Magiqcam Series IIa

Review by Kevin Clark

Year after year new products introduced to the consumer/prosumer video market seem to become more affordable to amateur and independent filmmakers that don’t have Hollywood budgets. The Magiqcam series IIa body mounted camera stabilizer is no exception and fills a consumer nitch in the ever-expanding camera stabilizer market. The Magiqcam IIa stablizier provides camera support to a prosumer class of camera and thus meets a commensurate price point in this category. Recognizing this will help you understand why this rig is designed the way it is; it’s features, abilities and limitations. Normally priced at $2100.00 but on sale through eBay and directly from Animagique for $ 1,650.00 the Magiqcam IIa comes delivered to your door in a molded case with custom foam cutouts to accommodate all the parts. Since each rig is built to order you should expect about 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. The Magiqcam IIa comes equipped with the following: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Comfort Vest (standard color is black but other colors are available) Dual Action 2 Spring Arm Sled with Bogen 3273 QR Plate on the top stage Gimbal Assembly Lower mounting arm Monitor Pod Universal Battery Mount Counter Weights and Retainer Screws Hex Wrench for Arm Adjustment Docking Station Molded Transport Case Protective Cloth Bags for Each Component 6 Page Instruction Booklet An optional Low Mode kit is also available for $200.

The center post. which is 7/8” in diameter. (The camera plate is also included but not pictured here) The Bogen QR base is mounted to a 1/8” aluminum plate that it tapped with two 8-32 socket head cap screw at each end. Assembling the Magiqcan IIa takes only a few minuets and is it’s worth mentioning that no tools are required. With the sled. monitor pod and battery mount weighing in at just about 5 lbs. QR plate. . battery and monitor combination in this weight range does require some planning and forethought along with any other accessories you plan to use like matte boxes and wireless receivers. Working our way from the top down we’ll take a closer look at each of the supplied components. lower mounting arm. These screws pass through slits in the top stage base and are secured with knurled knobs thus providing side to side camera positioning. is welded to the top stage base and has an overall length of 20”. Choosing a camera. this gives you about 10 lbs. of effective payload. The top stage is equipped with a Bogen/Manfrotto #3273 Quick Release Plate that provides for fore/aft positioning of the camera.The Magiqcam IIa is designed to support a total sled weight 5 to 15 lbs.

This allows you to rotate the monitor latterly but will also affect the static balance of the rig. The yoke is machined from a single piece of aluminum block to a finish thickness of ¾”. The IIa arm has dual expansion springs that are shielded from the elements by black fabric sleeves. I don’t mind this too much on the handle but on the post grip I prefer a more tactile feel and would rather see a knurled aluminum grip. No matter how hard you squeeze stopping on a dime just isn’t possible unless you remove the foam. Foam grips make fast moves like whip pans difficult to impossible because of the extra cushioning between your hand and the post. and like the other components is powder coated in a black finish. The monitor pod angle is tilt adjustable but neither of the mounting pods are moveable fore and aft which. which is very sturdy and has a nice feel to it. Even then it takes some practice! The lower mounting arm with the battery mount and monitor pod attached weigh in at a hefty 2 lbs 4oz. The gimbal assembly is equipped with foam grip padding on the post and handle.The gimbal assembly is pretty much straight forward with a compression fitted sealed pan bearing mounted at the center. Spring tension adjustment is made at the rear of each arm section by way of the supplied hex wrench. . Although basic in comparison to some. gimbals the unit I received had no flaws in it’s construction or alignment. depending on your monitor/battery combination would require use of counterweights to achieve balance. There have been a few varying reports of misaligned or faulty assembly by some users of these gimbals but I found no evidence of that whatsoever. more costly. The front-end post is supported by bearings that provide a smooth connection to the gimbal handle. The yoke connects via a socket head cap screw to the roll bearings mounted in the upper portion of the gimbal handle. The Monitor pod can accommodate LCD screens from 4” to 7” and is mounted on a round post with a knurled locking screw.

The block attachment is uniquely angled about 22° to the right of the vest front plane and although this connection block only has side to side adjustment screws because of the rearward angle of the bracket fore and aft balance is also affected. At the other end is the post used to mount the rig for balancing.The Arms construction appears to be very sturdy and is 26” in overall length including the elbow. At one end of the dock is a U shaped pickle fork for parking the sled and a hitch pin is provided to secure once the sled is in place. is made of T-6 aluminum. The Magiqcams docking station has a standard ½” socket with a locking nut that will mount on most any c-stand or light stand. The vest features 6 fully adjustable quick release buckles attached to heavy duty nylon straps that lock down to the vest with Velcro. Here’s a picture from the top of the vest looking down that helps illustrate the angle at which the block is mounted. The total weight of the arm comes in at 6 lbs. In addition on both sides of the dock are 4” “antennas” that allow you to hang the arm and vest on the dock as well. 5 ozs. again powder coated in a black finish. The front plate. Also noted were two pieces of medium density black foam on the inside edge of the elbow – acting as cushioned end stops when the arm is collapsed. Thinking of it more as a diagonal adjustment may make this easier to understand. The last thing worth mentioning is the inclusion of a docking station. . This is one of those things that ends up being an afterthought on so many commercial systems and generally something that has to be purchased separately. Although by no means a very sophisticated connection block by comparison to others it does do the job and at a fraction of the cost. Each bone is 10” long and each section is about 5 ½” high. The inclusion of this docking station is a nice touch to the overall Magiqcam package.

Once mounted up I discovered that a good neutral position required backing the tension off about another ¼” or so on both springs. With the full rig on I soon learned that this was not an easy task. This is easily accomplished by unscrewing the two knobs on the front of the vest plate and repositioning to holes lower on the chest plate. and a Marshall 7” monitor with an AB power tap cable. . I also noticed a tendency for the sled to drift away from my body and knew that the connection block needed adjustment. In addition. After mounting the rest of the goodies and balancing the sled the gimbal was moved about 1/3” above the sleds CG which resulted in a drop time of about 2-3 seconds. In addition I used a Varizoom StealthLX LANC controller that fit very nicely on the gimbal handle. The total range of the lower plate adjustment is about 7” up and down. Suiting Up The vest fit very comfortably but the front plate had to be adjusted much lower so that the connection block was closer to hip level and not riding up around my rib cage. Even with the full rig on I found adjusting the spring tension was a snap to do with the supplied hex wrench. Since I had considered the weight of each component prior to assembly it was no surprise that the entire sled including cables weighed in at 15 lbs on the nose. an Anton Bauer Hytron 50 and the AB gold plate made for 7.The Assembly Assembling and balancing the rig took no more than 30 minuets from start to finish. Due largely to the monitor and battery combination I decided to use which statically balanced the lower mounting arm right out of the box! The gear used for this review was a Canon XL2 with the Canon 3x lens. So your camera power and monitor output have to be run externally which not only tend to get in the way of operation but also effect your balance every time you move them around. Careful choice of cables and their length help to minimize this effect. Knowing that I was at the top end of the weight capacity I adjusted the arm springs to about a ¼”” below the top of their maximum travel.2v output to the XL2. there are some simple modifications that can be implemented to run cables through the post but I’ve reserved those for a separate article on mods to the IIa. (not pictured) One drawback of note was the inability to run any cables through the center post.

for the cost of this rig. The arm felt a little on the spongy side and has a strong tendency to return to its center after booming.As you can see from the picture there are two screws that need to be adjusted. Despite the 93 degree weather we were experiencing on the day I decided to shot some test footage I was happy with the rigs overall performance considering it’s cost. So you have to keep things in perspective. This may add a little to the fatigue factor but nothing I would consider unreasonable unless you were shooting for more than an hour or so straight. Even after flying for about an hour straight I can’t say that I experienced any back strain or fatigue beyond any other front mounted rig I’ve flown. You just can’t expect to get the silky smooth operation you get from a G-50 arm in a rig under $2K. Yes. that is entirely understandable. Having said that though I don’t think you could find another arm in this price range that would perform as well as this one does From an operational point of view. . I found that letting my right arm take about 15% of the sleds weight by detuning the springs a bit and keeping a firm grip on the gimbal handle smoothed out the tendency for the arm to pogo or bounce. After a few minuets of fumbling around I did finally get the block positioned correctly. But again. The top one is relatively easy provided you have a screwdriver handy. The Test Drive The first thing I noticed when flying the rig was that it felt comfortable and solid. The bottom one however is completely out of sight when the vest is on so getting a screwdriver into the slot on the screw is bit of a hit or miss proposition. As far a connection/socket block goes this is a relatively simple one and doesn’t really allow total control of arm positioning but it is effective within its operating range. there are many designs that allow you independent fore/aft and side/side adjustments with just a few twists of your fingers but many of those cost half as much as this entire rig.

Frankly. there was plenty to shoot of course but I hadn’t anticipated the effort it takes to keep pace with somebody on wheels when your on foot carrying an extra 20 lbs+.hbsboard.One thing I was not pleased with was the arms inability to rotate further than about 45° to the right of center. Absolutely no forethought had been put into shooting at this location.41 MB (Windows Media Video 9) http://www. it was just a snap decision. The picture to the right illustrates the arm rotated to its full clockwise extent. booming shots. tracking. walking. Well. after sweating about 2 gallons I was just happy to have survived the day! Here are the links to the test footage: Highband .wmv Image Gallery A gallery of detailed images of the Magiqcam IIa is located here: http://www. running.com/online_media/IIa_test_footage_384k.hbsboard. slow to fast. etc. but I figured there would be an abundance of moving subjects to choose from. No attempt was made to keep my shadow out of the frame or anything else for that matter.com/online_media/IIa_test_footage_768k.com/online_media/magiqcam_IIa_images/index. The fact that the connection block is angled about 22° to the right of the front vest plane is also a contributing factor to this problem. Part II of the test footage was a little practical application of the rig shot at a neighborhood skate park. In Part I the attempt was made to try a number of different shooting scenarios or movements – fast to slow. pans.wmv Lowband . Add to that 93° of heat and humidity you could cut with a knife and you have the makings for one heck of a workout. The Test Footage The test footage was shot in two segments with Part I being some relatively unentertaining shots around the front of my house in order get a feel for the rig and Part II was done at a local skate park in an effort to evaluate the practical application of the stabilizer.hbsboard. This is caused by the arms offset connection to the vest and as a result the arm backs into the hip padding/straps and cannot rotate further. After all this is only test footage.htm .20 MB (Windows Media Video 9) http://www. This was the first time flying the fully configured rig and allowed me a little time to get familiar with its feel and operation.

If looking at airplanes how could you fairly compare a Cessna 172 performance to a Learjet 45? Their just two different classes of aircraft.HBSboard. although it may lack some of the advanced features and user-friendly adjustments of the pricier rigs. body-mounted stabilizer. price. price. As a final word I think it’s important to mentioning a little about the Magiqcam’s maker. Based in Paradise California. Reviewed by Kevin Clark for www. At an introductory price of only $2. with the performance and features of the Magiqcam IIa for under $2000.000 rig.com or contact Animagique at animagique@sbcglobal. And. Animagique. If you are seriously shopping for a stabilizer and your budget is under 2k then this rig is very much worth consideration. is a fine stabilizer for lightweight cameras and performs extremely well for its price.com .450 the 2p has many professional features including a fully adjustable socket block and donkey boxes top and bottom. the Magiqcam 2p. In addition Animagique is constantly making design improvements to their products based on customer feedback and have recently released a new stabilizer.magiqcam. In my opinion I think you would be hard pressed to find a brand new.net or phone (530) 872-7647.000 – $10. with a 4 spring arm designed for up to 20 lb loads.Conclusion The Magiqcam IIa. price.00 anywhere. from my experience. Once again I have to stress it’s all about. John and Kelly are both very nice people that are easy to deal with and happy to answer any questions you may have. John’s background is in mechanical effects fabrication for the film industry and also as an aircraft mechanic. Great customer service by helpful knowledgeable people is a rarity these days and it’s great to have when you purchase a piece of equipment like this. It would be futile to compare the performance of the Magiqcam IIa to that of a $6. Animagique is a 5-year-old company owned and operated by John and Kelly Gardner. they are very accessible and willing to make you happy with their product. Be sure to have a look at that one! For more information visit please www.