I have to admit that it didn’t take a lot of thought to make the decision to purchase Yuneec’s new ProAction handheld stabilizer.
That’s because, while I’ve considered purchasing similar devices over the past few years, previous offerings were relatively expensive and the setup process seemed complicated. On other models, daily usage tasks such as installing, balancing and removing the camera seemed tedious, meaning that every time I wanted to use it, much time and effort would be needed just to get it prepped for shooting or disassembled for secure transportation or storage. Since I’m a one-man-band and shoot for recreation, previous models seemed complicated and time consuming and while the results could have been noteworthy, for the methods in which I shoot video, it just wasn’t worth the effort or expense.
When I first saw the ProAction at the InterDrone Expo in Las Vegas this fall, it was its simplicity and self-balancing characteristics that drew my attention. In fact, when I saw it resting on a shelf display at the show, at first glance I felt that something was missing as it seemed too simple to setup and use. There’s no way something this simple could deliver the smooth and steady motion shots I was seeking. While I knew I would be purchasing this unit and not asking for a review sample, I truly did not have too many second thoughts before making the purchasing decision.
For those who may not be familiar with handheld stabilizers, these devices use a three axis gimbal and tiny motors to keep the camera level and steady when doing something as simple as walking or when creating even more complex shots or maneuvers. They allow you to shoot at overhead, at eye or chest level or even at low to the ground levels and when setup properly can deliver some interesting and smooth video.
For decades the Steadicam was the leader in this industry, but they were expensive and out of the reach for consumers, hobbyist and even most videographers who create video for a living. But this industry is rapidly changing and I’ll attribute it to the evolution of the gimbal.
Yes, those motorized balancers commonly called gimbals that are found on consumer-grade quad copters (aka, camera drones), in my mind are the catalyst in revolutionizing the handheld stabilizer and allowing it to evolve into a product that is expanding its base to prosumer photographers. Like other technologies, gimbals seem to be entering an era of maturity and have the capability to take camera stabilization to the next level.
In this segment, the first in what I hope to be a multi-part series on Yuneec’s new ProAction handheld stabilizer, I’ll perform a basic overview and unboxing and show you what’s included for the $1,500 MSRP. I’ll say upfront that while the ProAction seems to have been initially designed for taking the gimbal from Yuneec’s new Tornado hexacopter and providing a method in which it can be easily converted for ground usage, the model I ordered is designed to be an out the box ground solution that while compatible with the Tornado, can be used on a stand-alone basis. All that’s needed is a Panasonic Lumix GH4 or Sony A7S camera to complete the setup.
At least, that’s what I was told my Yuneec prior to my purchase.
As you’ll see, things did not go as planned during this unboxing and there seemed to be at least one necessary part missing. I say at least one part as you’ll see in the video, I got stumped and had to stop. I hope to provide an update as I learn more. Yeah, stuff happens!
UPDATE: So, what happened? Where’s the charger? Well, it’s complicated.
While the folks at Yuneec USA saw the potential in the ProAction and felt it could be sold as a stand-alone product, evidently the fine folks at the Yuneec factory in China didn’t see it the same way and thought that the ProAction package would be sold alongside its Tornado H920. Since the H920 includes the battery charger, they felt there was no need to include a charger with the ProAction. But, there’s good news…
Since Yuneec USA is a forward-thinking company, they are open to listening to the opinions of others and responded rapidly to my inquiry. They are currently in contact with the factory in search of a solution. It’s a safe bet that a charger will soon accompany this ProAction package. So, as this saga continues I’ll update this space with Part 2 of this video when a solution has been found.
I’m really looking forward to putting the ProAction through the paces of rigorous testing and as soon as I get the charger, I’ll share my results with you!