Are your videos steady?

by planetmitch12 Comments

I've been paying a bit of attention lately to video stability… both from the 5D mk ii and in professionally done movies. Stability is all over the place! And, a lot of it is style. Turns out, you can do just about anything you want, but you have to at least pay attention to it. My wife and I watched a movie the other day, I think it was “Rachael Getting Married”, and it was intentionally shaky… and it drove us nuts.

So, what about with the 5D mk ii? It can be shaky or steady, but that's up to you. There's a variety of resources and tools to help you improve on the steadiness of your videos.

I'm noticing that wide angle lenses don't show much shake. Friend of the blog Dave Shepherd (of Five Giants Studio) sent us this clip where he is scooting around a parking garage on a longboard and is using his 5D mk ii with a 15mm f2.8 Fisheye and a Rode Stereo Video Mic (see the image at the top of the article to see Dave with his camera and mic)

Then, there's the normal kind of shooting that people do without an IS (image stabalizer) lens. This example from Andrew Kraker is a very nice little engagement shoot, but as Andrew pointed out “The shaky video was my fault. No stabilizer and a 70-200mm lens is not a good idea with video.” It isn't obnoxious to most (and the couple probably won't even notice) but I think most of us would like to eliminate this kind of shake.

Cheryl and Jonathans Engagement from Andrew Kraker on Vimeo.

So what about tools to help you with this?

One idea I use is to wrap the camera strap around your neck and hold the camera taughtly out from your chest giving some more support than just handholding. It gives one extra little bit of help holding the camera stable. I first saw this on the Bebb “Fusion” ad.

Of course, you should be using IS lenses if at all possible. The downside of course as we've all learned is that the IS motor sound is picked up by the internal mic, so if you plan to use the audio from the camera, you'd better get an external mic. Here's a video that I made the day I got my 5D mk ii. It was done with an IS lens – the ‘kit' 24-105 f4 L. You can see it is pretty good handheld… but obviously, I didn't keep the audio.

You can also do some smoothing in your editing software if it has that capability, but you should know that it sometimes comes with a cost… iMovie 09 for example can do stabilization, but over use can create a ‘jelly' like look so be careful and learn how to adjust the level of stabilization that is applied.

You can also go whole hog and buy (or make) a ‘steadycam'. Here's Cloud Nine Creative's (a wedding photographer) sample of a 5D mk ii on a Glidecam:

Here's another sample of a GlideCam 2000 done by Stephen Alvarez:

Other resources:
You may not need a steadycam for everything. I've been experimenting with using my monopod to act like a steadycam for a while and it can help… not perfect, but it may be good enough to get you thru the session. If you want a whole bunch of references to steadycam rigs and how to use them, check the steadycam section of the wiki. You can also look at tips on monopods and tripods in the wiki as well.

There you go, lots of ideas and tools to help you learn how to stabilize your videos (if you want them to be that is LOL)

UPDATE 3/23/09

Benjamin Ellis has a nice interview with Tim Vetter about his homemade steadycam rig – read Benjamin's blog post with more info as well!

A Canon 5D Mark II Video Set Up from Benjamin Ellis on Vimeo.

Tim Vetter's home built rig.

This video was shot with the Canon 5D Mark II, hand held. The video was pulled into iMovie 09, to crop and down scale it (about 1/4 the size of the original file).


  1. Pingback: Five Giants Mentioned on Planet 5d « Five Giants Studio

  2. 5D MKII + DIY steadycam merlin (stabilizer steadicam 5DMKII)

    “Just a quick word…
    It is a first test of my DIY camera stabilizer, specialy designed for the Canon 5DMKII + 16/35 2,8 L. Low cost but High quality smooth moov ! Steadicam Merlin was toooooooo expensive for me !

    Special gimbal design seen on youtube by WSCLATER. (Skateboard ball bearing and universal joint)…
    Really easy to made for less than 60$, a little time and very few tools !

    Please add your comment and feels about footage, so I could work to improve the design. I could work on a video tutorial as well.”

  3. Pingback: Tony Eckersley » Blog Archive » Shooting movies with the Canon 5D mark II

  4. Great post. Here’s another tip I learnt the hard way . . . pay attention to the video bitrate you use so you retain the visual quality you want but don’t make your visitors wait while the video buffers. Not the case here, but hope this helps others.

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