Steadicam Pilot and Canon XH-A1? at

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Old May 4th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #1
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Steadicam Pilot and Canon XH-A1?

Anyone using this combination? Any issues you've noticed?

With my current Glidecam 4000 Pro and XH-A1 system, I've been unable to cure the "right-sidedness" of the rig. Regardless of how I move the camera and weights, it always wants to spin right side down (when I hold the rig horizontally and let it find its own resting position). The Glidecam is curently on its way back for repair, so hopefully it will return with no problems.

That said, eventually I want to upgrade to the Steadicam Pilot for the full vest and arm experience!

The great "Steadicam Getting Started" thread has lots of fantastic info.

How good is the supplied monitor? Is it easily visible in daylight?

I know that the bigger Steadicam rigs have cables, springs and pulleys in the arm, but what about the Pilot? Does it have a springs-only arm?

Finally, a question about the mounting plates for the camera. Do they have the vernier-type adjustment screws for accurate fore/aft/left/right, or are they like my Glidecam, simple thumb screws that you loosen, shift the plates by hand, then tighten again?

Thanks in advance.
Julian Frost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 4th, 2008, 01:35 PM   #2
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Actually, the latest generation of Steadicam arms don't have any cables or pulleys. The Pilot's arm is no exception. They use a spring and an ingenious mounting setup. The Pilot's arm feels quite similar to the Flyer arm, which has a very similar (though less adjustable) feel to the bigger arms.

The Pilot's topstage uses fine adjustment screws, unlike the Glidecam stage. The monitor is good, I don't remember specifically how well it worked out in sunlight, but I do remember it being mentioned that it does have some Anti-Reflective coatings.

It's a beautiful rig, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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Old May 4th, 2008, 05:42 PM   #3
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Hi Julian,

I haven't used the XH-A1, but the specs say it's somewhat light (4.5 lbs). If you don't have a lot of other stuff on the camera, I would definitely recommend buying some additional weights. It's probably better to get the weight on top up around 8 pounds and then add 1-2 pounds of weights on the bottom crossbar for inertia.

You may want to buy a postal scale for $35 to weigh your whole setup accurately:
This is also useful if you ever want to sell something on eBay.

The Pilot monitor is adequate for daylight, but not great. You have to turn the contrast all the way up, and it's still a bit washed out. The monitors on the bigger Steadicam rigs are better outdoors, but then you get what you pay for. The Pilot monitor is great on a cloudy day or with any indoor lighting.

Like Tom says, the Pilot arm design is very similar to the other Steadicam arms, only smaller & lighter.

The Pilot stage trim screws for fore/aft/left/right actually move the stage plate through internal threads. The only thing you do need to loosen and move by hand is the lower crossbar (when adjusting for dynamic balance).

Hope this helps,
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Old May 4th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #4
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The XH A1 naturally pulls right anyway, could that be part of the problem? Perhaps weighting it down or shifting it to the left side might help? I'm not familiar with the Steadicam Pilot, but I am familiar with the weight distribution on the XH A1.
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
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Old May 4th, 2008, 06:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the replies...

Tom, thanks for setting me straight on the latest Steadicam designs. I didn't know they were all spring-only arms. That's good to know. I'm glad the Pilot has the vernier-type adjustment threads. That'll save a lot of hassle.

Dave, yes, the XH-A1 is a touch under 5lbs. I'll have a quick release plate and base to add to the camera, and if it comes to it, I'm sure I can fashion some kind of extra weight to bolt under the camera. Thanks for the info on the monitor. I pretty much figured as much. I'm not a big E-Bay seller, and don't really know why I'd need to weigh my setup... especially on a scale that only goes to 5lbs! :-)

Michael, yes, the XH-A1 pulls to the right naturally. That's the problem I have been trying to fix on my Glidecam 4000 Pro for a couple of weeks. If the camera is moved to the left, then the static balance changes and you'd have to move weights on the base plate to the right to counterbalnce it again. If you move the weights on the base plate, it makes the right side heavier again, and it'll pull to the right once again! It's been frustrating... hence this thread!
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Old May 4th, 2008, 08:00 PM   #6
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if I didn't remb wrongly the glidecam's gimbal can't be adjusted.This is a feature the pilot has to help achieve precise dynamic balancing.I used to own an indicam which had this impt feature to position the cy just below the gimbal.Another reason to upgrade buddy!
Sean Seah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 4th, 2008, 08:25 PM   #7
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Sean... indeed! That is a good reason. I'll keep the Glidecam, because it has its uses too, especially if I don't want to have to haul the entire Steadicam gear to an impromptu shoot. When I watched some youtube videos of the pros balancing their big-rig Steadicams, I was amazed at how quickly it went... 20-30 seconds and they had it done. Not so with the Glidecam! Still, in the few short weeks that I've had the Glidecam, I got some fun footage. I hope when it comes back from the factory, it'll be in A-1 condition, just like my camera! :-)
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