I need advice on stabilizing a 5 lb camcorder (Panasonic AG-AC 160 with on camera LED light) holding by hands. I need to shoot 5 minutes video to introduce new office. The video will look like walking in from the front door then walking through all 5-6 rooms.
The Panasonic AG-AC160 does not have a shoulder rest. I tried to hold it in the air by both hands but my hands sore or shaking after 30 seconds. Do I need more practice to hold the camcorder right or I have to buy or rent a video stabilizer. My shopping budget is only $300. Any suggesion ?
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1. Continue as is. Just get better at holding still. 5 minutes is not a long amount of time.
2. Tripod. Stable, still.
3. Monopod. Less stable than tripod, but more portable & adjustable. Much better than hands.
4. Shoulder mount. Yes, they do make them for your cam.
5. Handlebar chest mount/fig rig/ similar modular rig.
6. Steadicam type stabilizer (with or without spring/cantilever harness).
7. Crane/Jib and/or dolly
8. Somebody else to hold/shoot for you.
9. Resting/mounting cam on some other type of solid structure
#6 is great, but a little more $$ and requires much practice.
I recently used a combo of # 3 & 5. During a 2 day period, I had to be on-cam recording 11 and 6.5 Hours. With that setup, it worked (overall, with a few gaps).
For #2, 3, 4, 5 you can certainly get something decent for your budget.
Thank you Scott for your advice.
That 5 min is after editing, I will need to shoot more before editing.
I have monopod but I'm not sure if it is too heavy to hold the monopod with 5 lbs camera and accessories. May be I should focus on shoulder amount with two handles to balance while walking and shooting. However, I don't find remote zoom/on-off on handle of these rig. Any camcorder operation suggestion when both hands are holding the rig handle ?
There's no single correct answer. Scott's suggestions are excellent and necessarily situational.
Something like this has worked for me allowing me to keep both hands on the camera controls:
That being said, the connecting screws in plastic are fragile and I've thrown away two of them already. Also turn on any lens stabilizers. Use an assistant to follow focus/zoom
It's no accident that pro cameras are heavy, sit on the shoulder, allow you to use your head as well as your arms to stabilize, and have ergonomically placed controls.
The overview says "Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S) for smooth stable shooting".
And with an initial price tag of ~£3000/$5000 or more, you'd think it should be pretty decent stabilizer.
Should have looked at the picture sooner. With that camera, one hand on the body, one hand on the lens, elbows against the chest, eye against the viewfinder, optical stabilizer on, lens at wide, you should be pretty damned steady without additional aides.
Any monopod that can't hold up a scant 5 pounds is not worth buying. I have a SLIK that I bought for photo use for ~$70 that I use for lots - photo & video - and it has no problem holding up to 12-15 lbs. (Haven't had need to try heavier).
Some cams already have facility to accommodate remotes for FF, Zoom & Iris (along with Rec). RTFM for that info. If it doesn't, there are aftermarket addons available. But that will quickly use up your budget. That's actually why I chose my #3 & 5 combo, because it allowed me to have mobile support & stability along with 1-handed smoothadjustment of focus & zoom.
I borrow one steadicam with vest and arm. I can balance the weight easily but shooting steady video while walking around is a big challenge. My right hand hold the grid of sled, my left hand hold the shaft with thumb and index finger but the picture was swinging left-right-left like rowing a boat. Any tip to walk a steadicam steady with 5 lb camcorder on ? I need to get used to it in a week.
Like any fine motor skill, the secret is practice, practice, practice. Using a steadicam-type device is like driving a car.
Fine with me, as long as practice is only way to boss my steadicam or I'm on the right track without missing anything.
I would refine that as "Using a steadicam-type device is like driving a touchy, foreign sportscar while driving on the opposite side of the road at highway speeds." Yes, it can be done, but it's not for everyone. I own a steadicam, and I'm still not totally comfortable with it. It takes inward tension with outward grace & relaxation.
Plus, you get what you pay for: there are steadicams and there are STEADICAMS. Don't go cheap or you'll regret it. $300 for a "steadicam" is on the cheap side.
You probably cannot get used to it in a week. Side-to-side motion like you mention means you haven't fully centered the balance, nor properly weighted it.
Then, it's not even necessary (or even appropriate) for certain kinds of shots. Tailor the device use to the shot type.