The Ultimate Steadicam Volt Review!
So over the last month or so, we have seen a distinct increase in the number of people reaching out for advice on the Steadicam Volt so we have decided to publish our dedicated Steadicam Volt review to help any of our readers who are considering adding this handheld gimbal to their collection. Apparently, some large YouTube vloggers have released videos going over their vlogging kit and they apparently use the Steadicam Volt and we think this is the main reason so many people are reaching out about it.
We have seen questions ranging from is the Volt good for vlogging, is it decent for smartphone videography, should it be used for GoPro image stabilization, and is it better than a traditional electronic gimbal stabilizer? We, we are hoping that this article will answer all of your questions and more.
The Volt actually came from a Kickstarter campaign ran by Tiffen and it ended up receiving 1100% of the funding required. In our opinion, just like many things from Kickstarter, the hype builds up and the actual product fails to deliver. The Volt is not like a traditional electronic 3 axis gimbal and its not like a Glidecam setup either, it is essentially something in the middle. In our opinion, Tiffin who created the Volt has tried to go for a jack of all trades master of none approach and kind of missed the ball on both.
If you are looking to pick the Steadicam Volt up for your smartphone, then we would highly recommend that you check out the Zhiyun Smooth 4 instead. If you are looking at the Volt for your GoPro or other action cameras, we would recommend that you check out the Hohem iSteady Pro 2. Both of these units do a much better job and are at the same price point as the Steadicam Volt.
That said, the Steadicam Volt does hold a little ground if you are looking for something that can work with both action cameras and smartphones right out of the box without you having to go off and purchase additional accessories. Since the release of the Steadicam Volt, its reputation has remained pretty average within the community in all honesty with it failing to really take off.
Performance And Functionality
Although not officially listed as a feature of the Steadicam Volt, many budget action cameras on the market essentially just rip off the GoPro design so some of the units from brands like Akaso will work with the Volt even though they are not listed.
Anyway, one of the main selling points of Steadicam style stabilizers is that their image stabilization, especially when panning left and right look and feel more natural to the viewer. Although this is one of the things that Tiffen have used to try and help with sales of the Volt, the statement is not really true anymore.
Electronic 3 axis gimbals like the Zhiyun Smooth 4 have come on leaps and bounds over the years whereas the performance of the Steadicam style stabilizers has remained pretty much the same as always. The modern handheld electronic gimbals offer you various modes such as point of view mode that help to ensure your video footage looks as natural as possible.
Additionally, with a little practice using manual mode, you can pretty much get your smartphone or action camera to pan just as well in a regular gimbal than you can with the Steadicam Volt so that’s one of the biggest features blown out the water. Anyway, let’s take a look at some sample video footage captured using the Volt.
Now, as you can see, the video footage recorded using the Steadicam Volt is pretty smooth in all fairness to it. With a little bit of practise, you can get some pretty cinematic video footage and make some great quality videos using just your smartphone or action camera. Now, in our opinion, the image stabilization that the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is much better but the Steadicam Volt does have a trick up its sleeve.
The Volt is able to still provide your setup with some level of image stabilization even when its batteries are depleted. Now, it is not as good as the image stabilization when the Volt has a charge but it is better than nothing. On the flip side of this though, the Smooth 4 has a battery life of twelve hours so chances are, you will have all the power you could ever need with it while getting much better image stabilization.
When it comes to performance, we can see what Tiffen have tried to do with the Steadicam Volt but we just feel that they could have got much better results if they had just specialized in either motorized or Glidecam style stabilization. For the price tag that the Volt is currently available for, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 or the Hohem iSteady Pro 2 are just better options.
User Interface And Control System
As you can see in the image above, the control system and user interface for the Steadicam Volt is pretty straight forward and basic. Now, if you are a professional level videographer this can be a pain but the professional level users are not really the target market for the Volt. If you are just looking to pick up a quick and easy to use stabilizer for your smartphone or action camera then this can really play into your hands.
The simplicity of the Volt makes it perfect for anyone who has never used a gimbal before and just wants to get going as soon as they take the unit out of the box. It is easy to balance, easy to use, and easy to tweak to meet your needs for any specific situation that you may find yourself in. On top of this, if you are looking to pick up your very first handheld stabilizers then the Volt is a great option as it is so simple.
It is easy to mount and unmount your device as required as well as rebalance the stabilizer to meet your needs as you record. In all fairness to Tiffen, we can’t think of anything that we would change when it comes to the user interface for the Volt and when you consider their target market for the device, it pretty much does as required.
That said, if you are a more experienced videographer then this is probably not the device for you. Although it is very easy to use, it does lack some of the more advanced features and customization that more advanced users will probably want out of their stabilizer.
Build Quality And Design
The actual build quality of the Steadicam Volt is also pretty solid and as we already mentioned, it is very lightweight with it coming in at just over one pound but in addition to this, it is also pretty robust. If you are planning on using the Volt when you are out and about or for traveling, it is nice to know that it should be able to take any punishment coming its way without issue.
One thing that we wish the Volt did have was in unit charging! It seems like such a simple feature, especially in this day and age as pretty much every other modern handheld gimbal stabilizer on the market offers it. Unfortunately, if you want to charge your batteries for your Steadicam Volt then you will have to remove them from the stabilizer and charge them in the separate charging unit.
Just like with the user interface, we can’t really fault Tiffen when it comes to either the design or build quality of the Volt. It does exactly what it is supposed to and provides you with a small, lightweight, robust stabilizer that can provide you with some entry-level image stabilization wherever you are.
Question – Can the Steadicam Volt be mounted to a selfie stick or a jib?
Answer – Although technically it can, in our opinion, the Volt is not stable enough to be mounted so far away from your hand and it would end up having a negative effect on the overall image quality that you are able to capture with the device. If you do want some distance shots then we would recommend picking up the Yoozon Selfie Stick and just mounting your smartphone to it to capture your selfies.
Question – Is there a smartphone app for the Steadicam Volt?
Answer – No, at the time of writing, there is no official smartphone app for the Volt but Tiffen have confirmed that there is one in the works. By the time you are reading this, it may have been released do a quick search in your app store. That said, there are a few third-party apps that do offer some limited functionality for the Volt but they are a waste of time in our opinion and need a ton of work.
Question – Does the Steadicam Volt make a sound when stabilizing your smartphone or action camera?
Answer – No, the Volt is totally silent as it uses an assisted balance system rather than actual gimbal motors to provide its image stabilization for your smartphone or action camera.
That brings our Steadicam Volt review to an end and in all honesty, at its current price tag, we would recommend that our readers seriously take a look at the Zhiyun Smooth 4 for smartphones or the Hohem iSteady Pro 2 for action cameras over the Steadicam Volt. As they are the same price but offer better image stabilization and functionality we just feel like they are better camera accessories to pick up.
We can definatley see the initial attraction for people to the Volt and the sales video on Kickstarted does make it look like an excellent bit of kit but in our opinion, it is just too expensive compared to what you can get from other stabilizers at this price point. Even then, if the Volt did get a large reduction in its price tag, the problem with the entry-level stabilizer market is that if someone can afford an expensive smartphone, they can probably pay the difference between the Volt and the Zhiyun Smooth 4 and get the better levels of performance anyway.