We’ve recently used both the Movi M5 and the Letus Helix Jr and can give a somewhat limited review on both based on a full 1 day shoot with the M5 and ongoing shoots with the Letus.
We shot a annual fund campaign for one of the Oxford University Colleges and here is the final edit:
For this, we hired in a Movi M5.
When it arrived, we were all suitably impressed by the sheer size of the pelican box it came in. It was about the size of 4 desktops side to side and little taller. Quite heavy as well. Opening it up, it was 2 tiered. The top tier had the batteries, the Small HD and batteries, and screwdrivers and associated parts for the Movi itself and an Amazon tablet.
The lower tier was just the Movi itself and underneath that, the stand.
To set up on a GH4 camera with no add ons, it took a little longer than the 15min Movi video. I would say allow yourself half an hour for an initial configuration and then a little bit more for additional configuration using the app. I would highly suggest you first configure, whichever stabiliser, with the battery in the camera and the lens cap off and add on/take off whatever it is you think you’ll be using on the shoot. Grams here and there make large differences. Setting up requires the stand at all times. Once set up, it performed as expected. Smooth, steady and responsive.
The Movi itself is an object of beauty. It is well made, it looks like and I could see a few eyebrows raised when we brought it out on set. It performed well on the day and I couldn’t fault the device itself per se..perhaps only the size of it in comparison to the Letus Junior. There are other considerations first that I think one should think about prior to size and form factors:
1- The carrier required to lug around all that you will need on a Movi shoot is considerable. Had we had to take it abroad, it would have been extremely impractical. Not only the carrier but having to set it up on the stand, rest it on the stand and you can only restart while it is on the stand. I understand why but Letus have done away with this and it makes life easier. Without an assistant on the day, it would have been a more convoluted day.
2- Batteries – If overcharged, they are a hazard. If they completely run out, they are unusable. The light does flash when the battery is low but I missed it once but thankfully it was towards the end of the shoot.
3- The size of the Movi itself in some situations was a little impractical. It’s quite a large device and you need space to move around in to get the best out of it. If you are constrained then it’s usefulness is limited.
If none of the above are of note to you, it’s a solid device. The price has plummeted recently as there are plenty of new entrants to market and new ones routinely.
Letus Helix Jr
There are 2 things that immediately came to attention when the box arrived. It’s small, no stand was included and it’s light.
No stand is included because no stand is necessary. It has a flat bottom so you configure without a stand. This makes quite a difference as you don’t have to carry a stand with you everywhere you go.
Secondly, you can fit it in a rucksack. We shot with this in NYC and the flew it back to London without baggage disruption. It fitted well within existing luggage. This would have been improbable with the Movi M5. Lastly, as mentioned, it’s lighter than the M5 but not enough to warrant an entire decision change.
One should note that it is entirely different in operation to the Movi. With the Movi, it follows your hand movement. The Letus Helix Jr does to an extent but the right hand handle is primarly for the up/down movement. You can shoot without changing your posture and get up/down tilts just by moving the handle up and down. Overall, the shooting experience with the Letus was good and what we expected, especially at that price point.
The caveats are that you cannot flip open the screen..well, you can but you’d need to set it up with the screen already flipped open. It makes a loud start up noise which I don’t think is adjustable and the follow isn’t as smooth as the Movi M5. Not that one would notice as much.
In effect, for travel and a lightweight operation I would recommend the Letus Helix Jr. It would have been nice if I could flip out the screen to adjust ISO etc without having to place it down, shift the camera and then reconfigure the entire rig everytime.