I want to say a big Thank You to my friend Steve from www.jammediacompany.com for letting me borrow this stabilizer for this review.
This Wondlan Carbon Fibre stabilizer is yet another budget option among ever-growing number of very impressive & affordable stabilizers for DSLRs. It’s very similar to the Flycam C5 which I also reviewed some time ago. Hard to tell which one is better, as both have their own very subtle advantages, both perform almost the same and I think it comes down to which one you can get cheaper, is the one you should go for.Click to view this item on ebay
I want to say a big Thank You to my friend Steve from www.jammediacompany.com for letting me borrow this stabilizer for this review.
This is what was suppose to be a quick comparison video between my Gini and Trusmt cages. I must say since I bought my one, Gini have changed their cages a bit, so it's not the same any more.
More importantly, the prices have chanced since I bough my cages. The price of Gini went up and the price of Trusmt went down to the point where some cages Gini lists on eBay are more expensive than the Trusmt Ultimate (the one with HDMI clamp) which is $330/£204. You can snap it up even cheaper if you are willing to bid and wait to see if you win it.
Gini cages are now generally listed with higher "buy it now" price, altough the "best offer" option does provide some hope. Gini used to accept offers of 20-30% off the listed price. I don't know that is till the case.
Overall, with all the price changes I think Trusmt is definitely a winner in this comparison, unless you are using a DSLR that will not benefit from its great features.
Couple of months ago i-Cuff sent me one of their unique eyecups designed to improve the experience of using a viewfinder on camcorders or DSLRs (LCD viewfinder).
A lot of filmmakers love to use their Zacuto, CarrySpeed, LCDVF and other viewfinders on their DSLRs. Some literally don’t shoot without them. People who use ENG style cameras only really ever use viewfinders as it’s the only way of operating the camera properly.
I don’t use viewfinders when I don’t have to, just not my thing. One time though, when I just can’t shoot without a viewfinder even now is when I shoot outside. Even on an overcast day, it helps, on a sunny day it’s literally impossible to shoot properly without one.
When I first received the i-cuff, I thought that is must be a bit of an unnecessary gimmick, but after using it for a couple of times, especially in a cold weather I changed my mind completely. I mostly use a cheap LCD viewfinder on my 5D and a Zacuto EVF. Both have rubber hoods/eyecups which seemed to be are ok, until I tried the i-cuff.
Unlike the rubber eyecups, i-cuff is made of fabric, which is washable, waterproof and works well both with and without glasses. I don’t wear glasses, but I could see how i-cuff could really improve the viewing experience. It wraps around the face much better and you don’t have to press yourself firmly against the viewfinder, which would be very uncomfortable with a common rubber eyecup. Made out breathable fabric it also reduces fogging which is also a common problem with viewfinders.
The most impressive thing for me is how i-cuff feels against my face in cold winter conditions. For comparison I first pressed my face against the rubber eyecup and then placed the i-cuff on top of it. The difference was massive, rubber gets really cold and very unpleasant in cold conditions; i-cuff though just doesn’t feel as cold, due to it’s soft fabric around the edge that touches the face. It really makes me want to use it every time I shoot outside.
It’s one of them simple accessories that actually make a lot of difference.
i-Cuff comes in 3 sizes, DV, HD, & PRO depending on the camera you use. The smaller one is just $29.95 and the other 2 are $45, so there is literally no excuse not to get one if use viewfinders a lot.
You can check out more info and to order one yourself visit: www.i-cuff.com
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I finally have created a dedicated studio style setup for my reviews and other videos. If you like the look that I achieved in the above video, you’ll find this blog post very useful. All the links to the products in this guide are marked in red colour and also can all be found together at the bottom of the post.
My goal was to achieve a minimalistic, low-key look with a soft, but interesting lighting that would make me and the objects I have on the table really stand out from the background. More importantly the task was to achieve the look at the lowest budget possible. Lucky for me I had most of the things I needed already, but I will share some options with you to help you create similar setup.
Disclaimer (could be boring): You can find the items I’ve used both on Amazon and on Ebay and some even in your local hardware store, but for this guide I will use Amazon links. If you will buy anything that I’ve included in this guide through my links, a small percentage of sale will go my way. This way you’ll be able to help me run the website and produce more useful content by buying what you need. It will not cost you a penny more to buy them through my links, in fact I try to find the best deals, so if anything it will cost you less.
So back to this guide:
First of is a monitor, which is not essential, but is very useful. As I mentioned in the video I used an old Liliput monitor. I generally like Liliput Monitors and have 2 myself.
A similar to one I’ve used only costs just under $170. To be honest I’m not a big fan of the particular model, but it more than suitable for this sort of project.
If you don’t have an HDMI monitor yet and want one for everything I would advice going for 5D-II/O/P model, which works great with DSLRs, has peeking, zebras, false color and even a histogram, all for just under $270. Now this is a great deal.
Next up we have a backdrop. There are loads of options for backdrops, starting from under $20. The size that I have costs just under $18. 6x10 works great for me and will work fine for anyone wanting a similar framing.
I’ve already had some light stands, anything up to 6ft high will do the . If you have them already, then you will only need to buy an extending cross bar for the stands. The cheapest I found is $20.
If you don’t have any stands yet, then it’s worth buying a complete backdrop support instead. It will work out cheaper than buying the stand and a cross bar separately. The cheapest backdrop support I found is just under $35.
To secure the backdrop well, just get some cheap plastic clamps, which run for under $5 for a set of 6.
Now you need some back lights. There are plenty of options on Amazon. I even found the light I’m using for my setup. It’s a Smith-Victor KT-500U kit (2x250w lights). There are plenty of other alternatives too (see below), all costing just around $100.
Moving no to the key light. For my setup I’m using a Camtree BeamLite 72 Flood because it’s quite powerful and I have it already. To achieve similar soft lighting you don’t have to get the same light and a diffuser. As an alternative would recommend one of many fluorescent softbox lights. The choice for these is massive, but I would recommend going for something more powerful, definitely no less than 1000w. One of the best deals that I found is ePhoto 2000w light kit, which comes together with 2 heads, 2 stands, 2 saltboxes, 10 bulbs and even a carry case for the stands. All this for under $130 is pretty amazing considering that 3 times less powerful kit for the back light costs nearly the same. Here is another alternative for just over $100.
This is about all you need to create this complete setup, assuming you already have some soft of table, chair if you like to sit and obviously a camera.
The whole thing should cost you more than $500 and these are the things that you will be able these for you other projects, especially the lights and the monitor. The actual backdrop support and the cloth is no more than $50, so definitely something worth investing into is you are after a similar look.
I hope this guide was useful to you guys. Any questions, feel free to ask.
The review above is quite long and detailed so there isn’t much I can add.
It’s not too short, not too long, it’s portable enough, it can be fast, it can be slow, it’s easy to use and it makes perfect sense for me.
I’ve only just stated using this slider and there are so many new possibilities that have opened up to me, so more footage shot with this slider is yet to come.
I’ve been looking for such slider for a long time now and I will definitely be keeping this one for years to come.
At this price, I don’t think there is any real competition, not to say that there won’t be in future. We are living in a great time for independent filmmakers. The quality and features keep growing and the prices keep dropping. Amazing times!
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This follow focus is quite unique thanks to its flexible L shaped bracket. The only similar follow focus that I know is the D-focus, which doesn’t really offer anything more than this RJ unit. I wanted to try it just to see how it would feel and I was impressed with the size and feel of the whole setup. To me the gearbox of my particular unit is a bit disappointing, but as I said in the video, the gearbox performance varies; so some of you might have better luck with it.
I bought mine a while ago and while I was looking up the ebay link for this write-up, I found out that this FF now comes with both L-shaped bracket and the standard 15mm rod fitting mount, which is absolutely amazing. No other FF offers you both mounting options, although the L-shaped adapter could be adapter to many other FFs. Someone should start selling them separately.
Anyway, if you’re about to buy your first follow focus and don’t yet have your 15mm rod setup, I think this FF could be the one to go for. When you decided to buy your 15mm rod system you’ll still be able to use this FFs with it, which is very cool.
If this FF is not for you, check out the Follow Focus Buyers Guide for more options.
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The Filmcity X1 follow focus is currently one of the cheapest FFs you can get on eBay and just about anywhere really. I wanted to see what’s it feels like, so I bought one. I wasn’t expecting it to be the best follow focus in the world, although I always hope that the next follow focus I get will be the one.
Well, the X1 is a nice follow focus, one that you would expect to be over £200 just a few years ago. In fact it’s virtually the same as my Camtree Follow Focus, which I bought for over £200 just about 2 years ago. It has the same marking disc, same 360 degree adjustable pointer, similar mounting system (probably both were made by the same manufacturer). While I still prefer my good old Camtree, the X1 offers so much for such a low price. Although the gearbox has some play (similar amount to similarly priced, but simpler RJ and probably less than Fotga DP500, which another really cheap option).
The fact that you get the whip and the lens gear on top of all the cool features gives this follow focus the edge over the similarly priced units.
Although I decided not to keep mine (I don’t need more than one FF anyway), I do recommend it to people who on a really low budget or/and just buying their first follow focus.
If you think, this might not be the one for you, make sure to check out my Follow Focus Buyers Guide for more great value for money options.
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I absolutely love the flowing, beautiful and engaging steadicam (stabilizer) shots often seen in films and music videos. When done properly they can add so much production value to any video production, be it a creative one or even a corporate video. One of the first things I bought then I first got into filmmaking was a Flycam 5000, which was a great start for me. Even though it’s very tired now, in my time using it, I produced a lot great shots with it, that really helped me bring the projects that I was working on to life.
Quite recently I decided it’s time to upgrade to something better and very conveniently for me a new version of Flycam just came out, which on paper offered much more for the price I originally paid for 5000. I didn’t want to spend much and at this price there wasn’t anything else that really stood out.
I week later I received my new Flycam C5 and made an unboxing video right away, which can be viewed below if you haven’t seen it yet.
I went through the features in the video, but the ones that stood out to me again while actually using this stabilizer were:
Top plate fine adjustment knobs: These things are so straightforward and so good for precise adjustment. Adjusting side to side and back to front balance is so easy. There are 2 side-to-side fine adjustment knobs on each side, so no matter what hand you are holding you stabilizer with, you can reach the knobs easily. On top of that, you don’t have to undo any safety knobs/screws to adjust the side-to-side balance, unlike all the other stabilizers I’ve used. You would usually have to undo 4 knobs on the bottom to adjust the side-to-side balance; with C5 you just rotate 1 knob and when you are happy, you just leave it as it is, it the plate doesn’t slide or rattle about.
Back to front adjustment is also much more straightforward that on any other stabilizers I’ve seen. You only have to undo one knob to loosen the top sliding plate and then rotate the fine adjustment knob to move the plate back and forth. The older/simpler models like Flycam 5000 & Nano and Glidecam Pro series, don’t even have any fine adjustment knobs, you have to adjust the balance by moving the plate with your hands, not great for fine balance adjustment and impossible to do while holding the stabilizer with your other hand to check the balance. The closest thing in terms of comfortable, precise adjustment with similar specs is the Glidecam HD4000, but even with that one you have to undo 8 knobs in total to adjust side to side and back to forth balance and on top of that it also costs almost 3 times more than the C5. Talking about more expensive stabilizers, I’m sure there are probably a lot of higher-end stabilizers that offer such straightforward balance adjustment methods, but they are way too expensive to fit into budget/indie filmmaking bracket that I’m talking about here. At this or similar price there is really nothing out there that offers the features mentioned above, unless I’m missing something.
Sliding Plate: This plate is like a tripod plate rather than one of them massive plates found on other stabilizers mentioned above. With these stabilizers people just end up buying extra quick release adapters to avoid unscrewing all 4 or in case of Glidecam HD series 8 side screws/knobs to get the top plate off just to put the camera on and do the same when the want to get it off. This is incredibly annoying and inconvenient. So one of the things that initially impressed on C5, was this cool, sliding, quick release plate; just one knob to undo and it slides out just like a tripod plate. There is a safety pin too, to make sure that it doesn’t fall out, protecting your camera from a potentially painful drop. This plate is a really cool idea, I think it probably was inspired by higher-end stabilizers, because I’ve only seen such plates on higher-end Glidecams and Stedicams which cost at least 10 times more than C5. It’s great that Flycam is catching up higher-end technology and offers such cool features at such a low price. It’s really not a computer science, but simple things that could improve any stabilizer. I don’t know why other companies don’t offer such features on their stabilizers. Maybe it’s a part of protecting their top of the line products, otherwise why would someone pay $$$$/££££ for the features that can be found on an entry-level model.
A few other things that stood out to me are:
The carbon fiber central post. I’m not sure how much lighter is it than the aluminum post, but it looks quite cool and adds to the overall positive feel.
The poll extension knob is also really nice, much more comfortable than one on my Flycam 5000. It’s ratchet too, very good for moving it out of the way once it’s tightened.
When assembled and fully extended, the C5 is quite a large stabilizer, capable of handling a camera up to 7.5lb/3.4kg, which means it could handle much larger cameras than just a DSLR, like my 5D, but when dissembled it very neatly fits into a very compact, padded bag that comes with it. This is a big bonus for me, because my stuff usually gets all scratched up in my big suitcase. The bag has a shoulder strap for transportation, but even if I just drop it into the suitcase with my tripods and stands, it’s protected and basically stabilizer will last longer. If I decide to sell it in future, it will hold value better, unlike my Flycam 5000, which is now so tired, I don’t even want to put it on eBay.
So is it a perfect stabilizer? Nothing is perfect and of course there are always things that can be improved. I find that the handle is a bit short for my hand and why no foam or rubber padding? It’s simply metal, which I guess was also inspired by handles on high-end stabilizers, which are usually used with swing-arms and vests; there is no need for padding on such stabilizer handles. To be honest, when I’m using the C5 with my arm brace it doesn’t bother me either, but for people who would just hold the stabilizer with their wrist, some padding would be nice, which would also make the handle chunkier and bigger, which would help holding it for a longer period of time. Adding some padding is very simple, even I could do that, but it’s nice to have what you need when you buy something, not mod it afterwards.
The only other thing that is a bit annoying is that the holes on the quick release plate are of different sizes, 3 smaller and 2 larger. The larger ones are almost too large for the screws that come with the stabilizer, if you’re not careful when fitting the camera the crew could fall through. This could be very easily fixed if they would include slightly larger washers. For now, to I’ll just to get a larger washer or a screw with a larger head (the spare ones from my Giottos MH621 adapter should be just fine). I could just use one of smaller holes, but I find the second hole from the back is the best for a DSLR setup; it happens to be the larger one. For other cameras it might be different, quite possibly the middle one which is one of the smaller ones.
Below you can see some test footage that I shot with this stabilizer.
I think for a first time it performed really well, but I could achieve better results with some practice. To get the most out of any tool, be it a slider, tripod, dolly or stabilizer, you need to practice. I’ve heard someone say that a good steadicam operator could take a stick and make better shots than someone with a high-end stabilizer who doesn’t how to use it. I have to agree with that. I’m not really good at it myself, but I’m willing to learn, practice and get better. If you’ve never used a stabilizer yourself and about to get one, be it a C5 or any other one, don’t be disappointed if your first try is not great. Experiment with the balancing until you get it right. It initially took me about 15-20 minutes to get the balance I wanted, so don’t assume that you can stick the camera on a stabilizer and magic will happen, when you first get into to it, things might not go your way, but just work on it, get the balance as good as you can and most importantly, practice. Bellow you can see the video I’ve done on balancing a stabilizer and getting the best results out of it. Hope it will be helpful if you are only starting out or want get more out of your stabilizer.
Going back to the review. I’m really enjoying my Flycam C5. It looks cool and it feels great too. At this price, I really don’t think there is anything better. Most of the stuff out there is a bit basic and dated. The C5 is probably one of the newest budget stabilizers available and as mentioned above, it seems to be inspired by the higher-end stuff, bringing some cool features to people on a tight budget like myself. Of course it’s not the best stabilizer in the world, but it offers an amazing value/features for money. I highly recommend the C5 to anyone looking to buy their first Stabilizer or upgrading from something like a Flycam 5000 or Nano. I also recommend buying an arm brace. It doesn’t cost much and it helps so much with operation, especially for a longer period of time or with a heavier camera.
It ended up to be quite a lengthy review and I hope you stuck with me till the end. Feel free to ask any questions regarding this or any other stabilizer and I’ll do my best to get back to you soon.
As you can see above, I love absolutely love this lens and highly recommend it, no matter what interchangeable lens camera use use. It's not incredibly cheap, but it offers a great value for money, comparing to the similar alternatives from the high-end companies.
My lens is a de-clicked, but not one of the new CINE version, which have the fluid aperture adjustment as standard. This feature is absolutely amazing for video work. The standard version one has a clickable aperture adjustment and you would have to get it de-clicked to achieve the fluid adjustment.
By the way the footage of the lens in the video above was shot with a lovely little Sony NEX 5N, which I now constantly use as my slow mo and b camera. Used it with the Samyang too, work great!.
_ I absolutely love DSLRs, their size and portability. In last few years we saw loads of products being specifically designed for them to enhance the wonderful video features they have. I invested in a lot of these accessories myself including some really cool dolly sliders. These are basically short (usually around 1m) metal rails, that allow one to recreate a sweeping action usually crated by dolly. I love these things and I used to have 2, but I always loved the proper long dolly motion that couldn’t be recreated by a slider, so about half a year ago, after a lot of research, I bought myself a Swift Dolly. Around 6 months later I finally got around to doing a review (above). The review is quite long and I’m not going to repeat everything in the video. I just want to go through a few points that stand out to me.
Weight & Portability: I used to associate dolly with something that is only used on bigger shoots with loads of people handling large, heavy equipment. One of the main reasons I went for this particular dolly, is it’s portability and very low weight. All the bags have handles so the can be carried around without much trouble. The Swift Dolly not that cheap, considering that there are plenty of DIY tutorials on Youtube that will help you build a dolly at a fraction of the price, but what I hate about DIY stuff is that it’s usually not portable at all. That is why I usually try to but as cheap as I could but a proper product that is well designed and can be taken anywhere, not only because of the portability, but also because it actually looks like a proper equipment unlike some DIY stuff. Of course if you don’t have any money at all and you shoot only personal projects than DIY is your only and probably a decent choice.
Value For Money: This is very much connected the stuff above. DIY will always be cheaper, but not necessarily better value for money in a long run. I’ve used my quite a few times now and thanks to its great packaging it’s still like new, so it holds its value really well. If I would have decided to sell it now, I’m sure I would get a lot of my money back, not that I want to just yet; this thing is essential for some of my shoots, like the low budget feature I’m currently working on (some footage is in the review). A Dolly adds a lot of production value to the shots so it is a great investment even for a DSLR user like myself. There aren’t many cheaper dolly options out there, especially with a track, so the Swift Dolly offers a great value for money.
Conclusion: If you can afford a dolly, this or any other decent one, go for it. Treat it as a long term investment, because unlike cameras that chance ever year, dollies stay pretty much the same and you will be able to use it for many years to come. Over the years it will definitely pay itself off by helping you produce great shots which will hopefully earn you some money along the way.
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