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.
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.
Below you can see some test footage that I shot with this stabilizer.
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.