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Old January 3rd, 2005, 01:28 PM   #1
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Question on old Steadicam JR

I'm considering buying a used Steadicam JR that is pretty old, but the owner says it is in pristine condition. This thing was purchased in 1990 under the Cinema Products name, which I figure gives it a little extra coolness factor. Anyway, my question is whether or not the contemporary versions are sufficiently improved to warrant holding out and buying a new one. Or are the old ones better? This rig has an LCD, and I'm also worried about whether it would be daylight viewable. 1990 was a LONG time ago, and LCD technology has improved an awful lot. Can anybody help me?
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 07:27 PM   #2
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Hi Marco:

I have one of the original JR's also.

Not much has changed with the design except as you noted, the LCD. That one will be monochrome, and actually a bit larger than the current versions; it's fairly bright but useable. If the price was right you may be perfectly happy with this.
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Old January 4th, 2005, 07:31 AM   #3
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Thanks Charles!
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Old January 18th, 2005, 01:27 AM   #4
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Steadicam JR

Greetings Marco and Charles,

I checked out the JR at CES while they were checking out my Indicam. I noticed they didn't have it balanced correctly, or at least not like I think it should have been balanced.

I moved the system around and noticed it pendulumed badly. I was told that I needed to have my control hand on the gimbal to correct the excessive motion. From the full sized systems this is just the opposite to what you are supposed to do. I can only expect they didn't have it set up correctly which I find hard to believe seeing that they are trying to get others interested in it. They also were showing the Flyer but shipped it out with two days left.

What's going on?

I would buy an older JR just to have one of the origional ones!

Terry
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Old January 18th, 2005, 02:16 AM   #5
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Terry:

As you pointed out, it may not have been in proper balance. The JR, like all stabilizers, works best with a 2-3 second drop time (that's conventional wisdom, although several excellent operators have different theories). If the rig was bottom heavy, this would certainly contribute to the pendulum effect.

However, it is definitely true that the system was designed to be used with several fingers on the guide, the small plastic flap that surrounds the gimbal (sort of like a Steadi-foreskin. Sorry, couldn't resist). This is the same principle as recommended with all Steadicams; that the control of pan and tilt is done from a spot immediately below the gimbal, which is actually the center of gravity of the system (since it is bottom-heavy). It's a bit confusing because the works are of the gimbal are so minaturized that it looks like the fingers are touching the gimbal itself, but really it's not the case.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 12:45 AM   #6
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JR

Charles,

I agree with you on the top to bottom balance but the guys running the booth said it was correct. I wasn't about to disagree with them as I didn't know that much about the JR.

I did see a little compartment on the end of the lower arm and noticed a place for small weights. I suppose they didn't want to mess with the fine balancing as it would make the unit harder for amateurs to keep level. At least that's all I could figure out.

Terry
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Old January 19th, 2005, 02:27 AM   #7
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Fine balance on the JR is done by unscrewing the guide; it has a clickstop and can thus be adjusted by a measured amount (2 times around = 1 second of drop, that sort of thing). The addition of weights, as well as changing out a three-position stop block that alters the angle of the lower arm, are rough adjustments of balance.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 08:43 AM   #8
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they also have a "special" weight if you have a PD150 or VX2000 with a wide angle lens, which velcro's on top of the lower battery compartment.

I've owned 4 or 5 jr's and have to admit, I like the monochrome monitor much better, mostly because it's a bit bigger than the color monitor and I believe it's easier to see in bright light. I spoke with Tiffin and they have said if your monochrome monitor goes bad they will only replace it with a color one. Something to think about if your picking up a used jr. But then again, I've never had a monitor go bad. (knock on wood)

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Old January 19th, 2005, 08:55 AM   #9
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Tim,
Why so many? Do they keep breaking on you? I just bought a JR (new), and was surprised (unhappily) at how fragile the thing seems. Couldn't they at least have made the gimble and "foreskin" as Charles calls it metal? Sheesh. The joints are really flimsy as well.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 02:40 PM   #10
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I originally purchased 2, (one for backup). Sold my backup because the 1st one was working fine. I then sold my Yashica Hi-8 camera and went with a Sony DXC-327 which of course wouldn't fit on the jr, so I sold my original jr. I then purchased the Sony VX3, you know the first 3 chip Hi-8 that was pro-sumer, so I just had to have another jr. Well, I wasn't happy with the picture I was getting with the VX3, so it went up for sale and so did the jr. I had also sold the Sony 327 and went BetaSP. So once again I didn't need the jr. Well just when I thought my Steadicam days were over Sony introduced the VX1000....guess what.....yeap, I just had to have another jr. I stuck with this jr until a year ago, then sold it and bought one with the color monitor, which I still have today. I also just purchased a used jr with the monochrome monitor. It's not in the best of shape, I'll have to order some parts from Tiffen. Like weights and screws and new cork for the stage. The foam in the battery compartments has been ripped out so I'm hoping the batteries don't move around, one of the screws holding the stop in place has been stripped, I hope it will stay locked in place, if not it will have to see Tiffen for a new lower spar.

They are fragile, but I tend to baby my equipment, I think the only thing that has happened was the joint between the upper spar and stage got to be a little loose.

Other than getting a bit tired when using for 45min to an hour (wedding receptions), the only thing that bothers me is when moving at a good pace, sometimes you notice footstep bouce. I have an idea about how to fix this and will have to visit a local metal shop.


Anyone know if the FX1 or Z1 will work on the jr?

Sorry for the book,
Tim
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Old January 19th, 2005, 08:18 PM   #11
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Tim:

According to the specs, no reason why the Sonys won't work on the JR. A tad heavy but not undoable.

Bounce in the footsteps--the vertical isolation is really an operator function; the smoother one's footsteps, the less bounce one will see. Jitter is a whole different story, however.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 08:25 PM   #12
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Tim:

According to the specs, no reason why the Sonys won't work on the JR. A tad heavy but not undoable.

Bounce in the footsteps--the vertical isolation is really an operator function; the smoother one's footsteps, the less bounce one will see. The rig itself really doesn't provide any vertical isolation, only angular. Jitter is a whole different story, however.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 01:43 AM   #13
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Hi Charles, hope all is well.

I notice the bounce mostly when I have the wide angle lens on, which weights down the front of the camera. I'm thinking that since the lens sticks sooooo far out past the stage that this is causing some of the bounce I see. By extending the stage with a light piece of metal or aluminum, I'm thinking this might eliminate some of the footstep bounce. Again, this is only noticeable when almost running. (tippy toe, tippy tow)

Just a though,
Tim
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Old January 20th, 2005, 12:05 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tim Langston :

I notice the bounce mostly when I have the wide angle lens on, which weights down the front of the camera. I'm thinking that since the lens sticks sooooo far out past the stage that this is causing some of the bounce I see.

I might be wrong Tim (Charles will correct me if I am) but with a wide angle lens on three things happen.
1. The system weighs more contributing to overall stability.
2. Movement (bounce, jitter, etc.) will be less, not more, noticable due to the nature of wide angle lens'.
3. The sled will have to be rebalanced (camera moved back) to account for the extra weight on the front end and will not contribute to the bounce you see.

My guess is that either the arm has too much friction in the joints or you run really funny. (just joking) What stabilizer do you use?

What think you Charles?

Terry
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