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If the next Steven Spielberg is shooting with a smartphone, he’d better have the right equipment. Hand-held shots that blur and bounce across the landscape or jerk as they move don’t look any better now that HD video can be shot. Getting a professional look means being able to control the camera and how it sees what it sees. When you consider that even doing a simple tracking shot hand-held on a iPhone takes nerves of steel, imagine that multiplied to the nth degree when it’s got to be repeated time after time and look not just good but the same each time. Go ahead and drink coffee —the iStabilizer Dolly’s got your back. You might also be impressed by more of the newest digital camera reviews.
Start by taking the smartphone and clamp the cradle onto it so the lens is horizontal: to do this first you’ll have assembled the Dolly’s wheel section — that just requires putting down the flat metal plate onto the wheel assembly, inserting the attached screws and clamping them down (the clamps and washers fall out of the box when first opened so be careful). Meanwhile the iStabilizer cradle has been placed around the phone and tightened down (works with any case of bumper up to .2.5” wide). The last act is to take the flexible arm and connect one end into the metal plate, screw it down tight and then the other end takes care of the cradle. That takes care of the physical set-up. Both the iStabilizer mount and a tripod mount are included in the packaging.
Since the arm is flexible, it can be positioned in any number of ways. And it stays put once positioned too. Me, I angled it so it was just ahead of the front right wheel. The Dolly’s heavy, it’s no lightweight that can easily tip over. That makes sense since the last thing you want is to have it tilting on you. The wheels feel like some kind of silicone — regardless, they are big and move across a surface with an easy, smooth motion (provided the one pushing isn’t jittery). I can see wiping them clean of detriment regularly though.
Related: Consider the practical and easy to travel with Joby Gorillapod Flexible Tripod for taking stable pictures or long hours recording.
Before you start, set the phone to video and align what you see on the touch screen with what you are going to shoot — in this case, a slow tracking shot of a dining room with the Dolly on a table. And by “slow” I mean the person pushing the Dolly (me) needs to take it easy and not rush. I practiced a few times before doing the actual shooting and was pleased with the results, but doing it more “Pro” would have meant having someone push while I supervised the shot (i.e., being just the director and not also the Dolly operator). And repeating the shot is a lot more precise when using the Dolly. I can see some really cool POV shots done from the ground with skateboarders too, but that’s for another time.
The iStabilizer Dolly is professionally made and functions the same. If the camera “operator” is up to the task, then $59.95 buys you a camera rig for a smartphone or iPod Touch that will handle a number of specific, cinema-type shots that will give your videos a polished and a professional look. If you enjoyed this product review, please try taking a look at our other reviews and lists that cover a broad range of products, from the best cameras to self-balancing hoverboards to even products for your vehicle.
Related: If you are a gamer then you definitely need to check out our HipShotDot First Person Shooter Red Dot Sight Attachment review to increase the accuracy of your aim.