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photo on 2012 08 14 at 06 15 Tool Review: iStabilizer Smartphone Dolly

I had a chance to play around with the iStabilizer Dolly ($60, istabilizer.com), a rolling mount for shooting cool panning shots with your smartphone. The unit consists of a flat metal plate equipped with two adjustable axle-and-wheel sets and a flexible, “snake-like” neck that holds the camera.

All you have to do is attach your camera, turn on the video and roll the dolly around. The elegantly-designed camera mount is spring-loaded so it can accommodate any standard mobile phone with or without a case. Have a weird phone for which you can never find accessories? Chances are the dolly can accommodate it.

The dolly has other things going for it as well. The plate and axles are sturdy metal, giving the unit a nice heft that cuts down on jiggles and bumps — though I would have liked it even more solid and heavy. I found the iStabilizer was happiest on a smooth surface like a table, while vibrated fairly obviously when traversing carpet or other non-smooth surfaces.

Another disappointment is that I could totally hear the rattle of the wheels’ bearings on the video — you’ll probably need to record separate audio when you splice together your movie.

On the plus side, I really dug the way the axles can be angled totally makes it possible to run the dolly on a curved or circular path (like the video above) or you can just roll it straight. Getting the dolly’s curve just right will take practice; I shot plenty of video with the subject forever disappearing out of the frame.

I also like how the dolly’s platform has three neck attachments. Not sure why, but I imagine if you bought extra necks (there are none available on the iStabilizer website) you could have multiple cameras on your dolly. Or perhaps it just makes sense in certain shots to have the neck in a different position.

The iStabilizer Dolly is an easy and cost-effective way to add dolly shots to your next project.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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