Monday, July 14, 2014

iStabilizer Dolly Short Review

OK. I saw this in one of my Facebook feeds and it was marked down 40% off so I went for it.
The gadget is called the iStabilizer Dolly and I snagged one for $40 at this link.

It is a Panning "stabilizer" dolly for small cameras. It is targeted for iPhone and smartphone users. However, my larger HTC ONE M8 didn't fit the cradle. It has a standard tripod screw head so you can use any small camera/dSLR with it. Think of this as a mini tripod on wheels. I've always been trying to get the perfect panning shots and I figure $40 is a small price to pay for something that will improve my shots. You can read my short review and watch my demo shot to conclude if this is a cheap thrill gadget worthy of your consideration.

First, the packaging is real simple. The wheel base, the adjustable pod, and a smartphone cradle. I didn't even find any instructions nor did I need it. It is pretty easy to set-up.

Next, it has adjustable wheels so you can have it go in a curve, certain angle, or straight. The tripod stick articulates like a Joby and similar gadgets. This allows you to do crazy angles or pan an object in circles. It could come in handy if you wanted to shoot something like jewelry on a table.

Here are hero shots with the iPhone and Olympus Micro 4/3 OM-D camera. This is how it looks like with cameras/phones attached. It is very low to the ground.  I think it is too short to be of meaningful use. I guess you can prop it up if you plan to improvise.

Next, I would not call this a "stabilizer." Panning Dolly, yes. It does work as a Panning Dolly but stabilization is out of the picture. I think the name is a bit misleading.

However, you will need a pretty flat surface. You can use plywood or something flat to help smooth out the panning but the wheels have no articulation or suspension to stabilize the shot. Shooting with an  iPhone, I could not get any decent shots. This is mostly due to the focal length of the iPhone's lens. After most tries, I found it too jerky to be of any good. I had to resort to using my Olympus OM-D which has optical and digital built in stabilization. I shot in various locations around my house with hardwoord floors.

Here is a sample footage shot with an Olympus OM-D in 1080p.

Was it worth $40? I don't really know. I'd need to be in a situation where I needed that panning B-roll shot. Still, I think it is cheaper than rolling my own contraption with various bits and pieces from a hardware store.

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