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I'm looking at something called at a Steadicam that stabilizes cameras. It looks like this

enter image description here

Clearly, the weights at the bottom are used for dampening/stabilizing. If the arm holding the weights were shorter/longer, would the stabilizing effect be affected? Would the centre of gravity change if the arm lengths were different (and thus affecting stability)?

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The device seems to work like this: The weight attached to the arm always pulls down. You tilt the camera right, the weight moves left and up so it pulls against the tilt. Same for forward/backward tilt etc. The red knobs seem to be for adjusting where exactly the camera sits relative to the weight.

now to your question:

If the arm holding the weights were shorter/longer, would the stabilizing effect be affected? Would the centre of gravity change if the arm lengths were different (and thus affecting stability)?

The weight needs to be under the center of gravity of the grip+camera, else the stabilization would not work. The stabilization effect will be greater when the weight is lower (along a vertical line) as the weight will have a longer lever to pull back against tilt.

If my description is unclear, do a home experiment: Take a hammer at the grip so that the hammer head is on the side of your little finger and downward, see how easy or hard it is to tilt the hammer depending on where you grip the shaft. You may also want to walk around holding your camera and something about as heavy as the steadicam in one hand, to see if it's comfortable for you.

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I think the most simple version would place the CG of the whole system right at the handle! this would eliminate any need for active electronic or mechanical damping. So the range of the adjustable counter weight lever would allow for working with different shapes and masses of camcorders. you would adjust to system by holding it and moving fast to the sides and back and forth and observing any rotation or sway. then by fine tuning the distance of the counter-weight you minimize the imbalance till you're satisfied with calibration. I guess the knobs are to adjust the grip for intentional tilt and sway to capture dynamic sports scenes!

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