If you’re a pro shooter, or even a serious enthusiast, then you’ve surely watched with envy the smooth moves of footage shot as the camera operator runs up and down stairs, through crowded streets and over the rubble of destroyed buildings. If you've been tied to a video tripod up till now you may wonder, "How do they achieve such glorious footage with nary a bounce or a bobble?" Why, with a high-end camera stabilizer system of course.
Many of us have searched the Internet for homemade alternatives and even purchased cheap imitations, only to be left unsatisfied. If you’ve longed for a camera stabilizer solution that is both affordable and delivers professional results, then the DNA 5050 Professional Camera Stabilizer and the DNA 6000 Vest and Arm Stabilization Kit, by Glide Gear, are sure to grab your attention.
What You Get
The DNA 5050 comes in a nicely compact, compartmentalized, foam lined carrying case with shoulder strap and handles. The camera stabilizer breaks down into three main components for quick, easy storage and transportation: the sled (base for mounting weights), the center post with gimbal and handle, and the adjustable head with camera plate. Loose weights fit snugly into slots in the foam. Also included are a small bag of hardware (camera mounting bolts and spacers) and a very well written handbook, complete with photos, detailing assembly, balancing and proper handling of your new stabilizer.
The DNA 6000 Vest and Arm are tucked neatly into a padded bag with interior divider and pocket with zippered storage compartment on the front. The vest unit has a metal chest plate that is vertically adjustable to fit users of different heights and a dual position arm-mounting-bar across the front to suit both left and right handed operators. Dual shoulder straps and waistband are thickly padded, with quick-release buckles and Velcro straps for quick, secure adjustments. The articulating arm has a tension adjuster on each of its two sections, with a dual mounting pin at the vest end and a receiver pin at the other.
Glide Gear's attention to detail is commendable, as the build quality of this kit is exceptional and screams professional. With aircraft grade aluminum construction, a black powder coated finish and bright stainless hardware, it’s as impressive and pretty to look at, as it is effective. The gimbal floats very smoothly on three axes while the padded handle makes it comfortable to use. Adjusting both the camera stabilizer for balance and the vest for fit is quick and easy.
How It Works
Unlike a video tripod, or even a dolly, where setup and use is pretty much a straightforward affair, a stabilizer such as this requires careful setup and a bit of practice to be able to get the smooth moving shots you’re looking for. Carefully go through the included handbook for proper setup, balancing and operational instructions. Once you’ve done it a time or two you’ll be able to swap out and balance different cameras quickly and with ease.
After the stabilizer has been assembled it’s time to mount and balance the camera. Loosen four spring-loaded locking screws at each corner of the camera plate and it lifts easily off the adjustable head. No tools are required for assembly or for making any adjustments. Easier than a video tripod camera adapter, the mounting plate simply has a bunch of holes. The idea is to find the one that places the camera’s center of gravity directly over the stabilizer center post. If the camera has a heavier lens, then shift it to the rear. If you’re using a DSLR, which is weightier on one side, then mount it slightly to the other side of center.
Slip the plate onto the stabilizer head and lock it down. Position the telescoping portion of the center post about halfway between its shortest and greatest lengths; this allows for later adjustment and fine-tuning. Add weights to the sled until the unit hangs straight up and down when held by the handle. Locking screws on the weight mounting plates can be loosened and the plates moved closer to or further away from the center post to shift the balance of weight appropriately. If needed, the center post may be shortened or lengthened to shift the balance even further. If finer adjustments are necessary, the camera itself may be shifted forward, backward or from one side to the other by loosening four locking screws on the head and turning the appropriate adjustment knob. In this way adjustments may be made in very small increments to achieve just the right balance. Glide Gear has a YouTube link near the bottom of its stabilizer page showing how to properly balance a camera stabilizer.
The gimbal floats very smoothly on three axes and adjusting both the camera stabilizer for balance and the vest for fit is quick and easy.
After balancing our rig and a few practice runs we took several jaunts up and down a set of stairs, made a number of pivots, turns and pirouettes around trees, cars (stationary) and other objects and even ran across some uneven terrain (with the aid of a spotter). As we became more adept at properly handling the rig, rotating the center post and not getting in our own way, our results became more and more pleasing with each attempt.
We next strapped on the vest and hoisted the stabilizer onto the articulating arm. Where the stabilizer alone would limit the amount of shooting one could do because of fatigue, the shooter could easily extend his or her sustained shooting time because the weight of the rig is now distributed across the entire body. Like shock absorbers on a car, the articulating arm, rather than the camera, absorbs the bumps and bounces, resulting in much smoother moving shots.
For shooters bored with tripod shots and longing for the pro look of silky smooth moving shots, check out the stabilizer, vest and arm combo by Glide Gear. It’s effective, affordable and sure to please.
Kit: $850; DNA 5050 Stabilization (Handheld): $349; DNA 6000 Vest and Arm: $499
DNA 5050 Professional Camera Stabilizer
Capacity: compact cameras and full-size rigs from 2-7lb.
Head Dimensions: 8.8” x 5” x 1” (22.2cm x 12.7cm x 2.5cm)
Sled Dimensions: 11.5” x 4” (shortest, (29.2cm x 10.2cm)); 15” x 4” (longest, (38.1cm x 10.2cm))
Center Post (diameter): 1” (2.5cm)
Height: 20-28” (50.8cm-71.1cm)
Weight (without counterweights): 3.2lb. (1450g)
Counterweights: .3lb. (12)
Camera Mount: camera-mounting plate has 1/4” and 3/8” mounting holes
Optional LCD Monitor Mount: 1/4” hole on base plate
DNA 6000 Vest and Arm Stabilizer
Includes: Glide Gear vest, articulating arm, deluxe padded carrying case
Construction: 6061 CNC machined aluminum, anodized with black powder coat, stainless hardware
Arm Mount: ambidextrous
Adjustability: adjustable straps and clips
- Professional results, Quality build, Affordable
- Easily adjustable
- Super smooth gimbal
- As with all such stabilizers, takes time to set up and learn proper, effective use
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.