Whether your video camera of choice is a smartphone, a GoPro or some other small camera, they can all use some help when it comes to shooting smooth, steady handheld clips. The solidLUUV is made to do just that and with as little a learning curve as possible.
If the camera stabilizer looks familiar, there's a good reason for that. Last year, the developers completed a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. They learned a lot from those initial backers and have redesigned the LUUV to accommodate their needs. In the process they are adding in new features and improving its quality overall.
Now, they've launched a second crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to deliver the highest-quality product possible to its initial backers. According to the startup's CFO Tim Kirchner, the additional funding is also needed to increase its first production batch because of high demand.
Like many products, the LUUV was designed to solve a problem for its developers, mainly stabilizing GoPro cameras while capturing various board sports, like snowboarding. The prototype was based on Steadicam technology, but with the goal of making it super easy to use by removing the need for complicated weight calibrations for different cameras.
There are two models: solidLUUV and ultraLUUV. Both can be operated with one hand by grabbing the handle and pinching a flexible grip between your thumb and forefinger. The grip absorbs vibrations from your fingers, while still giving you full control. The center collar smoothly rotates on polymer bearings that are maintenance-free, requiring no grease and can be used in salt water.
The counterbalance weight at the bottom is adjusted simply by turning a ring that rotates the weights inside, and allows it to be used with cameras up to 500 grams (18 ounces). The solidLUUV's camera mount at the top is covered with 1/4-inch threads, so your camera can be centered regardless of the position of your camera's tripod mount. More weights can be added to the top as well to help with really lightweight cameras.
The modular camera mount design means you don't need to buy a different stabilizer for shooting with a smartphone, action camera or point-and-shoot. It also allowed the developer to offer the ultraLUUV, a 3-axis electronic gimbal module for solidLUUV that gives you mechanical and electronic stabilization.
My CNET colleague Lori Grunin and I got some hands-on time with the most current version of the solidLUUV. It was definitely easy to pick up and start using, though you'll need some practice to use it well.
Also, while I was able to grab the handle and pinch the control ring comfortably enough, Lori had a harder time of it because of her smaller hands. Kirchner said because the handle is interchangeable, it would be possible to make several handle sizes and an included wrist strap helps with secure hand positioning.
For the Kickstarter campaign, you'll be able to get the solidLUUV for €99 or the €199 ultraLUUV package. Those convert to about $110, £70 or AU$155 and $225, £145 or AU$315, respectively. Shipping is expected to begin in December to its early backers, but most won't arrive until April/May 2016.