What Is a Glidecam?

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Whether going on camping trips, walking in the parking, or hiking, you might want to capture those moments to keep memories. Since a tripod might be too bulky to carry and shooting handheld results in shaky footage, you will need a simple stabilizing device. So, what is a glidecam?

What Is a Glidecam?

A glidecam is a camera gear stabilization device that uses a counterweight to balance the camera’s weight and make the camera movement smoother for a stable footage recording. Usually, the glidecam is lightweight, flexible, and versatile, allowing you to run, walk or even climb stairs with the camera gear attached.

Glidecam placed on a snow covered road

Typically, the glidecam uses a similar operation technology just like the gimbal and Steadicam, which requires you to balance the camera gear on an XY and Z axis in 3 dimensions. That means you will be balancing the camera’s pan, tilt, and roll.  

How to Set up a Glidecam

Unlike the gimbal, the glidecam uses mechanical controls. Regardless of the glidecam version you are using, you can set it up and balance the camera gear using the following steps:

  1. Connect the telescoping post to the base plate by screwing it tightly and securely onto the threaded stud sticking up from the base platform’s center
  2. Depending on the weight of your camera gear and the number of counterweight disks needed, pick a pair of bolts that are long enough to support the disks and then attach the rubber washers.
  3. Insert the bolts with their rubber washers through the base platform’s slots, and repeat the same for the slots on the other side of the platform
  4. Stack the counterweight disks on the bolts and then attach the two fender washers over the stack of weight disks. Use the brass thumb nuts to secure the weight disks on both sides of the platform. Usually, the number of weight disks to attach will depend on the weight of the camera gear.
  5. With the base attached, insert the telescoping post into the central post. Keep in mind that the adjustment knob of the telescoping clamps should face the opposite of the monitor mounting hole, the back end of the base. Rotate the adjustment knob clockwise to slightly tighten it 
  6. Screw the bottom plate on the central post by rotating it on the threaded insert until it’s secure. Place the mid plate on the bottom plate and use the brass thumb screws to secure it. 

How to Attach the Camera to a Glidecam

The first step when attaching a camera to a glidecam is to locate the threaded insert on your camera’s bottom. With the camera base facing up, center the head plate on your camera’s base to align. Use the ¼- inch washer and camera mounting screw to attach it to the head plate.

Usually, you will need to use a flat head screwdriver to tighten the screw. You should, however, not overtighten it to avoid damaging the threaded insert. If the head plate feels loose even after tightening the screw, you can consider using a flexible gasket to improve the grip in the attachment. 

Man excitedly showing off his glidecam gear

You can also attach the quick release plate for easier camera attachment and removal. Place and center the head plate on top of the mid plate and then secure the attachment with the brass thumb screws. 

How to Balance a Glidecam

After assembling, you will need to ensure you have the camera battery installed, the lens cap removed, and the LCD screen flipped out, so they don’t interfere with the center of gravity after balancing.

Start balancing the horizontal axis by loosening the thumb screws and adjusting the head plate position. The camera will be horizontally balanced if it returns to a horizontally level position when you release a roll, pan, or tilt on the central post. 

With the horizontal axis balanced, you will need to balance the vertical axis so the central post can remain vertical even when you are running. Usually, you can balance the glidecam vertically by adding the right amount of counterweights and then adjusting the telescoping post to fine-tune.

Related Questions

How Do I Handle a Glidecam When Shooting?

The best way to handle a glidecam when shooting is to hold firmly in either the bottom or middle of the handle. Ensure your guiding hand doesn’t touch the yoke or the bearing assembly, as it can cause unexpected camera movements when shooting.

Can I Look Through My Camera’s Viewfinder When Using a Glidecam?

Using your camera’s viewfinder when using a glidecam setup is not advisable as it will restrict the glidecam’s free movement, reducing its effectiveness in eliminating camera shake. Instead, you can use the camera’s LCD screen.

Do I Need to Keep Holding the Glidecam With My Hand?

You will need to keep holding the glidecam with your hand, especially when walking. However, you can exchange the holding hand or even set the glidecam upright on a level surface if you feel fatigued.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t have a tripod, a glidecam is a handy device that can help you stabilize your camera, just like the gimbal. However, you will need to assemble and add the correct counterweights for effective camera-shake elimination. You also need to practice how to handle it for smooth pans, tilts, and rolls.