X-22 vs Flyer LE, now I am really torn at DVinfo.net

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Old December 21st, 2009, 12:12 PM   #1
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X-22 vs Flyer LE, now I am really torn

I had a go with the Glidecam X-22 today. I have to say that I wasn't expecting much given my previous experience of body mounted Glidecam rigs. But I have to say that I was really impressed with it. For the first time ever I found a non Steadicam vest that actually worked and was comfortable, as well as being easy to fit.

It had socket block angle adjustment too. The sled was very solid, and looked really well made. The only thing that it could have done with was a power feed through the post. Instead you have to wire it on the outside, while the video feed is on the inside. Maybe it was just the way it was set up and this can be changed?

The big thing for me was that finally the stage could be adjusted without tools. There was a lot of fore and aft adjustment available on the bottom of the sled, and it could take two batteries. One at the rear, and one mounted on the back of the monitor. The monitor resolution was something like 1920x240 and it took an HD-SDI signal from the EX3 I tested it with.

With a bit of playing around in the short time that I had I did manage to achieve some semblance of dynamic balance. With a bit more time and playing to get used to the rig I am sure it could be made to work really well in this regard.

The arm seemed to be very smooth. Though the arm was a bit of a let down in one respect because not only did it need an allen key for the tension adjustment, but tension needed to be adjusted on the top of the arm and at the bottom. I am not sure what the Flyer LE is like in this regard? I liked the way the other Steadicams such as the Archer have an easy to use knob and can therefore be adjusted in situ. The X-22 needs to be docked and the arm taken off for these adjustments to be made.

Now, I don't know which one to go for. I could probably live with the tools tension adjust on the X-22. The load capacity of the arm was much higher, 6lbs to be precise, than the Flyer LE. In fact I'm amazed it can't take more. I had to take the tension right down to the bottom to make an EX3 with battery float at a 'normal' height.

Now, I like the Steadicam name. Previously all non Steadicam rigs that I have tried have been rubbish. But the X-22 actually felt like a Steadicam. If I closed my eyes I wouldn't have known the difference.

I have been given a killer price on the X-22. But although it is good, I know that the Steadicam will hold its value longer. It also has the name behind it, which in some cases does count for some finicky people. I also know that with a Steadicam it is the small things that make all the difference (such as the ease of setup and adjustment on the fly)

A few things I'd like to know though from those who have used both;

1. Does the Flyer LE come with a carry case?
2. Does the Flyer arm have a no tools adjustment? Does it have no tools adjustments and iso-elastic adjustments like the full size arms?
3. What is the boom range of the Flyer compared to the X-22?
4. How do the gimbals compare?
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Old December 21st, 2009, 03:46 PM   #2
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Simon - I'm just running out to do a bunch of christmas shopping, but I have some info re: running power cable up the post - I'll try and get back to you here ASAP.

I'm glad you like your X-22! You can find a few photos of mine on my flickr feed at Flickr: meeksdig's Photostream

Happy Holidays, and I'll talk to you soon!
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Old December 21st, 2009, 04:25 PM   #3
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Thanks Trevor. I haven't bought the X-22 yet. Still trying to decide between it and the Flyer LE. My bean counter mind is telling me to go for the Glidecam. It does have a lot of things going for it that I didn't expect. But the Flyer just keeps calling me over!
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Old December 21st, 2009, 09:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
A few things I'd like to know though from those who have used both;

1. Does the Flyer LE come with a carry case?
2. Does the Flyer arm have a no tools adjustment? Does it have no tools adjustments and iso-elastic adjustments like the full size arms?
3. What is the boom range of the Flyer compared to the X-22?
4. How do the gimbals compare?
1) Yes, the Flyer includes a hard case and a balancing stand.
What's in the Box
Steadicam Flyer-LE Camera Stabilizer System Camera Mounting Chassis (Sled)
Dovetail Camera Plate
Center Post
Iso-Elastic Camera Arm
Standard Vest
Color LCD Monitor
NP Type Battery Mount
Docking Bracket
Tiffen SteadiSTAND (fits inside case)
12 VDC Power Cable
3' Lightweight BNC Video Cable
BNC to RCA Adapter
RCA to BNC Adapter
5/32" T-Handle Allen Wrench
Hard Transport Case
Instructional Video
Owner's Manual
1 Year Parts and 6 Months Labor Warranty
Steadicam | Flyer-LE Camera Stabilizer System | F24LENPNN | B&H

2) All Steadicam arms are no-tools adjustment. All Steadicam arms are iso-elastic. Only the high-end Steadicam arms (G-50 and G-70) have a "ride" adjustment.

3) Flyer arm is 30" boom range.

4) Glidecam gimbal is good, but the Steadicam gimbal is super-precise. If you can balance the rig without touching it, when you walk around the sled, the Steadicam just sits there. It's basically friction-less.

By the way, if money is an issue, you might consider the Steadicam Pilot. I've use the Pilot with the Sony EX3, plus a shotgun, wireless lav receiver, and a wireless video transmitter. As long as you remove the LCD EVF hood and use the Pilot's battery to power the EX3, it works fine. The 3 links below show pictures of this setup.

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...ped-ex3_1s.jpg
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...ped-ex3_2s.jpg
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...ped-ex3_3s.jpg
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 03:35 AM   #5
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Thanks Dave.

While I could not go as far as an Archer, I could certainly go for the Flyer LE. It is currently a weigh up as to whether I would be able to live with some of the minor niggles of the Glidecam X-22 over the Flyer. I need the extra payload capacity of the Flyer or the Glidecam as I will also need to be able to fly larger cameras such as the DSR-450, 2/3" XDCAM etc.

The no tools adjustment of the arm is a big thing for me. I know I can set and forget in some circumstances, but if accessories are being out on the camera and taken off I would prefer to avoid the four allen key adjustments needed for the X-22 arm. In addition the arm adjustments on the X-22 won't be as precise because there is no way to exactly match the tension on either side for sure.

On the other hand the X-22 can officially carry more payload than the 1st gen Archer. So there is quite a lot of flexibility there. Although the X-22 doesn't have 24v capability. Not a huge thing for me as I am not involved with film cameras. Yet. I never say never.

I read elsewhere that although the Flyer LE is officially a 19lb max payload that some have said that in fact it could do a fair bit more without adversely risking gimbal failure. Is this true?

Does the Flyer vest use basic plastic clip buckles, or does it have the ratchet and spring clip securing of the larger rigs? I am of thin build. With the Archer etc the vests have enough adjustment in them for me to get them to fit well. But many of the smaller rigs don't seem to cater as well for my build. The X-22 was okay. The shoulders did really need more adjustment though, but I was on the limits when I tried it.

Lastly, the Flyer LE has been around since 2008. Unlike the larger rigs this model appears to receive regular updates. Is there a chance that they might perform an upgrade by NAB next year? For example adding in the 'ride' adjustment on the arm? Or even increasing payload capability?
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 02:26 PM   #6
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The no tools adjustment of the arm is a big thing for me. I know I can set and forget in some circumstances, but if accessories are being out on the camera and taken off I would prefer to avoid the four allen key adjustments needed for the X-22 arm. In addition the arm adjustments on the X-22 won't be as precise because there is no way to exactly match the tension on either side for sure.
This more than just an inconvenience when setting up the rig. Certain shots require a higher or lower lens heights. The whole idea of flying technique is to use minimum force with your hands. So if I have a shot that requires a consistently high or low lens height, i'll pre-trim the arm for that height on that shot. Takes about 30 seconds.

The absence of this feature plus the absence of internal sled wiring makes the X-22 a crude solution. In particular, when you're working with other people, they need to see the shot. If you don't have a wireless video system, they will crowd you trying to see your monitor, and this can affect the shot. It's so much better to give them a cheap wireless handheld LCD TV. It doesn't have to look perfect, just good enough for them to see the framing and the performance of the actors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
On the other hand the X-22 can officially carry more payload than the 1st gen Archer. So there is quite a lot of flexibility there. Although the X-22 doesn't have 24v capability. Not a huge thing for me as I am not involved with film cameras. Yet. I never say never.

I read elsewhere that although the Flyer LE is officially a 19lb max payload that some have said that in fact it could do a fair bit more without adversely risking gimbal failure. Is this true?
For most people, the main issue for weight is the RED One. Since this is a modular camera, it's easy for people to have configurations that weigh over 40 pounds, so even the Clipper may not be enough. For this reason, many people looking to fly a RED have bought used full sized rig (50-70 pound range).

When you go over the rated weight, you always risk damaging your gimbal, but people do it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
Does the Flyer vest use basic plastic clip buckles, or does it have the ratchet and spring clip securing of the larger rigs?
Flyer uses buckles, which I'm not crazy about. Something that's easier to adjust as you're wearing it would be much better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
Lastly, the Flyer LE has been around since 2008. Unlike the larger rigs this model appears to receive regular updates. Is there a chance that they might perform an upgrade by NAB next year?
All Steadicam models have regular updates. The Archer and Clipper were just updated. Who knows when they will update the Flyer. Any body's guess.

If you really want to know, take the 2-day Steadicam workshop for $500.
Twp Day Steadicam Flyer Workshop Programs authorized by Tiffen instructed by Peter Abraham
Worth every penny. And the instructor, Peter Abraham, will know if there's a new model about to come out. By the way, not all people that take this workshop own Steadicam rigs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
For example adding in the 'ride' adjustment on the arm? Or even increasing payload capability?
From what I've heard over at steadicamforum.com, the ride adjustment is not really that useful. Most operators seem to set it once when they buy it, and then never touch it again.

By the way, when you get up to the higher weight range, there are other companies that make as good if not better rigs than Steadicam. PRO-GPI and MK-V are two examples.

And again at the low weight range, for handheld rigs, the CMR Blackbird is giving Steadicam real competition.

But from 5-19 pounds, I believe Steadicam has no real competition. Sure, there are cheaper rigs out there, but noting comes close in quality.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 02:36 PM   #7
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I don't want to hijack this thread, but Dave, you mentioned above about a cheap wireless videos system, could you point me in the right direction please.

Also regarding the courses, i'm going on a steadicam pilot/flyer course in March, 275 link below.

http://www.flysteadicam.com/

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Old December 22nd, 2009, 03:26 PM   #8
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If you really want to know, take the 2-day Steadicam workshop for $500.
Twp Day Steadicam Flyer Workshop Programs authorized by Tiffen instructed by Peter Abraham
Worth every penny. And the instructor, Peter Abraham, will know if there's a new model about to come out. By the way, not all people that take this workshop own Steadicam rigs.
I went on a 2 day workshop about two years ago. Unfortunately the Flyer was the only rig they didn't have. Though the impression I'm getting is that the Flyer is the one to go for. It was interesting looking at CP's alternative rig with a Flyer arm modified to take what looked like an MK-V sled.

Quote:
Flyer uses buckles, which I'm not crazy about. Something that's easier to adjust as you're wearing it would be much better.
Yes, it is a shame if that is the case. Buckles can work loose over a period and they never seem to put enough adjustment on them for slightly built people such as myself.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 08:33 PM   #9
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Buckles can work loose over a period and they never seem to put enough adjustment on them for slightly built people such as myself.
When I wore the Flyer vest in class, the buckles didn't work loose at all, even when I tried to loosen them. That was the problem. I like to wear the belt strap really tight when I'm flying, and then loosen it up when we're working out the next shot or something. With the Pilot velcro, or with the ski-boot latch on the higher-end vests, you can do this in seconds. With the Flyer vest, it's not really possible to adjust as you're wearing it.

As for Flyer vest fitting your build, this is something they advertise as a strong point of their design. We had 9 people with very different builds in class, and everyone got it to fit.

The only problem was the amount of time it took to get it to fit right - taking the sled and arm off, unsnapping the buckles, making the adjustment, putting everything back together, only to find that it's still not right, and having to take everything apart and adjust the buckles again. If you've used a vest you can adjust as you're wearing it, buckles can seem very tedious.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 08:36 PM   #10
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I don't want to hijack this thread, but Dave, you mentioned above about a cheap wireless videos system, could you point me in the right direction please.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 11:36 PM   #11
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The Flyer LE can be purchased with a "compact vest" that is a better fit for slightly-built folks (like me).

I just took the weeklong Steadicam Workshop and asked about Flyer updates. Tiffen is always tight-lipped until actual product announcements, but I did glean that there is awareness that the Flyer's weakness (the bottom spar, which is an older design that makes trimming Dynamic Balance a challenge) ought to be updated. The Flyer is overdue for a sled redesign, at least with respect to the bottom spar.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 01:46 AM   #12
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Both the base and the post needs an upgrade. From day one when i did the review of the first generation Flyer, that was my biggest compliant.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 04:44 AM   #13
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When I wore the Flyer vest in class, the buckles didn't work loose at all, even when I tried to loosen them. That was the problem. I like to wear the belt strap really tight when I'm flying, and then loosen it up when we're working out the next shot or something. With the Pilot velcro, or with the ski-boot latch on the higher-end vests, you can do this in seconds. With the Flyer vest, it's not really possible to adjust as you're wearing it.

As for Flyer vest fitting your build, this is something they advertise as a strong point of their design. We had 9 people with very different builds in class, and everyone got it to fit.

The only problem was the amount of time it took to get it to fit right - taking the sled and arm off, unsnapping the buckles, making the adjustment, putting everything back together, only to find that it's still not right, and having to take everything apart and adjust the buckles again. If you've used a vest you can adjust as you're wearing it, buckles can seem very tedious.
I've converted my Pilot vest to buckles, i stays nice and tight fitting, however if i want to loosen it a bit then i can lift and angle the buckles and the strap will slide through and loosen.

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Old December 23rd, 2009, 10:03 AM   #14
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Both the base and the post needs an upgrade. From day one when i did the review of the first generation Flyer, that was my biggest compliant.
I agree that the base could be much better, but what's wrong with the Flyer LE post?
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 10:11 AM   #15
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I've converted my Pilot vest to buckles, i stays nice and tight fitting, however if i want to loosen it a bit then i can lift and angle the buckles and the strap will slide through and loosen.
What about tightening the belt as you're wearing the rig?

That takes about 5 seconds with velcro or the ski-boot type latches seen on high-end vests. When I used the Flyer vest in class, I had to take everything off to tighten a buckle strap.
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