Ever had the urge to toss all your equipment away after reviewing your footage from a long day of shooting and realizing your handheld shots look like junk? We'd never recommend tossing any of your equipment away, but we know and understand the feeling. Steady, smooth and crisp shots will most definitely decrease your stress level and increase the value of your footage. With a little help, you can capture excellent handheld shots that will boost your image quality. We’re talking about gimbals, specifically, in this review, CAME-TV's CAME-7800 3-axis gimbal, which right now is at a great price of $1,298. With the CAME-7800, you can increase the value of your handheld shots, make the editing phase less stressful and save time and money, and you’ll be doing so by purchasing a gimbal at a lower cost than most other gimbals on the market. So, let’s take a look at the CAME-7800 3-axis gimbal.
Out of the Box
First off, when the CAME-7800 arrived in the box it seemed fairly large in size, and that can be very intimidating to some. We can reassure you that the size of the box is only because the added foam for protecting the gimbal during shipping and transporting. Whew! Well, that was a relief. When taking the CAME-7800 out of the box we immediately found it to be fairly lightweight, making it no problem to hold with one hand while we closed the box and set it aside. The next thing we noticed was that the gimbal was fairly loose in the brackets and posts, and there were a lot of screws that needed to be tighten. Luckily, CAME-TV was nice enough to include a set of perfectly sized allen wrenches so we didn’t have to dig into our own tools. Next, the 7800 gimbal comes without a stand so we had to figure out another way to attach a camera. Lastly, the CAME-7800 has a maximum holding capacity of 6.6 lbs (3 kg) so we decided to use a Canon T5i with a 50mm prime lens to keep total weight down.
When it comes to setting up the CAME-7800, we have to warn you that it might take some extreme patience in placing a camera on the rigging and balancing it. This device is not for the quick-to-give-up type of operator, but as video professionals, we all know that patience isn’t just a virtue; it's something that we must adopt during the process of becoming a videographer.
Just like we learned when taking the CAME-7800 out of the box, there are a lot of screws and brackets to tighten down in order to start leveling the camera. Leveling and balancing the camera before using the gimbal is key to the success in producing smooth footage without any issue.
With the quick release mounting plate, there are a few things to adjust. First off, the wedge locking plate locks in pretty well, but you'll need to balance the camera so that it isn’t tilting forward or back too much. This can be very tricky without a stand holding up the CAME-7800 because the plate slides quickly and if you only have one hand to balance the camera, you will struggle greatly.
The easiest solution may be to purchase the CAME-TV balancing stand for the 7800 gimbal ($98), or if you’re crafty enough, you can rig up your own stand for a lot less. Either way, a balancing stand is the way to go. It will save you a bunch of time. The last thing to adjust is the side-to-side tilt. Underneath the mounting plate and on the rigging there are two bolts you need to adjust until the camera isn’t leaning one way or the other. Gently slide the camera side to side until it is squared then carefully tighten the plate down and — bam — you should have a balanced camera.
Leveling and balancing the camera before using the gimbal is key to the success in producing smooth footage without any issue.
Leveling and balancing takes a good amount of time, but with good patience and a steady hand or two you’ll be ready to roll.
Out in the Field
For testing purposes, we used the CAME-7800 in real time at a wedding, and when it comes to weddings and other similar paid gigs, you want the best footage possible. Using the CAME-7800 would be great if you wanted to capture some very smooth hand held shots, like when the bride is walking down the aisle to the groom or during their first dance and during the bouquet toss. These types of shots require steady hand and great precision, but with the CAME-7800, you’ll have almost no shakiness whatsoever.
All in all, the CAME-7800 held up in the field. We do recommend that you purchase an extra Lipo battery, and if you want use the 7800 throughout an entire event, we also recommend something like the 2-Rod support system by Atlas Camera Support. It could help relieve the strain on your neck and back from holding the CAME-7800 with a camera and LCD monitor all day. It could also help in capturing the smooth and steady footage necessary for increasing the value of your project.
Okay, so setting up the CAME-TV CAME-7800 was a bit of a pain since there are a lot of moving parts to tighten down. The mounting plates are also not the easiest things to work with, but really there are worse things that we’ve had to deal with — like junky handheld footage from when we didn’t use a gimbal like the CAME-7800. Once we were able to level and lock in the camera, we were off running, figuratively and literally, with the CAME-7800. We genuinely had a fun time using this gimbal, and after importing and reviewing our footage, we can easily say that the 7800 helped improve the sometimes jumpy and jolty footage that we shoot when we’re not using a gimbal. The shots were so smooth that it seemed flight-like in nature, as if the camera was sitting on a low flying drone, one which could hold a DSLR camera, microphone and an LCD screen. The CAME-7800 is a solid product for a solid price, and we can easily recommend it to the user who really wants a low cost gimbal to increase the value of his or her footage.
Load Capacity: 6.6 lb (3 kg)
PC Board: 32-bit Alexmos board
Battery Chemistry: Lithium-polymer
Battery Run Time: Approx. 45 min.
Camera Support: Max. Width: 7.2" (18.4 cm), Max. Height: 5.3" (13.5 cm)
Weight: 4.8 lb (2.2 kg)
Camera Attachment: Quick Release/Wedge Plate