Using a Glidecam XR 2000

I decided to get a Steadicam system after being inspired by several short films (see end of the post). I already had a Hague Mini-Motion steadicam system, but it had severe limitations. Anything heavier than my Canon 550D and the kit lens (18-55mm) made it useless. So that’s going up for sale. Eventually.

I had a choice of Glidecam systems; 1000, 2000 or 4000. But it also comes in an XR series, an HD series and a Pro series. So that’s 8 different types of steadicam system (because there isn’t a 1000 Pro). Basically the 1000 version is for smaller camcorders, the 2000 is for D-SLR cameras and the 4000 is for bigger heavier cameras. Sort of. The XR is the original series and has a trickier top plate to calibrate, whereas the HD has a newly designed top plate and is quicker to calibrate. The Pro system seems to be older in design.

So I bought the Glidecam XR 2000. It seems the right style for my Canon 550D and the lenses I have. It was also within my budget, with the HD system costing over £100 more (which is basically for the top plate that’s easier to calibrate, and a different style bottom weight plate).

Within a day I was running around the house, pretending to film people walking through doors and around the place. I could flip the camera from one side of the room to the other with ease. But. I initially had a problem with the camera swinging back and forth in a pendulum motion. The term ‘pendulum’ is splattered across several forums, so I understood I wasn’t alone and that there must be a fix.

The answer was that the bottom section was heavier than the top. So I added one of the washer-type weights to the underside of the Glidecam top plate by putting it on the screw holding the camera onto the top plate, just to give it a little extra. The final addition of a quick-release plate may negate the need for that weight in the future.

Overall it works really well. A lot of forum posts have had people complain about the balancing and use of the Glidecam, and the answer to the majority of those posts is that you’ve either not balanced it properly or you’re not using it properly. Taking the time to balance it properly is a must, and if you’re serious about using this thing on a shoot make sure you assign time for calibration. Regarding ‘not using it properly’; small gentle touches are required. Not jerky sudden stops and flicks (unless that’s deliberately the look you’re after of course).

For some examples on balancing a Glidecam have a look here and here.

Here’s a peek at one of the many great videos that helped make the final decision:

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