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The Comodo Orbit is a camera stabilization system that will make you rethink the way you shoot a scene. Invented by Dutch filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich, the device allows cinematographers to capture entire scenes in a single take using just one camera. Designed to support HDSLR/mirrorless cameras and small to medium-sized camcorders, the Orbit uses a patented twin-grip stabilization system, which allows the camera operator to move freely around the action, capturing angles not possible with other stabilizers. Best of all, it does this without the use of balancing weights, batteries, or motors.
The Orbit utilizes mechanical gimbals on top of its two handgrips to isolate the camera from bumps and shakes, helping the camera to seemingly float in space. With a twin-grip design, the stabilizer has the ability to be passed from one operator to another, allowing it to travel through windows or other tight spaces. Having two handgrips also reduces the fatigue common with single-handed stabilizers. If you've ever used a single-handed stabilizer, then you know the strain that it can put on your wrist and forearm. Transferring the weight to two hands not only alleviates this strain, but also gives you more control over the unit.
Another downside to single-handed stabilizers is that they can be difficult to balance. Even when you do get them balanced, they often require hours of practice before you're comfortable using them. The Orbit is not only easy to balance, but it's incredibly intuitive to use. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to give the Comodo Orbit a test drive and, I have to say, I was really impressed.
Setup is pretty straight forward. The video below gives a quick demonstration on how to set up and balance the Orbit.
As the video demonstrates, balancing the camera is all about adjusting its horizontal and vertical position. Basically, you want the camera balanced along the pivot axis—the horizontal plane extending between the two gimbals—and have its weight centered on the mounting plate so that it doesn't want to lean forward or backward. For a larger camcorder, you may need to use the included extension arms to properly align it on the pivot axis. When you can tilt the camera and it stays where you put it, then it’s balanced and ready to go. In my tests, I used a Panasonic GH2 and was able to have the whole system set up and balanced in less than five minutes.
As soon as I lifted the Orbit from the table, the Orbit seemed like a natural extension of my hands. I found that the gimbals did a good job of keeping the camera isolated from bumps and jitters as I moved around. Now, while stable footage is great, what really makes the Orbit a terrific tool is its camera-tilt adjustability. Single-handed stabilizers, even when used with a vest system, are designed to remain level. Trying to tilt the camera will only result in a pendulum effect. The Orbit, on the other hand, lets you use your thumbs to easily and smoothly tilt the camera up and down. Just like we saw in the video, when balancing the unit, if you release your thumbs, the camera will stay in that position. No pendulum effect here.
Being able to tilt the camera while moving around a scene lets you capture a range of angles and movements, including simulated crane or jib-style shots. The central purpose of the Orbit is to cover an entire scene in one take, with just one camera. You can capture long extended scenes where the camera follows the action, or cut your shot down in post production. Of course, it can also be used as a conventional stabilizer for select shots—whatever suits your filmmaking style.
Keep in mind that with two hands on the stabilizer, you won't be able to adjust camera settings while you're shooting. Once you have both hands on the stabilizer, it's basically a part of you until you can set it down on a flat surface or hand it off to a camera assistant. Now, when it comes time to pack it up, Comodo has provided a nice case with custom foam interior to pack up and store the Orbit, extension arms, and included Allen key.
From student filmmaker to seasoned veteran, the Comodo Orbit provides an innovative and intuitive way to fluidly move around your subject, capturing all angles with a single camera. If you shoot with an HDSLR/mirrorless camera, or small to medium-sized camcorders, then the Orbit could be just the stabilizer to take your footage to new visualizations.
|Load Capacity||11 lb (5 kg)|
|Accessory Mount Threads||1/4"-20 and 3/8"-16|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||16.9 x 5.1 x 16.9" (43.0 x 13.0 x 43.0 cm)
Maximum height: 20.0" (50.7 cm)
Extension arms: 1" (25mm), 2" (50mm), 3" (75mm)
|Weight||4.4 lb (2.0 kg)|