Best under $500 portable stabilizer at DVinfo.net

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Old December 27th, 2004, 01:33 AM   #1
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Best under $500 portable stabilizer

I need a portable stabilizer that meets the following criteria:
1. Portable - will be traveling via plane.
2. Under $500.
3. Suitable for a DVX100A with anamorphic lens or similar size/weight.
4. Low fatigue (body brace).

Thanks,

-Mike
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Old December 27th, 2004, 10:59 AM   #2
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There's an old filmmaking saying: Good, Fast, Cheap. You can have any two. Good and Fast, but not cheap. Cheap and fast, but not good. Good and cheap, but not fast...you get the idea.

You can fulfill your needs, but you'll have to eliminate the last one: Low Fatigue. Though it is possible to build up your endurance to a surprising degree for the handheld rigs, you'll not find a commercial version with an arm and vest for under $500. And it won't be is easily portable.

Get a short dumbell, put 10 pounds on it, and get to work on that arm!

Dan
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Old December 27th, 2004, 11:38 AM   #3
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Re: Best under $500 portable stabilizer

<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Shkolnik : I need a portable stabilizer that meets the following criteria:
1. Portable - will be traveling via plane.
2. Under $500.
3. Suitable for a DVX100A with anamorphic lens or similar size/weight.
4. Low fatigue (body brace).
-->>>

The DvRigpro is $575 from B&H and fulfills most of your requirements.


Carlos
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Old December 27th, 2004, 12:08 PM   #4
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I guess I should also list stabilization requirements. :) A body brace alone won't do the trick. I need good stabilization. If I upped my ceiling to $750, what would that get me?
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Old December 27th, 2004, 10:37 PM   #5
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I'll second the suggestion of the DVRig Pro. It's more than just a body brace. The column is kind of a floating spring-loaded piston that really does a good job at sabilizing walking shots. The rubber mount on top of the piston gives you flexibility to tilt and dutch, and the rig is very adjustable for various shooting styles. I had previously been considering the Steadicam Mini, at $4600.

The problem with the Steadicam, just like every gimbal-based sabilizer, is that "floaty" feeling you get when operating them. The real trick when operating such a system is to balance it perfectly, then let it fly on its own with minimal -and I do mean minimal- operator adjustment.

After having flown an SK and JR rig on several occasions, I have decided that I am not yet skilled enough to operate a gimballed rig. I either end up with a swinging pendulum from overcorrecting, or I let the rig fly on its own and sacrifice good framing. It's a great skill to balance in the middle, and not a skill that is low fatigue, even with a body brace.

That being said, if you are dead-set on a gimbal rig, you could get a Glidecam 2000 with a body pod and/or a forearm brace well within your budget. The body pod is of questionable usefulness, as it's pretty much best for fairly static shooting. The forearm brace is pretty slick, but it requres much more exertion on the part of the operator, as your arm basically acts like a steadicam arm.

If you have a talented, experienced operator, and are doing fast moves over variable terrain, I might consider Glidecam. If you are, however wanting to go beyond handheld, maybe doing walking shots over fairly stable terrain, or if you are not an experienced operator, and you want to be comfortable shooting handheld all day, the DVRig Pro is the coolest rig out there at any price. Go to www.dvtec.tv and check out more photos. I was really impressed by it, and plan to buy one for myself this coming year, even if I have the budget for a Steadicam. I'm pretty sure I''d end up using the DVRig more often.
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Old December 27th, 2004, 11:39 PM   #6
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That was a thoughtful post, Scott.

Mike, what would you like to achieve with your stabilizer? Do you need perfectly smooth tracking shots or just minimized jitter when walking with the rig? Or a more stable look than just plain handheld (which is an issue with non-shoulder mounted cameras like the DVX)?

As Scott indicated, a gimballed stabilizer will ultimate deliver the smoothest results for moving shots, but has a steep learning curve and the cost/bulk factor for your needs is a killer. You might want to look at the "camera on a stick" type of stabilizers like the Steadytracker, which some people seem to like a lot.

For the very occasional walking shot, you may even be able to use your existing tripod, if it is not too heavy-duty. You just extend the center post (if applicable), keep the legs retracted (but still spread out), and grab on to the post and walk. It's not much different than a device like the Steadytracker and it uses what you already have with you.
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Old December 27th, 2004, 11:44 PM   #7
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Ok, I'm convinced! Thanks much. Ordering one tomorrow.

-Mike
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Old December 27th, 2004, 11:50 PM   #8
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I must have posted that right after you posted. Basically I am going to CES to shoot some footage for a documentary. I need to travel light and be able to shoot with no setup, walking from place to place. The shots themselves will mostly be static, but I usually hate the motion of handheld camera work, so I wish to minimize the jitteriness. Sounds like the DVRigPro will do the trick.

Thanks,

-Mike
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Old December 28th, 2004, 10:43 AM   #9
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arm stabilizer for Glidecam

OK, I have to pipe in as I was in your shoes a while back. I did get a Glidecam 1000 and then a 2000. It worked well but I got tired and wanted to have a Steadicam type setup. Couldn't find one for a price I could afford so I made one and liked it so well that I worked on it's design for some time and now have a stabilizer vest and arm that works with my Glidecam or even the VreezeCAM I own as well. Funny but I have invested enough in my system to have bought a Flyer a few times over. My motivation for producing the Indicam (Indi for Indie films) isn't as much for the money as it is so other tightwads like me can get into stabilization for about half the price of a V8 which retails for $2900.

It packs away in the vest / backpack for ultimate portablility and convience. I can set mine up in a few minutes for my camera (Sony TRV-900) and really like being able to shoot for longer periods of time with little fatigue.

Enough about me...What kind of things do you intend to shoot and about how heavy is your 100a?

I will also be at this Jan's CES. Mayby I can meet you there and show you the system. I know it's more than you wanted to pay but a whole lot less than other systems.

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Old December 28th, 2004, 07:42 PM   #10
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Anyone know anything about the carry cases for the DVRigPro? There appear to be two, models DVT1600 and DVT1325. The web site doesn't even have that much info - it just has a photo of one case.
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Old December 31st, 2004, 03:59 AM   #11
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Hi Scott Anderson,

Your post on the DvRigPro. is the best Support/stabilizer summary I have ever seen. Very well balanced, Well done.

May I re-post it to answer other enquiries ?

Mail me your home adress and I will send you a DvTec T-shirt.

Thanks,

Danny Natovich.
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Old January 4th, 2005, 02:49 PM   #12
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While not a true stabilizer, the Marzpak works great for many situations
and provides great support and is far more flexible concerning camera angles.

Disclosure: I am the co inventor


www.marztech.com
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Old January 4th, 2005, 04:30 PM   #13
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Wow. Thanks a bunch, Danny. I already emailed you.

Jacques, I do think the Marzpak is a really cool tool at a good price. I'm sure that it will fit the bill exactly right for many people, and many different uses. Personally, I like the fact that you can temporarily go handsfree with the DvRigPro. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to fish something out of my pocket, look away from the viewfinder to tweak a camera setting, etc. For my style of shooting, it just felt right. YMMV, of course.
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Old January 14th, 2005, 08:52 AM   #14
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Yes, to each his own. Personally, I want camera support and stabilization.
The Marzpak 'floats' the camera and my arms as I hang on. I've shot
for hours and hours straight and, though tired at the end of the gig, I'm not
crippled.
Both of my hands are on the camera's controls where I like them.
The DVrigpro is another heavy thing that the operator has to support via
one shoulder. The Marzpak evenly distributes the weight mostly to the
hips and a bit on *both* shoulders. I also can get lower angles and higher
angles than provided by the DVrigpro. I don't have a rod sticking me in the gut.
Batteries, wireless and other gak goes in a gear pack situtated
near the small of the back. I would be willing to bet that I can get smoother
walking shots with the Marzpak too. Though not really significant, the price
is lower than DVrigpro.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 09:55 PM   #15
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I have to pitch in here about the Marzpak...

I have used it in wooded areas, thick brush, cornfields, plowed fields, and then on sidewalks, grass, and floors...even running and up in trees. It is very easy to use and very effective.

The camera-on-a-stick type stabilizer absolutely killed my arms, even with the arm brace available as an option.

People do give me some odd glances, but who cares...it might not even be the Marzpak they are looking at.

Overall, it was money well spent, which is hard to say much of the time.

Cheers,

Mike
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