Gimbal shots, when used tastefully, can add a lot of production value to a doc. In the last year, small brushless gimbals have evolved to the point where they can fly a camera the size of Sony’s a7s. At the end of last year, mostly for tax purposes, we invested a couple hundred dollars in a Nebula 4000. It’s a pistol grip gimbal with a small footprint—ideal for fitting in a pelican case where space and weight are issues.
We added some simple modifications to our Nebula so it fits our workflow and we thought documenting it could help some other shooters.
The first two might be universal for gimbals and the second two are more Nebula specific.
We came across this idea from Jason Wingrove on Twitter. Adjusting gimbals can take forever and replacing critical screws with thumbscrews allows for quick, tool-less adjustments.
While shooting for the doc, our camera support needs change often and quickly. It took a while to find, but Sunwayfoto makes light and low profile quick release that we could use it with the Nebula 4000. Now our a7s can quickly move between all the pieces of kit that have an Arca quick release and can be connected and balanced on the Nebula very quickly. Here are links to the quick release and plate we're using:
Our charging cable for the Nebula was bent in a Pelican case and it eventually broke the charging port. While getting it fixed at the local RC Hobby shop, we spotted some larger LiPo batteries and decided to super charge our Nebula. The design of the Nebula lends itself well to larger batteries, whereas it may not be an option with other gimbals. We can now go for days between charges, which is great.
Note: Opening your Nebula and cutting wires is not likely to be kind to your warranty.
From an ergonomic perspective, the Nebula's fit and finish leave much to be desired. The hard edges dig into one's palm and fingers and make long shoots uncomfortable. So, as a finishing touch, we gaffer taped foam weather stripping around the handle. The gimbal is much uglier now, and far more comfortable to hold.