Introduction: $1 Camera Image Stabilizer

Picture of $1 Camera Image Stabilizer
Add image stabilization to any camera. Works with video and still cameras and costs less than $1.

I have demonstrated the building process and use of the stabilizer in this video.

Here's a cool little gadget that you can use to seriously reduce camera shake. With this stabilizer, I find that I can hand hold still photos at least 3 stops slower that I could without it.

It also folds up to store easily in your pocket. Unlike a tripod, Its portable enough that you'll never mind taking it along.

Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List

For this project, you will need:

1 1/4 inch diameter bolt with coarse threads. You'll probably want the shortest one you can get. You could also use an eye bolt with the same threading.

1 piece of string a little longer than you are tall. The string needs to be a kind that doesn't stretch much.

1 large washer or other small weight. Take a look at the video to see how this works, and then use whatever you have available. One good idea might be something that you could wind the string around.

Take a look at the video to see how all this is going to work.

Step 2: Tie on the Bolt

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Tie the bolt onto one end of the string. You can get all fancy and use a lashing like I did or you can use your best granny knot.

Step 3: Tie on the Washer

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Tie the other end of the string onto the washer or whatever weight you have chosen.

Step 4: Connect to the Camera

Picture of Connect to the Camera

To use the stabilizer, start by screwing the bolt into the tripod mount.

Step 5: Step and Pull

Picture of Step and Pull
Drop the washer on the ground and step on it. Then, pull up with the camera against the tension on the string.

One of the really great things about this gadget is that it is so easy to pan back and forth with.

This stabilizer will almost entirely eliminate vertical shake, and the added stability greatly reduces horizontal shake. For medium shutter speeds you'll notice a big improvement in image quality. It will also make your videos look a lot better.

This obviously does not make your tripod totally useless. It really isn't going to work for long exposure times, though it would certainly help. It is also maybe not the kind of thing that you want to use with a big heavy lens for long periods of time. That might get a little heavy. This is, however, a great solution for a huge number situations where you might need to use only medium or faster shutter speeds and for times when you just really don't want to bother with a tripod.

You can easily pack one in your camera bag. Then you'll always be ready when the need arises. Try that with your tripod.

Video Demonstration.


Flemming_K (author)2016-05-07

Nice trick

If you only have a smart phone, save the bolt and tie the string around your phone!

Argysh (author)2014-11-18

Simple and awesome.

thanks! :)

darman12 (author)2013-08-20

I love how portable it is. Nice idea :)

tinstructable (author)2009-07-14

Sorry, I am very new to photography and I just have to ask everyone who owns a canon what camera it is. Rebel? by the way, Eagle Scout, nice.

the rebel cameras are entry-level DSLRs which are simpler and cheaper.

Top range cameras are xD, and xxD
Entry level cameras are xxxD, and xxxxD
These Australian names.
x stands for the models eg 400D

You can look on the canon website for more information


sarawelder (author)2012-02-01

I needed a lightweight solution for a hiking trip to the Outer Hebrides and I have found it here. Great ible.. so easy to get parts and make... even in foreign parts if you forget it!thank you !

Sage7212 (author)2011-04-08

This is genius! So simple.

JoeMG (author)2011-03-18

thank you!

mmould03 (author)2009-10-04

Kudos on a great idea.

marf123 (author)2009-07-31

Really Genius !

Benson1 (author)2009-06-11

wait......whats with your shoes? they look like crocs, only cool.....

shoemaker (author)Benson12009-06-12

Nike Zveddochka. Definitely better than croc. Just for trivia purposes, Nike developed the technology to make crocs, but didn't really know what to do with it. They were using it to make pool sandals.

Benson1 (author)shoemaker2009-06-13

well apparently they do know what to do with them, much more than that silly croc company. Also, very nice replacement for a tripod. I might try it out soon.

éolien (author)2009-06-01

awesome awesome awesome!

Th33w0krap15t (author)2009-05-27

Genius, I wish I had known about this trick earlier but I plan to carry this on me on all my shoots.

XiTown (author)2008-12-24

Thanks again for the excellent tutorial! I just created my own image stabilizer for 77 cents! (The string was free.) I wonder if I can take the stabilizer on an airplane... maybe in checked luggage? I better research. Thank you!

XiTown (author)2008-12-23

Can you do a tutorial on how to tie various knots? This lashing technique looks so useful!

lvcantheist (author)2008-10-06

THANK YOOOU!!!!!!!!!!! my hands shake, this helps

artistabh (author)2008-08-28

Is it possible to connect the system to the belt? This way it turns mobile.

LikeTotally (author)2008-05-27

Great Instructable - and, REALLY COOL SHOES - wicked cool, even.

akaeon182 (author)2008-04-25

nice i throught at first that this was going to be cheap and lame but i was wrong very nice

shoemaker (author)akaeon1822008-04-29

Thanks. I am glad you like it. Of course there are ways to make this project look a lot cheaper and lamer, or more expensive and cooler. The function is still the same and I'm sure that most people will see a big improvement in their picture quality.

shoemaker (author)2008-04-23

It is kind of an old trick. I had it on Metacafe and then Kipkay posted his movie. Some people accused him of copying me, but he says that his movie was originally posted months earlier with minimal success so his most recent submission of the movie was a re-submission. Anyway, the point is, its an old photographers trick.

nanonano58 (author)2008-04-22

nice shoes :)

shoemaker (author)nanonano582008-04-23

Thank you. Nike Zvezdochkas.

dchall8 (author)2008-04-19

Kipkay did NOT do it first. Kipkay barely did it at all. His was almost an afterthought in an group of semihelpful hints for photographers. I say semihelpful because each of his hints was worthy of an entire Instructable but he made them too brief. This is much better than kipkay's version. The bickering about whether something has already been posted is starting to wear on me. When you blatantly copy someone else's Instructable, then I have a problem with that. And if you are inspired by other Instructables, or even other websites, a citation would be a nice gesture. But if you have a slightly different way of presenting something that has already been seen, I am perfectly fine with that. How many different paper airplanes are there? This website encourages us to submit more and more of the same old thing. I'm waiting for the shoe tying contest to hit.

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-04-18

True Kipkay did make this ible first. If you got the idea from him them you should provide a citation to his ible. If you didn't get the idea from him, good job with the simple tool for a great outcome.

charred (author)2008-04-17

fantastic idea! wow, just wow! +1

ll.13 (author)2008-04-17

-note to self, no fancy characters-

Deja vu =)

dchall8 (author)2008-04-17

This is very useful and timely for me. Too bad you missed the pocket contest. The string you used looks like nylon, which happens to be the stretchiest string material available. Still, I think having a little stretch in the string is a good thing. Even a long bungee cord would be better than nothing...or a long string and a short bungee.

doubledown (author)2008-04-17

This is an excellent idea. My camera takes poor pictures when shooting without a tripod. I am going to make this very soon.

CameronSS (author)2008-04-16

Generally, "course threads" means 20 TPI.

CameronSS (author)CameronSS2008-04-16

That made a lot of sense as I typed it, but once I posted and read it again it didn't. I meant that a tripod mount screw is usually 20 TPI, not that any screw that is referred to as "course" will be 20 TPI.

theque (author)2008-04-16

:o! this is possible one of the most useful ideas to me on instructables. Way to go!

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