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With impressive looking example videos and a relatively inexpensive price tag when compared to a MoVi or Ronin, the Kickstarter for the SteadXP has already blown past its fundraising goal. I wasn’t sure what all the hype was about until I watched their video with before and after examples.
In case you don’t want to head over to the SteadXP Kickstarter page, here’s a breakdown of what this product offers and what it will cost.
There are two versions, with one for GoPro Heros and another for other cameras, from DSLRs to mirrorless to professional level cinema bodies. The SteadXP@ works with GoPro Hero 2, 3, 3+, and 4 cameras, but not the Session. The SteadXP+ is built to work with any camera body that has the following:
an accessible flash mount (standard coldshoe),
a stereo microphone input,
and a clean video output (AV Out or HDMI).
You can also use SteadXP+ on professional cinema cameras, with several options how to ensure the synchronization (standard Genlock signals: bi or tri-level sync).
As of the publishing of this article, the cheapest available units were $157 and $257 for the SteadXP@ and the SteadXP+, respectively.
A question I found myself wondering was how they were able to achieve this seemingly magical motion correction without completely destroying the quality of the video through scaling and distortion? The video below tries to explain things a little bit but doesn’t go into too much detail.
After some digging online, I found this review by Dan Chung, and with a pre-production model he was able to run all sorts of tests and analyze the footage. His findings are quite telling and worth a read if you have time, otherwise I’ve paraphrased some of his notable points below:
• Any change of filter, lens, focus, or zoom will result in a need to re-calibrate
• The image is cropped to allow an area for scaling to smooth footage (not unlike software-based stabilizers)
• Best stabilization results come from shooting at higher speeds of at least 1/250
• The software does do an incredible job of stabilizing, but at a slight loss of quality
• You can’t record audio internally unless you’re on a camera with more than two audio inputs
So I guess the questions becomes this: Is it worth it to lose a little resolution and save a shot, or have a shot that is too shaky that ends up on teh cutting room floor? Not everyone can afford a gimbal-based stabilizer or a steadicam, and the small size and weight of the SteadXP means that it can be used in places the aforementioned items can not.
Personally, I could absolutely see this being helpful for when I’m shooting with a GoPro; I don’t typically need the audio, it’s usually very shaky, and a high shutter speed is the default. Losing a bit of quality on those clips would be fine with me if it meant more stable shots… I usually process them with a Warp Stabilizer anyway, and from the examples it would seem to me that SteadXP does a better job of smoothing footage.