Back in 2006, we put together the setup that allowed us to take hands-free digital video while hiking, we called it the AdventureCam. Back then, we had to use a small backpack to carry all the pieces. Over time, we pared down the pieces and managed to pack everything into a small hip pouch.
A decade later, everything that used to be in our pack then now fits in our pocket, runs longer, and at a higher resolution. The ultra-portability and “good enough and getting better” picture quality have dramatically changed how amateurs and some professionals take action videos.
While “shaky” video is often the identifying mark of “authentic” footage that many videographers have used with great effectiveness, sometimes a less jarring capture is desired. That is when video stabilizers can be a huge asset. Rigs like SteadiCam and others have been available for the pros, but amateurs using smartphones and GoPros have been out of luck…until now.
The SP1+ and GP1+ stabilizers from WenPod are designed specifically for smartphones and GoPros, and can make a big difference in the steadiness of footage captured while on-the-go, especially when using smaller video cameras. Both the SP1+ and the GP1+ use intelligent active 2-axis stabilization to keep the device level and steady regardless of how vigorous the camera is being moved about.
Both stabilizers have the following features:
- Brushless motors for quiet operation
- Gyroscopic stabilizers
- 180º tilt capabilities
- Li-Polymer rechargeable batteries
- International power adapter
The WenPod GP1+ is designed specifically for the GoPro action cams. The housing is made of aluminum and sized to fit GoPro’s Hero 3, 3+, and 4 cameras.
The cool feature of the GP1+ is the built-in rotatable 3.5″ LCD display. This lets the videographer see exactly what the GoPro unit sees; no more guessing. The camera communicates with the display via the USB plug in the corner of the frame.
The GP1+ also has a replaceable Li-Po battery pack. The battery is housed in the handle and adds stability to the overall feel of the unit. Also included is a power adapter with interchangeable prongs for use in different parts of the world, great for international videographers.
The grip of the WenPod gimbal is very well thought out. It is comfortable and all the buttons are within easy reach. The power button is within easy reach of the thumb and the index finger can easily work the front button which adjusts the tilt of the camera. If we could add one feature to the GP1+, it would be to have an adjustable mount so it would also fit other action cams. Still, for use with GoPros, this grip is pretty much perfect.
While the tight integration with the GoPro cameras is nice, it obviously limits the versatility of this gimbal. WenPod’s solution is to design one to work with a video camera that most people already have, their smartphone!
The WenPod SP1+ works with a variety of smartphones. The limitation is really the size of the phone. If it can fit between the clamp, then the gimbal can probably be balanced to work with it.
The grip on the SP1+ is quite strong and will secure the typical smartphone without any slippage. Included is a counter-weight specifically designed to fit over the end of one of the gimbal joints. The weight can be moved along one axis to help balance heavier phones (like the iPhone 6+ or the Samsung Galaxy) on the gimbal. We have the iPhone 6+ and can confirm that it does fit the SP1+.
Balancing the iPhone 6+ on the WenPod SP1+ is a simple matter of sliding the phone in the grip and finding a point things are level. Once achieved, hitting the power button will activate the WenPod auto-align mechanics and keep the phone steady in space regardless of the movements of the handle. Very cool to see in action!
Here is a video we took at this year’s New York International Auto Show using the iPhone 6+ mounted on the WenPod SP1+. It was a lot smoother than if we shot it by hand without the aid of the gimbal. However, the phone did push the limits of the SP1+ as it did randomly go wacky on us. We are pretty certain the smaller iPhones will not have that problem. We will try the the SP1+ with a few other phones and report back later in the year.
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