If you want to keep you GoPro footage smooth and steady then the Came-Action gimbal may be just what you need
From travel to extreme sports, GoPro cameras have quickly become the go to cameras (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for many people. However, depending on what you are doing, it can be tricky to keep the footage steady.
There are numerous ways to stabilise your GoPro camera, but the latest gadget is a stabilised gimbal. In short these device have a motor on the pitch, roll and tilt axis that can counter any shakes or slight movements.
We have recently reviewed a very large 3-axis gimbal, the Came-TV Single. This is a larger device that can support around 1.2kg, so can hold the likes of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera, the Panasonic G series and Sony’s A7 series cameras.
Features, Build and Handling
The Came-Action gimbal is very similar in its design and operation to the Came-TV Single, in fact it is virtually identical. It has a thumb joystick to move the GoPro Gopro4/ Gopro3+/ Gopro3, XiaoYi Sport smoothly, whilst a button on the front switches between 3 different modes. Tap the button once and the camera will be in follow mode, where the gimbal motors mimic the your moments, but making them more steadier. Double click the button and the tilt and roll motions will be locked, so the camera will remain perfectly level with the horizon, but will still follow any side to side motions. Finally three clicks of the front button activates a complete lock mode, where the gimbal motors counter any motion on the 3-axis, effectively locking the orientation of the camera.
As the Came-Action is only designed to hold the weight of a GoPro camera it is far smaller than the larger Came-Single. The handle is cylindrical, with 3 rechargeable batteries fitting inside the handle. Oddly the Came-Action charger holds 2 batteries, and 4 are supplied, so you should always have an extra charged battery kicking around, though as they should all discharge at the same time and you shouldn’t really mix different charged batteries, it is an oddity that is typical of some of these Chinese made products. I would suggest buying an additional 2 batteries, which should be cheap enough.
Also somewhat strange is the fact there is no on/off switch. Instead the screw wheel that removes the end to insert the batteries must be screwed fully to press against the batteries, which completes the circuit. So it is a half twist of the wheel to power on, and half twist the other way to power off. It is quite primitive, but it works.
The GoPro itself fits neatly in to a clamped cage, and it is simple enough to remove when needed. The clamps are held with bolts that can be easily loosened by hand, so no special tools are required. There is also power lead that neatly can connect the GoPro to the Came-Action’s own battery power supply, which adds additional power to the life of the GoPro, but will impact on the life of the internal batteries. Generally in continuous use you should get over an hours life from Came-Action’s batteries.
In use the Came-Action was a good size and weight to carry around all day, and it does have some nice touches, such as the 1/4” screw thread on the bottom. This can be used to attach the included strap, or you can attach a monopod to create huge sweeping shots high above your head, or for getting shots lower to the ground without breaking your back.
The Came-Action gimbal is very straightfoward to use, and except for the front button and the rear joystick there is little in terms of buttons on the device itself. There is a USB port that allows you to use software (not supplied) to control the speed and default settings of the various motors, but it is recommened that you don’t ever use this and leave it in its default settings.
As I said, the device is very easy to use straight out of the box, and having previously use the much larger Came-TV gimbal, I had no problems with getting started. The Came-Action is lightweight and reasonably comfortable to hold for long periods, though with it being metal I would recommend a pari do gloves in the winter.
With the device designed specifically for the GoPro 3 and 4 series cameras, and their clones, the camera balances extremely well with the motors never having a problem countering small movements. One thing that you do have to not is that when shooting extremely low angles, with the the handle at 180 degrees from its usual position, one of the motors can creep in to the corner of footage when teh GoPro is set to its widest setting. It’s best to avoid this extreme angle by attaching a monopod, extension pole or selfie stick at an angle that is like walking a dog. Or alternatively switch from the extremely wide to medium angle setting on the camera.
The resulting footage is very stable, though when walking naturally you can still see a slight bounce from steps. A more considered gait reduces this further, but I found that for footage that looks like it has been shot on a dolly or wire using the Warp Stabiliser, or similar tool can help. In the side by side video I set it to Smooth Motion, 95% Smoothness and the Method to Position. The result is that all of the slight bouncess are all but completely removed, with very minimal cropping in of the frame. If you are shooting in 4K and downsampling then this is will produce beautifully smooth 1920 x 1080 footage, as will shooting at a 2.6k resolution.
Other movements are smoothed out nicely, with pans and crane-type shots being extremely fluid. It performs in a very similar manner to the Came-TV Single.
If you have a GoPro then you would have no doubt tried numerous ways to stabilise and support your camera. There are many solutions available that use a simple counterweight to stabilise the camera whislt you are moving it. However, for the sheer control that it is offered by the Came-Action 3-axis Gimbal it beats all of these device. It isn’t perfect, and the deisgn is functional and industrial, rather than the sleek design and impletmentation of the DJI Osmo. That said the results speak for themselves, and teh footage is well stabilised. With the addition of a slight digital stabilisation in post-production and you can get footage is super steady, so it is worth shooting at a slightly higher resolution than the final output to accomodate this.
Many thanks to Cine Gear Pro for the review sample