The Freefly Systems MoVI M5

Cameras

MoVI M5 with DX8

Today I got the Freefly Systems MoVI M5.  As an M10 owner I was not quite sure what to expect since this is a lower cost model.  I had seen a progression from prototype form to the final version online but never had it in my hands to judge in person.   When I first opened the box I was very surprised to see how well built and thoughtful the M5 was.  I do a fair amount of advising for shoots, owners and people who are considering buying so I like to be fully immersed and educated as to all the features, rigging options etc.  When advising or shooting with the M10 there is a lot of considerations that come into play and often I am called in or emailed to help provide answers as to why a rig isn’t working properly.  100% of the time it is user error.  Usually the M10 was not properly balanced or the software settings were changed to the wrong values etc.  With all that said it usually takes a good 45 minutes of proper prep on a MoVI shoot with a properly trained operator or tech.  Fine tuning is essential with the M10 as you are dealing mostly with 8-12lbs payloads, wireless gear etc.  Enter the MoVI M5.  I literally took the M5 out of the box and immediately threw a camera on it and was ready to run.  I did the most fundemental of balancing with a slight left to right, fore to aft camera balance and I was good to go.  Could this be I thought?  I then flipped the camera backward and inverted the handles and used the rig in inverted mode.  Again it was good to go.  Simple.  The M5 has simplicity on its side.

M5 with 1Dc

The first thing I noticed is that unlike the M10 (which I am not bashing, its fantastic and carries higher payloads) the M5 is 95% tools in setup.  The yaw (pan) balance now has two quick release latches and is keyed so you can easily adjust the center of gravity of the rig on pan within seconds.  You need a 2.5 hex driver for that on the M10.  Mind you the M10 is not keyed as you may need to make more adjustments to find the CG of a heavier payload.  This is one less step for the M5.  The other thing that stands out on the M5 is that it features a carbon fiber camera cage system that has a clamping shoe mount.  The reason for this is that the M5 is primarily for DSLR and lighter cameras.  These often only have one 1/4-20 screw on the bottom.  This can cause the camera to move (turn) which intern throws off balance.  The shoe clamp keeps the camera locked into position and provides a great amount of rigidity that would otherwise not be present.  You can remove this top piece to allow for a stripped down C100 or 1Dc etc if needed.  Mind you if you use a camera like a 1Dc or camera in the albs range you have to keep in mind your lens weight and any accessories you use.  You can rule out a wireless FF for example with a 1Dc, but it is doable with a C100.  If you plan on using a 1Dc, C300, etc its best to go with a MoVI M10 as it will accommodate cine glass and the other glue that you will need to be effective on a shoot.  If you stick with a 5D MKIII, GH4, 70D, etc you will have plenty of leeway with the M5 which is what this rig is really built for.

m5electronics

 

The M5 retains a lot of the M10 features.  A GPS, quality carbon fiber construction, same great warranty, same level of customer support, the ability to pair with a RC transmitter, the same balance / docking stand, same charger. Even the software (which has been updated) offers the same functions as the M10.  You can adjust the window (degrees) and smoothness of each axis, tuned majestic tilt and pan, check the voltage, temperature, you name it, its all in there. This is for Mac, PC or Android currently.

m54

Another difference between the M10 and the M5 is that the M5 has a tighter camera stage footprint.  Keep this in mind if you have cables etc sticking out of your camera as it can be a problem.  The M10 stage is much wider and give you plenty of room for AKS like wireless FF motors, converters, etc.  You will have plenty of stage room with a DSLR however.  The roll bar does not have side to side adjustment on the M5 so side to side balance on the rig must be well though out when it comes to accessorizing your setup.  Keep this in mind if using a camera that may be heavier on one side than the other.  You may need to place a focus motor on the other side to keep it balanced. The camera stage also has a new wider camera plate which will still accept the 15mm LWS option.

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The cables on the M5 are handled slightly different as well.  On my M10 it was possible to accidentally disconnect or affect a motor drive cable.  The M5 has the connectors nicely protected which prevents this issue.

m5motor

The handlebars on the MoVI M5 are fantastic and I hope this feature is offered in the future on the M10.  The M5 has two quick latches that allow you to rotate the handlebars for inversion mode or adjust left to right placement.  If you remove one hand grip you can quickly remove the handle bar for quick and easy packing of the rig.  I can see this rig being put into backpacks etc to be used on documentaries all over the world so quick set up and break down is great feature.

The MoVI M5 batteries are about half the size of the M10 yet they are still 14.8v 4S batteries.  They seem to give at least a good 2 hours of use even when the rig is maxed out and doing a fair amount of inversion mode.  This is great as you can carry two to four and get by on almost any shoot.  The batteries charge fairly quickly as well.

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You can buy the MoVI with or without an RC transmitter.  The transmitter version is approx $300 more and worth every penny.  You can also use the MoVI M10 and M5 as a remote head so consider this when or if you buy one.

The M5 is clearly a winner with its ease of use and a quality company to back it up.  Once you get your hands on one you will see why this system is so great and why producers and directors ask for the Freefly brand.  Quality, reliability and performance.  Its as simple as that.

To learn more about the Freefly MoVI M5 or M10 you can visit there website at www.freeflysystems.com

Michael Sutton

follow me on twitter at: @MNS1974

 

 

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Adam

    Hi Michael,

    Great blog.

    I’m a 1DC and C100 owner and am toying between the M10 and M5. Realistically, do you think the M5 and the 1DC are a workable combination?

    I know you’ve said the M5 will take the weight, but I’m wondering, after CF card and battery, how heavy a lens can be placed on it?

    Also, how do you control the C100 when using it on the M5 if the side handle has to be removed?

    Thanks

    Adam

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