Two thumbs down for Flycam system at DVinfo.net

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Old May 6th, 2009, 11:24 PM   #1
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Two thumbs down for Flycam system

So, I thought I would give you all a little bit of info if you plan to buy a Flycam 5000 Arm and Vest system...

Don't.... Simple as that.

I decided I would pony up some cash to get a simple steadicam like system. I shelled out $628 after $78 in shipping from India. That should have been my first cue to stop right there. I had heard some bad things about the systems like, The gimbal would have burrs in it and it would bind... So I was alittle nervous, but went on anyway, I assumed that had their QC fix it.

I get it is that mail, (Quite quickly I might add from India) and start unpacking it. It was wrapped well and seemed solid. So, I struggle through the very hard to read directions and get it all together I put it on and it is out to film! After about 1 hours use, I notice TONS of paint has chipped off of the bridging arm and the spring arm is rubbing. The arms Hardly move or swivel and the vest is built like crap out of aluminum. Well, I am very disappointed now. So, I send an e-mail off to them. They said they will send me out a new vest and arm right away. So, about a week later I get it in the mail. I was happy that they were being nice and working with me.

I put this new one together. The arm had bad bearings or something and would hardly move up and down even with the spring tension all the way down. So, I just decided to use the old arm on the new vest and bridging arm. HA like that would work... The holes were to totally different sizes. Would not fit... I checked out to see if I could just move the old arm and bridge to the new vest. Well, I got it in... But it would not come out. I pulled it, both my friends pulled it... Would not budge. so we got for a rubber mallet.... Would not budge... So 2 Big F'ing hammers later... And a mangled new vest... We managed to get the bridging arm out.

So, lets tally it up now...
1 arm with half the paint missing and will not swivel
1 arm with bad bearing that won't move
1 bridging arm that won't fit anywhere
1 bridging arm with most paint missing
1 vest, mangled from trying to remove a bridge arm because of extremely poor quality control.

So, I send an e-mail back telling them that I have had a very poor experiance with their product and it lacks quality control. I ask for a refund. They come back with Send it back and we will refund you as soon as we get a tracking number. I told them that I was not going to pay for shipping and I would settle for a partial refund.

They offer $200... Keep in mind that the product cost me $628... I said, no, I would like more back for it. They said that $200 is right cause they had to pay shipping 2 times and also the cost of the product.

The numbers I have here are,
$78 for shipping for the whole thing I ordered, Paid by me...
$45 for the vest that they sent out according to the websites shipping cost
and about $100 for part... And being India, That might even be high....

So I sent them an e-mail asking for what I think would be fair... $400, Keeping in mind that yes, they did send out another one and yes they paid for that shipping.

So, I sent that out Saturday and I have yet to hear a reply, normally they replied the very next day... So, This company has shown very little in the way of quality and I will NOT EVER consider buying from them or suggesting them to any one... EVER

So be warned if you decide to buy this product... It is not recommended... It is not worth your money or your time.

Thank you.
-Scott Nelson
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Old May 7th, 2009, 12:28 AM   #2
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Scott.


I sympathise entirely with your situation. I was once on the bad end of a badly put together popular automobile which I wont name for fear of being sued, engine block deck to crank main centres being out by over 3/32" and cylinder bores being correct for the deck for starters.

I was very cross (understatement) when I discovered and fixed the problem for myself after two bungled after-sales fixes which lasted about 5000 miles each time. This car is not a Rolls-Royce but a piece of mundane transport and affordably priced. Sadly one must expect a few hiccups, which is what warranty service is there for.

At your price point compared to the price of the real thing, I think the real world decrees that you would likely have some remedial engineering work to do on the product. In the automotive scheme of things engineering wise, it probably comes in somewhere near to the Yugo versus BMW.

The little guys over there are doing their very best trying to break in and get ahead - well not likely but stay in the game perhaps.

However, unless the value is added in the form of more exotic and expensive materials, you are not going to have a genuine steadycam quality product on your hands.

As for one part from one unit not substituting to the other unit, those mis-fitting parts may have been selectively fitted as a set. This is a legit made-in-America form of cost-effective remedy for dimensional variation long used in the auto industry for engine bearings and for the fan wheels in the most sophisticated turbine aero-engines.).

It is likely then each pin and socket is a hand-matched unit to keep clearances from being wobbly, especially on low-volume hand-made products. Casual substitution of parts in the blind does not work reliably with auto engines.

You will have actually abused the product doing what you did.

Mismatching fastener holes in the vests. Yes. This is likely to have been hand made, probably with basic patterns for cutting out parts, holes drilled wild to marks and not controlled by a jig. World War 2 warbird restorers experience the same problem when trying to mix and match good parts out of several salvaged airframes

BF hammer??? - Sounds like a bit of temper became part of the equation. Surely there must have been another way like chilling the pin and warming the socket, canned spray lube, clamping some form of heavy ballast to the socket so that the vest was not taking the brunt of the hits.

If you want to perservere with it, get some fine wet and dry abrasive paper (black silicon carbide), 1200 grade. Cut and fold it into 1inch wide doublesided. Dress the pin by wrapping a strip of the paper around and seesawing the paper back and forth until all gouges and burrs are dressed out of the surface. Don't use a wider strip because it will be impossible to control the point where the dressing occurs.

Use plently of water on the paper otherwise it will clog. Check the socket hole for gouges and burrs. You can dress them down with the same paper tucked into and wound around a split piece of wooden dowel. It will be difficult for you to get a precise finish in there.

Test the fit periodically but make sure the parts are absolutely clean and use oil on the socket surfaces before offering them together. Use a black marker to cover the pin surface with ink so that high points which catch, show where the black has been rubbed off. Polish off only these high points otherwise the whole thing will end up being a sloppy fit.

Before final assembly, clean every last bit of grit from the paper off surfaces then oil lightly, assemble, move a few times then dismantle, clean again then re-oil. Done properly it will require a lot of time and patience.


PS.

If you don't want to keep the remnants and shards, send them to me at my shipping cost. I'll get one working out of it.

Last edited by Bob Hart; May 7th, 2009 at 01:01 AM. Reason: error
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Old May 7th, 2009, 01:37 AM   #3
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Hi Scott, I know your frustration. I too bought a complete 5000 system. But I can't complain too much because I already knew from previous research on them that you get what you pay for. In fact, I paid 1/5 the price of a Steadicam Pilot and I got 1/5 the quality of a Steadicam Pilot. For the occasional stabilized shot it will get you something better than handheld, but you are not going to put Charles Papert out of a job.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 01:23 PM   #4
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Scott,

I have had much better luck with the Flycam 5000 sled, arm, and vest. It is not of the same quality or engineering as systems costing many times more in the USA.

My only problem has been with the sled. The arm and vest have been great and based on it being the older single arm variety of arm I have been quite pleased at how well it works.

The sled's camera plate / head fits into the main pole and then is held firm there with two small hex screws on opposite sides. These tend to loosen up a lot and we had to carry a hex wrench around with us to tighten it up every now and then. If not the camera head would bobble, ruining the smoothness of the shots.

After a lot of practice getting good at balancing the camera (a pain in the butt with any stabilizer) we went to our first wedding rehearsal and practiced some great shots.

The next day as we were setting up the equipment for the wedding I noticed that one of the two hex screws would not tighten. The short post attached to the camera head that the screws screwed into is aluminum and the threads had stripped out.

Needless to say my stabilizer operator was less than thrilled with the resulting footage. However the arm and vest still worked well enough that in reviewing footage we just will have to take shorter cuts of certain shots to avoid the "bobble".

With our next wedding in two weeks I ordered a new Glidecam 4000 HD that we will fly with the Flycam 5000 arm and vest.

I did get the Flycam 5000 sled fixed by spending $54 at a machine shop and having them rethread with bigger hex screws. It seems very solid now and I would use it for a controlled shoot where you can have multiple takes in a heartbeat. However for live wedding videography with just the one shot at getting it right I wanted the peace of mind of a better constructed piece of gear.

If the vest and arm hold up and work as good as they do now for another year I will try to buy the Glidecam X10 arm and vest to fly my new Glidecam 4000 HD sled on.

I am sorry you had a bad experience. Despite my sled issue for me the Flycam 5000 was well worth the money. For me the vest and arm alone were worth more than $600.
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 11:00 PM   #5
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Well, After close to 20 e-mails to Sunita from Cine City. They agreed to a refund.

The first wanted me to ship it out there... after caving and thinking, Ok, I'll just get my money back I went to find out how much it would cost to ship... $307.56. No way in hell I was going to pay that... They gave me their shipping account with Fedex and told me to ship it.

I thought about it some more and decided, they should not spend that much money to get back an un-usable, un- resellable product... That morning I received an e-mail about a new dolly system they came out with. the Swift Dolly... I told them that in an effort to save them money, If they sent me one dolly instead of a refund, I would drop my complaints... They agreed. A few hours later I get another e-mail... She talked to her seniors and they said I had to pay the shipping charges to send it out to me... $125... No way, I spent $628 on a crappy product, I am taking a risk with this one, I am not going to pay for that... So I told her nicely, I am not willing to pay shipping, I assumed that they were going to when they said they would send it out...

So, They sent me an e-mail this morning saying that they would agree to my partial refund I asked for of $405 (My approximate amount after shipping and part were deducted. I wanted to atleast be fair to them for being understanding.)

So, as far as I know, the money will be deposited when they get my e-mail. Which is about now (being in India makes e-mailing difficult)

So, While the product is not good, They were atleast nice enough to not say... well screw you, you payed for it already.
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Old May 24th, 2009, 07:51 AM   #6
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Looking at that dolly, I don't think you will be so satisfied with it either. It seems to light to me. You will have to find a way to add some weight to it to get smoother starts and finishes and to keep constant speeds. In the end, it will probably work as well as your Flycam did.

Note that DIY Dollies are easy to build and done right can yield some great results. You may be better off making one yourself if you are handy with a drill.
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Old May 24th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #7
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Just filmed our second wedding using the Flycam 5000 arm and vest. This was the first using the new Glidecam 4000 HD with the Flycam 5000 arm and vest. It was also our first with a 7" monitor & battery mounted on the sled.

I am convinced more than ever that the Flycam 5000 arm and vest are well worth the money. You are not going to get the same shots as a $2000 -$4000 Glidecam Smooth Shooter / X10 or Steadicam Pilot but you are also not going to be out anywhere near that money.

For a beginner or person on a budget the Flycam 5000 arm and vest (and sled if you can't afford a Glidecam HD which I highly recommend) will give you shots that you are not going to be able to get with any other camera mount other than the high dollar systems.

If you accept that your $600 is not going to give you the same quality as systems costing many times more but is still amazing you will not be disappointed.

I look forward to the day my budget allows me to get the Glidecam X-10 arm and vest I want for my Glidecam 4000 HD but in the meantime I am enjoying the great smooth shots I am getting from the Flycam.

I also wanted to mention that if you are using a fairly small HDV camera like my Sony V1 another invaluable camera mount is the Spider brace. I bought mine over a year ago for around $60=$70 and it was the best investment I have ever made. Some people complain that it is fragile being made out of PVC but the upside is that it is incredibly light. We have used it many times and by being careful have never had an issue with it.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 01:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D.J. Ammons View Post
Just filmed our second wedding using the Flycam 5000 arm and vest. This was the first using the new Glidecam 4000 HD with the Flycam 5000 arm and vest. It was also our first with a 7" monitor & battery mounted on the sled.

I am convinced more than ever that the Flycam 5000 arm and vest are well worth the money. You are not going to get the same shots as a $2000 -$4000 Glidecam Smooth Shooter / X10 or Steadicam Pilot but you are also not going to be out anywhere near that money.

For a beginner or person on a budget the Flycam 5000 arm and vest (and sled if you can't afford a Glidecam HD which I highly recommend) will give you shots that you are not going to be able to get with any other camera mount other than the high dollar systems.

If you accept that your $600 is not going to give you the same quality as systems costing many times more but is still amazing you will not be disappointed.

I look forward to the day my budget allows me to get the Glidecam X-10 arm and vest I want for my Glidecam 4000 HD but in the meantime I am enjoying the great smooth shots I am getting from the Flycam.

I also wanted to mention that if you are using a fairly small HDV camera like my Sony V1 another invaluable camera mount is the Spider brace. I bought mine over a year ago for around $60=$70 and it was the best investment I have ever made. Some people complain that it is fragile being made out of PVC but the upside is that it is incredibly light. We have used it many times and by being careful have never had an issue with it.
DJ can you be more specific as to which system you're talking about? The Comfort arm and Vest or the Magic Arm?
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Old January 1st, 2010, 07:45 AM   #9
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Hi Guys
I know this is a late reply but I thought I'd add my 2 cents worth as I had a 5000 and now have a 6000!!

The 5000 is flimsy yes!!! Mine scraped and bent very easily!! However the 6000 is another story totally!!
Way better engineered and mine only needed minor mods to get it up to scratch and it's now done 2 wedding seasons with great results ...the 5000 here is AUS$899 and the 6000 is $1400 ..well worth the price difference BUT the only real mod that's essential is getting new springs as the supplied ones seem to be designed for a 40lb ENG camera!! I replaced mine with one wire size down and it flies very well with my HMC72's (about 8lbs) all up!!

The 5000 is really a toy but at least the 6000 is pretty well made for the price and the vest and arm are robust!! OK, it's not a Steadicam but for the price the 6000 is good value!

Chris
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Old January 7th, 2010, 10:07 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Richard Crook View Post
DJ can you be more specific as to which system you're talking about? The Comfort arm and Vest or the Magic Arm?
Richard, sorry I just saw this half a year later! I don't remember what it is called but it is not the arm brace. It is the full vest and arm with gimble like a much higher priced steadicam system.

As I said before not near as good as a steadicam, X10 or Smooth Shooter but considering it cost six hundred bucks including the sled and not $2500 - $5ooo I have been very happy with the result.

In a few weeks I will post a few shots on youtube and post a link.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 10:57 PM   #11
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Hi Guys

The comfort arm and vest (without the sled) is the one designed for the Flycam 5000 and yes that's around the $600 mark!! It's just a single arm with one spring and the vest is a front mount model. I used one for a year and for the price it does an amazing job but I did find a single arm a wee bit "bouncy" ..Here you can get it complete with the sled for $899

The Magic Arm is a dual arm unit with 2 springs in each arm and the vest for that is a back mount model...it has a tube on the side to connect the arm and uses the slightly fancier sled that has operator balance screws and a dual rail system for the LCD and battery. Mine cost me $1499 last year. Just the vest and arm sells for $1100 so you must be talking about the Comfort Vest

Chris
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