With 360 videos, any shaking is exaggerated and becomes quite noticeable, so 360 videos benefit tremendously from stabilization.
Smoovie stabilizer is a compact, pocketable stabilizer made for smartphones and small cameras (under 250g) that may also work for smaller 360 cameras. It uses a handle with a magnetized gimbal and a counterweight for stability. The basic Smoovie comes with a smartphone holder, while the Smoovie Plus adds a 1/4-20 adapter.
|shown with optional 1/4-20 adapter|
The Smoovie has a smartphone holder which you can accommodate typical phones (but not phablets). There’s a knob for adjusting the tilt angle of the smartphone holder. The knob also keeps the smartphone holder in place and can be removed* to replace the smartphone holder with the 1/4-20 tripod adapter accessory (with the Smoovie Plus). The position of the tripod insert can be offset from the center.
The tip of the handle has a small hole for a wrist strap, although a wrist strap is not included.
|note: wrist strap is not included|
|the gimbal, with the rubber dampener engaged|
There are two small N42 magnets on the gimbal assembly to help stabilize the Smoovie and to allow the camera to follow any panning motion.
|the small magnets on the gimbal assembly|
The gimbal moves freely, and can be angled up to around 45 degrees up or down. There’s also a rubber dampener to dampen the gimbal movement. The tapered rubber dampener can be gradually removed as you become better at using the Smoovie.
Tip: the Smoovie can also be held above you when using a selfie stick. You just need to tilt the selfie stick attachment at an angle that is complementary to the angle of the Smoovie handle.
In the first part of the test, I tested the Smoovie while walking, and going up and down a staircase. Here is the comparison:
In my opinion, the Smoovie does help dampen the telltale vibrations from footsteps, compared with just a selfie stick. On the other hand, it was sometimes harder to control the panning with the Smoovie when the handle was at an angle that would disengage the magnet. (Incidentally, this proves that the magnet works, even though it seems weak.)
I also tested the Smoovie while jogging. Here is the comparison:
Before I did the jogging test, I expected that there would be a significant improvement with the Smoovie when jogging. Strangely, it seems that when jogging, there is not as much difference compared to walking. I suspected that the Samsung Gear 360’s vertical correction mitigated the camera instability while running.
I did a third comparison video. This is the same as the jogging video, except that I disabled the ActionDirector’s vertical correction when rendering the video. Here is the comparison:
In my opinion, in this third comparison, it does seem that the Smoovie is more stable than the selfie stick.
The Pocket Smoovie is a well made stabilizer non-motorized gimbal. It does help stabilize 360 videos, although the improvement is less noticeable if your 360 camera has an effective vertical orientation correction, such as that of the Samsung Gear 360. Even with vertical correction however, the Smoovie does nonetheless improve 360 videos by dampening vibrations from footsteps while walking.
+ does improve video stabilization
+ well made, good quality construction
+ pocketable, reasonably compact and lightweight
+ costs much less than some other stabilizers
– tilt angle is too easily moved
– camera needs to be positioned carefully for best results
– the handle will show up in the 360 video
– the angle of the handle cannot be adjusted on the fly. When switching from a high angle shot to a low angle shot, you need to adjust the handle, which can be distracting in a video.
Here is the official webpage.