Steady Tracker Xtreme Reviewed
Stabilizing shots without complex gear
by Stephen Schleicher

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Remember when Rocky ran up those steps in Philadelphia the camera following him smoothly the entire time? This was the first major shot done with a new device we know now as the Steadicam. If you have ever been up close and personal to a Steadicam, you know they are big, bulky, extremely heavy, and very expensive for the everyday video professional. Enter the Steady Tracker Xtreme.

Never spill a drop [an error occurred while processing this directive]Ever walk with a cup of water in your hand? How come you donít spill the water when you walk up stairs or navigate your way through a crowded room? You arm naturally compensates to keep the cup steady, and the liquid inside the cup. A Steadicam unit works the same way by using a series of gyros, springs, and weights to simulate the way your arm works. A Steadicam, when attached to your body via a tight vest, acts as a third arm on your body. What if, instead of a third arm, you used your own arm?

That is the idea behind the Steady Tracker Xtreme from ProMax. Instead of a complex system of counter-weights, vests, and the like, the Steady Tracker Xtreme is basically a weighted monopod that you hold in your hand. This gives you tremendous freedom to pan and tilt a camera while you walk, climb stairs, run, jump, etc.

The Sony PD-150 mounted on the Steady Tracker Xtreme, ready for testing.

With the Steady Tracker Xtreme you can move smoothly around a subject, boom a shot, or tilt, on the fly, even do a complex reverse direction shots without annoying camera jerks or shakes.

Testing it out
I will admit that when I first saw the Steady Tracker Xtreme I was pretty wary of a unit that claimed to do nearly everything the big Steadicam units did. Often when using a Steadicam it can take a while to set up and prepare for a shot. Out of the box, it took less than 5 minutes to put the unit together. There are basically three parts;
  • A base, which acts as a counterbalance for the camera

  • The support column, which you hold on to

  • The mounting plate, which connects your camera to the unit

Once the camera is mounted on the Steady Tracker Xtreme, you then proceed to balance the unit on three axis so all movement is smooth and fluid. This took me approximately another 2 minutes to complete. In 7 minutes I had set up the Steady Tracker Xtreme ad was ready to take it for a test run.

The Steady Tracker Xtreme is designed to work in three different modes; Handheld, body mounted, and self supported.

The self-supported mode basically allows you to use the unit as a monopod or tripod. The unit does not sit that high (around 2 feet), so for many shots, you would have to place it on a table or ledge to get high enough. Still in this mode it works, as long as the camera is stable, so is the shot.

The body mounted mode you can rest it on your shoulder to get nice high shots above crowds. I donít find this mode to that useful, but you might find use for it at some point during a long day of shooting.

The mode that I was most interested in is of course the handheld mode. I mounted my Sony PD-150 and started out by doing a simple walk around my office doing a variety of pans and tilts. The Steady Tracker Xtreme performed very well. The movement was very fluid. When I was watching the results, a student asked where I got the dolly and track to capture such a smooth shot.

The Steady Tracker Xtreme ready to go. Portablity and light weight give you the ability to capture nice fluid shots.

Source: Digital Media Online, Inc.

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