Which video stabilization device is right for me?

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Glidecam 2000 ProSome readers have asked what kind of stabilization system I use when recording video. I often use the Glidecam 2000 Pro.

The Glidecam 2000 Pro is a less expensive alternative to a Steady Cam for those floating-type shots.

There are many types of video stabilization devices availalble, each with its own set of benefits and applications.  You'll want to think carefully about what types of shooting you'll be doing.

If you are considering a Glidecam 2000 Pro, it is likely that you were inspired by a certain type of shot that you'd like to be able to achieve.

I'll cover the applicaitons and benefits of this product, as well as some alternative stabilization methods you ma want to consider if this will be your first purchase of a video stabilization device.  

Hopefully this discussion will get you thinking about some specific goals you have for your video shooting, and how a stabilizer can help you achieve them.


What can you do with it?

The video below inspired me to get the Glidecam in the first place:


Here's the first video I made once I got my Glidecam 2000 Pro.  Not as cool as above, but a good start:


What about focusing?

The Glidecam 2000 Pro is well suited to both DV Camcorders and DSLR video.  DV Camcorders generally feature pretty good active autofocus.  These users will leave autofocus on.  DSLR cameras, on the other hand, generally don't have realtime continuous autoficus that works well for video.  It may be noisy, slow, or prone to hunting for the subject.  In any case, you have two options for managing focus with DSLR video:

  1. Manual focus.  You can manually focus the lense as needed.  Since guiding the Glidecam takes two hands most of the time (one to hold the handle, one to steer the direction), you'll need to release your steering hand.  This can be tricky, but if you plan your shots, and prefocus as much as possible before the shot begins, you'll be ok.
  2. Fixed focus.  You'll see in the both exampls above that wide angle lenses were used. A wide angle lens has quite a pronounced affect on the look, compotision, feel of the shot.  Choosing when a wide angle lens suits your shot can be tricky.  Lets set aside the general photographer/videographer question of, "When is a wide angle the right lense?"

    Aside from their impact on composition, the characteristics of wide angle lenses also play a big role in the depth of field (DOF) of your shot: the wider the angle of view, the greater the possible depth of field.  With a field of view of 10, 12, or 16mm, it is fairly easy to get a very large or even infinite DOF, with virtually all elements in the shot clearly in focus.  This means that using a very wide angle lens can potentially eliminate the need to focus at all!

    By performing a few simple calculations, you can determine the hyperfocal distance for your lense at a given aperture (more on this below).  By manually setting your lense to focus at the the hyperfocal distance, you can achieve the absolute maximun DOF for a given lens and aperture setting.

    Check out the links below for excellent online, iPhone, and Android DOF and hyperfocal distance calculators:


Below, I’ve included a summary of the Glidecam Pro with some pros and cons, as well as some alternatives.



Glidecam 2000 ProGlidecam 2000 Pro Hand-Held Stabilizer


  • $259.95


  • Amazing floating shots while moving or running, even over rough ground, or while at sea.
  • Impossible to duplicate with a monopod or with camera alone.
  • Very fun.
  • Ideal for walk-along or follow shots.
  • Flip upside down to get very low-to-ground walking shots.
  • Base and top unscrew easily from the shaft so the whole thing fits easily in a backpack or carry-on.
  • Camera can stand on the base like a short monopod.
  • Costs a lot less than the $469 Glidecam HD-2000.  The Glidecam HD-2000 is a mostly cosmetic upgrade to the Glidecam 2000 Pro.  It has minimal improvement to the gimbal, and the head-panel adjustment is a little quicker with the new knob layout. However, after your intial setup this will make little difference in your daily use.
  • If you get really into Glidecam work, there are body additional mount kits (pricy) that will take the weight off your arm.


  • Specialty item: won’t replace a tripod for many uses.
  • Doesn’t do double-duty for stills as well as a monopod does.
  • Becomes heavy to hand-hold after a relatively short time.
  • Requires careful balancing setup with your lens and camera.  However, once this is done, your settings stay, and you can snap your camera on in a second any time.
  • Takes a little practice to get used to it (30-50 min).
  • If your arm gets heavy, and you break form (i.e. hold by the shaft rather than the handle), you basically have a short monopod.  However, it’s much better than nothing.
  • You'll also need to get a quick release mount so you can attach your camera to the Glidecam. Check out Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter - $50.99



Glidecam 2000 Pro Setup Instructions - how to balance



For your first-time stabilization purchase, here are three alternatives to consider.  These are drastically different products, each which share a benefit or two with the Glidecam.  This is definitely a comparison of apples to oranges.

The idea of this comparison is to get you thinking about what combination of capabilities is most important to you in a stabilization system: mobility, that 'floating shot', fatigue-free shooting, paning, tilting?

Choose the solution that will get you the creative results you're looking for, and most importantly, will get you out there shooting more often!


manfrotoManfrotto 561BHDV-1 Fluid Video Monopod with Head

One alternative to consider for your first-time stabilization device purchase is a pro-quality fluid head monopod. The Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 is an excellent monopod specifically geared to video recording, and is in a similar price range to the Glidecam 2000 Pro


  • $279.95


  • Not a specialty item like the Glidecam: can be a viable alternative to a tripod for many.
  • Versatile for photos and video.
  • This is a super solid, pro quality monopod.  Unless you’re using a long lens (300mm or greater), you’ll rarely miss your tripod, and will love the extra portability.
  • Many museums won’t let you photograph inside with a tripod, but consider a monopod OK.
  • Fluid head allows for smooth pan and tilt during video.
  • If carried (off the ground), the added inertial weight will offer some minimal stabilization to video while in motion (nothing like a Glidecam)
  • Maximum height is 6.56' (200 cm) – awesome!


  • Minimum folded length is 2.5' (76.5 cm), pretty big … too big for most carry-on luggage or backpacks. However, it can still be strapped to the outside.
  • Only effective for stationary and panning shots. Does not benefit walking shots (but is better than nothing at all). 


Cowboy Studio MovieKit with Shoulder MountCowboy Studio MovieKit with Shoulder Mount

A second alternative to consider is a shoulder rig. While the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 offers stationary stability, and more all-around versatility than the Glidecam 2000 Pro, monopods simply don't offer the same mobility. If moving with the action is what you have in mind, a shoulder rig may be for you.  

Shoulder rigs for DSLR video can be amazingly over-priced, many coming in at the $800-$1000 range for what amounts to a couple of tubes and handles.  The Cowboy Studio MovieKit with Shoulder Mount is very reasonably priced at an entry-level $79, and can be adjusted in dozens of configurations. 


  • $79.95


  • Much more affordabe than other shoulder rigs. 
  • Can be confured in dozens of ways to suit your camera and application.
  • Has 1/4"-20 threads on the ends of each handle to accomodate additional accessories such as flashes, and microphones.
  • Allows fatigue-free mobile video stability for interviews, sporting events etc.


  • Not a tripod-replacement. You won't be able to get rock solid shots with this.
  • Won't help you get floating shots like a Glidecam will.
  • The locking knobs are of questionable durability.
  • You'll also need to get a quick release mount so you can attach your camera to the shoulder rig. Check out Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter - $50.99


Here is an excellent detailed review of this shoulder rig:


Gitzo GM2561TGitzo GM2561T Series 2 6X Carbon Fiber Traveler Monopod

A third alternative to think about is a more compact monopod. This strays even further from the Glidecam idea, and is less perfect as a video platform, however the Gitzo GM2561T is much more suited for travel than the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 monopod.


  • $206.50


  • Pro quality, but Weighs 1.1 lbs and collapses to 14.7” – a traveler’s dream. (if compact isn't a main factor, there are other options that exceed in other categories).
  • Fits in most carry-on luggage.
  • Versatile for photos and video. 
  • Many museums won’t let you photograph inside with a tripod, but consider a monopod OK. 



  • Not as tripod-replacement-worthy as is bigger brother above. Not as great for video.  However, for a tripod-alternative that can do double-duty and fit in a carry-on, this is pretty great. 
  • This monopod doesn’t include a head, which you need to purchase separately.  Not really a con since this is the case with most monopods.
  • Only effective for stationary and panning shots. Does not benefit walking shots.


    A fourth alternative is to get Glidecam, a Monopod, and Shoulder Rig (in that order)! My favorite option!


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