Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ikan Beholder 3-Axis Gimbal - 180 Review

There are few products I use regularly, and the Ikan Beholder 3-axis motorized gimbal is one of them.  Hurricane Images Inc. recently shot a Fremo EVO commercial with it, and it was put to extensive use in Jaz Danz’s music video for “Justify My Love.”  
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I purchased the larger EC1 model, even though my camera is well below the specs of the cheaper DS1.  Essentially I wanted both the ability to attach heavier lenses and upgrade to a larger camera and the EC1 can balance a 4.5 pound rig.  I wanted my gimbal to be able to grow with my kit.  However, I’m not sure if it was worth the extra $350, so weigh your options carefully.

The wide handle base helps with balancing the Sony A7sii.  You can set it on a table and quickly adjust.  The knobs are easy to find and turn.  Most importantly it does an excellent job of keeping my footage steady.  The Beholder rarely jitters under stress.   I’ve yet to run out of battery, even on the EVO commercial in which used the Ikan exclusively for 4 hour shoots.  I don’t have an estimate on battery life because I’ve yet to run them down.

There are some limitations. It doesn’t work so well with larger lenses because you can’t slide the camera back far enough to find the center of gravity.  Also, you can’t charge the batteries and use the unit at the same time, even if you have a spare set of batteries.  You need to buy a separate battery charger.  The design of many of these motorized gimbals make it difficult to see the screen, but that’s not unique to the Ikan.

Having used it on roughly a dozen shoots, I've become aware of how the "feel" of gimbal/steady-cam footage differs from sliders.  Sliders have a precision that is mechanical in their otherworldly texture.  Gimbals feel more organic, like an otherworldly creature is behind the camera.  Handheld-- done properly, feels human.  $900 is a lot to spend on a piece of equipment, but this is one product I use constantly and it can drastically increase your game.  I've tried cheap, non-motorized equivalents, and they just aren't consistent enough to use on a professional set.  The Ikan Behold gimbal review... worth the money. 

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