Pocket Stabilizers for Videographers
A good stabilizer is essential for any videographer on the go. Check out these top picks.
Cover image via Shutterstock.
In an earlier article, I covered how you can fix footage in post-production that you captured on a whim. With the current technology of many consumer mirrorless and DSLR cameras, you may always be able to capture high-quality footage, but you may not have the stabilizer you need. So let’s have a look at how to be prepared with portable equipment whenever inspiration strikes.
GorillaPod by Joby
Image via Joby.com.
The GorillaPod is ideal for videographers on the go who don’t want to carry a tripod. Of course, you won’t get the height of a tripod, but with over two dozen leg joints and rubber foot grips, this stabilizer can attach to anything from city window grates to farmyard fences. The GorillaPod retails for $49.99; however, the pro version, the GorillaPod Focus allows you to pan and tilt the camera, and it retails for $149
- Very compact
- Usable on many different surfaces
- Compatible with GoPros, compact, mirrorless, and DSRLs.
- Restricted to small setups
The Vbag is an excellent tool. It’s an inflatable bag that becomes a camera mount on almost any surface. Literally. In the following video by Philip Bloom, he even mounts the bag on the top of a parasol stand.
The kit works by becoming a hardened stabilizer after its air is vacuumed out. The large and medium Vbags are indeed quite large, and you may find them a bit burdensome on the go. However, there is also a Philip Bloom Edition available, which is a little more convenient for remote work.
- Mount your camera on virtually any surface
- Doubles as a protective case for your camera
- Expensive compared to other items on this list
- Even the smallest bag (Philip Bloom Edition) requires a backpack for transport
Wildlife Photography Bean Bag
Wildlife photographers have used bean bags for decades, as they allow the photographer to maintain a low profile while capturing animals. Bean bags are great if you’re hiking in the mountains or in a rocky region, as it will provide a lot more base support if you come across a landscape you’d like to film but don’t have a stable surface. Of course, you have to account for the extra weight the bean bag will add to your rucksack — most bean bags weigh about as much as a DSLR and lens.
- Low cost
- Added weight
- Limited usability
Dinkum Systems ActionPod
This is one of my favorite recommendations; it’s a product that has helped me get out of a pickle in quite a few circumstances.
The ActionPod is similar in design to the GorillaPod. However, it has one long, flexible arm that you can manipulate into many different shapes. At one end, it has a spring-action clamp that will grip most surfaces. At the other end is a 1/4″-20 top, which you can use for lights or cameras. However, the ActionPod will only support light DSLRs and small lenses, such as the GH4 and the nifty fifty (50mm). This is a great tool for mounting your camera in unusual places, such as branches, fences, poles, and signs.
- Clamps almost everywhere
- Very versatile
- Offers different angles than other items on this list.
- Only suitable for light cameras
While these are the main light travel stabilizers I have used and recommend, there are many more on the market that can help get you a stable shot without carrying around a heavy tripod.
What stabilizers do you use on the go? Let us know in the comments.