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The first 3-axis gimbal I bought was the Nebula 4000 Lite. That thing was like a comfortable teddy bear that I took just about everywhere I went.
I had used various different pieces of gear in the past to try and stabilise my footage, but nothing else was so easy to set up and so reliable in giving me great footage.
It wasn’t perfect though and now there is a new kid on the block and very kindly the folks over at FilmPower sent me their new Nebula 4100lLite to see how they had improved on their previous design.
The first improvement – and one I was most excited about – is that it is now a tool-less design. The old model required an allen key to make changes. Not only was this a bit of a hassle, I was always terrified that I would lose that little allen key. FYI, I never did. So being able to make adjustments with just the little nobs makes balancing a camera on this device much easier and quicker.
The older model had a handle that could rotate 360 degrees, which was actually a really bad thing. This is because there were cables in there and I was always afraid that I would forget if I had turned it or not and one day turn it so many times that the cables would snap.
The new model has a hard stop in the handle and so that concern is gone, which is nice.
There are some cool controls on the handle too. There is a power button, a mode button and a joystick to control the rotation, if you so choose.
The button that I thought was a very cool addition is the start/stop button. If your camera supports having its record function triggered by IR, you can use this button to start and stop the recording without having to touch the camera. This is really nice as you also don’t have to take your hand off the handle to do this either.
Of course the IR signal does have to bounce off something, so you can’t use it just out in a field, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well this function does work.
In terms of performance, the weight limit has been increased from 1kg to 1.2kg. This may seem small, but on a unit this small, that little bit really does come in handy.
It really is the size and portability of this unit that makes it so useful for me. I have a larger gimbal for my larger cameras and that’s great for more involved shoots. But I can’t carry that one for long and I can’t look inconspicuous with that one either.
I can just carry the Nebula around my shoulder all day and it doesn’t get in the way.
Filmpower do make a cool little attachment you can get for it that allows you to mount your smartphone to use as a monitor for your camera. Alas this was out of stock and so I can’t speak to how useful it is firsthand.
The only little downside I would say is another feature that should be useful, but I can’t see myself using it. On the bottom of the handle is a 1/4 screw hole so that you can attach the Nebula to a tripod, monopod or maybe even a jib? This would be really cool, except there is a warning not to tilt it more than 30 degrees. I am guessing this is because the handle is plastic and so would break.
Because I am a bit nervous about it breaking and the whole setup with my camera falling to the ground, I am just not going to use this feature at all. I wonder if they could have built it with a metal frame on the inside of the handle to give it more strength? Oh well, maybe something for the 4400Lite? :)
Overall, this is a no-brainer for the price and what you get for it. A great little unit that is easy to set up, easy to use and is small enough to come on just about every shoot with me, whether I am planning on using it or not. The Nebula 4100 Lite is definitely one for the gear bag!
Some BTS footage of the team using it on some shoots recently.