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Old June 23rd, 2007, 05:34 PM   #1
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Do 35mm Adapters add enough weight to have to move up on Steadicam?

I know that many of the Stedicam or like solutions I have looked at have a 6lb weight limit. I think the A1 I am getting is already slightly over 5. If I am even considering one of the adapters should I be looking at the more expensive 10lb limit stabilizers?
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Old June 23rd, 2007, 09:17 PM   #2
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I know that many of the Stedicam or like solutions I have looked at have a 6lb weight limit. I think the A1 I am getting is already slightly over 5. If I am even considering one of the adapters should I be looking at the more expensive 10lb limit stabilizers?
And a remote follow focus. Else the adapter is useless. And it's not the adapter's weight thats the concern, it's all the glass you put in front of it.
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Old June 24th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #3
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Also keep in mind that the length of the camera is going to change and with it, the center of gravity. This was the main reason why we were at the limit of the Glidecam V8 with my HVX/Brevis/rails rig. It was really heavy towards the rear, so I had to keep as much heavy stuff on the front as I could (FF, Mattebox and filters). Looking back, it probably would have been better to not use the rails at all.
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Old June 24th, 2007, 09:31 PM   #4
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Jon, in my steadicam work so far, I found the rails were required to allow sufficient fore/aft adjustment on the sled. The latest carbon rails system we're doing is very light, easily a full pound lighter than our previous stainless setup. The rig including 45cm full rails, 2 stage mattebox, 72mm achromat, Brevis35, and 24mm f2.8 lens is 1.8 kg, or 3lb 15oz.
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Old June 25th, 2007, 09:37 PM   #5
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The rig including 45cm full rails, 2 stage mattebox, 72mm achromat, Brevis35, and 24mm f2.8 lens is 1.8 kg, or 3lb 15oz.
Dennis thanks for posing your weight here. That does give me a general idea as to the fact that I'll need to go pricier with the stabilizer. I know each lens can create a totally uniques scenario, but I am guessing that my lens choices will be Nikon 85mm and 50mm. and perhaps a 24 as well.

Any idea what the most popular lens seems to be for daily use with the 35mm adapters?
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Old June 25th, 2007, 09:58 PM   #6
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Any idea what the most popular lens seems to be for daily use with the 35mm adapters?
50mm, with an f-stop of 1.4. Don't bother with the 1.2, it's not very sharp and was designed mainly for journalistic photographers who need speed over clarity.

A standard set of primes consists generally of a 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. The next step would be to purchase a 24 or 28mm and 100mm to extend the range of focal lengths.
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Old June 26th, 2007, 12:04 AM   #7
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I've been using a 24mm f2.8 quite a bit with the stabilizer as the wider lenses will let you do a lot more once setting a static focus. The DOF is inherently deeper as the focal length decreases. If you aren't using a wireless follow focus with a skilled focus puller, setting the focus and working with target distances is the only way to do it with a 35mm adapter.
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Old June 26th, 2007, 03:20 AM   #8
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I think a lot of people will be delighted with the Steadicam Pilot once it releases in August. It will have a 10 lb weight limit for camera payload, which is still tight for certain cameras with 35mm adaptor, but OK for others (HV20 for instance), and the whole system has a lot going for it for $4000. Of course, for $2000 more you can move up to a Flyer, with a 15 lb payload...

A big unknown variable right now is the lack of a good wireless lens control system at the price point that many users want. Lots of products announced, as far as I know none in wide circulation yet. So it is unknown how much weight that will add.

As Dennis points out, a wide lens gives you more flexibility to set a focus point and shoot (working the hyperfocal distance), but at that point it does beg the question, why not just pull the lens adaptor off and simply shoot with the camera's own optics which support that deep depth-of-field (and don't require a larger stabilizer to support). I've actually done just this on a few shoots and the difference in the look was undectable in the final film.
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Old June 26th, 2007, 10:28 AM   #9
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Dennis is working on a wireless FF kit.

How would you work that with a steadicam?
Long cables going from the cam to an HD monitor... the a/c wears a vest and works the wireless FF?
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Old June 26th, 2007, 07:02 PM   #10
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Not following you exactly Jon, so here's the protocol in a nutshell--wireless lens controls allow the assistant to control focus, iris and/or zoom as needed. They hold the transmitter, and the receiver unit is mounted on the rig along with which motors are required. The assistant may pull from alongside the camera, or in the case of HD if the camera is hardwired, from a nearby monitor.

The skill of pulling focus becomes even more skillful with Steadicam, as it is harder to lay specific marks as you can with the dolly. It's actually part of being a good operator to understand how to make the shot easier on the camera assistant, and attempt to maintain constant distances, not move within minimum focus, or suddenly make changes in the shot without discussing them beforehand. A good AC is able to calculate the distance from focal plane to subject simply by keeping an eye on both, and instinctively racking the lens. When the focal length and/or aperture conspire to shrink the depth of field, the job becomes even harder.

HD has brought some new working techniques to the playing field. As mentioned before, in some circumstances the Steadicam may be hardwired to the engineering monitor so that the DP can always see an image he can trust. The conventional method of transmitting an RF image may be used instead, it depends on the DP. So far on the Steadicam HD jobs that I have done, I have almost always had to trail a wire, and on the jobs I have DP'd, I have asked my operators to do the same (I use ultra-skinny BNC jumpers to avoid disturbing the balance of the rig). With a clean and crisp image available on monitors, many AC's are now setting themselves up with an LCD off to the side of the camera, so that they can keep an eye on the camera and actors and also see the image and check critical focus on it.

It should be stressed that it is very tricky to nail focus simply by watching a monitor--much of the time one is having to react exactly as an action is occurring and predict where the actor is in the plane of focus based purely on their size in the frame. There's more guesswork involved and it often ends up with a "hunting" for focus result where the focus is constantly moving back and forth across the exact plane, similar to autofocus. I've seen a good amount of this in folk's 35mm adaptor work already, and I only expect to see more when RED becomes available.
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Old June 26th, 2007, 09:29 PM   #11
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Some great input as usual guys. My A1 arrives tomorrow. I only went ahead with it because of such great insight that I know I see in this community. Thanks so much. Next stop Firestor FS-C and I guess a warranty for the A1.

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Old June 27th, 2007, 12:34 AM   #12
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Thanks for the in-depth explanation, Charles.
I figured a tether was the easiest solution. I plan on picking up the new 7.9" Panny monitor... focus-in-red should make the a/c's job easier.
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Old June 27th, 2007, 01:51 AM   #13
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We've got a tethered remote folllow focus (nice and light) prototype waiting in the wings for just this purpose. It is primarily targetted for use with our dolly, and jib system, but will be useful on steadicam in the mode Charles has described.

Btw Jeff, I've dropped the XH-A1, with adapter attached, twice now. The only casualty was a mattebox french flag. Two tips..watch for tripods in snow, and try not to leave the full rig on rails sitting at the edge of a work bench :-) I didn't get an extended warranty....
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Old June 27th, 2007, 07:37 AM   #14
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That's good, Dennis. I think that given the relative price point, a hardwire follow focus might be a good choice for some people who don't want to step up to the cost and weight of a wireless system for "casual" Steadicam use. It will be a bit restricting but people always find a way around this sort of thing. Just make sure your cable is as flexible as possible (and as you probably know, that isn't the same as thin--it's all about the construction of the cable, solid vs flexible core etc). Look forward to seeing what you have going on with this.
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