by Gunther Machu | 16th January 2017
As mentioned in my previous blog post, when I decided to invest into an electronic GoPro gimbal I was torn between the Removu S1 and the GoPro Karma Grip to stabilize my new Hero 5 Black. They both sport similar features, but which of the two will prove to be the best GoPro gimbal? The features of the Removu S1 are quite impressive, as Nino pointed out in his blog post. Being able to use it in wet conditions is a real plus, not to mention other neat features like the remote controller or exchangeable batteries. The GoPro Karma and the Removu S1 gimbals in their respective cases, side-by-side. As you may remember, I ended up pulling the trigger on the GoPro Karma Grip mainly because of its neat integration with the GoPro Hero 4, 5 and Session action cams. However, funnily enough, when I mentioned to Nino that I was planning to write about the Karma Grip, he asked if I could include the Removu S1 in the review, as he had one lying around at cinema5D HQ in Vienna. So I took both GoPro gimbals for a head to head comparison, the result of which you can see in the video above. Again, the test featured my dog as a main character, a role he seems to be getting more and more used to. GoPro Gimbals – Observations Both GoPro gimbals are about the same size and weight, and both come in a nice case. The Removu S1 gimbal in particular looks and feels like a quality piece of high-tech, and it made me wonder if had made the wrong decision purchasing the Karma Grip. However, the head-to-head footage comparison clarified everything, with a clear win for the GoPro Karma Grip. As usual, putting priducts into real-world use reveals how good they really are, regardless of what the specs say on paper. With respect to their respective carry cases, the Karma Grip’s is light-years more practical for me, as it accommodates the whole gimbal + cam assembly. The Removu S1 has to be disassembled to fit into its case, and it takes a little while to set everything up. The Karma Grip case is perfect for taking along on a mountain bike trip, but the same can’t be said of the the Removu case. Although I did find some issues with the Karma Grip, I would rate the problems I found with the Removu S1 as quite severe: First and foremost, the major task of stabilizing the footage does not work as well as with the Karma Grip. There are micro jitters all over the footage of the Removu S1. The Hero 4 Black bumps into the Removu body at certain angles, which sometimes causes the gimbal to lose the horizon (see the test footage above). However, it auto readjusted during recording a little later. At one point, the Removu went completely mad for no obvious reason, oscillating vertically and hitting the hard stops quite heavily. I felt I had to immediately turn it off to prevent damage. I could not restart it afterwards, as it would always oscillate heavily from side to side. I thought it was destroyed. Then, I went online and found the “calibration” feature in the manual of the S1. I performed the calibration having to use a small screwdriver, after which it functioned properly again. Not nice, as this never happened at all during my Karma Grip testing so far. If that happens in the field, you can forget the gimbal for the rest of the day. By the way, the test footage above was shot after this calibration process. Strangely enough, when I fitted my Hero 5 Black to the Removu to check if the sound was better than on the Karma Grip (where you can hear the brushless motors), I found the footage to be completely unusable (see test footage around the 1:39 mark). Some housing vibrations (possibly of the brushless motors) were spoiling the audio on the Hero 5 Black video file. Luckily, I was using the “RAW” audio feature, which separately records individual WAV files from each of the 3 mics, and the front stereo track was OK and proved usable. Unimpressed with me looking stupid comparing gimbals: My dog. Conclusion Hats off to Removu for offering such a rich, innovative feature set on the Removu S1 gimbal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t perform as well as the Karma Grip on the major task of stabilizing the footage. That’s why I am glad I purchased the Karma Grip. Despite some small firmware glitches, the Karma Grip performs amazingly overall AND comes in a very usable carry-on case that fits the whole assembly perfectly. One issue which is not resolved yet, however, is audio. Here, the Removu has potentially an advantage, as this GoPro gimbal supports the Removu M1 and A1 microphone package. But this may be a story for a separate post. If you are a video blogger, sound is probably more important to you than a rock-steady image, so I would recommend the Removu S1 and the Hero 4 Black, as this combo gives you much better sound than the Karma Grip. For everything else, I would definitely recommend the Karma Grip. Will either of these be your new favourite GoPro gimbal? Have you had any experience with other similar products in the market? Let us know in the comments section below!Read more
by Nino Leitner | 14th December 2016
While GoPro’s recent track record of new products is questionable, it’s undeniable that GoPro cameras are really everywhere, and a lot of professionals (me included) are using them for professional shoots frequently. One of the major problems with these tiny cameras though is their inherent rolling shutter. No matter what GoPro marketing videos tell you, it’s almost impossible to move the little buggers as they are without causing massive image-inherent earthquakes. And this is where a gimbal stabiliser comes in. There’s a great number of them for GoPros on the market, however so far, not a single one was able to convince me. Most of them are cheap plastic copycat products where you don’t even know anymore where the original came from, and none of them was great on features or functionality. Build Quality In comes Korean manufacturer Removu with their smart GoPro gimbal, the Removu S1. First of all, it looks more professional and definitely better-build than the rest. Secondly, if you look closer, you will see a lot of smart ideas. Part of the Package & Run-Through It comes in a little splashproof pouch that holds all the items including accessories. The gimbal itself has three motors like most gimbals, but in this case they are waterproof. This thing can literally be used in the pouring rain without issues – we tested it. The gimbal can be mounted not only to the supplied handgrip, but also to standard GoPro accessories like the helmet mount or chest harness, for example. The grip also holds the removable remote, which allows remote control of the joystick. The supplied GoPro Hero4 and Hero5 housings are smartly designed, the camera just slides in and locks by pushing only one lever. The waterproof housing is similarly slim and smart and more compact than the original GoPro housing. All the housings mount easily on the gimbal itself. Different Operation Modes There are three modes of operation – Pan Mode, Follow Mode and Lock Mode. In Pan Mode, the camera simply pans when moving the gimbal, while the tilt is locked. In Follow Mode, both pan and tilt react to the operator’s movements. And finally in Lock Mode, neither pan nor tilt work, and the camera remains pointed in the same direction. All three modes are useful for different applications. The Removu S1 Gimbal Stabiliser is waterproof – we tested it. Performance The Removu S1 performs very evenly across all three operation modes. While doing the review, we were running into one problem where the gimbal would tilt sideways and the horizon was completely off. Using the very simple instructions from the manual to calibrate the gimbal, it took us 5 minutes to get that corrected again. However don’t forget to take a small Philips screwdriver with you to do that, because you need to detach the GoPro mount at the bottom of the main housing. Removu S1 mounted on a standard GoPro chest harness using the GoPro accessory mount. Conclusion I can see the Removu S1 in a lot of different hands, from video bloggers who are looking for an easy tool to film themselves steadily while walking, to action sports enthusiasts who finally want stable GoPro images off their helmets performing their kind of sport. The Removu S1 does what it promises and works better than their competition. If there is one downside I would say that it would have been nice to able to change the speed in which the gimbal reacts to movements – however the speed they chose seems to be a good compromise between stable images and “not moving too slow in most cases”. The Removu S1 is available now.Read more
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