I get it. Sometimes you fly a stabilizer around and need to take a pause for a long static shot. These things can get quite heavy, so being able to stand on it's own could be beneficial for event shooters. Varizoom offers a Monopod / Stabilizer called the FlowPod (seen here), but when used as a stabilizer, it didn't really work out very well. Varizoom also makes a Crossfire Stabilizer (seen here) that doubles as a small Tripod too. None of them I think work very well, mainly because of the Gimbal setup they are using.
Wondlan also recently showed a Carbon Stabilizer that can be extended to work as a monopod, and they used a better Gimbal system like the Glidecam type stabilizers. I think they fell short a bit here because the sled was a little too small. If you think you need a stabilizer that doubles as a stand, here YouTube member NitsanPictures shows how it could be possible to modify your own with a Glidecam, and possibly even the Flycam by connecting to the 1/4" female thread under the post. It seems to work pretty good, but I think there are other Monopod designs that would make it easier to telescope when needed. [Thanks Nitsan] If you guys haven't seen a Glidecam Stabilizer in use, check out some of my old videos.
Yup, within the first few minutes the Steadicam Smoothee walked through the door it was laying helplessly in pieces on my workbench. As I suspected, it's quite easy to modify this little stabilizer. With a quick release adapter, a top stage that can be fine tuned Left/Right & Forward/Back for easy balance, and one of the smoothest Gimbals on the market, i'm calling this the 'Cheesycam Baby Merlin'. If you haven't seen how smooth the Gimbal is, check out the earlier video (here).
The original Steadicam Merlin will run you about $800 dollars (click here to see), and I know there's a ton of people who want something similar for their GH2 or Sony NEX5n cameras. With this DIY, you can have just about the same features for 1/5th the price! Here's how I went about the mod.
Peel Back the sticker at the base and you'll find a few small screws. Remove the metal plates inside so you can drill through the base.
I reassembled the base (without the metal plates) and then drilled through the center (almost center - oops). Using a 3/8" Drill Bit, I was able to stuff a 1/4 x 20 coupler perfectly inside.
On the underside of the coupler, I added a washer and 1/4x20 screw to keep it from pulling through the top. On top I added my weight bracket. You could use just about anything here, and my counterweight was at 13.6 oz. which is needed to counter balance the 5D Mark II + 50mm F/1.4 (2.6lbs total).
If you want to build your own counterbalance that can swing left to right, and allow you to adjust weights up or down, check out this little mock-up using basic off the shelf parts (below). An Eye Bolt will be at the top of your counterweight setup (attached to the base of the Smoothee). A threaded coupler will allow you to attach a long all-thread rod. You can use heavy washers on the rod and a pass-through thumb knob at the bottom. You'll probably need a second thumb knob above the washers to clamp them down. If you need to make it less bottom heavy adjust the weights upwards. If you need to make it more bottom heavy, adjust the weights downwards.
Click image for larger view
Or you could also start with one of these slotted metal Dual Camera brackets to build up your swinging counterweight system.
Dual Metal Camera Bracket
Not really a cost saving idea, but If you really wanted that finished look like mine has, then here's where I cannablized the lower counterweight bracket from.
Opteka Video Camera Stabilizer
For the Quick Release plate, I used a hacksaw to cut straight across and filed it down flat.
Drilled a hole down the middle of the QR plate, and added a screw underneath. I had to trim a bit underside to get the screw to fit.
There you go! A modified Steadicam Smoothee made into the Cheesycam Baby Merlin. A nice stabilizer with an adjustable top stage, a Quick release mount, Fine Tuning knobs for quick balance, and adjustable weights underneath with movement to counterbalance uneven weight.
Originally modified to use with my Sony HX9V or Canon S100, but sturdy enough to rock my Canon 5D Mark II + 50mm F/1.4 (2.6lbs.) This is a no-brainer awesome Stabilizer for all kinds of smaller cameras like the Micro Four Thirds, or Sony NEX5n / NEX-7 type cameras. Right now these little Smoothee stabilizers are on sale (click here).
Many of you have probably already seen this video. It was posted up over a year ago as Part 1 of 2. I know i've had my eyes on it for quite a while waiting for the follow up, but Part #2 of this project doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon. This one is based on the Gimbal Handle that is used on the Glidecam series stabilizers. There seems to be a million ways to make a Steadicam Merlin gimbal handle, but little ways to make a decent Glidecam type gimbal handle. In this interesting video, there's some really nice techniques in mounting several bearings into some cheap PVC making it into a full 3 axis gimbal. It's been a year already, and there's some really good ideas in here to just let this sit back without being tackled by someone. Since video #2 hasn't been released to follow up on this, i'm curious if anyone has attempted this DIY project, and how far did you get?