Glide Gear Geranos – 3-Axis Full 360 Degree FIlmmaking Stabilizer – Basic Filmmaker Ep 197
Let’s take a look at the this crazy thing. The Geranos. I have way too many things going on right now to spend weeks testing something that may never get posted, so I am just going to go for it. The Geranos was supplied to me by Glide Gear. I am under no obligation to to say this is good or bad. I need more gear like I need a second butt. I don’t do reviews to get free stuff. I do reviews to show viewers of this channel things that may help them in their filmmaking. Next, I may break this into separate videos, but most likely I’ll go all-in with a really long video. If so, you’ll find time markers in the description to skip to each section of interest, but be sure to come back and watch the entire video, as you’ll miss some key points. Lastly, everything I mention will have links in the description to B and H, Amazon, and eBay if available.
Using these links to purchase something costs you nothing additional, and throws a few dollars my way to support the channel. You don’t need to use those links, and I won’t be offended if you don’t use them. Oh, one more thing. I’m shooting this on a light background, wearing light clothes, and I apologize if this breaks your head. I want to make sure you can see the Geranos, which is the whole point of this video. I realize a lot of people may want to rip this open and take it out for a spin when they get it. The only reason I can do a Quick Start version on this system is it’s a totally tool less balancing system and easy to balance. So here’s the short version. Open the case and charge TWO the batteries. Drop the batteries in the handle. Screw the handle onto the gimbal.
Mount your camera onto the plate. Adjust it forward or backward until the tilt seems stable. Tighten down the screw. If needed, micro adjust the tilt using this screw. Move the arm up or down so the camera doesn’t flop either way. Tighten the screw when done. Set the rotation using this screw. Adjust the arm until it doesn’t flop left or right. Tighten the screw when done. Hold it sideways. Using this screw, adjust the arm so this doesn’t flop up or down. Tighten the screw when done. Press the on button, and off you go. The Geranos has a lot of operational features you’ll need to know, so when you’re done playing around, come back for the rest of the video. I’ve never been a fan of these lower cost electronic gimbals. For a pro shoot, I’d use a much higher cost unit that is proven, and hire a person who is qualified and has experience.
I’d make sure at least one secondary unit was on hand in case of failure. This costs a pile of money. For the personal or low-budget shooter, I’ve never recommended these lower cost units. Although they seem to work, they always have their problems. Some take too much time to learn. Some need constant re-calibration tethered to a computer using special software written by tech geeks.
Some have finicky controls, and are too difficult to balance, needing special tools. Some have a battery life of 1-2 hours. Just about the time the person has figured out how to balance it, the battery dies and it’s time to recharge the unit or dis-assemble it and replace the batteries. Some are good, but the manufacturers themselves don’t support the product, don’t respond to requests, and make it a pain to get support or return faulty units. These and a ton of other problems have made me shy away from using or reviewing these these lower cost units. Normally, I would be more likely to suggest a non-electronic or mechanical gimbal, but these also have their problems.
Since you’re seeing this review, I have some really high hopes that this system will work as advertised. I’ve been given grief for not going over the tech specs of things I review. Fine, I’m going to geek out your brain. There’s nothing in this section you need to know, and I’m going to use all sorts of terms you may not be familiar with. This unit is a Zhiyun system which uses very high-grade magnetic encoders which are attached to each of the 3 pan, tilt and rotation motors. This allows the gimbal to sense minute changes to two-one hundredths of a degree and correct them. Each motor contains a 32-bit micro controller unit running at 4k hertz, handling 4000 synchronous cycles per second. It uses sophisticated algorithms to sense and adjust each gimbal independently to within one one hundredth of a degree of accuracy, within 1/4 of a millisecond. Each of these 3 motors have specially designed slip rings, mounted in such a way to give a full 360 degrees of rotation for the pan, the tilt, and the rotation, hence, a full 360 degree 3-axis gimbal.
The unit has built in wi-fi allowing remote control via a free smart device app, that allows you to remotely control the unit. The app also allows hands-free calibration, and firmware updates. It uses two types of lithium ion batteries, the supplied 18650 or extra purchase 26650. The 18650 batteries last 6 hours, and the 26650 12. The unit assembled with batteries weighs in at 1034 grams or a little over 2 pounds. It specifies an operating payload of 350 grams to 1200 grams, or 3/4 of a pound to almost 2 3/4 pounds. Suggested operating temperatures are 0-45 degrees Celsius or 32 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The joystick is multi-directional and allows switching between pan following mode, locking mode, and pan and tilt following mode. Lastly, the unit is designed to be used in inverted mode by simply turning it upside down. I hate unboxing videos, but in this case it’s important you know what you get. The Geranos comes with TWO items. This case, and this – the HORN. I’ve cover the HORN in a moment. Here’s the Geranos case. “WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM FOR A IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM RANT GUY” Nothing peeves me more that receiving expensive gear that doesn’t have a carrying case or decent bag.
Konova does it, Glide Gear does it, Rode does it, and more. I’ll won’t mention the other guys that don’t. If you’re one of the other guys, take note. If I just paid 500 or a 1000 dollars for your product, and it shows up in a cardboard box with nothing to protect or transport it. Now I have to go out and find a bag or case that fits. This tells me you don’t care about the purchaser, don’t care about their time, or didn’t do your homework.
Either way – It’s coming back at ya. Just saying. Here’s the Geranos case. As I said, nice solid protective case, which I really appreciate. I can throw this in a carry-on, backpack, trunk, gear truck, and have everything I need in a tidy kit. User manual. Some people don’t read manuals. In this case, it’s smart to read the manual when you’re dealing with almost $800 of equipment. Gilde Gear lifetime warranty. Also greatly appreciated. This is not just a card. I know they back their products, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this review. Here we have Lithium Ion batteries, TWO sets, thank you, each in their own case, thank you. Included battery charger and micro USB charging cable, and again, thank you. I hate when the batteries aren’t included, especially if they’re a special type. This unit is supplied with FOUR rechargeable batteries, two of them give you 6 hours shooting time. It also accepts 26650 batteries giving you 12 hours. This charger can plug into any USB outlet, and just to make sure I plugged this into my iPhone wall charger, and it didn’t blow up.
When you receive thus unit, that’s the first thing to do, charge the batteries. It’s takes an hour or two. This is a lens support and lens support screw, useful for longer lenses. This is the camera mounting screw. All of these pieces are metal, no plastic whatsoever, what I would expect from a higher priced unit. The Geranos itself comes in two parts. The handle has a 1/4″ tap on the bottom, handy for mounting to a tripod, slider, jib, and others, including the HORN.
More on that later. I appreciate the fine threads making it nearly impossible to mis-thread the unit. Here’s the brains of the operation. I’ll cover how to balance and operate this shortly, but first, let’s take a look at the HORN. By itself, the HORN can simulate a fig rig, and seeing how my Manfrotto fig rig costs almost $400, with the not included clamps, and not included carrying bag, it’s quite a deal. You can purchase the HORM separately for about $60 if you’re looking for something that can double as a hand-held stabilizer. Another interesting use is you can mount the HORN to a steadicam allowing two handed operation.
This chunk of sold metal allows mounting to a tripod, or anything really, and can be used to rest the rig in-between shots. It has a lot of threaded areas to mount lights, audio recorders, microphones, monitors, and much more. By itself, it does what a hand-held stabilizer should do, which is get your hands away from the camera for less shaky footage. This strap connects to the HORN, stabilizes the shot even more, and distributes the weight for less fatigue. At first I thought this was a gimmicky item to include with the Geranos, but quickly changed my mind when using it. This last piece allows you to mount the HORN, and the Geranos, to a steadicam arm and vest for long shooting days with little or no fatigue. It is quite an elegant all-around solution, and really rounds out the Geranos as an all-in-one solution for stabilization.
Frankly, I don’t see the need for my steadicam, as this system can get in really tight places and with the HORN, and can be handed off to another person with ease, such as through a window. The Geranos assembles in under a minute. Drop two of the batteries into the handle, this side up. Screw it together, and you’re ready to go. The batteries can be changed by unscrewing the handle here, or, unscrewing the bottom cap. A few people noted they would like something like a snap off cap, but I disagree. I like that these are finely threaded and can be tightened down, so I know nothing is going to move or wear out over time. This is stupid easy. You’ll want to pay attention to the first go round coming up. It’s a blow by blow explanation, and will apply to any other camera you plan to mount on the Geranos, such as light phones, and heavier cameras. After that, I’ll blow through a few more balancings without the explanation.
Here’s a typical camera. It’s a Canon 600D at 571 grams. With the camera, a 28mm lens, a battery, and an SD card. That’s about 900 grams or just under 2 pounds, well within the suggested max load of 1200 grams or 2 2/3 pounds. Most DSLR cameras will be in this weight range such as Nikon, Sony and Canon. I could max this out using something like this the 24-105 lens, a beast at 670 grams. The Geranos will handle it. One thing to remember. If you use a long zoom lens, and zoom the barrel in or out, you are unbalancing the camera a bit. I wouldn’t suggest it, as it’s harder on the motors, but I tried it and it worked fine. Typical stabilizer reviews recommend using smaller focal length lenses, such as a 28mm, and a max of 50mm, as longer focal length lenses exaggerate any movement and defeat the purpose of the stabilization. As long as the Geranos is balanced properly, it doesn’t seem to care. I’ve found the rule of thumb is, the longer the lens, the more carefully you need to balance the system.
And frankly, I’ve rarely needed to fly anything longer than a 50mm lens, especially if you’re using this type of DSLR which has a crop sensor, which means you’re effectively shooting at 80mm. If you’ve ever balanced a steadicam, your jaw will drop when you see how easy this is. The first thing you run into if you’ve never used one of these, is this thing moves all over the place when you pick it up. You might get frustrated at what to grab, what to adjust, and feel like you have a slippery snake in your hands. Don’t worry about it. Once you balance it a couple of times, everything will click, and you’ll throw a camera on here and balance the thing in a minute or two.
Do remember this: If you have image stabilization on your lens, make sure you turn it off. If you’ve got the gimbal doing it’s thing, and the lens trying to do it’s thing, they might conflict. The rule is – lock the camera down, balanced, and let the gimbal do the work. Here’s the steps to balance the Geranos. Step 1: Setup the Camera. Set the camera up as you’re going to be shooting.
Make sure you have a fresh battery installed, and take off the lens cap, If you have a flip LCD screen, you should open it if that’s how you will use it. It doesn’t matter what camera or lens you use, just balance as shown. Step 2: Mount your camera. Hold the Geranos in this position. Notice the tilt motor is to the right, and the rotation motor is to the back, Mount your camera using the supplied screw. I like to move it a bit back and forth to get it somewhat stable. You want it to easily tilt forward and backward, not fall. Don’t get crazy about it, as we’ll micro adjust the tilt next. If your lens is really long, use the included lens mount and screw. The lens mount and screw isn’t necessary for the Geranos, it’s supplied to support your lens on your camera. Step 3: Adjust the Tilt. The tilt is this action, the camera moving forward and back like this. Hold this back arm with tilt motor to the right.
Loosen this screw in front, and move the arm up and down. This arm can be a bit hard to move, and that’s on purpose. You want it to stay put. You want the camera to just kind of sit and not fall over. Don’t get crazy about it, just get it so you can move the lens into position and it generally stays put. If you have a problem, move the camera on the base plate a bit and try again. Make sure to tighten the screw when done. Step 4:Adjust the Rotation. Once you have the tilt set, adjust the rotation. That’s the camera moving this way, back and forth. You don’t want it falling to the left or right. Loosen this screw, and this arm will move in and out. Just keep moving it in or out, until the camera stays put a and doesn’t rise or fall on it’s own.
It can take some micro-adjusting, but after you do this a few times, it gets easy. Tighten the screw. Now adjust the pan. Some people also call this the yaw. Hold it horizontally, loosen the pan screw, and adjust this arm until the unit neither rises or falls by itself. Tighten the screw and you’re done. Don’t get into trying to micro manage this thing. Set the tilt, the rotation, the pan. The whole idea is to balance this so the motors in the gimbal can do what they are supposed to do and aren’t fighting gravity. Now that it’s balanced. it’s a good idea to check that all the screws are tight, especially the one holding the camera, you don’t want it falling off. At first. it takes a little to get the hang of balancing this. That’s usually because you’re not used to it or you’re being too particular. Let’s balance some other cameras and lenses in real time.
Here’s a Canon 600d, a 24-105mm zoom lens (670 grams), battery and SD card. That’s 1261 grams = pounds. Just over recommended max weight load. Here’s an iPhone 6 172 grams. RetiCAM Smartphone Tripod Mount – 153 grams Total weight, 325 grams, just under 3/4 of a pound. well within the 300 gram lower weight limit. Let’s see what happens when we totally ignore the specs and load the crap out of the unit. I want to see if this thing will balance or not. As a warning, I DO NOT suggest overcooking the payload, because you’ll put extra stress on the motors, and of course, they will wear out faster. If you overload and use it like that for weeks at a time, will it stop working? I have no idea.
Although it’s not fair to the Geranos, I do want to know if it can do it. I’ve got our DSLR camera at 571 grams. A battery grip and two batteries at 475 grams. The 24-105mm zoom lens at 670 grams.24 That’s about 2000 grams, a whopping 4 and a half pounds, way out of the max payload spec. Well I’ll be damned. Of course, all these balancing acts mean nothing if the Geranos doesn’t give us stable shots, which we’ll see later in our test shots. First we need to know how to operate this thing. You only need one thing to operate the Geranos. A hand and a finger. Grab the handle and press this on button for a couple seconds. That 3 second press is intentional, so you don’t accidentally turn it on or off when you didn’t mean to. The indicator light will rapidly flash yellow, showing it’s starting up, and them turn blue.
The blue light will intermittently flash 4 times meaning it’s fully powered. As you use up the batteries, the blue light will flash three times, half power, two times, quarter power, and when it is flashing rapidly it’s time to change to the other set of batteries. To turn the unit off, hold down the button for about 3 seconds, the blue light will rapidly flash yellow again, and the unit will power down. It’s easy to tell if the unit is off, as these move freely, as the Geranos is no longer in control. Oh, one word of caution. When you turn the unit on, make sure it is being held in your hand or mounted on something. This thing calibrates really fast, and you don’t want it spinning out on you. First time I did that, it spun out and fell on the floor, camera and all.
First, turn the Geranos on, It will take about 3 seconds and the unit… OK. Mental note. Do not turn the Geranos on without holding…it. Once the unit is on, it’s really as simple as walking with it, and twisting your hand to tell the Geranos which direction you want it to pan to. The faster you move your hand, the faster it pans. This is the default mode, called pan following, and will be the mode you use the most. The up and down movement, the tilt, will be locked and the camera will stay level, as will the rotation.
If you want to change the tilt or rotation while pan following, use the joystick. Clicking the joystick places the Geranos in one of three different modes. A single click swiches to locking mode. That means the pan, tilt and rotation are locked. Move the joystick up and down to control the tilt, left and right to control the pan. Clicking the joystick again will place the Geranos back in pan following mode.
Double-clicking the joystick will place the Geranos in Pan and Tilt following mode. In this mode, the roll axis is locked, the tilt and pan follow the direction of the gimbal. Again, clicking once returns the Geranos to pan following mode. If you wish to set the Geranos in standby mode, and saving battery use, click and hold the joystick down for 3 seconds. To wake it up, click the joystick again for about a second. By simply turing the Geranos upside down, you’ll be using it in inverted mode, convienient for shooting low to the ground or following somone walking. Simply reverse the action to return to upright mode. It takes a bit of finess, but all you need to do is flip it horizontally, and you’re good to go. This small HDMI plug allows you to hook the Geranos up to a computer for firmware updates, but I found a much better way to do that, which I’ll cover in a moment, when I show you how to control the Geranos remotely. Yeah, you heard that right. Remotely. Since the Geranos has been built by Zhiyun, you get the adavantage of being able to use the Zhyiun controller app.
Simply go to your app store and search for Zhyiun Assistant. The result may look like this. Don’t worry, it’s in English and free. Download it. Turn on the Geranos. Now run the app. Once the app finds the Geranos, click to connect and you’ll see this little heart. Let’s go to remote control mode. This offers all the modes of the Geranos and allows you to control the pan, tilt and rotation from the app. Also found in this app is a mintor, which shows whether there is any deviation in the three axis motors. In the unlikely even that has happened you simply go to the calibration screen and touch START CALIBRATION. After a while, the Geranos is recalibrated perfectly. It’s rare you need to re-calibrate the Geranos, which is a nice thing to know. Other similar units have all sorts of problems, such as having to calibrate the gimbals every time you run it, and real pain. Lastly, this fourth screen allows you to check if you are running the latest firmware for the unit.
That’s a real nice way to get updates and new features to the system as the Geranos evolves. Really, you’ll spend your time in the app using the remote control. I can’t express enough just how cool this is, and the endless possibilities this opens up for filmmakers. Let’s look at some random test shots. Don’t look for some awesome footage for my next commercial or music video. I shot these with only one thing in mind: Will the Geranos shoot stable footage or not. If it passes the test, THEN I can use this for something important. I see nothing wrong with these test shots, and in fact, it surprised me how well they turned out. THAT gets me very excited, as it means the Geranos works as I hoped, Now I AM confident I can use this in almost any type of situation, a few of which I’ll cover later in the video.
Two important notes: If you’re seeing any type of tilt or pan jutter, you need to watch the video on a different device, as I assure you, there was none on the original footage. Secondly, this unit will jutter and get weird, and the only time I found that happens, is your are severely overloading the unit, or more than likely, you didn’t balance it properly. This happened once to me, and I found I didn’t tighten down the camera screw, and lucky for me the camera didn’t fall off the unit. Just quickly re-balance it, and you’ll be good to go. The last reason you’ll get jutter is, if you try and force this unit to do something it doesn’t want to do. Let me show you an example. If I’m using the pan following mode, and I’m following something and I… flip this thing around it will get weird as it doesn’t know what you’re doing – it isn’t built for that. Just use it like a steadicam. Smoothly, twist it back and fourth. I’ve tested this, and it will go pretty fast. But there’s a point, where you get so fast… that motors and the unit gets confused, or sometimes they do, as apparently it’s not doing that now.
Here’s where I piss everyone off who has made videos showing you to bend your knees, take small steps, step gingerly, and all that. Steadicam tutorials, including mine, show you how to walk and step. Well, this is not a steadicam. It’s the Geranos. My advice with this unit, is don’t worry about it. Put some tennis shoes on, and just walk normally – the Geranos will handle it. It may be when you happen to walk or run you have a lot of “clomp”, for lack of a better term, so sure, learn to do it a bit better. But in general, just relax, hold the Geranos in your hand, and film away.
OK, when your aperture is set to something like 2, it’s really hard to keep things in focus. If you set it to something like 8 or 11, a lot more will stay in focus. If you don’t understand that, check out my very in-depth series about focus. I’ve had no problem using this at an aperture of 4 if I need to, which is what I filmed the cat with. Just set your focus to what you are following, and keep that general distance. Or, if you’re doing a “bring it into focus type shot,” set your focus to the end shot, and have the subject move to that spot, or move the Geranos to that spot. I didn’t forget about the HORN. It’s not just a gimicky thing, it’s very useful for a lot of applications. In fact, you may just end up mounting the Geranos permanently to the HORN when you find out how these two together operate. I had the idea that it would be cool to mount the remote control phone to the horn, and just operate it that way. Adding in an audio recorder and mic is nothing.
If your camera allows it, a remote monitor would also round this rig out nicely. I could go through a hundred different ways to use this, but what fun is that? Once you order the Geranos and mount it to the HORN, you’re going to do the same thing I did, which is think of about a hundred different new possibilities for shooting with this rig. I’m am not going to go through and show every type of application you could use the Geranos in, otherwise this video will be hours long and I’ll never finish it.
But, having tested and determined it does indeed get stable footage, here’s a few applications I see this working with. I can see this being used on a tripod quite easily. With the remote control from a phone, as long as your tripod is stable, I don’t see you getting tilt and pan shots any better, since you’re not using your hands. As you saw in the test shots, I mounted this on a mono pod and was seeing if I could do a cheap jib shot.
It worked out pretty well, and I used a really cheap mono pod knowing it would bend and warp as I was moving it, so I could see if the Geranos would handle that, and indeed, it did. The monopod also makes it stupid easy to walk and do low inverted shots, as well as very high shots. I will absolutely use this on a slider. I have some Konova sliders with motion controllers, and I don’t need to invest another $800 into a camera pan and tilt mechansim for the slider – I’ll just use the Geranos. A good jib like this can get you some pretty cool shots. Since the Geranos adjusts at the slightest movement on the jib, any worries about the camera or jib moving around is gone.
If you’re wondering about this cool jib, I’ll be reviewing it really soon. There’s almost an infinite number of ways to use the Geranos in your shooting, and with a little imagination, it can easily double for many of the gear items you might need all in this one small package. I was intensely skeptical when I read what the Geranos said it could do, and frankly, laughed when I got the package and saw the HORN. After just a week now, my opinion is: the Geranos and the HORN are an all-in-one simple system for any filmmaker needing smooth shots. Links to the Geranos, and all the gear I’ve mentioned in this episode are in the description below. I hope that helps, thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next time. Awesome. I have an airplane buzzing over thiis studio. Which has never happened before. Unbelievable..
As found on Youtube