I just upgraded my DSLR camera from a older Sony A200 (10.2 mp / no video / n00b) to a newer Sony A55 (specs here). It is a beast, with full hd 1080p, 16.2 mp sensor, 10fps continuous shooting, built in GPS, live view finder and continuous auto focus for movies. Anyhow, this led me to my next project. A DIY camera stabilizer. Basically, after a TON of research ive discovered there are a few basic designs for steady cams. The most famous are a Fig Rig (a large rig you hold with both hands), a Merlin Steadicam ( $500+, uses a Gimbal with weights) and a glide cam (another gimbal with weights). The first attempt will be the Merlin style steady-cam, however i am going to build a custom DIY version of each type.
My first build costs about $50 and is good, but not perfect. It still requires balancing and small tweeks. The handle consists of a 360 degree U-joint and 2 ball bearings allowing for almost friction-less movement. It is based around the concept of a gimbal, which allows the handle(and my shaking hand) to move freely without affecting the camera. The frame of my first build is using a steel hook, some
PVC pipe and large washers for weights. Check it out
Here is my first build – compared to just holding the camera
Here is someone showing theirs off.