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The devices in our pockets already shoot in glorious high definition, but what if you could capture perfectly smooth handheld smartphone video too? That’s exactly what the SwiftCam M3 is designed to do.

Slot your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or just about any sub-4.7″ smartphone into the adjustable grip and the three axis auto-stabilizing gimbal stops your shaky hands from ruining the shot – even when you’re running.

This is one of the coolest smartphone accessories 6 Gorgeous, High-End Smartphone Accessories Your Phone Secretly Dreams Of 6 Gorgeous, High-End Smartphone Accessories Your Phone Secretly Dreams Of So you own a smartphone, what's next? For most of us, the answer is "nothing". Smartphones are expensive as it is, and together with the case and screen protector we usually end up getting (we... Read More I’ve ever seen (let alone used) — and we’re giving it away!

For Smartphone Spielbergs

The SwiftCam M3 is a stabilizer for video shot on smartphones which reduces camera shake by dampening sudden movements over three axes — pan, tilt and roll. Three brushless motors account for your clumsy actions, constantly making tiny adjustments which keep the camera steady. While many smartphones and apps already apply a certain level of software stabilization, the M3 takes it to the next level by accounting for physical movement.

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For your $299 investment you will get a SwiftCam M3 stabilizer with lithium polymer battery, charger with charging adapter (more on this later) and soft carry case. There’s also a very short instruction leaflet which tells you everything you need to know about getting started, though this is virtually meaningless until you turn it on and actually play with it.

The M3 is officially designed for use with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, the iPhone and Xiaomi Redmi. After testing, it seems just about any smartphone will fit provided it’s around the size of an iPhone 6 — but not the 6 Plus or other phablet-sized devices Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? The term "phablet" very much applies to Apple's recently announced iPhone 6 Plus, but there's more to it than just a bigger screen. Read More .

The device allows you to essentially pivot on one axis, and the M3’s in-built software smooths out movement which allows for flowing “steady-cam” style shots that are more commonly associated with devices like the SteadyCam Smoothee or professional rigs that require expensive training to use.

This is far more fun than it sounds, particularly if you dream of producing your own short films or documentaries Smartphone Spielberg: How To Shoot Striking Videos on Your Mobile Smartphone Spielberg: How To Shoot Striking Videos on Your Mobile The best camera you can possibly lay your hands on is the one that you currently have on you, or so the saying goes. Ever since hardware manufacturers started putting bigger and better cameras on... Read More . It’s a bit like picking up a digital SLR for the first time, and though there are caveats and drawbacks, there’s a huge amount of potential for filmmakers with the M3.

Design & Build

The stabilizer is split into two sections – the metal support structure for the motors and smartphone mount, and a hard plastic trigger grip that bears more than a passing resemblance to run and gun Super 8 film cameras.

Once turned on and calibrated, the stabilizer is very comfortable to use and feels great in the hand. There’s a definite weighty quality to the rig, which further reduces sudden movements, and the construction feels pretty good on the whole.

There’s a single button on the front of the grip, which is used to turn the device on and off. The battery compartment and charging connector are found at the very bottom of the device, and it’s here where build quality is arguably at its worst.

A flimsy, removable and easily-losable plastic door hides the lithium polymer battery and its charging connection. It’s possible that, being a simple lithium polymer battery, you could feasibly buy a few cheap batteries as one Reddit user reported.

Battery life is excellent, and suited my filming schedule perfectly – which is of course limited to the life of your smartphone. I use an app called FiLMiC Pro for recording video at higher bitrates than Apple’s camera with full manual control over exposure, focus and white balance. Coupled with the fact that shooting video is one of the most power-hungry tasks you can throw at your smartphone, this results in an hour to around 90 minutes of shooting — and the SwiftCam outlasted my phone every time.

Charging isn’t quite so rosy, however. For some reason (possibly to facilitate multiple or replacement batteries), there is no traditional charging port on the M3. Instead you need to open the battery compartment, disconnect the battery cable from the battery itself, and manually connect it to a snap-in cable (the kind of cable you use to power fans in a desktop PC case).

This then connects to another adapter, which makes its way to the wall via standard charging methods. It’s a fiddly process that may result in a lost battery cover, particularly as this cover completely detaches from the unit. In a way, it feels like the designers never quite got round to finishing the SwiftCam at this end.

The only other build quality concerns I had were cosmetic ones, as a few of the painted-black metallic elements started to scratch and chip with very light use. It won’t affect your videos, but I was left wondering why they were painted black at all.

Using the SwiftCam M3

To use the SwiftCam you first need to load your smartphone into the grip, and find the centre of gravity. That sounds a lot harder than it is, and all you really need to do is ensure your smartphone is roughly balanced when it sits in the mount. If the device is hanging too far to one side, the stabilizer will not work.

Once you have isolated the centre of gravity, pressing the device’s sole button will power it up. You’ll need to hold it straight for a few seconds so that the stablizer can find the sweet spot around which to pivot. If the M3 won’t calibrate or you find your horizon levels aren’t quite straight, turn it off and adjust the centre of gravity and try again.

As you move your hands around, the stabilizer will resist your movement and prevent your device from moving around too much. You have virtually no “hands-on” control over your camera at this point, and instead will need to suggestively use movement to guide the gimbal into the positions you require for your shots.

This sounds more complex than it really is, and ten minutes of playtime with the SwiftCam will teach you just about everything you need to know about getting it to do what you want. Touching the SwiftCam while in use will result in some rather unsightly sudden motions as it tries to counter for excessive force, often resulting in jerky motion.

There’s a definite learning curve to getting the most out of the M3, particularly when accounting for this limitation. An over-extended lean or nudge with your finger is all it takes to ruin a beautifully smooth shot; so practice is everything.

One Problem

Despite the odd chip of paint and a very unorthodox charging process, the SwiftCam M3 is a very accomplished bit of kit. The results are impressive, and I absolutely love the way it elevates smartphone videography to the next level whether you’re filming a documentary or simply want better video on your travels.

However there is one slight issue that some users may find limiting. Due to the way the grip is constructed with one brushless motor sitting almost flush against the base of your smartphone, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to connect any other devices while filming.

The biggest problem in this respect is the inability to connect an external microphone Better iPhone Audio & Video: Adapters, Microphones And Accessories For Superior Sound [iPhone] Better iPhone Audio & Video: Adapters, Microphones And Accessories For Superior Sound [iPhone] Last week I rounded up a few of the best apps for capturing video and the accessories you might want to consider if you want to get the most out of your iPhone’s video capabilities.... Read More . The iPhone in particular supports a range of USB microphones and audio interfaces, but there’s just no way to access the Lightning port while using the SwiftCam. This also limits your ability to charge your iPhone while you shoot.

It’s not possible to simply mount your smartphone the other way round, because the lens is covered by the brains of the M3. In order to get good quality sound, you will need to record your audio separately to a dedicated device (which will always provide better results) and sync it up later in post.

For casual shooting this isn’t so much of a problem, though it’s worth noting you can audibly hear the motors making tiny adjustments as you use the device. Seeing as most smartphone microphones are positioned on the end closest to the motor, you can hear it on your footage. This would be far more of a problem if the motors weren’t brushless, however.

To see what video shot with the SwiftCam M3 looks like, check out our video review at the top of the page.

Fun, Useful, Creative

The SwiftCam M3 is undoubtedly one of the most impressive accessories that exists in smartphone realm, and simply wielding the stabilizer is enough to give you directorial delusions of Hollywood grandeur 6 Short Movies Shot With An iPhone [Stuff to Watch] 6 Short Movies Shot With An iPhone [Stuff to Watch] In addition to being a communication, entertainment and organisational god-send, the iPhone 4 and 4S are fairly capable video recorders. The iPhone Film Festival (IFF), a bi-annual celebration of handheld motion picture goodness, has taken... Read More . The resulting video is smooth, and enough practice with the SwiftCam should yield consistent results.

There are caveats to be aware of, such as the erratic movement that occurs as a result of nudging the device in use. Charging will always be a bit of a hassle, and those metal elements will scratch in time. The biggest issue you’ll have to overcome is limited access to your device’s ports in use, and that depends on what you’ll be using your stabilizer for.

Our verdict of the SwiftCam M3:
Buy it if you want smooth, stable video and can live without access to your device’s ports while shooting.
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Swiftcam 3-axis Aerial Filming Stabilizer for Smartphones (iPhone & Samsung) Swiftcam 3-axis Aerial Filming Stabilizer for Smartphones (iPhone & Samsung) Professional video shooting on your mobile phones Buy Now At Amazon $99.99

SwiftCam M3 Giveaway

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact James Bruce for further details.

  1. Muhammad Rifqi Saifudin
    June 16, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I think's it's good for my birthday gift at 29th July xD

  2. Julia Maria Torres Mendez
    June 11, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I love swifcam m3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Aineias ALoha! :D
    June 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Nice :D

  4. Active Core
    June 8, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Good review!

  5. Percy Manuel
    June 5, 2015 at 1:27 am

    Very Handy and snazzy for training and capturing observations during workplace assessments.
    Great.

  6. Blayne Overman
    June 5, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Good review.... I;d like one if you are giving it away... Otherwise..... maybe next time.

  7. leefuji (gmail)
    June 2, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Looks good :-)

  8. jshaw
    June 2, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    This looks like a great idea. Love to have one. BTW, I have enabled cookies for this site and I still get the message that you are being blocked. I don't get it.

    • Aibek Esengulov
      June 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Hey there, could you send us a screenshot of That blocked message. We need to investigate why that happens.

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