Today's hands-free, wearable, mountable HD cameras produce near-professional video. However the use of these cameras still revolves around movement, and shooting professional quality videos just cannot happen without a little help in the stabilization department. Enter the Steadicam Smoothee from Tiffen, which we tested using a GoPro action camera.
Step Up to the Setup
At first sight, the Steadicam Smoothee seems quite easy to set up for initial use. Fully assembled in the box, the Smoothee looks solid due to its durable metal construction, solid plastic quick-release mount, and ergonomic hand-grip. The unique feature of this unit is the gimbal that attaches the handle to the unit itself. This joint is used to reduce the vibrations from activities such as walking, following action shots, or capturing wide pans; all while rivaling the professional camera stabilizers used in Hollywood movies.
Set up was as easy as it looked. Once the GoPro HERO mount was attached to the camera, it quickly clipped right into place. Large red dials, with clear and understandable labels, are used to balance the camera after mounting. Turning the dials will tilt the camera forward or back and left or right. Once the camera is balanced, you are ready to shoot!
Professional Video for All
The way in which Tiffen describes the Steadicam Smoothee, one might wonder if the claims of stable video really live up to the hype. We went into this review with quite a bit of doubt, now we can tell you now how impressed we truly are.
During our tests, the GoPro HD HERO was mounted to the Smoothee, then the same shots were taken by hand-holding the camera (while still trying to be as smooth and fluid as possible). The eyes don't lie. Placing the videos side by side, the difference is amazing. The Smoothee clearly works as described. Shots in which we used the Smoothee were not bouncy, did not skip frames (a possible issue with the HD HERO trying to keep video stable from movement during the shots), and were produced into a professional-looking video worthy of comparing to high-quality professional video. Our shots nearly produced a "floating" feeling even if we were standing still, walking or slowly jogging, all while following a moving target.
How do you like it?
Set up is simple, however learning to use the Smoothee takes a little practice. Though the online instructions make it fairly easy, you still need to figure out which method works best for you. Whether you operate with two hands, one hand/one thumb, or one hand/index finger/thumb, there is a position that will work for you. We found it easiest to use one hand/one thumb to help guide the Smoothee to follow the action. You'll know once you try each method.
Smooth videos, professional-like stabilization, at a size and price the amateur video enthusiast will appreciate.
Mount used in tests: GoPro HERO
Other Mounts: iPhone 3GS/4/4S, iPod Touch, and Flip MinoHD
Dimensions (WxHxD): 8" x 14.5" x 2.5" in operating configuration
Weight: 2lb. (Shipping Weight: 3lb.)
- Easy setup
- Professional quality stabilization
- Lightweight construction
- Fairly bulky to keep as an everyday tool
Easy to use, excellent video stabilization, and quite affordable, an easy upgrade to make your video something to remember.
$169 includes one mount- additional mounts $25
Brian Teal is a photo and video enthusiast and extreme mountain biker.