I am a huge fan of using and optimizing stabilizing shots for my video productions. Stabilized shots add so much production value. There are many stabilizers out there on the market, and now you have more to choose from. I tend to like the Glidecam. There is a learning curve to using the Glidecam, but once you get it down, you really have learned a valuable skill. Many of the brushless gimbals out now, allow almost anyone to get smoot shots. By using the brushless gimbals, you can get somewhat smooth shots, without the learning curve of that of the Glidecam or Steadicam. The problem with the brushless gimbals is that it can look very robotic, the shots can have bounce effect when walking, they need to use battery power, and there is a specific weight limit to them.
Glidecam has been my stabilizer of choice and I have used several different lenses for my productions. I have used the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8, the Canon 20mm 2.8 and now recently the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD Lens for Canon. I have been flying my Canon 6d with a Canon 20mm for about two years. I like what the end results are, but wanted to experiment with flying my Canon C100.
The Canon C100 is part of Canon’s cinema line. A C100 is heavier than a Canon 6d, so I needed to find a light lens that would be wide enough due to the C100’s 1.6 crop factor. For instance, the Tamron 10-24mm is the equivalent of a 16-38mm lens when placed on a C100. This is wide enough for me, plus I can zoom in a bit for different stabilized shots. However, the tighter the lens the more chance you have for wobbly shots. The wider, the more stable. I have seen some great shots from true professionals who have used 35-50mm lenses with a stabilizer which resulted in great steady footage. (You really need to practice getting the shots as steady as possible). I researched and researched different zoom lens, since I wanted the flexibility to change up my perspective. During my research, I came across the new Tamron 10-24-mm 3.5-4.5 VC lens. Sure, it’s not as fast as the f2.8 lenses I have used in the past, but it had many positives that outweighed the negatives. For one, it is only 15.5 oz. It has a BBAR coating to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for improved contrast when working in strong lighting conditions. And it is a zoom lens with vibration compensation (VC). This feature helps with hand held shots and allows them to be not too shaky. So, I could fly the camera in one shot, and then zoom in turn on the VC for a hand-held shot. This is something new I will have in my arsenal, since all the other lenses I used with my stabilizer were primes lenses.
Using the Canon C100 on my stabilizer will allow me to get not only great looking footage, but the process in doing it will be easier than before when using a 6d. The Canon C100 has a tilt screen that I can flip up to see my shots. Now in the sun that screen can reflect a lot of glare. I use a sun hood made by Sachtler which allows me to see my screen more clearly and cuts down the glare from the sun. The C100 also has a waveform monitor which allows me to expose my shot more accurately. Finally, the C100 has built in neutral density filters that I can use if the sun is too bright. If I use a 6d out in the sun I have two options when the sun is too bright. I can either screw on a neutral density filter to control the aperture of the camera, or I can raise the shutter speed, which in return gives my shots a stuttering look, like you see in the movie Private Ryan.
After buying the Tamron lens I went out to conduct a quick test with my C100 and Glidecam. I forgot to attach the sun hood to the lens, so in the video below, you will see some glare from the sun. All in all, I believe I have a winner. I can zoom in if I want, I have VC, and because my lens is light, my setup is not too heavy. If there is a draw-back, it would be the fact the lens does not have a constant aperture and that the aperture is f3.5-f4.5. But C100’s ability to perform very well under low light conditions makes up for that. This lens is only $500 and it will serve you very well. I have several Tamron lenses, and they all have been more than great for my productions.
Jeffrey Cook is an award-winning videographer who specializes in non-profit, small business storytelling.
I have been working in television/media for over 16 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, and storyteller. It is my belief that you have a chance to better your skills each time you pick up the camera. I strive to be better than I was yesterday.