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Preliminary review: Guru 360, the first affordable stabilized gimbal for 360 cameras, is here!

GimbalGuru Moza Guru 360 stabilized gimbal for 360 cameras
GimbalGuru Moza Guru 360 stabilized gimbal for 360 cameras

The Guru 360 is here!  It’s the world’s first affordable stabilized gimbal designed specifically for 360 cameras!  I was very impressed with the preproduction version that I tested a couple of months ago, and now the release version is here.

FEATURES
360 videos need a level horizon to be comfortable to watch.  If the horizon is not level, then the video will seem to move in a different direction from the direction where one looks (or swipes), which can be disorienting and even nauseating.

A 3-axis stabilized gimbal can keep the horizon level as a camera moves.  However, conventional gimbals have pitch and roll motors that often block a large part of the 360 camera’s field of view.

The Guru 360 is the first affordable 3-axis stabilized gimbal designed for 360 cameras.  Its motors are almost coplanar and placed below the 360 camera, thus giving a 360 camera an unobstructed field of view, and giving the gimbal a narrow profile (at the nadir):

Compared to other 360 gimbals currently on the market, the Guru 360 is smaller, easier to carry, and is actually affordable to consumers.

Another advantage of the Guru 360 is that it is modular and its parts are interchangeable with those of the other gimbals in the Moza family, including this wearable mount:

COMPATIBILITY
The Guru 360 is compatible with 360 cameras up to 250 grams.  This is only a guideline, and the camera’s weight distribution is also an important factor.  For example, I was able to use the Guru 360 with the Vuze 3D 360 camera, despite it being about 450 grams because it has a low center of gravity and has a flat and very regular shape.

On the other hand, I could not use the Guru 360 with the Giroptic iO (70 grams) mounted on an iPhone 6 (129 grams) and attached to the Guru 360 via a tripod adapter.  The Giroptic iO made the phone too top heavy, and the Giroptic iO’s asymmetric design (the lens will be on only one side of the phone) made it too difficult for the Guru 360 to balance.  (I’ve been able to use the Giroptic iO with the Moza Mini-C.  Stay tuned for an upcoming video.)  UPDATE: I found a tripod adapter that enables the Giroptic iO and iPhone 6 to be attached to the Guru 360.  But you have to be careful with balancing the Giroptic and iPhone 6.

Here are cameras that I’ve successfully tested with the Guru 360:

– Giroptic iO with iPhone 6 and XSories tripod adapter (works better with Moza Mini-C).

– Insta360 Nano (with Nano Mount, not the phone)

– Insta360 Air with a Samsung S6 and a tripod adapter (works better with Moza Mini-C)
– LG 360 Cam
– MGCool 360 / Elecam 360
– Nikon Keymission 360

– Ricoh Theta

– Samsung Gear 360
– Kodak SP360 4k (single camera)
– Kodak SP360 4k Dual Pro
– Vuze

I will be testing other cameras as well.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX
The package includes:
– the Guru 360
– eight counterweights*
– an 18650 Li-ion battery
– a charger (you can also charge the battery by plugging the Guru 360 to a USB charger).
– the operating manual
– an adapter for the Kodak SP360 4k Dual Pro*

*These items differ from the preproduction version.

In the preproduction version, the counterweights had a chrome finish.  I asked GimbalGuru if they can change the finish so that the counterweights wouldn’t reflect light into the lens and cause glare.  GimbalGuru took this into account and in the release version, the counterweights have a handsome matte black finish that matches the finish on the Guru 360 itself.

The Kodak SP360 adapter is also new.  When I tried the Kodak SP360 4k with the preproduction version, the Guru 360 could not hold the SP360 stable for long or beyond a small range of movement.  The problem was not with the Guru 360 itself but because the dual bracket for the SP360 4k Dual Pro was a raised slightly and angled.  This put the Guru 360 off-balance.  With the adapter, the Guru 360 handles the SP360 4k as it were without any problems.

HOW TO SETUP
When setting up the Guru 360, you need to confirm that the gimbal is correctly positioned.  There’s a sticker that tells you which way should be ‘up’.

You then attach the 360 camera to the Guru 360.  I prefer to have the lenses facing toward the same axis as the counterweights, instead of perpendicular to them.  The counterweights are closer to the camera and will be less visible than the roll motor, which would instead be hidden within the stitch line of the camera.

I prefer to face the lenses toward the axis of the counterweights.

Finally, you need to balance the 360 camera using the counterweights.  Balancing the 360 camera will conserve your battery life and improve the performance of the Guru 360.

HOW TO USE

Using the Guru 360 is simple. You simply hold down the power button to turn it on or off.  The joystick controls the yaw and the pitch.  As with other gimbals, you should not release the handle, or else the handle will spin wildly.

Lock modes: You can also the press the joystick.  If you hold it down for about 3 seconds, it will stabilize all three axes, keeping the horizon level and keeping the camera pointed constantly in the same direction.  This is the most useful mode for 360 cameras.  I like to keep the camera pointed so that the sun is along the stitch line, which will keep the exposure and contrast even on both sides of the camera.

If you press the joystick once, it will stabilize pitch and roll, but leave the yaw for you to control (with some dampening), so that you can control the direction in which the camera is facing.  This is for shots where you want to to track a subject moving around (instead of doing it electronically in post).

If you press the joystick twice, it will stabilize the roll, and then dampen the yaw and pitch, which you will control.  This mode is not recommended for 360 cameras.


Horizontal mode:  If the counterweight can offset the weight of the camera sufficiently, you can use the camera in horizontal position.  Just lower the angle of your grip.  When you pass 45 degrees, the camera will switch to horizontal position.

Inverted mode:   If you lower the angle of your grip even further, then the camera will flip to inverted mode.  I haven’t tried it with a drone (I don’t have a drone anymore).

Here is a video showing the Guru 360 being used with the Vuze in upright and in inverted modes:

PERFORMANCE
Here is a 360 video I took with the Guru 360 and the Xiaomi Mi sphere

Here is a 360 video I took with the Guru 360 and the Insta360 Nano.

As you can see, the Guru 360 does a great job of keeping the horizon level and made the video watchable even with me walking around.  I plan to take more sample videos and will post a comparison with a non-stabilized camera.


SUMMARY
Here is my opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the Guru 360:


Strengths
+ Effective stabilization / horizon leveling
+ compatible with most consumer 360 cameras
+ Most affordable stabilized 3-axis gimbal for 360 cameras
+ interchangeable components with Moza gimbal system
+ long battery life
+ Guru360 can be controlled with a smartphone
+ can be used inverted on some cameras

Weaknesses
– cannot be used with heavier 360 cameras or rigs
– no “flashlight” mode (handle cannot be held horizontally)
– after holding it a while, the gimbal can start to feel heavy
– motor may be audible in the video
– app works only in iOS for now

In summary, the Guru 360 is a very useful peripheral for 360 videos — practically a necessity for moving shots, especially if intended for viewing on a VR headset.  Its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, particularly when you consider its price.  I therefore highly recommend the Guru 360 for anyone who uses a compatible 360 camera.  If you would like to order the Guru 360, it is available from Gimbal Guru for $299.

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Mic Ty

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