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Old October 31st, 2008, 12:47 PM   #1
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stedicam pilot suggestions

ok im ready to take the plunge on buying a stedicam pilot but now i have the problem on which one to choose. can someone please explain or give me their experiences on the different types ... AB .. AA ... vlock ... would really like to hear about the pro's and cons of the three then i would be able to make a clear decission.

thx in advance
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Old November 1st, 2008, 04:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ron Williams View Post
ok im ready to take the plunge on buying a stedicam pilot but now i have the problem on which one to choose. can someone please explain or give me their experiences on the different types ... AB .. AA ... vlock ... would really like to hear about the pro's and cons of the three then i would be able to make a clear decission.

thx in advance
The AA version allows you to use AA batteries, 10 of them, to be exact, to power the LCD monitor at the bottom of the sled.

The other two version (AB and V-Lock) are professional battery mounts.

The AA version allows convenience as AA batteries are readily available. However, each change of batteries requires 10 batteries. You can also get extra AA holders so you can have sets of 10 AA's ready to change once those run out. Dave Gish outlines this method more in his posts.

The other battery mounts requires more initial investment unless you already have these batteries. These batteries have more capacity than AA batteries so the batteries last longer before you have to change or recharge the battery and it's only one battery (compared to 10).
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Old November 1st, 2008, 07:08 PM   #3
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See here:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/stabilize...started-q.html
and look for the section "PILOT PRE-SALES QUESTIONS"
This gives specific details about batteries, plus many other things as well.
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Old November 1st, 2008, 10:54 PM   #4
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ahh dave alot of good info there thanks ... i am leaning towards the AB or Vlock now between those two are there any major differences?
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 08:14 AM   #5
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ahh dave alot of good info there thanks ... i am leaning towards the AB or Vlock now between those two are there any major differences?
Vlock seems to be much more popular than the AB, especially the Steadicam package with 2 IDX batteries and charger.
Steadicam | Pilot-VLB Camera Stabilization System | PILOT-VLB

With batteries, one big consideration is what your other equiptment uses. If you own or rent a lot of high-end pro gear, then pro batteries make a lot of sense. It's simpler to have fewer types of batteries and chargers to deal with. In my case, AAs are easier since my field sound recorder (Fostex FR-2LE) and wireless mic (Sennheiser G2 100) both use AAs. But if your other equiptment uses AB or VL batteries, then you would want to match that.

Another consideration is your camera. There aren't any cameras in the Pilot's weight range that use VL or AB battery mounts directly, but the Sony EX1 and EX3 do use the same 14.4 volt power, which means you can make an adapter cable to power the camera from the pro batteries on the bottom of the sled. This is particularly important with the EX3, since that's on the edge of the Pilot's weight range to begin with, and you'll probably need to lose the camera battery to fly a shotgun mic, wireless audio receiver, and/or wireless video transmitter. This cable
EXDC1
has the proper right-angle connector to mate with the EX1 or EX3. You can cut off the coil part and solder up a 2.1mm connector to mate with your Pilot. It's important that the yellow power connector that goes into the EX3 is right angle, otherwise it will stick out and hit your left cheek. The same goes for the composite video - make sure the BNC connector is right angle for the EX3.

If your camera uses 7.x volt power, and you can solder your own cables, then you can buy a small down-converter and change the connector to match your camera, like Joe does here:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/stabilize...our-pilot.html
Obviously, you would want to find a way to use the same pro battery for tripod or handheld, otherwise you have to deal with more batteries and chargers on location.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 08:54 AM   #6
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well right now i only have the EX1 and was probably just gonna use the battery pack to only power the monitor so i would guess that saving $$$$ would be wise to just go ahead and do the AA ... however in near future i will be adding audio and lighting which is why im thinking to purchase for future.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 06:08 PM   #7
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well right now i only have the EX1 and was probably just gonna use the battery pack to only power the monitor so i would guess that saving $$$$ would be wise to just go ahead and do the AA ... however in near future i will be adding audio and lighting which is why I'm thinking to purchase for future.
They've lowered the cost of the Pilot-VLB (VLock with 2 IDX batteries and charger) to $4300. The Pilot-AA costs $3800, but you'll need to spend $200 to get 2 sets of 10 AA batteries and fast chargers. So the VLB option costs $300 more.

Many on-camera lights are power hungry. For example, if you use a 35 watt light on-camera and powered that from the sled, that would drain the Pilot's 10-AA battery pack in around 40 minutes, and the IDX batteries in around 80 minutes. If you used a 14 watt light on-camera, then you drain the 10-AA pack in 85 minutes, and the IDX batteries in around 150 minutes. So if you plan to use a lot of on-camera lighting, the extra $300 for the VLB option may be worth it.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 06:10 PM   #8
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well right now i only have the EX1 and was probably just gonna use the battery pack to only power the monitor so i would guess that saving $$$$ would be wise to just go ahead and do the AA ... however in near future i will be adding audio and lighting which is why I'm thinking to purchase for future.
They've lowered the cost of the Pilot-VLB (VLock with 2 IDX batteries and charger) to $4300. The Pilot-AA costs $3800, but you'll need to spend $200 to get 2 sets of 10 AA batteries and fast chargers. So the VLB option costs $300 more.

Many on-camera lights are power hungry. For example, if you use a 35 watt light on-camera and powered that from the sled, that would drain the Pilot's 10-AA battery pack in around 40 minutes, and the IDX batteries in around 80 minutes. If you used a 14 watt light on-camera, then you'll drain the 10-AA pack in 85 minutes, and the IDX batteries in around 150 minutes. So if you plan to use a lot of on-camera lighting, the extra $300 for the VLB option may be worth it.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 10:10 AM   #9
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I went with the vlock version - no regrets so far,
I got the bag, not sure if you get it with the AA package, (great bag BTW),and two IDX batteries with the charger, powered EX1 from the IDX battery, it's good for about 6 hrs for both, monitor and EX1, also I've got an IDX mounting plate and use those batteries when I'm on tripod, very cost effective, I shot the whole reception with less than half of the one E-7S; plus I'm getting IDX | X3-P2 D-Tap Cable - for X3 Light to Sony Cameras | X3-P2 so I'll be able to tap a light to the same battery, which gives me a thought to get some kind of a shoulder mount, but that's my next project:)
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 12:30 PM   #10
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I went with the vlock version - no regrets so far,
I got the bag, not sure if you get it with the AA package, (great bag BTW),...
All versions of the Pilot model come with a carry-bag/backpack and a 5.8" wide screen LCD monitor.

All Co-Pilot versions come with a 3.5" LCD monitor and no carry-bag/backpack.

So the Pilot-AA comes with a carry-bag/backpack and a 5.8" wide screen LCD monitor for $3800.
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Old November 11th, 2008, 07:18 AM   #11
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...so i would guess that saving $$$$ would be wise to just go ahead and do the AA ... however in near future i will be adding audio and lighting which is why im thinking to purchase for future.
By the way, if you buy the Pilot with one battery mount and want to switch to a different batteries later, it's no big deal. Different Pilot battery mounts can be ordered through Tiffen. They swap in seconds.
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