Balancing the Rhino Steady Camera Stabilizer, Case Study: Smartphone

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This is the sixth article in my series about the Rhino Steady, a camera stabilizer made by Rhino Camera Gear.

In the first article of the series I described in detail how the Rhino Steady and other similar stabilizers work. In the articles that followed I have shown how I balance a variety of cameras, a medium size DSLR, a lightweight DSLR, a lightweight camcorder, and a point & shoot.

Today I'm showing how I balance an extremely lightweight smartphone, an Android Galaxy S Blaze. The first obvious problem to solve is how to attach the smartphone to the Rhino Steady. Luckily, these days there are many inexpensive tripod adapters for smartphones on Ebay and elsewhere, so this is an easy problem to solve. This is the tripod adapter I'm using:

Balance Test

The top part attaches to the little tripod with a standard tripod screw, so the head of this adapter screws perfectly into the Rhino Steady.

Balance Test

With this problem addressed I can begin the methodical process I have outlined in the previous articles.

Since I know that this configuration is even lighter than the previous one, I'm going to begin with some of the settings I have determined to work for other lightweight cameras. My initial configuration is as follows:

  • Bottom and front weight caps are replaced with the much lighter plastic caps.
  • Bottom and front weight screws all the way out.
  • Bottom weight pack on the third slot (forward most).
  • Camera attached to the middle channel in the stage, with the mini-steady weight and two thin bottom weights.

The problem is that with the above configuration the bottom is heavier than the top. With the point & shoot camera I have sandwiched two thin bottom weights between the camera and the mini-steady, but that doesn't seem to be enough. This time I had to attach three thin bottom weights between the mini-steady and the stage to make the top slightly heavy:

Balance Test

So now I can start adding bottom weights. After adding one thin bottom weight (my only remaining one!) this is the static balance:

Balance Test

So this is pretty close. The drop test for dynamic balance takes somewhere between one and two seconds, so it is right at the limit I have found to be acceptable.

The alternative drop test, which helps me see how the front and back of the stabilizer balance shows this:

Balance Test

So lucky me, the front is slightly lighter than the back, so adding some weight to the front will also help with with the static alignment problem I still have.

Here is how the static balance looks after adding one thin front weight:

Balance Test

Drop time did not change much, it is still in the one to two second range. And the alternative drop test with the added front weight looks much better:

Balance Test

Since I went a bit far on the static balance, I now have to make a smaller adjustment, which I achieve by screwing the bottom weights in:

Balance Test

Drop time remains at over one second, and front to back balance still looks good:

Balance Test

So I'm done!

This is the final configuration:

  • Camera: Samsung Galaxy S Blaze smartphone
  • Weight: 0.25lb (1.7lb with the tripod adapter, Mini Steady and 3 thin bottom weights)
  • Channel#: 3 (#1 at the back, #5 at the front)
  • Bottom weight arm thread#: 3 (#1 at the back, #3 at the front)
  • Bottom weights: 1, using plastic cap (25mm in)
  • Front weights: 1, using plastic cap (0mm in)

If you are a good observer, you may have noticed that in all the balance pictures the phone was installed facing the wrong way. I realized this when I went to shoot a test. Once I realized my mistake I reattached the tripod adapter the right way and the balance did not change.

This is my last balancing demonstration, I think by now I have done enough cameras to cover almost all camera types. In my next Rhino Steady article I will show example videos I shot with all the cameras I have balanced. Stay tuned!

Thank you for following my Rhino Steady articles.


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