As a videographer searching to invest in a new stabilizer, you may have wondered which is best,
“A Glidecam or the DJI RS 3 Pro?”
To say that I am excited to give you my raw opinion on this is a complete understatement. I am ECSTATIC.
“Why?” You ask?.
Because, quite simply guys and gals, this leap into the unknown after doing much research has changed my life. No joke. I’m serious.
You see, I started out with a Glidecam in my videography journey. I loved that thing. We’ll get into why shortly.
But I always had other videographer colleagues ask why I didn’t go for a motorized gimbal instead. I stuck to those reasons until the springs popped out of my quick release plate lock on my gimbal.
I jerry-rigged it but was nervous about having an issue with it down the line. I didn’t want to risk losing hold of my DSLR camera while using it so I did some research which happened to occur during the timeframe of the new RS 3 Pro coming out.
I took the leap and invested in it. And I was BLOWN away. Why?
I’ll tell you why. Without further ado, let’s get this comparison started.
The Glidecam is a handheld stabilizer that is not battery-powered. I purchased the Glidecam HD-PRO initially from Adorama.
Similar to the RS 3 Pro and other electronic gimbals, it has a three-axis gimbal to allow for any smooth shots you can obtain with a motorized gimbal. The beauty about this stabilizer is that it can carry quite a bit of weight.
In particular, the Glidecam HD-PRO can carry up to 10 pounds in weight, which is impressive. It has a quick release, no-tools, drop-in Dovetail Camera Plate, brass alignment pin, spring loaded quick release plate lock, and push button quick release so you can attach and remove your camera quickly. The fine-tuning control knobs allow you to adjust from front-to-back and side-to-side for stabilizing smooth results. It also comes with 16 custom counter weight plates so you can balance different weighted gear on the stabilizer with ease.
Unlike a motorized gimbal, like the RS 3 Pro, the Glidecam does not have gimbal arms that get in the way of adding any accessories like a microphone, or camera monitor. In addition, it is not battery operated so you don’t have to worry about charging adequately, or draining the battery and running out of juice during a long shoot.
The key is the person operating the gimbal. It is limited by the user’s limitations. If you have trouble carrying your gear, issues with balance and control, and other problems of operation, this will be a difficult tool for you to use.
But it was for these reasons why I went with the Glidecam HD-PRO as my first stabilizer. The price was reasonable at $499, and since I was just getting started, I wanted to work with something that was more contingent on my skills as an individual as opposed to the efficiency and proficiency of the tool itself. Plus… again, it was cheaper.
I took a video course online from Parker Walbeck’s Fulltime Filmmaker school and the way he moved with his Glidecam, the results he produced, and the tips on how to work with it, sold me on the purchase.
I bought that on October 28, 2020 from Adorama initially. I worked with it and produced 2 videos by December 2020. And until the malfunction with the spring-loaded quick release plate lock, never had any complaints about it.
It was when I started researching possibly investing in a motorized gimbal that the benefits of the RS 3 Pro stood out.
RS 3 Pro
As many will agree, DJI sets the standard when it comes to motorized gimbals. Simply put, the powerful features of the ronin series is at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to comparison with other brands.
In particular, with several new models released earlier this year in June 2022, the new DJI RS 3 Pro is a standout gimbal when it comes to their camera stabilizers.
This beast of a handheld stabilizer has multiple features that make it the top choice for investing in a new stabilizer. Let’s go through that list quickly.
- It has an advanced, comprehensive camera expansion platform to allow seamless coordination with professional crews in various shooting scenarios.
- The design uses extended carbon fiber axis arms to allow for carrying bigger professional cameras than previous versions like the RS 2.
- It’s relatively lightweight given its capabilities, weighting in at 1.5 kg/3.3 lbs with a load capacity at 4.5 kg/10 lbs
- It has a new extended lower quick-release plate that enables more stable camera mounting AND more setup options for lens support with not just a heavier lens but longer lenses as well.
- Controlled by the power button, automated axis locks allow for ease of use in and out of shooting modes.
- The easily accessible gimbal mode switch allows quick adjustment between pan follow (PF), pan and tilt (PTF), and FPV modes.
- The FPV mode is further customizable with 3D Roll3 60, Portrait, and Custom options.
- The OLED screen is a full-color touchscreen of 1.8-inches and bigger by 28% compared to the RS 2.
- Third generation RS stabilization algorithms give it a superior image stabilization compared to the RS 2 in a wide range of low-angle, running and high-to-low position shots.
On an aside, while being known as a gimbal stabilizer for video cameras, the RS 3 Pro has options that allow you to toggle back-and-forth with taking photos versus video.
For a videographer who does photography as well, this is a huge bonus. Through the dual-mode Bluetooth technology, the user is able to pair their camera with the gimbal stabilizer and have wireless shutter control with the record button. Of course, the fine print here is to make sure your camera is compatible. Otherwise, you’ll need a cable to connect your camera to the gimbal. DJI has that compatibility list on their website.
Free RS 3 Pro Settings Cheat Sheet
Now back to our list of exceptional qualities of this new RS gimbal.
Additional Accessories and Capabilities
This new LiDAR range finder (RS) can project 43,200 ranging points within 14-meters of distance as well as featuring a built-in camera with a focal length of 30 mm and wide field of view (FOV) of 70 degrees. The focusing technology of the Ronin RD’s LiDAR is different than conventional focusing technology in that it does not rely on the surface texture of the subject. Moreover, it’s a LiDAR focusing system that provides stable focus when used in low-light or complicated scenes with multiple subjects.
A huge plus to this additional accessory is the capability of active-tracking. Referred to specifically as ActiveTrack Pro, the LiDAR Range Finder works with the camera for more accurate tracking without using the Ronin Image Transmitter (Ronin RavenEye Image Transmitter). DJI boasts the responsiveness and accuracy of this development compared to its previous versions on their Ronin series.
New Focus Motor
Available for purchase is the next-generation DJI RS Focus Motor which provides torque three times stronger and audible noise reduction by 50%. Their quick-release configuration results in a smoother focusing experience for the user.
Using the LiDAR Range Finger coupled with the new focus motor gives cinematic autofocus control on manual lenses, which provides an even greater range of shooting capabilities for the videographer. For those that need that fine-tuning control with manual focus, this is how you do it.
DJI RS SDK
…is a developer protocol for developers and third-party hardware manufacturers to increase equipment capabilities of the DJI RS 3 Pro.
This is an absolutely insane provision by DJI to set and control gimbal position, rotations, obtain motor and attitude information, and control focus and shooting of the attached camera. It’s designed to allow the developer to build a virtual studio system to control the RS 3 Pro. Imagine wanting to control multiple gimbals online by just one user. This makes it possible.
This is just a few of the many additional features available for use with the RS3 Pro. It is truly elite in its class of pro gimbals. Read more on what all DJI offers with the details of its multiple features.
The RS 3 Pro: My Personal Experience
In switching from the Glidecam to the RS 3 Pro, I can attest that the RS 3 Pro lives up to the hype.
The electronic parts on this thing are amazing. The OLED touchscreen is easy to navigate, and the mode switch on the side is everything. I can manipulate the gimbal movement with just a flick of my thumb. Plus, the automated axis locks allow me to switch from shooting to transport mode without having to worry about the camera bouncing around. And the battery life? is fantastic. With just one battery I’ve been able to shoot an all-day wedding plus some.
Compared to the Glidecam, the RS 3 Pro is easier to use if you learn how to work it properly.
It’s more FORGIVING. Meaning, once you have it balanced correctly, spent time learning what the buttons do, and how to access those buttons, it can compensate for your lack of smooth handling, especially if you struggle with a Glidecam.
Below is a great tutorial on how to balance the RS 3 Pro. Start at timestamp 4:41.
With a Glidecam, any shake or wobbly movement of the user translates to the footage of the camera whereas with the RS 3 Pro, the movement of the user translates to the footage with minimal to no shaking or wobbling. The short pole allows me to keep the camera closer to my center of gravity and even with my heavy DSLR, I don’t tire out with run-and-gun shooting. To boot, the battery grip is made of material that is not only durable but comfortable to the hands without risk of becoming too slippery with sweat.
As you can see from the above discussion, this gimbal has ridiculous capacity to work in various setups from solo use to professional multi-use coordination. I personally, do not foresee myself using this gimbal to the full extent of its capabilities like using the DJI High-Bright Remote Monitor to support live feeds, or two receivers in control mode to control the gimbal motor, focus and other parameters.
I honestly may not even ever use the LiDAR focus (which there are some mixed reviews about currently). This may change in the future, but you can hear more about it on Parker Walbeck’s review.
But for my purposes, solo-shooting at weddings, corporate events, brand videos, this is perfect. I can use both mirrorless cameras and DSLR cameras (Canon EOS R series and 5D Mark IV), with battery grip, lights and battery attached.
Transport is secure by locking the gimbal and holding it by one of the carbon fiber arms. Its sleek, light, and besides a beautiful piece of equipment, efficient. Locking it also puts it into sleep mode, which I love so I’m not draining the battery excessively.
And even though I’m not a fan of it being battery powered, it has quick charging capabilities allowing it to be charged 0-80% within an hour.
When I commute to different shoot sites, it is easy to attach to the side of my Wandrd Prvke 21L backpack. And it’s different configurations with setup and detachable parts is easy to operate for whatever your needs might be when it comes to packing.
I immediately noticed a difference in the results I obtained from using the RS 3 Pro compared to my Glidecam. Regardless of how proficient I feel I have grown in using my Glidecam, the supersmooth shots of this beast were obvious even without using the supersmooth mode. By changing my deadpan settings, the simplicity of capturing ultrasmooth shots has been unmatched. For this alone, I feel the investment is worth it.
It does take education and practice to learn how to operate the settings on the RS 3 Pro, but once you do, you can tweak the default settings to obtain the exact gimbal stiffness, smoothness and responsiveness of your shots to your personal liking.
You can watch DJI’s instructional videos, read and watch other videographers reviews and tips, or get my quick and dirty cheat sheet on settings breakdown to tweak your RS 3 Pro.
I bought the RJI RS 3 Pro Combo a few weeks after its release date. The asking price was USD $1099. You can also purchase just the DJI RS 3 Pro by itself, but spending a few hundred bucks for the combo is worth it, in my opinion. The extra cables, lens-fastening support, extended tripod grip, briefcase handle, phone holder, focus motor equipment and ronin image transmitter are included in this package deal.
Top accessories like the DJI Ronin Expansion Base Kit for mounting and controlling on a jib, car, slider and other platforms are additional accessories that you’ll need to add on for an additional price if you need it. I didn’t, so I stuck with the combo.
Here are some issues I’ve had to overcome with the DJI RS 3 Pro though.
…is vital to do right so you don’t overload and overwork your gimbal motors unnecessarily. Learning this took me a minute. I had to re-watch multiple DJI and other youtuber videos on how to do this, but once I mastered it, it’s been a breeze.
Does take a little time when you first get on scene or if you’re making any adjustments to your setup like adding a monitor, microphone or light, or switching out a lens. Even something small like adding a lens cover can affect your gimbals balance and you’ll need to adjust and re-calibrate so that your gimbal operates to its maximal potential to give optimal results.
I am a huge fan of the Glidecam not being battery powered versus the RS 3 Pro being battery powered. I always feel like something can go wrong with the battery and then you’re stuck. Plus the Glidecam can take a beating (until the springs bust) versus I’m always taking care to protect the RS 3 Pro when I’m toting it from place to place. My suggestion to resolve this, which I do plan to do but haven’t done yet, is to purchase another battery. Having two is just a wise decision in my mind.
So to break this down in short form, here is a quick comparison of the pros and cons of the Glidecam versus the RS 3 Pro. Do note it is not extensive as the pros go on and on for the RS 3 Pro.
Glidecam vs. RS 3 Pro Comparison Chart
Glidecam vs. RS 3 Pro, is it worth it?
The RS 3 Pro is DEFINITELY worth the investment!
I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. I should’ve bought one a long time ago however I am happy that I started out with a Glidecam. At the end of the day, it has broadened my capabilities into being a more well-rounded videographer and doesn’t limit me to just using a motorized gimbal. I do feel my skills in walking, moving, upper body and core strength and endurance with using a stabilizer have all been honed by using my Glidecam.
I personally believe that’s why I love the RS 3 Pro so much. Yes, there was a bit of a learning curve with but once I got through that, the similarities are uncanny. It’s just that the RS 3 Pro has made shooting video footage that much easier and the results that much better.
Do I plan to get rid of my Glidecam? No. I will always keep it for scenarios where more life-like footage is needed. In fact, I plan on replacing my Glidecam HD-Pro just to be on the safe side.
But my first choice for the go-to stabilizer for my shoots from now on will be DJI’s RS 3 Pro. It is, ladies and gentlemen, an exceptional piece of equipment. And I am so glad I purchased it.
If you have any questions on this thing, or have similar or different opinions, please let me know. I’d love to hear your perspective.
If you’re on the fence… do it. Get the darn thing. You won’t regret it.
Til’ the next big DJI purchase, stay busy. Cheers!