. After I get an 18mm Batis. And a whole photography kit for my wife who will be getting trained up to do my photos-only assignments. And extra flash gear to hand off to my assistant who is going to be shooting basements and bedrooms and filming exteriors while I focus on photographing main spaces and filming the interior.

    So maybe it will be bought next year. So much stuff to buy and such limited money to buy it with. Gives me time to work on my ninja walk I guess.

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