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Old June 1st, 2005, 07:04 AM   #1
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First time stabliser.....

Hi,

I have spent the last couple of days researching into stabilisers. Trawling through the numerous posts, and googling away. This will be the first stabiliser I will own. I will be using it for short movies to start with, and I will be using a GS400 with it.

My research has really bought up three main contenders :

Steadicam Jr Lite
Glidecam 2000/4000
Flowpod

Now which one do I choose! I have made the following plus's & minues' summary so far based on my research:

Steadicam
----------
(+)Easiest to balance
(+)Lightest
(-)Build quality is dubious. Few people have reported problems

Glidecam 2000/4000
-------------------
(+)Heavy in operation
(+)Apparently best results once setup correctly
(-)Difficult to setup the balance
(-)Handle offset

Flowpod
--------
(+)Can be used as a monopod
(+)Easiest to master
Apart from that, have not found any real feedback on this one.

Does anyone else have any further + or - to add to my lists?

One thing I am aware of is how heavy these hand-held stabiliser can be. I have a feeling it won't be too long after my purchase that I will probably buy a vest. So considering that will probably happen I want to make sure that any handheld stabiliser I decide to purchase, it can be easily used with the DVSportster/Glidecam Smooth etc.

What handheld stabliser would people initially recommend, and and what vest?

Cheers

Robert
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Old June 1st, 2005, 05:52 PM   #2
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Hi Robert,

Why not just take it further? I mean buy the vest at the same time. This way you can be sure everything will be compatible. The only bad side for this is you have to pay money at the front.

Regards
Leigh
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:01 PM   #3
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This is clipped from an earlier thread that might be helpful for you:

Well I just go my JR (w/monitor) and am pretty pleased overall. Initial impressions:

-My camera (Sony HC85) is much too light, so tonight I'm adding a bogen quick release plate to try to even things out. I have some tape on lead weights if needed.

-The gimbal is very nice and soooooooo smooth, I can't wait to get it balanced so I can start practicing

- The video is very old. The copywrite is 1990!

- My biggest disappointment is the Video monitor. There is no way this LCD is 2.9"! It's maybe 1.5" viewable max! The monitors in the demo video are larger (probably 2.9"). Mine is a little "postage stamp" with 1 inch of black frame all the way around. I haven't lit it up yet, but am very concerned (and a little upset ) that I won't be able to see anything of significance in this tiny thing. Can anyone comment on this?
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 01:35 AM   #4
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Thanks Colin, and Leigh...

Leigh, more I think about, the more I think I will just take the hit and get the vest as well. Anyone have any comments on the Glidecam Smooth Shooter & Glidecam 2000 combo? Anything better for the money?

Cheers Colin for your hints and tips... I'll add them to my summary list, so if someone else is doing some searching it will be nicely consolidated. I wish I had more info on the Flowpod.

If anyone wants to add to my +, - list feel free.

Steadicam Jr
------------
(+)Easiest to balance
(+)Lightest
(-)Build quality is dubious. Few people have reported problems
(-)Instructional video is old (1990)
(-)Steadicam Jr Lite Monitor is very small

Glidecam 2000/4000
-------------------
(+)Heavy in operation
(+)Apparently best results once setup correctly
(-)Difficult to setup the balance
(-)Handle offset
(-)No instructional video

Flowpod
--------
(+)Can be used as a monopod
(+)Easiest to master
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 04:21 AM   #5
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Actually, I think I'm still a little light for the Jr. I have the Medium battery and a big wide angle lense too. The Bogan quick release and some lead weights still might not be enough.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 08:46 AM   #6
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For an average size camcorder like the GS400---I wouldn't get a vest.

I highly recommend the Steadicam JR or the new[but pricey] Merlin.

The JR/Merlin folds up nicely and can be used as a shoulder mount which is an added plus.

The JR has nice microadjustments via knobs...makes fine-tuning fore-aft balance a snap.<-----this is very important!

The Glidecam requires you to loosen four thumbscrews on the stage plate and then slide the plate back and forth[this can be frustrating, I tended to slide a bit too much one direction or the other..]

Go with the JR.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 06:15 PM   #7
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Thanks John for your recommendation.

The reason I am looking down the vest option is because I will be using the GS400 on rods, a matt box, and various lenses. The weight adds up. I agree if all I was going to be using is a vanilla GS400 then the vest would be overkill.

Personally I am still leaning towards the Glidecam 2000. Only because I can buy that now, and then buy the smooth shooter vest in a month or two when my arm is about to fall of through weight, and more importantly when my bank balance has recovered. The Glidecam 2000, alllows for an upgrade path.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 03:15 PM   #8
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Robert,

I'd like to point out something that was mentioned to me when I was searching. I have verified this as an issue. If you have the camcorder screen open, it acts like a "sail" that can turn the whole rig with the slightest breeze. Even walking at a brisk pace with the screen open is hard. Having the screen in line with the center of gravity (steadicam jr) does seem to help.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 11:18 PM   #9
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I saw Garrett Brown holding a Merlin at Cinegear. That bugger is tiny. It has the fine adjustment screws that will make it easy to balance. I do not expect it to fly anything larger than a consumer cam. I think my VX2100 with the big battery would be too much for it. I have a brochure, but I would need to dig it out of my bags (just got home).
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Old July 5th, 2005, 11:21 AM   #10
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Hello all. I have a GlideCam 2000 and it worked well on the recent music video/promotional video for a blues band here in Columbus, Ohio. I have yet to see the edited final DVD for it as I didn't do the edit on this one. I should see it in a day or so. Video played back of the raw footage looked pretty good for my first ever attempt.

The camera was an AG-DVX100 Panasonic and it balanced out nicely. For indoors, the idea that the open LCD screen will catch the air and cause drag on one side wasn't much of an issue. I will say that with the better gimbles, changing anything on the setup will cause you to have to rebalance. LCD door open is one balance, LCD door closed is another.

Also, until I bought this I had assumed that operation of a steady device was a one handed affair. I was wrong. As in the GlideCam video (DVD that accompanied my purchase), it is a 2 handed thing. You use a very light and sensative touch on the device to control it's movement while holding the handle on the gimble. I use a light 2 finger hold above the gimble mount. Seemed to work pretty well.

I normally don't shoot with the DVX100, I own a Sony PDX-10 and bought it for that. Overall, it takes time to make magic but I am liking it so far. I can't imagine doing a heavier camera hand-held, without the vest.

Sean McHenry - my 2 cents.
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Last edited by Sean McHenry; July 5th, 2005 at 11:23 AM. Reason: spelling corrections
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Old July 6th, 2005, 08:50 PM   #11
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I'll kick in my two cents once my new website is up and running. Should be soon.

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Last edited by Terry Thompson; July 7th, 2005 at 12:15 PM.
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Old July 9th, 2005, 05:38 AM   #12
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I got a Steadicam JR for use with a PD150. I also needed the weight kit and have successfully balanced it all complete with NP-F960 battery and Canon W/A lens. The whole rig weighs in at 7.5 pounds (including the Steadicam) so it's fairly heavy... John Brune excellent site (and some e-mails backwards and forwards) helped a lot in getting it to balance!

I tried some back to back comparisons - handheld and stabilised and the differences are amazing even for a beginner! With a bit of practice, I'm sure I'll be using shots in an upcoming corporate promo, so may post some footage.

I went through the same pain as everyone i.e Glidecam.Steadicam etc and (luckily) think I've made the right choice. My PD150 is dedicated to Steadicam and with the Steadicam soft case, the whole lot goes in the car on every shoot, as a backup to my other larger cameras and if a good "flying" shot presents itself then it's easy to do. I rejected vest-based Steadicams for the moment mainly due to the setup time - if I need a shot like that I can have a go with the JR and hire an experienced operator with a full rig to get the final shot...

The best thing is that you can leave the cam permanently connected to the Steadicam and shoot handheld as well, although the shoulder mount position is no substitute for a proper shoulder mounted camera (balance is too front heavy with my rig). I've also used a spare Vinten triipod mount on the lower spar which helps the balance and means I can mount it on a tripod if needed.

A few weaknesses - it's plastic so needs careful handling - I guess time will tell if it's robust enough, and I think the monitor is succeptable to interference. I often get odd green vertical lines appearing, but the footage is fine. The manual says that this can be caused by the Obie light (which I haven't got!) Also, I don't like using dry batteries so am looking at using rechargables, and possibly adapting the DC out socket as a charging socket so the batteries won't need to be removed for charging - has anybody tried this?

So, after this mammoth post, a summary.

So far, the JR is great - fun to use, easier than expected out of the box (but don't expect perfection!) and convenient. Let's hope the plastic doesn't break! Finally the video is great if a little out of date, but is inspirational.

Graham
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