The Glidecam is a wonderful device that uses counterweights to allow you to achieve truly professional looking movement shots in your films. Although Glidecam is technically a trademarked brand name, its popularity has genericized the name to refer to many devices that cameras mount to achieve smooth handheld motion. Today we’re taking a look at several of these devices to help you find the best Glidecam for DSLR video production to suit your needs as a filmmaker.
We’re going to get right into our picks for the best Glidecam. Stick around afterwards to see us talk about what exactly Glidecams do and how they work.
- 1 Best Glidecam For DSLR Video Production – Our Picks
- 1.1 1. Best Glidecam For DSLRs
- 1.2 2. Best Glidecam For Larger Cameras
- 1.3 Best Value Glidecam
- 1.4 Best Budget Glidecam
- 1.5 2. Best Cheap Glidecam
- 2 What Does A Glidecam Do?
- 3 How Does a Glidecam Work?
Best Glidecam For DSLR Video Production – Our Picks
1. Best Glidecam For DSLRs
It’s no question that the best Glidecam on the market comes from the original company, Glidecam.
In terms of stats, there’s not too much to discuss. Glidecams don’t need to have a bunch of special features or crazy gimmicks. A good Glidecam should just work and feel easy; and this one does that better than any other. Many reviewers have discussed the massive difference in quality between this device and the cheaper knock-offs.
Cinematographers, YouTubers and Videographers who do weddings and events all LOVE this product. For a very small amount of effort, your device will be perfectly balanced and creating incredibly cinematic shots in no time. The entire HD line of glidecams is incredibly durable, easily surviving drops and exposure to water. This is a product that will last you for years to come, and is a very solid investment into your film toolbelt.
This Glidecam is optimized for cameras ranging between 2-6 pounds. This makes it the perfect Glidecam for DSLRs, as more heavy duty ones may be too heavy to properly balance it, and small cheaper ones may be too light.
Pro Tip: If you plan on using this frequently, many users have recommended investing in a quick release plate from Manfrotto to quickly transition between glidecam, tripod, and other stabilization solutions.
2. Best Glidecam For Larger Cameras
This glidecam is optimized to handle cameras from the 4 to 10 pound range, so if you’re shooting with a high quality camera like a RED, you’ll need something of this size. Anything heavier will require something larger like a proper steadycam, and anything lighter will require a smaller Glidecam to properly offset the weight balance. However, if your camera is too light, you may add weighted plates in order to get it within the weight limit.
This is the largest, most heavy-duty Glidecam on our list, and we think it is essential to any professional production studio. It weighs in at around 3.3 pounds without any counterweights. It can however get quite heavy after extended use when loaded up with a camera and counterweights. If you think your strength will be an issue, we highly recommend the Glidecam Forearm Brace to help support the weight of this device. This will transfer the weight off your hands and wrist and into your bicep, making the weight much more manageable.
Aside from these differences, it’s pretty much identical to the HD-2000. It’s a super high quality product that is guaranteed to satisfy your stabilization needs. It will likely be more “Future proof” for your kit, as your rigs are likely to get heavier and heavier as you accumulate camera gear, so keep that in mind if you’re buying for the long term.
Best Value Glidecam
Much cheaper than the above options, this Glidecam from Laing provides professional quality stabilization at a much more reasonable price. At nearly half the cost of the original Glidecams, this is our pick for the best value Glidecam. If you’re looking for the best glidecam for the money, this one has an excellent price to value ratio. Some users have even stated that they thought the features of this product went beyond those of the original Glidecam HD line.
Rated at around 2-6 lbs camera weight, this is the perfect tool for DSLR filmmakers with a medium budget. It comes with a great carrying bag, and the company is noted for having excellent customer service. It weighs just over 2 pounds itself and has an excellent two section design that allows it to be extended anywhere between 16 and 26 inches for perfect balance.
The platforms at the bottom are a bit wider than other Glidecams, allowing you to rest it on the ground like a tripod/monopod-esque support system in a pinch. What it receives the most praise for is how easy it is to adjust. The knobs make micro adjustments really easy, a process that can take even hours on lower quality devices. Although it is very cheap, we can assure you that this stabilization system is good enough for you to do professional work.
So if we’re praising it so much why would you ever buy a Glidecam HD product over this one? It’s so much cheaper! Well, the main discussion seems to be that the Laing gimbal grips more, turning the camera with the handle. When compared to the HD-2000, it can be slightly less fluid. This creates somewhat of a flying effect that may even be more desirable to some filmmakers. All in all, this is one of our favorite products on this list, and it is definitely the best value in a Glidecam.
Best Budget Glidecam
Maybe you’re an indie filmmaker or hobbyist that doesn’t have over $400 to drop on a Glidecam. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. This device brings very competitive quality to the near-$100 price point.
The stabilizer is detachable for a more efficient carry, and it is very simple to assemble. It extends between 21 and 31″ to adapt to different camera weights, and is perfect for DSLR rigs weighing under 6 pounds. It even comes with a high quality handy carrying case. It’s made of carbon fiber and feels very ridged and sturdy.
There are some small pitfalls to purchasing this cheaper product. A very small sample of users have said it was very difficult to stabilize or balance properly. Many have had success with it, but it definitely lacks a level of consistency that we see across proper Glidecam products. They also seem to be more prone to breaking than the more expensive models, but that isn’t too common of an issue either.
Note: Don’t confuse this HD-2000 from the one with the original Glidecam brand. This one is much cheaper and geared towards home users. The similar name is probably to catch some unsuspecting consumers off guard. We’re still going to recommend it regardless because it’s a quality product that many people recommend.
2. Best Cheap Glidecam
If all of our other recommendations were still too expensive for you, this is the best one we could find at a much lower price point. Coming in at a staggeringly cheap price point of under $90, the IMORDEN carbon fiber s-60c is a very strongly reviewed Glidecam that is perfect for starters.
Like the Glidecam HD-2000, this stabilizer is designed for cameras between 2-6 pounds, and will likely be ineffective for anything lighter or heavier. Despite the low price, the construction is very rigid and high quality, with a carbon fiber shaft ensuring the Glidecam is no heavier than it needs to be. The tool by itself only weighs a little over 2 pounds, and it can extend between 15 and 23″. It’s a lot smaller than the more expensive options we reviewed.
Unlike even the most expensive offerings on our list, this one comes with a quick-release plate already attached, so you can pull it out and switch cameras with ease. Its small size means that you can use it with small DSLR setups, and even tiny cameras like cell phones and Gopros! This item is clearly optimized more towards the consumer market than professionals, and we mean that in the best way possible. This is the best Glidecam for sony A7s I & II users.
There are a few offerings that have a cheaper price, but the reviews were too inconsistent for us to recommend one of those. Many of these cheaper options are prone to defects or breaking or just poor performance overall. Of course the premium options from the actual Glidecam company will work the best, but if you are on a tight budget, IMORDEN seems like your best choice.
What Does A Glidecam Do?
Lets say you went all out bought a brand new DSLR, lighting kit and stabilization for your first indie production. Everything is going smoothly – literally – with all your still shots. You dismount your camera from your tripod for the big, long, Birdman-esque handheld shot, and it goes perfectly.
Then you review the footage at the end of the day and it looks like it was shot by an epilepsy patient at a rave.
If you want to shoot professional quality cinematic footage, you’ll need some sort of stabilization for your moving shots as well. That’s where the Glidecam comes in. The Glidecam uses a counterweight balance system to reduce jerky movements and bouncing. We talk about how this works in the section below.
Here is a sample video from YouTube that illustrates the effect that a Glidecam has on your footage.
How Does a Glidecam Work?
The first time you throw your camera onto a Glidecam, it’ll feel like magic. All of a sudden all your footage becomes so much more fluid and your Vlogs start to look like actual movies.
So what’s actually happening here? There are multiple factors contributing to the stabilization you get with a Glidecam.
First off, it makes the device a lot heavier. When you’re trying to hold something steady, you may notice that the lighter it is, the more likely it is to jiggle. This is due to a lack of resistance between the small slight movements of your hands. Heavier devices
The weight of the Glidecam helps, but isn’t enough to achieve motion. If it was, everyone would just strap a brick to their camera and start shooting. What ultimately makes it work is the balance system between the camera and the counterweights.
This design makes large movements very smooth, as the device swings similar to a pendulum. Using this pendulum in conjunction with the dynamically moving handle allows users to create “gliding” movements rather than jerky ones.
To a novice, there will be a noticeable yet imperfect improvement in movement quality. However, a more experienced user will be able to walk in a fashion that offsets every camera swing, creating perfect movements with no bouncing or jerking. It’s just as effective as a steadycam as long as you don’t need to run or move in crazy patterns.