Swivl pan and tilt platform (1 of 4)

Short rant about Kickstarter

Before I dive into the Swivl, first a little note about kickstarter.

You might have noticed that I no longer post much about new camera related kickstarter projects. That’s because out of the 9 or so projects I’ve backed so far only three projects went off without a hitch. Four had major delays (like the Swivl above), one had a lawsuit against the manufacture, and one was just plain junk. While I like the idea of kickstarter, it’s not a place to shop for something cool, it’s a place to invest your money and hope for something cool. You might eventually get something and you might save some money, but it’s a roll of the dice as to how long it’ll actually take to deliver and what the final product will look like. It doesn’t matter how cool the idea is when it takes more than a year to show up, things change and the market moves on.

The Swivl

Swivl pan and tilt platform (3 of 4)

The Swivl finally showed up last week after more than a year of waiting (the project fully funded January 2013). As one of the early backers I was able to get the Swivl with a remote and case for just $149, that’s a little under half the retail price. Even though the delays on delivery where disappointing, I personally ended up getting a good deal even if the project is half baked.

There were a lot of great ideas and plans for apps to go along with the Swivl but I don’t think we’ll be seeing any of those in the near term and the apps that are currently available are lackluster at best. For some this is a big disappointment but for me the apps were only secondary to the motion tracking feature.

Swivl pan and tilt platform (4 of 4)

While the original intent of the Swivl was tablets and smartphones, they’ve managed to retrofit a plastic quick release plate and an adapter mount for the unit. It isn’t exactly ruff and tumble and they had to make sacrifices with the internal gears that limit the maximum weight capacity. In my short amount of testing, the Swivl seems to do ok with the Panasonic GH4 and the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens but I don’t think I’d attempt a 5d mark III with anything much bigger than a Canon 50mm f1.4 on this guy.

The included case feels premium but the unit itself feels very plastic and fragile. I know the platform is designed to pan and tilt but when you pick it up, things seem to flex a bit in the hand. For the $149 I paid it’s not that big of an issue, but for $300 there are much more rugged options like the Soloshot on the market. The Soloshot might not have all of the smartphone and audio possibilities but it’s much more rugged and has a higher weight capacity for the same price.

Swivl pan and tilt platform (2 of 4)

Where the Swivl will hopefully shine is the audio features built into the remote. Not only does the remote have a built in microphone, but it also supports powered lav mics. I haven’t tested this feature yet, but if it works well I could see this being a very nice option for public speeches and classroom recordings.

I’ll post some more on the Swivl once I’ve had a chance to play with it a little more. Going to spend my 4 day holiday weekend catching up on reviews and playing around with some new gear that’s been neglected. I’ll keep you posted.

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