Just a few months ago at NAB2014, Varavon showed off their new BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer. Pricing was estimated to be under $2K at release, but at Cinegear this past weekend they've announced a slight jump in price to now $2300.
So why the slight increase in price? Well as far as build quality, they've made some improvements along with upgrading the entire system with a 32 bit controller (instead of 8 bit shown at NAB). At Cinegear the final product worked amazingly, and you can check out the video below as they demonstrate it's stability. (note: handles on final version will be finished in black)
Compared to other products, the appeal of the Varavon Birdycam gimbal is the tool-less frame design in which you can easily dial in a camera's balance.
The top handle attaches via a standard divetail (quick release) to mount the gimbal to a jib, crane, or cable cam keeping you camera stable while offering options to operating Pan/Tilt remotely. The Varavon BirdyCam will also include it's own stand and a carrying case - a major convenience for any Gimbal.
Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer - PreOrders Save $300 off
I've seen quite a few gimbals at both NAB and Cinegear, and so far no other "Ready-To-Run" 3 Axis gimbal system capable of flying a 5D Mark III for under $2400 dollars has impressed me more than the Varavon BirdyCam.
Here's a bit of better news. Pre-orders are open now and first units should begin shipping on July 1st. All pre-orders will receive a $300 dollar discount, so you can still pick it up for the price quoted at NAB2014. For Pre-Orders and for more information visit the BirdyCam product page (found here).
Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer - PreOrder Now
I've finally had a chance to play with my new Birdycam. I put together some quick impressions in my video review below:
Hope this is of some use to people still deciding on which one to buy, or to those eagerly anticipating their Birdycams.
Mine just came in the mail today!
Will post impressions soon. It was well packed and the case it came with is really nice.
@Miguel A - Sorry, it doesn't appear that this would work with a BlackMagic 4K camera. You have to choose a different gimbal.
Por favor , necesito las medidas exactas y peso sin los mangos. Mi intencion es poder adaptarlo al multicopter S1000 de DJI con una Black Magic 4 k. Alguien lo intento?
@Miguel A - The handles can be removed, so if the copter can carry the weight, then it can be installed on anything.
Se podria montar en el S1000 de DJI
I know this item hasn't started shipping yet but I was hoping to get an idea of how much assembly is required. I'm looking to find good gimbals in this price range, and I'm trying to avoid a lot of assembly like with the CAME. Does anyone have any idea?
@ken - It has a standard dovetail (arca swiss) connection on top. You can get many different type of Arca Swiss clamps to connect it, but I guess you need a huge multicopter to carry the weight.
Can it be attached to a quad copter?
After operating a gimbal for 10 month now. I really see how this gimbal is superior over its competition. Any operator can appreciate the design that went into setting up the camera for balancing. sure carbon fiber is light and looks awesome but round shafts plan out suck for gimbals. they shift, slip, and move over time. having a rigged 90 degree plate design on the pitch, roll, and yaw make this ideal for easy reliable setup. Sure its more expensive then other gimbals. but you truly get what you pay for. and that's a solid stabilizer. that is going to be reliable one a full days production. i love my 3 aixs gimbal. its one of a kind but it has nothing on this.
@EMM....After purchasing the Came 6000 just two weeks ago, I am sending it back and I pulled the trigger on this gimbal. The fact that it can hold a Mark III and a GH4...its 32bit....and practically ready to go was enough for me. I just echo what others are saying .....thanks!!
You are the Obi-Wan Kenobi when it comes to camera accessories.
Keep doing your thing!!
@svem - I am in the middle of building my other 32 bit gimbal, trying to balance a Canon 5D Mark III and it kicked my butt yesterday. I spent several hours getting it tuned up (mainly because I don't know what i'm doing), but I finally got it working pretty good. To get the best performance, you really need to balance your camera on the frame perfectly.
The Pan axis is a very important part and if you are not able to get that aligned well, every time you tilt the gimbal it will swing a different direction. I am not that familiar with the C100 or the BirdyCam Gimbal to judge if it's the best fit. I would wait until the item starts shipping and see what we can find.
Here is info I got from Varavon:
- Birdycam holds up to 2.5kg(6lb)
- They are planning to release bigger gimbal for C100 and EPIC in about 2 months time. Expected price for bigger version is $4000.
The Canon C100 body is rated at 2.2lb(1kg). With Canon 16-35 f2.8 lens (1.4lb/635g) it would be weigh 3.6lb(1.6kg). So it can supposedly support the weight of a Canon C100 with lens but Varavon said the Birdy doesn't have the room on the frame to support a C100. They said they tested it with C100 but the height of the C100 was too high.
However, I am not sure if they tried it with the top handle unit or not?
There is a video on the Varavon Facebook page where I think they are testing a prototype version of the Birdy with a bigger frame on a Canon C300
So Emm.. do you think if the top handle is removed from the Canon C100 then the Birdy gimbal being released right now would be able to support it height wise on the frame? It seems it would support the weight.
I think I'm going to invest with this system I will be posting my Came-7000 for Sale on Amazon sometime next week I will include a Pelican Case and a Stand with it anyone interested let me know. It will include the original 8-Bit version I just ordered the 32bit version so I will most likely include that as well.
@Nahua - I have not seen how they tune the system, but my guess is that the tuning software is the same Alexmos as the other gimbals.
How is the tuning software? Is it the same as all the other Alexmos (including CAME)? I love the design, and how it adapts to a jib crane or wire cable. But I'm not sold on it until the software is easier to use. Thanks for all the coverage Emm!
Yeah that makes sense. OK, I really wanted to pull the trigger on this but now I might have to wait. The follow focus system is crucial to the project we are working on so if we can't make it work then it's a no go.
We really appreciate your input on this Emm. You're our kind of filmmaker...real.
@Michael Poole - It's not so much the weight as it is the balance. It's like adding a 5 pound camera to the front of a jib and adding perfect counterweight on the rear to make it equally balanced. If you can properly balance the camera on all three axis, the motors will require very little torque to keep the horizon level. The problem I see with your setup is that your center of balance is going to be far from a normal DSLR body. I have no idea if the Varavon platform has enough adjustments to support this change in center of balance. If I happen to get my hands on a unit, i'll try a few things out.
That's exactly what I was worried about Emm. We were planning on using it with a GH4 and some fairly large full frame glass. That's going to be front heavy to begin with and then adding a wireless follow focus on top might be a bit much. We can fabricate our own rails to whatever size we need and we can always add weights in the back to balance it better but I don't know what sort of weight these things can handle. You have a lot more experience with wireless follow focus systems; what sort of extra weight are we looking at here?
@Michael Poole - I think getting rails on here is going to be tough unless you have a very low profile set and short rails. The longer your camera is the more you have to push the camera backwards on the plate for balance. I'm not sure how much adjustment they give for this.
I would really love to know if this could support a Canon C100. The Varavon website doesn't seem to have a contact email?
Hey Emm, do you think there is a way to get rails on this system so it can support a wireless follow focus? Would it support the extra weight? If it can then we are getting this thing for sure.
Love your site by the way. We keep track of very few feeds but you are on our list.
Hello Emm, always on the forefront of useful info. Thank you. Would the bmpcc work on this? What lens combination would you suggest? Very tempting product I must say. Merci!
@Harry - Yes, very very nice GH4 cage. Easy to hold the entire system in your hand. I have a video just need to upload it.
Did you get a chance to look at / hold the GH4 cage? If so, how was it? Really eager to check one out.
@Alex Tails - That is because he doesn't have a follow mode on. There are some gimbals that will hang the camera upside down, and you have to just invert in post. Or you would disable that 'pitch' follow and flip it around like I was doing in my video. You have to rotate a few motors to get it to sit properly, but it will end up facing the opposite direction of the frame.
I took a frame grab from the video and what I noticed is when he demonstrates the gimbal in the inverted position, (handles up) so that the camera could be at the eye level position, the lens is completely blocked of by the camera stage. With that said, you can only hold that gimbal handles down word.
@Jon - The Gimbal can be used with the handles placed under the camera, other settings can at anytime be configured into the software. This is still using the Alexmos 32 bit configurations.
does this gimbal have any sort of "inverted" mode?? Also, do you know if extra battery packs are available??
@Alex - Can't say for sure until I try it, but the new 32 bit systems seems to be more stable regardless of weight. The 8 bit was a bit finicky, but we'll should start seeing more in the next few weeks.
@OldCorpse - For some projects $2K can easily be billed to the client, and then throw the gimbal away when you're done. Many companies can easily spend that type of money on just rental equipment. When these gimbals are setup properly you can move faster, recreate complicated shots that it would take several other tools, more money, and more crew.
In time we will see more players in this field giving us more options. For the average video person the pricing is still steep, but for filmmakers doing paid work with a budget these systems can pull off incredible dynamic camera movements and are well worth the price right now.
@Robert - If they show it with a BlackMagic then it's possible to carry the weight of the C100. The question is if it can physically fit and if there is enough room for adjustments to get perfect balance. I will try to find out more info, but at every show they typically just show it with Canon or Nikon DSLR bodies.
One more question. Will I have a hard time balancing a GH3 on this since it's a lighter camera than others like the 5d Mark II/III? Thanks Emm.
I've been watching these motorized gimbal stabilizers, because the concept is obviously very useful, but I always felt that we are still in early days and that many improvements will be rapidly made, and prices will fall. So far that has been true. At some point of course, it will reach a point of capability, ease of use and price that make it a must-have. That is the time I'm buying - I don't want to be an early adopter anymore.
Looking at this Varavon BirdyCam, I feel we are getting quite close. I still feel that some improvements can be made and price can come down a bit, to make it accessible to your average guy - sort of like what made GoPro take off with the mass market. You need to get to a price/capability/ease of use.
Emm, what is your feeling here? Are we "there" yet? Do you think many more things can be improved? Personally I still see a few, and I'd like the price to go down to something under $1K - like maybe $900. What's your take?
Huge fan and follower, any idea if birdycam could support a c100 I didn't see any weight specs on the varavon site but they have an image of a Blackmagic. I've been anxious to pull the trigger but the cost of the movi or defy units have held me at bay.
@pixcanfly - I have seen and tested it in person a few times. I'm sold on it. Hopefully I can get a unit to use for a longer period of time, but we won't know until after it starts shipping.
Thanks Emm. Are you going to review it? Waiting for your thumbs up before placing order.
@pixcanfly - This system comes ready to run, but it is still possible to tweak PID.
@Austin - I would say around 600 if you could piece it together. You will also need battery + battery wires, optional joystick, etc.
@Austin - I can't speak for everyone, but aside from the tool - less adjustment the system comes ready to run and fully built. A task some people will pay for. It also comes with extra accessories and the ability to easily mount to a jib, like a motorized pan head. It is $1K more, but if you need the extra features it can be worth it.
Also, if I were to buy the components individually (controller w/ IMUs, 3x motors, rods, etc), how much would it cost?
It seems like it would be around $400 - 600, correct?
Is the Varavon worth an extra $1000 over the Came?
The tool-less assembly is nice but I'm not sure it justifies the price.
@Pietz - Yes many new systems announced, but not yet in stores. This one is in preorder status and they say should ship in a few weeks.
If you have time you can build your own for under $1K, but it still will not have the same build and features as thisbproduct.
As far as Ready to Run systems under $2300, Varavon offers many features most other gimbal don't offer. They are actual manufacturers so they have an advantage to design their own custom parts. Other gimbals have to be built around existing parts from several manufacturers.
so many companies, so many gimbal systems. Emm have you made up your mind yet, which one you like most?
Do we need to mess with the PID?
@Alex - Adding anything to the top handle does not affect balancing. It is the camera platform below that requires balancing.
Does adding a field monitor to the top handle factor into the weight, thus the balancing?
Do you know if there are balancing instructions included?
@Paul - Not sure how much smaller these can get if you need room to swap cards, batteries, or access hdmi ports. The Silk is pretty compact barely enough room to plug in an hdmi cable but will only fly a GH4. Can't physically fit DSLR.
Unsolicited comment: I can't wait for these things to get smaller! There's an untapped market that these offshore manufacturers need to pay attention to, who are seeing a lot of wasted space in these designs and holding out for discreet portability. Not everyone needs ergonomic heft and therapeutic comfort to hold a steadicam for hours on end. Most "pros" just deploy for a few minutes to get a specific shot...