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Hague Mini Motion Cam review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £73
inc VAT

If you want to get smoother handheld video footage, this is one of the cheapest ways to eliminate camera shake

The optical or electronic stabilisation in consumer camcorders is reasonably good these days, but the likelihood is that you’d like to get much steadier handheld footage from your video camera. We’ve looked at various solutions in the past, including the £600 Steadicam Merlin as well as trying to make our own budget version from a heavy tripod.

So, we were eager to find out how well Hague’s Mini Motion Cam (MMC) would fare, given its £70 price. This is almost ten times cheaper than the Merlin, and is just about within reach of most camcorder owners.

The MMC is designed for camcorders between 300 and 800g, although heavier models can be used if you add extra weights. The MMC works in exactly the same way as the Merlin: a freely moving ball-joint (known as a gimble) supports the camcorder, while a counter balance ensures stability. This arrangement means that sudden hand movements, or mere hand-shakes for that matter, aren’t transmitted to the camera, and lead to smoother movement.

The design is simple, yet highly effective. You attach your camcorder directly on top of the MMC, screwing it into the tripod mount. It’s crucial to spend a while finding the correct position on the sliding mount, as even a few millimetres forward or back will mean the camera lurches in either direction. Likewise, you must determine how many weights are needed for the counterbalance through a process of trial and error, fine-tuning the camera’s position at the top as you go. The weights can be rotated to the right or left to correct for camcorders that have an off-centre tripod mount, but if this doesn’t compensate enough, you can also buy a balance correction plate for £15.

Once the camera is properly balanced, it’s extremely stable and won’t tip forwards, backwards or side to side with even the most extreme hand movements. It’s important to note that you must disable any in-camera stabilisation before using the MMC, otherwise you could end up with jerky shots. Bear in mind, too, that you’ll need a good full auto mode, as you can’t touch the camera while filming, or you’ll wobble it. You can’t pan up and down, either, as the counterweight keeps the camera pointing straight ahead.

We tested the MMC with a Sony HDR-HC1E and, after only a little practice, we were able to achieve far smoother footage than with the camera’s standard electronic stabilisation. This is particularly noticeable when walking (including up or down stairs) where normal wobbling is virtually eliminated. Achieving smooth pans took more practice, but the results are worth the effort.

On the whole, we were deeply impressed with the stabilisation, but there are a few disadvantages to be aware of. One is that there’s no built-in spirit level for quickly checking the camera’s balance. Another two are the lack of a quick-release mechanism and the fact that the MMC doesn’t fold up like the Merlin. Of course, these are almost insignificant niggles at this price and certainly aren’t deal-breakers.

Thanks to the MMC’s sturdy build quality, it should last forever and considering its relatively low price, it’s a deserving winner of our Best Buy award.


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