How to turn your Mavic Pro into a handheld gimbal camera

Apr 23, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to turn your Mavic Pro into a handheld gimbal camera

Apr 23, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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As far as wacky ideas go, this one actually seems pretty useful. Using a drone with a gimbal stabilised camera as a handheld rig isn’t a big secret. I know a few people who’ve done it, and I’ve tried it myself a couple of times, too. But they’ve all been fairly basic. Either they’re using a Phantom and simply holding the landing gear, or it’s a quickly put together DIY rig.

This, though, is pretty cool. It’s the Polar Pro Katana, and it turns your Mavic Pro into a handheld gimbal stabilised camera. This is the first time I’ve seen a ready-made solution, though. I wonder if it was possibly inspired the DJI Inspire 2 launch with a film which was shot by a drone using this exact technique.

There was a lot of hype about GoPro Karma’s removable handheld gimbal. Personally, though, I think this solution is much better if you want to do anything a little more serious. Although it will depend on your needs. Gimbals that you can hold in one hand are very useful. I’ve got a Zhiyun Smooth C that I use quite regularly if I know I’m going to be out filming anything with my phone.

But, for anything a little more “cinematic”, I think this would be a better option. For a start you have two hands on the rig, which will help to create a more fluid movement. You also have your thumbs right over the sticks so you can more easily move the camera independently of your own motion.

The only problem with using this setup, though, is that the Mavic doesn’t record its own audio internally, from what I’ve been told. You could, however just record audio separately and sync in post. Chances are, though, if you’re going to go to the effort of doing something like this then you’re probably already doing that anyway.

Setup looks pretty simple. It comes as half a dozen pieces that pack down small into your bag. In the video above, it goes together pretty quickly, too.

Given the Mavic’s size, this looks like a great option, and easy to handhold. Certainly a lot easier than trying to do it with a Phantom or Inspire. If you already own a Mavic Pro, it’s a lot cheaper than buying a separate handheld gimbal for your phone.

The Katana costs $49.99 and is available from Polar Pro’s website.

[via We Talk UAV]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “How to turn your Mavic Pro into a handheld gimbal camera”

  1. Josh Wood Avatar
    Josh Wood

    Yeh it’s epic hey

  2. Lance T. Osborne Avatar
    Lance T. Osborne

    Cool idea, but I’m not sure it’s needed. I made this video using my DJI Mavic handheld last week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qdPI6INzqw. I think a $50 gadget like this falls between what I did just for fun, and pro use where you’d want a proper gimbal + camera setup.

    1. Rex Lajos Avatar
      Rex Lajos

      Hey lance, how long did the battery last while filming in this manner? I was looking at a handheld gimbal but it seems changing the battery would take disassembly, your way would fix that inconvenience, but if the battery last a good while without using the motors, that could eliminate that issue.