Nowadays there's definitely no shortage of gadgets and gizmos you can purchase for your Iphone. My new favourite is the Steadicam Smoothee from Tiffen. I recently upgraded to the Iphone 5s from an Iphone 4 and was totally amazed with the difference in quality and wanted to complement it's video capability.
OK, I should be perfectly honest with you all right now, the Steadicam Smoothee is priced at around $149.00 and it wont give you quite the same results you might see on television or the movies, but if you take time and the effort to learn how to use it, you will improve your Iphone videos and it will give you some nice, steady video. If your using this outdoors, ideally you don't want any wind.
The stabilizer works on a system of weights and balances with your camera. These balance adjustments are critical to making it work and do take some time to calibrate. The Steadicam Smoothee is relatively easy to adjust to especially since the camera is so light. It's so much easier than trying to adjust to a heavy video camera with multiple weights.
Tiffen's website refers to it being based on the same technology as their rigs in which are used for movies and television which cost upto $60,000. In theory they are correct and with some practice you can achieve some really nice smooth results. But with alot of practice, you can get much better results.
It's really a matter of how much extra effort you want to add to your Iphone productions, as this product is not going to fit into your pocket or purse it removes the spontaneity you have shooting video with your mobile phone. You need to plan ahead.
So to get started is very simple, just take out the phone case and slide your Iphone into the mount, If you have a case on your phone you will have to take it off as it is a very snug, but easy fit. Now its a matter of calibrating the IPhone and Steadicam Smoothee with two separate knobs; Tilt forward and back, left and right, it should take around 5 minutes to get balanced.
Maintaining the steadiness of the camera from moving side to side, does not take some practice. You can control with the hand grip which uses a gimbal mechanism to keep the camera in a more of a floating state to give your video a smooth 'gliding' feel as you move around and follow your chosen subject.
You can use your thumb and finger with a light touch to keep the camera from moving left or right if there is a breeze.
Actually one of the hardest problems with one of these devices, including the much more expensive ones, is when you shoot while walking backwards as your subject is walking towards you. This part is difficult if your anything like me, (incredibly clumsy), unless you have eyes in the back of your head. I most definitely keep walking into things situated behind me.
You will need to practice and become proficient at this skill because if you are only following someone walking forward your only going to film their back.
The Steadicam Smoothee or another gadget like an external microphone, is going to take planning and extra work to improve your video. It all depends which type of shooter you are with your IPhone video because it is possible to get some very nice, smooth and floaty video while moving with your phone.
Ive tried chasing the dogs around the house, taking a tour of the house, walking along the promenade, floating up from behind a wall. Ive tried it out in a typical situation where I was moving while shooting. Of course, this resulted in me stumbling into something while walking backwards.
Do remember that if your on an important video shoot and your using your phone to film, do turn it onto Airplane mode as you dont it going off and missing the important moment.
Overall, the Steadicam Smoothee did improve the footage quality and give it a more professional look. It takes some to calibrate and to learn to fly the camera. The equipment is top quality and works, it feels great in the hands of the user, it's the operator that needs to take some to get the results he's after.
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