The most stable solution to video making
Image courtesy of Go Pro
Action Cameras – the choice.
There’s a huge range of action cameras out there, now, and some are fairly inexpensive, while the major issue of stabilisation remains the bug bear of all vloggers. However, the GoPro series is still the daddy of them all. But is the latest offering – the Hero 6 – worth the cost?
As Digital camera world says ”you could save 50% if you’re happy with basic video without image stabilisation or any fancy new tech.”.
The Hero 6 is impressive, but what seems to set it apart is the image stabilisation. Watching two sequences, filmed from a push bike with both Hero 5 and Hero 6 cameras on the handlebars, the difference in image quality is vividly demonstrated. The Hero 6 seems to float in mid-air, (starts at 78 seconds in) so good is the image stabilisation system and, as any action-cam user knows, steady footage is hard to get at the best of times.
Image courtesy of Go Pro
Users only give the Hero 6 more than 4 stars in 65% of reviews, but often it’s what the more critical reviews say that matter. One observation concerned the Hero 6’s tendency to shut down when filming in the tropics. Other users, however, disagreed, one saying “I have experienced no crashes and I have recorded 128gb of data in soaring temperatures upward of 35 Celsius, and underwater etc. If your camera is crashing it’s almost certainly an SD card issue.”
That apart it’s worth returning to the burning issue of video cameras in general: stabilisation. As any video camera enthusiast knows, what seems smooth when being filmed walking through a theme park can appear horrendously jarring once back in the editing room.
There’s a growing range of camera stabilisation solutions out there, ranging from £6000 to £100. GoPro’s own solution – the Karma – is excellent while the battery has any power in it, but it provides only around 90 minutes on a single charge, the battery can’t be swapped out and the recharge time is around 6 hours.
On the other hand, the Removu S1 Gimbal stabiliser has a swappable battery pack, lasts longer and costs less.
Other manufacturers make stabilisation mounts but the good ones aren’t cheap, and the cheap ones aren’t that good – with the Go Pros, anyway. This is where the Removu S1 exceeds
Image courtesy of Amazon
expectations. The footage is smooth and it enjoys 86% 4-star or higher ratings on Amazon. It’s £290, so not exactly cheap, but users seem remarkably happy with it. Alternatively, Removu also make the Removu K1, which is an all-in-One 4K Video Camera and Stabiliser thus saving the need to even have a camera.
And this introduces another aspect of vlogging: obtrusiveness. In some environments – museums, theme parks and so on, carrying a large camera and bulky stabiliser rig is simply not acceptable. The Walt Disney company, for example has instituted an outright ban on ‘selfie sticks’ over safety fears: people do the silliest things, and so the era of the action cam hasn’t come a moment too soon. And with the reduced size and weight of an action cam, the need for a bulky stabilising rig is also removed.
Taking everything into account, then, if what you’re after is smooth, professional and cinematic looking video that’s also discrete and easy to use, it would seem that the best you can get is the Go Pro Hero 6 with the Removu S1 Rainproof “Mount Anywhere” 3-Axis Gimbal with Detachable Handgrip and Wireless Remote Control. All told this will set you back around £680 but the reward of easy to shoot, easy to use and reliable movie-making will more than compensate.
I’ve been using the GoPro Hero 6 for two weeks, now, and the results certainly justify the outlay of £399. With or without the Removu S1 results are infinitely better than I would have expected, and certainly than my old 4K Sony video cam. But with the Removu, results are little short of spectacular. Given that the Removu allows for the removal of the handle so it can be carried in any GoPro mount on the person, it really is astonishing value.