The StabiLens is a lens counterweight system for gimbals. It allows filmmakers to match the center of gravity of each lens in a kit, and allows for faster lens swapping when on a gimbal. It consists of a gimbal ring and a set of tungsten and steel weights. The StabiLens is already available for pre-order.
Last year in September, I wrote an article about Quickdraw by Reflex Cinema – lens counterweight system for gimbals, which lets users add weights to all lenses in your kit to match the heaviest lens. The purpose of Quickdraw was to make switching lenses on a gimbal easier as well as faster.
Recently, I came across the StabiLens counterweight system, created by US-based filmmaker Zac Miller. It basically does the same thing, but features a slightly different design. Let’s take a closer look at it.
The StabiLens is a lens counterweight system that allows for easier and quicker lens swapping when operating a gimbal. It gives all the lenses within your kit the same center of gravity. The StabiLens consists of a set of rings and weights and functions across almost all gimbals, cameras, and lenses (as long as the maximum payload of a gimbal won’t be exceeded, of course).
In the promotional video, Zac explains the function, as he uses five different lenses on his Panasonic GH5 on a DJI Ronin-S. The StabiLens will currently work with most lenses with a diameter of 58mm to 110mm (use the filter size as a guide). This covers most DSLR and mirrorless camera lenses. Zac plans to release a larger cine ring during 2020.
Zac recommends putting the StabiLens gimbal ring on the lens hood. That allows you to quickly add and remove it with a single twist. It can be put anywhere else on the lens, however, as long as you avoid the focus and zoom rings. If those rings move, it may change the balance.
Balancing The Lens Kit
First, balance the gimbal using the largest lens in your kit. Then, simply put your next lens on the camera and add a StabiLens gimbal ring. After that, add weights to the gimbal ring until the camera is re-balanced on the gimbal. If the camera is tilting to the left, add weights to the right and vice versa. As you add weights, the lens will slowly tilt forward until it is parallel with the ground and all three axes are balanced. Repeat this for as many lenses as you have. For more information about the process, you can take a look at the StabiLens video tutorial.
According to Zac Miller, the StabiLens system was built to add as little weight as possible to the rig. When using a gimbal, most filmmakers use lenses that are similar in size and weight. For instance, all 4 of the lenses in the Rokinon T1.5 cine prime lens kit (24mm, 25mm, 50mm, and 85mm) are within 125g difference to one another. This means, all four of those lenses can be balanced by adding less than about ¼ pound to the rig. Each ring adds a maximum of 234 grams, which is a little over half a pound.
A good thing is, that this counterweight system does not prevent the use of the front filter thread of a lens. This also means that mounting ND filters should not be a problem.
Price and Availability
The StabiLens is available for pre-order now – exclusively in their online shop. The pre-ordered goods are supposed to start shipping in March 2020. Currently, there are two different packages available:
- StabiLens Starter Kit includes StabiLens gimbal ring, 10 tungsten alloy weights (12g), 10 steel weights (5g), and a hard case. This kit costs $99.99, yet there is a time-limited discount – until February 21st it will be available for $79.99.
- StabiLens Cinematographer Kit includes two StabiLens gimbal rings, 20 tungsten alloy weights (12g), 20 steel weights (5g), and a hard case. This kit costs $149.99, and there is a time-limited discount – until February 21st it will be available for $119.99.
Shipping is free of charge within the USA and Canada.
What do you think about the StabiLens? Do you often need to swap lenses on a gimbal quickly? Would you be willing to operate a gimbal with this additional weight? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.