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Old September 12th, 2010, 12:48 PM   #46
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Hi Mitchell:

Saw that you posted also in the Glidetrack thread. I'll respond here as it pertains to my outlook on stabilizers as well.

My perspective on much of this kind of gear is that I am used to the higher-end, full-size versions that these downscaled versions are based upon. Thus my sensibility is based on what things "should" feel like. In the case of stabilizers, while I can try on a Glidecam or Flycam or whatevercam and sense what is and isn't good about the design, someone who is new to stabilizers might think any of them are great because you can walk and not see your footsteps in the shot. With the small stabilizers I am enthusiastic about the Steadicam brand because they are the closest to a full-size stabilizer in feel and allow one to deliver the shot with a minimum amount of compensation. While one can conceivably make an acceptable shot with nearly any commercial stabilizer, you will have to work harder to do so, and it's in the subtle nuances that may make it a fantastic shot are where certain rigs start to show their advantages.

Same as with the sliders. Many were unaware of this concept before Phil Bloom popularized them a couple of years ago starting with the Glidetrack. We've had them for full-size cameras for a number of years (I know the gents who build the "Original Slider") and they have always incorporated bearings, so the concept of a friction-based unit always surprised me. I used them a Glidetrack on a shoot early this year and was underwhelmed at having to "create" the smoothness (with varying results). I couldn't quite figure out why so many people were raving about it--but then I remembered that most if not all had never worked with an alternative.

I've played with a few others here and there but not extensively so I'm hesitant to endorse a single product. The DP Slider is one. Here's an illuminating piece of discourse regarding the perspective I described above, where one gent describes his non-bearing slider as being perfectly smooth and unable to understand how it could be smoother, and the response is "it just is".

And again, just as with stabilizers; if you haven't tried the best, the one you have is the best that you know.
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Old September 12th, 2010, 12:55 PM   #47
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Thanks Charles. After watching all the demo videos, combined with your comments, I'm not going to buy a slider. We have the Steadicam Flyer and it works awesome (although I still could be a better operator).

I just don't see us using a slider as much as I thought. Plus, if it's not smooth, that would make it's usage frustrating.

On the other hand, if we didn't have a Steadicam already (and couldn't afford one) I'd give the Glidetrack a try for sure.

Thanks again for the advice. :)
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Old September 13th, 2010, 07:29 AM   #48
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I own both a Steadicam Merlin and the CobraCrane SteadyTracker.

I was going to sell my SteadyTracker after I purchased the Merlin, but I plan on keeping it. The Merlin, I find, is horrible in wind. Perhaps that is down to a fairly inexperienced person operating it, I just find it wants to rotate around once moderate wind hits it. For that reason I switch to the gimble-less SteadyTracker.

I also prefer the SteadyTracker when running with the 5D. For internals and no-wind externals, I use the Merlin.
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Old August 13th, 2011, 03:26 PM   #49
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Chris ...

I have a Merlin, which was previously used with my Canon XHA1. I'm all DSLR now and wanted to know if you do indeed think it'd be a good thing to try the steadytracker. My time to "practice" operating on a regular basis is tough - so something relatively robust (and forgiving in terms of practice) would be very helpful.

Thanks,

--Brandon
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Old August 14th, 2011, 11:12 AM   #50
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

I've been using the Hague Camcorder Stabilizer steadicam for the past few years and it works great. Like all steadicams, the more that you use them the better and smoother your footage becomes. Without a doubt using steadicam equipment with the 5D takes it to another level. The most important thing that I've found is that you must take time to set up the steadicam correctly so that the whole unit is rock steady with no 'roll'.
Here is the one that I use, with quick release plate and plus forward/backwards & sideways weight/level adjustments.
HAGUE Camcorder Stabilizer HCS
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Old September 13th, 2012, 03:23 PM   #51
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Sorry to resurrect an old thread. Weird that I find myself back here after a couple of years... to the exact day... on a Google search as I again explore my options - Very spooky.

Yes, I still own the Merlin and the SteadyTracker and my views haven't changed in those two years.

I would like to stay with the Steadicam brand. I like the build quality and Tiffen engineering. But I find myself wanting to know which is best Steadicam model for a Canon 5D Mark III + various lenses. They give a weight guide, but I still can't decide.

My problem with arriving at a decision is actually the fault of Tiffen sales reps, I have to be honest. When I went to London BVE earlier this year, I was flying the Pilot and the Flyer. I had my heart set on the Pilot, but the guys were trying to sell me on the Flyer saying by the time I'd added all the accessories, I'd be approaching the Flyer class. Really? Is it necessary to spend all the extra cash when I'm sure the Pilot would be just fine. Does it really differ from the Flyer that much?

Also, I plan on purchasing the Sony NEX-FS700 shortly. I would want to fly that too.

Charles... if you're around - Help me decide, please?!!


By the way, I never answered Brandon as I didn't see his question... The SteadyTracker is still very cool for running. It doesn't have a gimbel like the Merlin or its big brothers, but it doesn't need one. It's perfect for the 5D3 (I did use it with my XH A1 before I sold it too). The engineering is SO basic, but it just... works!

What I liked about it most is that it isn't *perfectly* smooth, but gives a great organic feel to the footage for fast action. ie. Not as perfectly crisp smooth as the Steadicam, but not at all 'jumpy' as in handheld. It's just great for an action shot.

After hours and hours of experience with both the Merlin and the SteadyTracker, I find my shooting has really improved for both... But I would so love to have a Pilot or Flyer - But which one??!!
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Old September 13th, 2012, 05:14 PM   #52
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Kris:

One of the tough things about deciding on a small stabilizer is how much capacity one needs vs what one can afford. Consider that one will likely own the rig through a couple of generations of cameras at least, it's hard to predict that one will always be able to keep the payload at a fixed amount. What if one time you need to add an onboard light for eyelight, or maybe a transmitter down the road (they are getting good and affordable), or a wireless follow focus (to me an absolute necessity with a full-frame camera, but still considered exotic by the masses...one day soon this tech will be affordable to all). I do read about a lot of peeps who buy rigs that are just hovering at close to capacity with their camera, and a year later they are selling and buying a bigger rig. Obviously it's quite a bit more money, but it's a lot of peace of mind. And while it is indeed tempting to go with an eBay brand for half the money, I have to see one of those that can approach the performance of the Steadicam brand, especially in the arm.

While the Flyer was the grandaddy of the smaller rigs and had its day, I never liked the sled design as it doesn't allow for dynamic balance. The Pilot greatly improved things. The current next-step-up in the Steadicam line is the Scout, which I think is also a great rig.

So, my personal recommendation is to go for the Scout if you possibly can afford it (think long term, like 3-5 years, with a good return for resale). If you have to go with the Flyer, I would consider rebuilding the lower spar so that you can do a fore/aft adjustment between monitor and batteries--better yet, put them on separate rods so they can be slid in and out independently.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 12:54 AM   #53
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris Koster View Post
By the way, I never answered Brandon as I didn't see his question... The SteadyTracker is still very cool for running. It doesn't have a gimbel like the Merlin or its big brothers, but it doesn't need one. It's perfect for the 5D3 (I did use it with my XH A1 before I sold it too). The engineering is SO basic, but it just... works!

What I liked about it most is that it isn't *perfectly* smooth, but gives a great organic feel to the footage for fast action. ie. Not as perfectly crisp smooth as the Steadicam, but not at all 'jumpy' as in handheld. It's just great for an action shot.

After hours and hours of experience with both the Merlin and the SteadyTracker, I find my shooting has really improved for both...
Kris - very kind of you to still respond. It's interesting that I find a few years later, I still have the same question. I have yet to pick anything up since the Merlin; but still find it tough to get windows to practice to get as proficient as I like.

In short - thanks for the recommendation. I'm now convinced that the best way to figure it out is to fully try it. And before I fully graduate to the bigger flyers, I will plan to try my luck at the steadytracker (or any new gen ones in its class), and perhaps I can evolve to a more mature one. I find myself typically doing music videos or shorter shoots than longer ones.

(it's also interesting that you sold your XH-A1 ... I'm about to do the same with my 2, but it's so hard to see them go!)

Thanks again.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 08:09 AM   #54
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

I am surprised that the Tiffen guys were promoting the Flyer as last April it was already superseded by newer better models (Scout & Zephyr). Perhaps they were trying to shift old inventory? The Scout is pretty much a beefed-up Pilot sled with a better arm & vest. The Pilot will fly up to 4.5kg & the Scout 8kg. On my Pilot I am flying a C300 which weighs a fair bit more than a 5D2 & even with that I am adding weights to the upper stage. I am sure that you have read Charles's review of the Pilot on the site Steadicam Pilot Review Part One by Charles Papert, S.O.C. The Pilot really is a fantastic instrument & will be fine for flying the FS700 provided you are not going to adding too much extra weight like a wireless follow-focus etc
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Old September 14th, 2012, 06:17 PM   #55
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Kris:

[..] So, my personal recommendation is to go for the Scout if you possibly can afford it (think long term, like 3-5 years, with a good return for resale). If you have to go with the Flyer, I would consider rebuilding the lower spar so that you can do a fore/aft adjustment between monitor and batteries--better yet, put them on separate rods so they can be slid in and out independently.
Charles - Completely indebted to you for this response, thank you. It has helped me think harder about my options.

I have a confession to make though, it wasn't the Flyer the Tiffen guys at BVE were pushing me toward, it was in fact the Scout (Which answers Nigel's bewilderment too). (I swear I must have early Alzheimers!!)

You're right - In my head I was looking for a Steadicam that would simply 'do' for my current equipment and wasn't considering the bigger picture. You had me sold on the Scout until Nigel's response above and now undecided again!! (I'm utterly useless making decisions like this)

Nigel - You've had the Pilot for a while - If you were to buy again with the knowledge and experience you have now, would you go for the Pilot again, or buy the Scout instead?

My other headache is that the models of Pilot and Scout vary wildly with multiple configurations. I find it incredibly confusing when going to sites like CVP and seeing a HD system is 1000 more than an STD system (which for the 5D mark III?). And there are "Scout Starter Kits" which vary a lot on price where it isn't entirely clear what comes with what and how one is better than the other. I wish it were clearer! Would have probably bought one months ago if so!! Results for search: steadicam scout

I think Charles is right about resale value as a consideration. Probably more of a market for a used Scout over a Pilot. But the primary consideration has to be my ownership of it.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 06:48 PM   #56
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Paschal View Post
[..] I'm now convinced that the best way to figure it out is to fully try it. And before I fully graduate to the bigger flyers, I will plan to try my luck at the steadytracker (or any new gen ones in its class), and perhaps I can evolve to a more mature one. I find myself typically doing music videos or shorter shoots than longer ones.

(it's also interesting that you sold your XH-A1 ... I'm about to do the same with my 2, but it's so hard to see them go!)
Thanks again.
Brandon - Continuing off on a conversation two years later is certainly mind-blowing!
Just a heads up on the Steadytracker - I found the T-bar on the bottom that helps balance the rig and allows it to stand is a bit of an annoyance and it tends to get in the way a lot. That said, it is possible to overcome it and get used to it. I have ruined many a shot because of it though.

Rather than replace a more professional and smoother rig like a Steadicam, I find it rather compliments artistic expression on a shoot... Something to use in addition to other stabilisation systems. It does give you a more 'rugged' look, perhaps more dynamic if you want that in a tension scene. The Steadicam shot is sometimes 'too beautifully perfect' to achieve that dynamic... If you know what I mean.

I was going to sell my Steadytracker after I bought the Merlin a few years back, but didn't for that very reason (and because the Merlin sucks eggs on a windy day!)

Yeah, tough to see my XH A1 go too, but I got a great price on eBay for it. You lose too much on a trade-in. Didn't lose as much on that as I did for my Letus Elite, though! ;-) But that's another story.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #57
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

The resale consideration was more about buying Steadicam brand vs the eBay Chinese/Indian/Plutonian (!) versions. You are fine within the Steadicam brand for resale.

You really don't want to be getting a rig that just clears your intended payload with hardly any wiggle room. That would be like buying a new computer with a hard drive that just fits the amount of stuff you have on it now.

The MO since the DSLR's came out is to plop a 5D onto a little rig and shoot very wide angle, at a deep stop or keep a fixed distance to the subject. All of these are very limiting on the creative uses of a Steadicam, which of course is about geographic freedom, the ability to go anywhere your feet can take you. While there have been a number of efforts to bring a reliable wireless focus system to market, most have been failed to materialize, a few have emerged and are all but useless, and others ended up at the same price range as legacy products. Right now it costs around $3K to get into a solid single-channel system, which many can't afford. A few years back I thought about getting in with a design company and making an inexpensive hardwired system with a motor, which I think in retrospect would have sold well (until it was ripped off and sold for half price, off course). But I think something will emerge to fill the gap in this market soon enough--so it makes sense to allow a couple of extra pounds to accomodate this. And as I said before, HD transmitters are getting cheaper and smaller but that is another consideration.

It really sucks to not have enough capacity on the rig to properly balance a setup. It's also so much quicker to be not have to strip down a rig to put it on the stabilizer if you have to go back and forth from sticks to Steadicam.

SCOUT, KRIS!!! SCOOOOOOOUT!

oh and: the upcharge for HD models is a little rough, agreed. That's something you can manage down the road via 3rd party monitor. Various companies are working on high-brightness models now so it makes more sense to wait on this. It's a bit like buying navigation with a car--the $2K upcharge doesn't really make sense (especially now that you can get it on the phones for little or free).
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Old September 14th, 2012, 07:41 PM   #58
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
SCOUT, KRIS!!! SCOOOOOOOUT!

oh and: the upcharge for HD models is a little rough, agreed. That's something you can manage down the road via 3rd party monitor. Various companies are working on high-brightness models now so it makes more sense to wait on this. It's a bit like buying navigation with a car--the $2K upcharge doesn't really make sense (especially now that you can get it on the phones for little or free).
LOL - Oh OK, go on then!! I'm sure Mr Brown has you on the payroll for this! ;-)
Let's suppose I am sold on the Scout. Which version of it would you recommend for the 5D Mark III and possibly the NEX-FS700 which is my next major buy? Am I missing anything important by purchasing the least expensive 'pack' ?

Regarding monitor, I use the HDMI-out on my 5D3 to a Zacuto EVF when I have it on sticks or the Kessler 12' crane. I'm guessing that the price variances I see on sites like CVP relate to different battery configurations? I can't see any other reason for it.

I use a pair of Sennheizer wireless mics and often audio-record directly to camera, so with the receiver weight on the hotshoe of the 5D3, I guess it makes sense to go for the meatier Steadicam anyway. I guess I could always call up the guys at Tiffen to talk me through the various configurations of the Scout.

Thanks Charles.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 08:02 PM   #59
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

Haha, on the payroll..well, in case anyone else reading this is wondering, I think Tiffen is making the best smaller rigs specifically because of their patented isoelastic arm design. There's a quantifiable difference in performance and it counts for a lot when you have that much less mass to work with. When it comes to full-size rigs, my preferences lay elsewhere, but the Steadicam brand is certainly respectable up and down the line.

As far as the specific differences in Scout sleds, I'm really not that familiar with them, best to talk to a sales rep.

Finally, as to the upcharging for HD monitors--it's important to note that Tiffen uses proprietary anti-reflective coatings on their monitors so they are not the same as stock found elsewhere. You shouldn't use a standard issue LCD monitor on a stabilizer, it will wash out in many outdoor conditions and you can't really use much of a sunhood as it limits the viewing angle.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 08:09 PM   #60
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Re: Steadicam/Glidecam for the 5DmkII?

I'm going to give a HUGE +1 to Charles's recommendation for the Scout. The vest alone is worth the difference in price (my opinion).
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