I love my GoPro Hero5 Session (full review here), but I find myself wanting for more stable (read: watchable) video. GoPro’s latest Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) is a great start and better than nothing, but introduces artifacts, crops the image, and reduces frame-rate options for slow-mo shooting.
What’s an aspiring videographer noob like me to do?
Enter – the Feiyu Tech FY-WGS 3-axis wearable gimbal.
WHAT is it?
3-axis wearable gimbal with 3 motors which work in concert to stabilize your GoPro Hero4&5 Session (and similarly dimensioned) cameras.
WHY would anyone need it?
I initially purchased my GoPro Hero5 to record shoulder-mounted first-person POV video while shooting real weddings (my day job). When reviewing the footage, I noticed my shoulder straps would pull up and down, causing my GoPro to randomly record the sky or the floor instead of the intended subject right front of me.
A 3-axis gimbal would prevent this because, by default, gimbals keep the camera (a) facing forward and (b) level with the horizon.
But what about the GoPro’s built in EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)?
When enabled, GoPro’s EIS has a couple of NotSo desirable side effects:
- frame crop: you lose about 10% from the outer edges of your image with EIS enabled
- framerate drop: enabling EIS limits your maximum frame-rate options, reducing your ability to capture slow-mo footage
- battery drain: enabling EIS will also drain your battery faster
And the #1 reason: If you want to capture smoother footage, EIS is no match for a 3-axis motorized gimbal, as you’ll see below.
WHO’s it for?
Every GoPro Session owner who longs to capture more cinematic footage.
One (NotSoObvious?) warning: do NOT wear this or any other gimbal if you risk serious injury by falling on, being impaled by, or ingesting it. Its full-metal construction and bulkier nature could do serious damage to various parts of your anatomy.
The Feiyu Tech FY-WGS comes well-equipped with almost everything you need to start shooting right away. There’s necessities like the user’s manual, batteries and charger, but also nice little extras like spare GoPro mounts, a really nice carrying case and an extra set of rechargeable batteries.
The only notably missing piece is the wall-side USB charger for the battery charger. But if you’re a smartphone owner (or Gadget Geek) like me, you likely already have a better wall-USB charger than any they’d include.
The video below goes through the various modes and will give you a good idea of what this thing is capable of.
- size: one of the smallest gimbals on the market
- build quality: metal body construction inspired confidence
- quite (but not silent) brushless motors
- multiple mounting positions/options: including both standard ¼-20 camera mounts and GoPro T-clamps
- rechargeable batteries: 2 sets are include, with 3-4 hours run time each set (doubling the Hero5 Sessions runtime)
- standard micro-USB battery charger: tiny, light and universally compatible with any USB wall or battery pack
- non-proprietary battery type: can purchase additional CR123A batteries if needed
- quick and easy GoPro mounting/removal: no tools required
- ease of use: simple, one-button operation
- hardware issues:
- T-clamp screws are tiny and easily stripped
- ¼-20 tripod sockets are too shallow for some ball heads
- limited gimbal range: gimbal arm can run into the gimbal’s base when rotating side to side
- obscures GoPro door: cannot externally power GoPro via USB-C plug
- not weatherproof
- added bulk: decidedly larger than a naked GoPro Session
- motor noise: though quiet, proximity to GoPro’s mics creates distracting noise floor in quiet environments
QUIRKS & QUESTIONABLES
- Support: User manual says to check website for software downloads, but none exist (or at least I can’t find them)
TIPS and RECOMMENDED ACCESSORIES
- Selfie-Stick: A good selfie stick (or monopod) will allow you to easily capture high and low vantage points for more visual interest
- walk like a duck: amazingly smooth footage, but can still see a bump in the video every time my foot hits the floor. Walk like a duck with knees always bent will smooth out the little bumbs (general rule: the sillier you look: the smoother the footage. YMMV)
I’ve never created more cinematic footage so effortlessly as with the Feiyu Tech FY-WGS. Not too long ago motorized gimbals were out of reach for us mere mortals and only available to those with Hollywood blockbuster budgets. It’s amazing to think the same technology can now be delivered, for a couple hundred dollars, to our door in one click.
Perhaps even more surprising is the amazingly compact nature of my completely stabilized shooting rig. The below video was taken over 2 days at my kids’ volleyball tournament with nothing more than a GoPro Hero5 Session, Feiyu Tech FY-WGS 3-axis wearable gimbal and a selfie stick.
It was entirely freeing to not have an LCD screen to attend to, and the unobtrusive size and unassuming nature (look Ma! No LCD!) of my GoPro Session + gimbal rig never hindered me from cheering on my boys or enjoying the day.
Though far from perfect (as noted by the length of the Cons and Wishlists above), the results speak for themselves.
Whether you’re a mountain biker, hardcore sports fanatic, or family dad (like me!), every GoPro owner who wants to capture buttery-smooth footage with ease should give the Feiyu Tech FY-WGS 3-axis wearable gimbal a serious test drive.
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