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Sony ENG / EFP Shoulder Mounts
Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old April 1st, 2007, 08:43 PM   #1
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HD XDCAM Steadicam Solutions?

What is the best steadicam solution for using/holding the 350 XDCAM?
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Old April 1st, 2007, 09:07 PM   #2
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There's quite a few rigs suitable, from $7k to $70k.

Gotta decide on a budget...the sky is the limit here when you use the word "best". Gimme a number and I can make a suggestion. I was an op for a few years.
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Old April 1st, 2007, 09:23 PM   #3
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Let's start at the bottom. What can I get for $7K?
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Old April 1st, 2007, 10:14 PM   #4
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Steadicam Flyer. I've had my 350 w/heavy wide angle lens on it, and it works quite well actually. On paper, it's at the top end of the Flyer's capabilities. The Flyer is the lowest-end rig I'd suggest that isn't severely lacking in one aspect or another.

On my rig, I had to take off my finder, but if you have a KH series lens I bet you can get away with leaving it on.

The Glidecam Gold system is the only other rig I know of in this range that's not a sketchy knock-off, although Glidecam at one time was pretty heavily derided by working steadicam ops. My understanding is that it's come along a bit.

Any working Steadicam op would tell you to get a Flyer, including Charles Papert, a working op who is here on DVInfo. It's a can't go wrong proposition.

Good thing I asked the budget question, I was going to suggest a Steadicam Archer at $25k-ish.

You understand that a true steadicam rig is not a small undertaking, right? It's like learning to play guitar: you're never "done", and it'll take you a little while before you can even do the basics. When I bought my rig ($10k in 1997), I spent at least 6 weeks getting to the point where I was barely useful.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 09:12 PM   #5
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Nate, Thank you. The "Flyer" is purchased and I'll be sure to
take the time needed to get the workings down. Thanks.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 10:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rob Stiff View Post
Let's start at the bottom. What can I get for $7K?
I purchased the glidecam v-25, about $1500 more than the $7K, however, the quality of the parts, and the fluidness of the rig is amazing.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 02:16 PM   #7
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Is the slideman any good? Has anybody got experience with slideman?
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Old April 28th, 2007, 06:30 PM   #8
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Is the slideman any good? Has anybody got experience with slideman?
... or any opinions?? http://www.slideman.net/eng/index_eng.html
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Old April 29th, 2007, 02:52 PM   #9
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what will "work" and what you would use can be two very different things. A lot of companies make stabilizers these days for a lot of cameras. One thing to understand is that the "Steadicam" look is a specific look. It can mimic many things, but someone who is looking to get into a stabilizer system should know exactly what one is good/not good for. With a shoulder-mount camera like the 350, if the idea is to smooth out handheld shots... a bit of practice can save thousands of dollars. If it's to achieve movement in ways not obtainable any other way, then the stabilizer may be the right too. A ton of people shooting DV-sized cameras ask about stabilizers because of the shaky-nature of their footage handheld. A simple shoulder mount which moves the C.G. of the camera and adds a bit of mass (and consequently inertia) can do wonders. This is important to know because in general, a lot of the lower-end stabilizers will do a fairly good job smoothing out a shot which goes straight. They fail miserably in terms of operator comfort and fine or difficult moves. In terms of usefulness, these are HUGE shorcomings - why invest in a steadicam if you will never use its unique abilities, and could achieve your goal otherwise? Steadicams are sexy (see Dolce Gabbana ad), but not for everything/everyone. If smoothing out a handheld shot is the goal, it's probably something a little practice can fix better than an additional $10,000 in equipment.

If you invest $10 grand into a rig, you should do so knowing that you can make it out of the shot alive. A great operator can probably make a horrible rig look good....but he/she probably would choose not to use it for too long. There is a surprising amount of research and evolutionary technology that goes into the higher-end systems, and a lot of it has to do with the operator interface. A couple thousand dollars poorly invested in something you dread wearing is a lot less useful than $8-$10,000 wisely invested into a rig which fits your needs and doesn't break your back. You may have the finest posture in the world, but if the vest fits incorrectly, you WILL feel discomfort/pain. Wonder why the Steadicam vest costs $5000? or the Klasson for $6000? Plus, if this feels like a career path, it's usually best to learn the correct way on equipment that can actually be used correctly, instead of un-learning bad habits later on when the interest (and funds) really start jamming.

Back to the topic at hand - cameras of the ENG-style and weight are far more tricky when it comes to "bang for buck" in stabilizers. There is literally about 1 lb of leeway between flying PERFECTLY on a Flyer, and exploding bearings and sheared steel. In this middle-weight class of cameras, the lowest you could go would be the flyer, and the next step up is quite a significant chunk of change more. The Glidecams will hold more weight. And yes, their quality isn't as poor as it has been - I've flown some pretty awful things from them. BUT, the big three factors - vest, gimbal, and arm, are all of such higher quality in the Steadicam, there is no comparison. Above the Flyer, there are MANY rigs, all hovering north of the $20,000 mark (most are closer to $50,000). Stripped, the 350 flies beautifully on the flyer with 2 batteries and perhaps a modulus hung off the bottom. BUT, the current XDCAM-HD's are 1/2" chips, so focus is not terribly critical. Step to a 2/3" camera, and while the body of the camera may weigh the same, you're talking 2.5 lbs extra weight for focus accessories, and another person to pull focus. At that point, $20,000 + for a rig isn't so out of proportion.

As has been said innumerable times before - if the Steadicam idea is keeping you awake at night, take a workshop. It's the cheapest way to find out if the whole deal is right for you. If you take the course, love it, and buy a rig, congrats! You're making an informed decision. The great advantage to the workshop-first approach is knowing basic skills that can help to evaluate a rig BEFORE buying. Even a $7000 rig is not something to be entered into lightly, especially one which may be at the very edge of one's needs (above or below). Stabilizers can be VERY expensive hobbies, or wise (and fun) business investments depending on the motivation of the operator.

Last edited by Jaron Berman; April 29th, 2007 at 03:15 PM. Reason: oops
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Old May 11th, 2007, 04:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver View Post
There's quite a few rigs suitable, from $7k to $70k.

Gotta decide on a budget...the sky is the limit here when you use the word "best". Gimme a number and I can make a suggestion. I was an op for a few years.
From $2k - $2,5k:

http://fsprostabilisateur.com/index.htm

It seems a bargain for what offers.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel Altenburger View Post
Is the slideman any good? Has anybody got experience with slideman?
Be careful with heavy rigs. They're not convenient for all stabilizer work. To each his own: A heavy rig is a bad choice for a medium-weight camera, à mon avis. Mais, the opposite is not necessarily the same. As director, I like them so fast as possible.

Last edited by Mathieu Kassovitz; May 11th, 2007 at 06:01 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 12th, 2007, 04:41 AM   #11
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Great Post, but THIS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaron Berman View Post
BUT, the current XDCAM-HD's are 1/2" chips, so focus is not terribly critical.
Have you actually used one? This is a common myth I hear bandied about in message boards and others who haven't used a F350 with a good lens.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 06:36 AM   #12
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Have you actually used one? This is a common myth I hear bandied about in message boards and others who haven't used a F350 with a good lens.
Having used one a lot I have to say focus IS critical, perhaps it's not as hard to focus as a 750 but it's still easy to get it wrong!
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 06:04 AM   #13
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Just thought I'd add that a great camera support system is the Easyrig. I just bought one and recently used it to shoot a music video and it was fantastic. It took the weight of the camera and transferred it down through my hips and legs. You can now easily do panning and tracking shots without killing yourself. Go to

www.easyrig.se

for more information. It is also very affordable as well!
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 12:34 PM   #14
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Mark,

seems to be very convenient, especially for long handheld work.
Where could you buy it in europe/the u.k.?
How portable is it? How much space/weight does it need to take it with you?

Also which model did you purchase? Is the 300N model enough concerning camera weight? I´m using my XDCAM F-350 with Anton Bauer Hytron 120 (2.5kg, 6 pounds) most of the time. Or would it be better to get the 400N model? Camera is 3.85kg, lens 1.4kg, Battery is 2.5kg. With wireless receiver etc. that´s about 8kg in total. The 300N model takes cameras from 6 to 8 kg.

Thanks,
Emanuel

Last edited by Emanuel Altenburger; May 23rd, 2007 at 02:48 PM.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 04:19 AM   #15
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Hi Emanual

I have the 400n model. I bought it for £1,500 plus VAT (I am VAT registered which helps!). I have only had it a couple of weeks but I think it was a great investment. I have pretty much the same camera set up as you - so the 400 model would be perfect for you.
Honestly you really can't feel the weight of the camera when using it, the camera 'floats' in whatever position you put it, it's so clever- and will be fantastic for long periods of shooting. It gives you a very steady shot so won't need to use the tripod as well which is a benefit.

Hope this helps, Mark
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