Archive for October 29, 2017

Introducing the Dobot Rigiet

The Dobot Rigiet is a gimbal for holding your smartphone steady without the shakes and jars of handheld or selfie-stick videography. Note, this is not a paid product placement. This review is split in two parts, the “History & drama” of the product, and the “First Look” of it.

Using the Rigiet in Sakae near Oasis 21 and Nagoya Tower

Using the Rigiet in Sakae near Oasis 21 and Nagoya Tower

I first invested in this KickStarter project when it was called “LitleCane” (yes, with that spelling) in January or February this year, with delivery was due in March. It wasn’t going to get across the funding threshold with the KickStarter all-or-nothing policy. So, the makers cancelled the project on the 23rd February with a little over half of the funding goal achieved (USD$28,000 of $50,000). Many of the backers, myself included, said that it appeared to be an excellent product, and that it was a project worth pursuing. It was relaunched on 25th April as “Rigiet”, and I backed this one as well. Delivery was meant to be in June. This time, the threshold was set to a more modest $30,000, but with better marketing, it achieved a series of stretch goals, and amassed an amazing amount of over $673,000 in pledges; far eclipsing their previous attempt. Despite June, then July, then imminent delivery promises in late July, I got mine in late September. Between June and September there were howls of complaints from other backers saying that they hadn’t received their product yet, and accusing the makers of being scammers.

Having seen the Gnarbox project run 14 months over time, and the delay tactics and crowd-appeasing tactics used by the Gnarbox crew, I soon saw a more rudimentary form of these from the Rigiet makers. They confirmed delivery addresses when it seemed that they weren’t quite ready for delivery. They sent delivery tracking numbers at the end of July, even though delivery was not imminent. Also, there were vague and infrequent updates delivered to backers. Currently, the most recent update was on the 16th August. Some in the Comments community complained that Rigiet were delivering official communications on their FaceBook page, but not on the KickStarter page.

The Rigiet KickStarter Updates page, showing the most recent update. Compared to the date on the computer.

The Rigiet KickStarter Updates page, showing the most recent update. Compared to the date on the computer.

To me, it makes sense for them to not deliver updates on KickStarter. First of all, the creators are not native English speakers, and appear to struggle to clearly say what they mean. It’s a forgivable issue. I didn’t back the Rigiet because of the English skills of its creators. However, KickStarter memorialises these pages, and so after 30 minutes of posting an update, it’s locked in place, and cannot be altered. In contrast, the creators have more editorial control over their messages on FaceBook.

The "Dobot" gimbal sold on

The “Dobot” gimbal sold on

It also became known to the backer community that the Rigiet was being sold on Amazon Italy as “Dobot”. At first, it seemed to be speculation, but on closer inspection, it seemed to definitely be the Rigiet. This is a violation of KickStarter rules that forbid the sales of products before all backers had received theirs. When I finally got my Rigiet, the box had the brand as “Dobot”, and the product was “Rigiet” (or is it vice-versa?). Looking at the page today, it appears that Dobot now own up to the Rigiet, something that wasn’t clear before.

As of the 4th October 2017, there are backers who are still waiting to receive their Rigiets, waiting to get responses to emails, waiting for refunds, and waiting for replacements of faulty devices.

The video below is a summary of the First Look. The text below contains more information, however, the video also gives you some sense of the product itself.


First Look

The day I received mine I was laid up on the couch feeling quite ill. I opened the box, spent and hour trying to get it to work, but unsuccessfully. I really couldn’t think or focus. It’s a device not-for-dummies. I gave up, and went back to Netflix.

The Dobot Rigiet with iPhone SE attached.

The Dobot Rigiet with iPhone SE attached. It’s being held like this as it couldn’t be switched on just yet.

Two days later I tried again, this time, reading the instructions very closely. It took a few attempts, but I got it to work. There are three issues to know about.

Firstly, the batteries need a lot of charging; I mean about about 12 hours each (I don’t actually know how long it takes). I didn’t know this, so when I tried to use the Rigiet with them (partly charged), I thought they (Rigiet & batteries) were faulty. The supplied batteries are type “18650” 2600mAh, and are meant to be able to recharge your phone even while the Rigiet is in use. Because of the apparent problem, I ordered new batteries from Amazon, ones that have a 3500mAh capacity. However, after using the Rigiet for a few hours at the Nagoya Jazz Festival, then checking the battery life on the app afterwards, shockingly only 50% of the battery had been used. The screenshot below shows the Rigiet battery is currently at 100%. I then realised that I’d wasted USD$70 for four 18650 type replacement/spare batteries. In conclusion, charge the batteries for about 12 hours each, which is when the supplied charger light turns green (it eventually will).

Screenshot of the settings page of the Rigiet app

Screenshot of the settings page of the Rigiet app

Secondly, you must start it in the T-shaped configuration (seen in the photo and video above). That means, you must have the phone absolutely perfectly balanced so it doesn’t fall either to the left or right, which isn’t difficult to achieve, then hold it like shown above, hold the rec/power button and count to five, and you should feel the motors start working.


At the Ozone Jazz Festival right now #jazz #music #japan #japanese #ジャズ

A post shared by Andrew JapanesePhotos (@japanesephotosasia) on


Screenshot of the Dobot Rigiet with tracking feature on (the green square)

Screenshot of the Dobot Rigiet with tracking feature on (the green square)

Other features

There are two main features you want to know about. One is the tracking feature (pictured above), and the other is the other stuff you want to also use. The tracking feature, when using the selfie-side camera on the iPhone, can be set to follow your face, and it does a reasonable job of doing it. You select the tracking button (bottom left of screen) and then draw onto the image a green rectangle what you want to track. I’ve found that for talking-head videos it is best for it to be on your mouth and nose, just so it frames your face well. Both the tracking and the bluetooth connection icons have a very small sensitive area, and so you will have to poke at them a few times until you’ve got them.

Actually, since I started drafting this blog post, I made a typhoon info video with my iPhone and the Rigiet, which you can see here: However, there are two issues with video recording as you’ll notice quickly on the video. Firstly, you need an external microphone, and if recording outside, it needs a muff (aka dead-cat, wind shield, fluffy-mic-cover-thing). You cannot rely on the internal mic of the iPhone. Here lies an issue, I haven’t tried yet, but I assume you can’t plug in a wired-lavalier mic, or any other mic, without upsetting the finely balanced gimbal. Consequently, you will want to use an external recorder with muff attached, especially if you’re outdoors. Also, do a clap in front of the camera and near the mic to make it easier to sync the external audio with your video.

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

The Rigiet has a tripod mount, but weirdly, on the side. Consequently, you’ll need a ball-head camera mount. Unfortunately, there is no place where you could attach an audio recorder or mic. There is a stand available for the Rigiet, but it wasn’t supplied, and Dobot didn’t seem interested in making it available.

To use the Rigiet, it takes practice. I suppose like a lot of things, it takes time to know how things work, and how to get the most out of them. The Rigiet works well in the T position, though it complains when you move the handle too far from this. In practice, it doesn’t transition to the inverted T or full-horizontal positions very well, not like advertised, and I don’t think it will re-orient a live recording. Or at least, I haven’t found the trick yet. Also, there is a way to turn the phone into the portrait position, which is very important for Instagramming, but it seems this is an unnatural position for the Rigiet. In the upright T position it feels composed, but in the portrait position you can feel the little motors working hard. Some features of the Rigiet app are not available in the portrait orientation.


Sample of motion timelapse on the Rigiet

A post shared by Andrew JapanesePhotos (@japanesephotosasia)


It has a few other interesting features, though some will need that stand that wasn’t supplied. It can do panorama, though the camera must be pointed at the horizon, otherwise it just fails. It can do a time lapse, slo-mo, and you can even program the direction it will shoot for the timelapse. However, you will probably want a Gorillapod to hold the Rigiet in place.

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod


The app is a little buggy, but not like Pokemon Go level of buggy. After doing two panorama shoots the app crashes and the gimbal falls limp, as you will see in the video. For some strange reason the date is shown in Chinese (see below). The bluetooth icon doesn’t look like the bluetooth icon, but a severed oval. The tracking and the bluetooth icons are difficult to activate, as the sensitive area is very small, and after trying to touch them a few times you eventually get them. Each time you try, you accidentally select a new focus area and get an exposure slider appear. The joystick controller was a little confusing. It always went suddenly in fast jerks in the opposite direction I intended. However, from practicing at home, and messing with the app, I’ve found I can set it to move slower and smoother, and with slower acceleration. Also, I’ve set in the Settings menu for the joystick to work in “reverse”, so it doesn’t go in the opposite direction anymore. However, the these are just annoyances.

A screenshot of the gallery that is stored in the app

A screenshot of the gallery that is stored in the app

Deal breakers

There are some minor deal breakers, but not thing major. They related to the export, editing, and design of the physical product.

The videos made in Rigiet are kept within the app, and need to be manually exported to the Photos app on your phone. From there, I use the Send-to function to move the video onto my other devices like my computer.

On export, some videos have the Rigiet watermark on them, which is absolutely unacceptable. Strangely, I’ve exported some videos without the watermark. I have no idea what I did different for some videos to get the watermark, and not others. On that note, I now wish that Rigiet would let us insert our own watermarks instead.

Videos made in the app do not read in Windows Movie Maker. However, it can in VSDC. The first time it failed, but strangely they worked all the other times. It could just be a problem with VSDC. When I made the typhoon info video, I imported the Rigiet video with no problem. No, I didn’t try Adobe Premier.

The other deal breakers only need minor mention. As said before, the tripod mount is on the side, and require a right-angled attachment to a tripod. Sadly, Rigiet did not supply the native foot/stand/support that attaches to the bottom of the device. Secondly, there is no wrist strap. I juggle both my big and heavy dslr in one hand, and the Rigiet in the other. Since my phone is out of its protective casing, there is a real danger that the whole kit and caboodle can be dropped and damaged. It really needed a hand strap attachment.


At first, I thought it was disappointing to see that getting it started is finicky and fickle. However, I eventually realised that the problem was with me, I had to learn how to use it. You will need to side-mount a tripod for timelapse, slo-mo, and panoramic videography; it is disappointing that the native stand wasn’t supplied, nor easily available. I think the people who will get the most out of this will be YouTubers. It’s great for creating steady footage, and has some interesting creative features too. In some ways, I wish I had got the Zhiyun Smooth Q or DJI Osmo instead; I suppose the “grass is greener on the other side”. In anycase, this is much, much cheaper than getting a dslr equivalent of a gimbal, which is good, as it gives me the chance to see if I need to invest in a bigger one in the future or not.

WIN a FREE website (inc web address and web space) this month

This is especially great for fellow photographers, travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, or anyone who should have a web presence.

JapanesePhotos.Asia has started a new project at, called 52 Facts About Japan, where we will share:

  • Each week 1 new photo with a short story about Japan (you can keep the photo for personal use on your own blogs), and
  • Each month, a new travel guide entry, or
  • A photographic how-to (great for beginners and travellers)

This project is new, and we have already published a few posts, which show things are happening and we are committed. It is exciting, and will be loaded with travel advice, travel information, and photographic ideas to make your next big trip fantastic. Best part is: It’s super cheap, much cheaper than any travel guide, AND you can join in the discussion, ask questions, and get responses. Most travel books provide information one-way. Here, we will build a community, and you can have your say on what we can do next. That’s right, if you want to know more about a place in Kyoto, and other people agree, we can take you there with our Patreon blog.

To help promote this project, we’ve teamed up with HelloSpace.Me the leading provider of websites for education and lifestyle people and groups.

Become a Patron, access up to date travel guide, and win a website

Become a Patron, access up to date travel guide, and win a website

The competition

Want your own .com web address and website? Yes, you can be one of five people to win the first year of your own website FREE from HelloSpace.Me. To enter, simply Become a Patron to our blog in September 2017 and you’re in the running. Winners will be announced both here,, and at HelloSpace.Me/blog. The prize is over USD$130 of webspace and domain for your own website*.

You will get:

  • The Lite Plan with 3Gb webspace, easy one-click install of WordPress and many other web apps, upto 5 email addresses, and more (see the Lite Plan here).
  • Domain registration (for your own web address) choose a name with one of the following TLDs: .com .audio .ca .cn .eu .nagoya .net .nl .nz .one .org .pro .ru .space .tokyo .uk .us (USD$20/yr limit).
  • If you prefer a different TLD like .blog .me or .photo then you will still get the 3Gb webspace free, but you will neet to pay for the domain registration (web address registration) yourself. Full list of TLDs is here.
  • Choose your web address / domain registration at:
  • Cost of renewal after the first year is: domain registration plus Lite Plan fees (current discounted cost: USD$90) plus taxes.
  • Winners to be announced 1st October 2017, and will be chosen at random.
  • Follow us on
  • Follow HelloSpace.Me on

Best of luck

* Based on normal industry prices:

The KickStarter campaign has ended

So, we didn’t get any backers this time around for the Cost-share Product Shoot on KickStarter, and that’s ok. This was always a learning experience in online marketing, and a test of a new concept. I’m still going to do what I specialise in, travel photography, and continue branching into product photography. We have got new leads, which we didn’t have before. We have new marketing tools at our disposal, which we didn’t have before. We also have new contacts, which we didn’t have before. Consequently, despite the zero number posted, there are still big wins for us. In the coming weeks, we will be pursing the new leads we got out of promoting this project.

Lifestyle of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer.

Lifestyle of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer.

Final comments

Thanks so much to my models, Eri, Chiaki, and Miyu for keeping the shoot day available, and for their interest to help. Thanks so much to Ksara, my favourite makeup artist, for also keeping the date available, and for her interest in the project. Also thanks to the two house owners (in Yokohama & Nagoya) for agreeing to allow us to shoot in their properties should we make a booking. Also, thanks to my sisters for sharing promotional posts on social media, and their words of encouragement. Also, thanks to my old and new social media followers for your kind words of support, encouragement, and likes & shares.

We are still available for product photography, and to help with product placement imagery. Also, we may give this project a second attempt in the Spring of 2018. We are always available for product photography, just drop us a line.


50 hours left for a cost-share photo shoot

Small businesses, startups, and KickStarters we can shoot your products with a cost-share photo shoot. Limited time left to opt in, and we need just 10 to get started! Details: Also see “Updates” on the KickStarter page to see what prizes you can win.
Photo shoot services for lifestyle and product placement for social media.

Photo shoot services for lifestyle and product placement for social media.