Review: The Picosteady Video Camera Stabilizer

A couple of months ago we mentioned some info about the Picosteady. It was a project that came to life with the help of a very successful kickstarter. What you are looking at here is a camera stabilizer system that is priced well under that of much more higher end units. In my time with this unit I ran into some frustrating moments with this unit. More on that below.

 

Gear Used

For this review, we used the Canon T2i with 18-55mm kit lens. This is all that the Picosteady was really designed to hold.

Ergonomics

The design of the Picosteady is straightforward. Assembling it is nothing more than tightening a few screws here and there. What I do like is that the components feel really nice for the most part.  When I had received my unit for testing, it it looked like the paint would not hold up so well. This could all be something that could hopefully be fixed in manufacturing. The handle shown here, is a very solid and easy to hold. Some of the fittings like the brass mout piece for the unit above the handle looked really nice. The whole boom itself is solid aluminum.

Below the handle is where you mount your camera to the unit. Simply screw in the smaller thumbscrew through the mounting point into the 1/4-20 slot of your DSLR. In this case it was recommended that for DSLRs to use a Canon T2i. You can use a lot of smaller DSLRs or smartphones like the iPhone. A universal mount which is included with the Picosteady (not shown) can mount most smartphones.

At the bottom of the boom is where you mount your weights to counter balance whatever camera you are using. In the case of the T2i, all the weights were needed. Securing the weights to its bracket and to the boom arm was a simple turn of the small screws threaded onto the brass hand nut.

In Use

Using the Picosteady was, at times, frustrating to say the least. The 1/4-20 screw that secured the camera would become loose at times, and by merely rotating the camera left or right would cause the screw to become loose. Now, in a shoot it did not effect me per se, but a nagging feeling was always close to me when I was flying the unit.

The screws that mount the weights to the boom arm also would not stay snug. This was not nearly as bad as the camera mounting screw, but every once in a while I would have to retighten the screws because the weights would come back down.

The T2i is heavier in the right rear where the battery and memory card are. You must counter that weight by adjusting the weights to the left until you figure out if the unit is balanced enough. To figure out the pitch for the camera forward and back, you must loosen the camera mount screw and move the camera forward and back until you get what you want. But in my use, it’s honestly just better to keep the unit flush with the back of the mounting plate. Also, take note, the T2i will only work with the 18-55mm kit lens set to 18mms.

When I tried this unit with an iPhone, I found it a lot easier to use. It was light and did not cause me any hand fatigue.

Check out a small video I shot with the Picosteady and a T2i.

Video

Conclusion

If you are in the market for a camera stabilization system to use with a DSLR, I don’t think I could recommend this for someone. I like the idea of this unit, it’s promising. Yet, I felt the Picosteady just barely held the T2i. I wish I could mount primes as well. It’s a little limiting in that sense that you can only use very specific lens combinations with the unit. An iPhone user might see something good about this, as it is a somewhat  inexpensive alternative to  the Steadicam Smoothee.

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