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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Balancing the NEX-FS100 on the Blackbird Stabilizer

Click here for more information about the Blackbird stabilizerClick here for more information about the Blackbird stabilizer
NEX-FS100 balanced on the Blackbird (with the short and standard vertical bar)

When you have a stabilizer, I always think it's a good idea to share a good setup, once you found one for your particular camera. In my case it's the Sony NEX-FS100 with 16mm f2.8 pancake lens and VCL-ECU1 ultra wide converter. That's why today, I want to share with you my Blackbird stabilizer setup.

There are two balance settings I'm showing. One is for the Blackbird with the standard vertical bar and one is for the T-bar assembly with the use of the short vertical bar (optional accessory). The last one, is the one I used for the two videos you'll see below, which are part of the Blackbird Stabilizer Review I did recently.

NEX-FS100 configuration for the Blackbird stabilizer. Total camera weight is 2.2 kg (4.9 lbs)
Camera: NEX-FS100
Lens: E-mount 16mm f2.8 pancake
Lens Attachments: VCL-ECU1 ultra wide converter
Battery: NP-F960 (not the NP-F770)
Please note: top handle and microphone are attached to the FS100, but the side grip is removed.
Blackbird stabilizer settings.
Camera mounting plate: mounting hole #2 with locating pin
Horizontal bar: 11 inch horizontal bar used in T-bar assembly

Counterweights with standard vertical bar
: 2 large on each side
ounterweights with short vertical bar: 2 large, 1 small on each side

As you can see in the NEX-FS100 configuration above, I used a different (larger) camera battery then I normally use in a stabilizer setup. That's because the total weight of the Blackbird with FS100 was still manageable enough to use a heavier camera battery for longer duration.

Here are some detailed (reference) pictures of my Blackbird stabilizer setup for the NEX-FS100 with and without the use of the short vertical bar.

Camera stage settings
Camera mounting plate is at '7' and camera stage (front to back) is set between '6' and ' 7'
The back of the camera stage (side to side) is set to ' 5'

Gimbal position
This is how much the gimbal is lowered

Short / standard vertical Bar
Standard vertical bar is set to '14'
When you use the short vertical bar, set it to '7'

Counterweights on the horizontal bar (11 inch)
With the standard vertical bar, use 2 large counterweight on each side
With the short vertical bar, use 2 large and 1 small counterweight on each side

Thanks to the design of the Blackbird it doesn't matter how many changes you'll make to the T-bar assembly, it has little to no effect for the camera stage settings (side to side and front to back settings). I also tried to use the 15 inch horizontal bar, but since I got such a nice flying result with the 11 inch horizontal bar, I decided to leave it that way and have a more compact stabilizer setup.

Hopefully these settings will give you a good starting point in balancing your camera on the Blackbird stabilizer!


  1. Could us use an ND filter on the 16mm to get more DOF?
    Also, what picture profile did you use?


  2. You can definitely use an ND filter on the 16mm pancake, but only if you're not using the ultra wide converter on the lens. The converter also has a fixed lens hood making it impossible to use a ND. But on the 16mm it's no problem. I have a fixed ND filter for when I'm just using the pancake lens and it works very nicely.