A brushless gimbal on your shoulder: is Shape’s iSee system the answer?

By site editor Dan Chung:


Shape this week published a video showing a working prototype of a shoulder-mounted brushless gimbal design. It is comprised of one of the company’s shoulder rigs with a special bracket that mounts the original iSee grip-style 2-axis brushless gimbals for GoPro, or the new iSee+, which will take cameras like the GH4, a7S, BMPCC or iPhone.

Shoulder-mounted brushless gimbals aren’t new; we previously reported on the much larger Gimbalgunner, which can carry cameras like a RED with a sizeable lens on your shoulder. Our friends at HDvideoshop in Berlin also made the short video below showing how they mounted a gimbal to a Lanparte shoulder rig:

The Shape solution does seem quite elegant and much simpler to set up for the end user. One clever part of the design is the use of Shape’s rotating quick-lock handles to allow rapid changes to the way you carry the rig. You can quickly move from shoulder-braced to handheld setup in moments. Not having to reconfigure to go from one to the other will be a godsend for solo run-and-gun shooters if the system works well.

The Shape iSee+
The Shape iSee+

Being a 2-axis design, rather than the now common 3-axis, did limit appeal of the original iSee GoPro model. When we tested it we found it wasn’t as smooth when used for walking shots as some other gimbals on the market. It will be interesting to see how this new model compares and how the imagery from a 2-axis design coupled to a shoulder rig will look.

A common issue when using brushless gimbals relates to focussing or changing exposure while shooting. Any attempt to adjust a lens by hand or rotate a variable ND filter is prone to vibrations. When the camera and gimbal are mounted on the shoulder I would want to be able to focus the lens constantly. The only way this can currently be done is to use some kind of wireless remote focus system. These are often expensive and their weight prohibits use on smaller gimbals like the iSee. The Aputure DEC or new MTF Effect3 remote controls may have options, but I’m not sure if they will be light enough even if power supplies are mounted elsewhere on the rig.

The iSee+ on its own is due for release very soon and is already available to pre-order on the company’s webstore for CAD $799. These are the specifications:

• Ready to use with several preset calibrations included, no need to recalibrate or download software
• Bracket with ¼-20 screw to fix the camera on the gimbal
• 5  ¼-20 threaded holes on the handle for attachment
• Tilt up and down control joystick
• Push button technology for different handle angles
• 2  LP-E6 batteries

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