What Is a Steadicam: A Quick Guide

What Is a Steadicam: A Quick Guide
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Everyone must have taken a shaky video at least once in their lifetime. Most cameras are so sensitive that they pick up every bit of movement that you make that you end up ruining the shots that you take! When that happens a lot, try getting yourself a device like Steadicam. Know what is a Steadicam and its benefits to the videos and photos that you take.

What Is a Steadicam?

A Steadicam is a camera rig that minimizes, if not eliminate, the jitteriness that you see in videos when you hold the camera with just your hands. It is uniquely designed to eliminate rolling and stabilize shaking. With the use of this tool, the operator can smoothly walk forward or backward without putting any jolts and shakes into the video.

This powerful device uses its weight to counterbalance the camera, thus obtaining smoother shots and professional footages.

History of Steadicam

In 1970, a producer and commercial director named Garrett Brown started working for alternative stabilizing solutions. This is to address the limitations on camera use over rough terrains and hard obstacles. He wanted to come up with a portable device that isolates the camera from the operator while improving the camera’s balance.

Brown’s goal of a simple yet remarkable machine came to life in 1973 when the “Brown Stabilizer” was introduced to the industry. This was later renamed as Steadicam.

Over the years, this stabilizing system has become a dynamic tool in the industry. New designs have been introduced to unleash endless possibilities. All of which are committed to supporting the need to produce high-quality films and videos.

Different Types of Steadicam


  • Adjustable and spring-activated using a foot pedal
  • Made with lightweight material allowing full 360-degree rotation
  • Extra stability and easy-grip functions
  • Comes in a sleek design

Handheld Camera Stabilizer

  • Uses handheld run-and-gun style for shooting awesome videos
  • Lightweight and compact to lessen fatigue and allow a longer focal length
  • Offers light and smooth shooting experience
  • Easy shoot of steady videos even while walking or running
  • Can be attached to arm and vest for effortless shooting even during long hours
  • Compatible for mobile phones and action camera

Gimbal Support

  • Allows conversion of motorized gimbals into video stabilization camera rigs, just like what professionals use
  • Equipped with arm and vest to transform gimbals into a body-worn stabilizer
  • Increases stability and provides tilt during footages
  • Capacity dependent on the weight of gimbals, arm, and vest used

Professional Film

  • Provides operators with horizontal stabilization
  • Easy and fast transition between manual and auto modes
  • Requires less to no balancing
  • Weighs less than a kilo for better stability

Benefits of Using Steadicam

  • Gives Smooth Stabilized Shots

This gives shooting a more dynamic and exciting approach. The shots being produced stay still and fluid despite any movements. You can freely roam around and change directions without worrying about getting shaky outputs. Using this device can give you limitless options and possibilities.

  • Easy Mounting on Vehicles

Real life vehicle shots are highly attainable using this tool. It is small and steady enough to be mounted even on confined spaces such as vehicles.

During driving, the camera is completely stable to provide you with a good eye view. Mounting at the back of the vehicle also guarantees good results.

  • Space-saver

Steadicams are flexible and portable enough to fit spaces. Unlike other devices, you don’t need a track to change directions and move freely around objects. You can virtually bring it anywhere without worrying about the quality of the output.

  • Easy Adjustments and Operations

Setting-up and balancing of the Steadicam require only a little time. You can easily tweak and adjust the settings depending on your required conditions.

Additionally, you can achieve the best and steady shots on your own. The only time that you will need assistance is when walking backward or shooting on steps.

When to Use a Steadicam?

The Steadicam can be used in the entire film or production. However, some shots look fantastic when the normal conditions are used.

There is always a right time and place to use your system stabilizer. Generally, this occurs when you track the movements and pacing of the actors giving audiences a total scene immersion.

Who Can Use the Steadicam?

The use of Steadicam is for everyone. You don’t have to be a professional to enjoy the shots produced by this stabilizer system.

If you’re really into this hobby and are willing to shell out some money, then you can start looking for a model that fits your needs and start your journey on photography or cinematography.

How to Choose a Steadicam?

The most important factor in choosing a Steadicam is the weight of the camera and its accessories. Using a unit that doesn’t fit the load can result in poor performance.

In determining the load, consider doing the following:

  • Remove the battery of your camera. Your Steadicam has a battery to provide its power.
  • Determine the weight of your camera with all its accessories.
  • Follow the load guide to determine the appropriate Steadicam model.

What Is the Cost of Steadicam?

The cost of Steadicam system may vary depending on the model. Small lightweight units cost around $400 while the top-of-the-line can reach up to $60,000.

Other Important Points

  • Proper Care and Maintenance

Maintaining your Steadicam requires constant checking of the parts. The rigs should be properly placed in its position. Make sure that the screws are completely fastened and locks are properly closed. Check if the mechanism has enough amount of grease. The cushioning should not show signs of tearing off.

If anything unusual is observed, then it should be properly addressed and immediately given attention.

  • Troubleshooting and Repairs

If problems are encountered, then read the instructions manual and carefully follow the troubleshooting procedures. Otherwise, seek professional help for better guidance and assistance.

  • Parts and Accessories

Genuine parts and accessories for your Steadicam are available. You can select from the wide array of choices to enhance its capability and improve its aesthetics. Some of the most common additions include batteries, bags, covers, mounts, screws, and straps.

Be sure to test the replacements and that they meet the standards to maintain the toughness of your Steadicam.

Final Thoughts

With proper knowledge on what is a Steadicam, you’ll be able to determine which kind is right for you. Try to ask the experts about the available models and their capabilities. A good rig will add life to your projects instead of making them look lousy.

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