The video capability of the iPhone 4 and 4s is pretty darn good, for a phone. A number of accessories further boost the production value of iPhone cinema creations. Does the Steadicam Smoothee do a good job ironing out the jitters in handheld footage?

What Is It?

A phone-focused consumer version of a popular professional image stabilization device.

Who's It For?

People who what to make better short films using an iPhone 4 or 4S camera.

Design

Surprisingly well-built and durable. But a strange shape makes it hard to stuff into a backpack—this would be better if it were collapsible, like Smoothee's big brother, the Merlin.

Steadicam Smoothee Review: Shake-Free Video for iPhone Filmmakers

Using It

All steadicam devices require some practice. It is not the kind of thing you can spontaneously pick up and immediately shoot with great results. So novices could find it frustrating, but anyone familiar with gimbel and counterweight devices knows that they all take some finesse. The Smoothee is not ideal for spontaneous home videos—it's best for a person planning and executing specific movements in a scripted video.

The Best Part

The small size and weight of the iPhone allows the Smoothee to also be really light. Unlike the bigger rigs, your arm won't feel like it is about to fall off after a few minutes of shooting.

Tragic Flaw

You sacrifice a lot of versatility in shooting. It is very hard to change the angle of your shot on the fly without throwing off the Smoothee's balance. You are pretty much limited to a single perspective to move foward, backward, and rotate within one smooth, continuous shot.

Steadicam Smoothee Review: Shake-Free Video for iPhone Filmmakers

Test Notes

  • Steadicam makes a mount for iPhone 3G, iPod Touch (Gen 4), GoPro Hero, and Flip MinoHD. We only tested the iPhone 4 / 4s mount.
  • Wind makes things difficult. A slight breeze with cause your camera to spin unless you control the gimbal with your other hand.
  • Steadicam devices really shine when paired with a wide angle lens. The iPhone's camera is not quite wide enough to really do the Smoothee justice.
  • The control knobs are clearly labeled and easy to operate.

Should You Buy It?

It depends on how you use your iPhone for video. If you want to make slick-looking films with your iPhone, this could be $150 well spent. The tool does its job. But if you just want to reduce the shakiness on occasional videos of the dog playing fetch, don't bother.

Steadicam Smoothee

• Price: $150
Gizrank: 3.5