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Old January 12th, 2010, 06:30 PM   #1
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Why I Hate Tiffen - Steadicam

Grrr... I was happy with my Steadicam Pilot... then I went to C.E.S. (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas this past week, and met up with Michael Craigs, Robert Orf and Dan at the Tiffen - Steadicam booth.

Dan let me try out the Flyer LE... it was smooth, easy to operate, and just seemed to fit me! I couldn't stop grinning! Now I have to save up for the damned thing!!

I hate you Tiffen - Steadicam!!

Just kidding.

Julian
(Blackberry photo attached, excuse the quality)
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Why I Hate Tiffen - Steadicam-julian-flyer-le-02.jpg  
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Old January 12th, 2010, 07:37 PM   #2
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Julian, I also attended the show and got a chance to fly the Pilot. I liked it! And I was humbled by it, as I fully expected. I know the basics in my head, but developing a delicate touch is another matter. For instance, I could move the sled with my hips and no hands slowly in one direction, but I would always overcorrect when trying to bring it back. Keeping it level? Stopping a pan smoothly? Ha! Fuggetaboudit.

That said, the Pilot felt totally smooth with no bad behaviors. All of the limitations were on me.

So... what specifically feels better about the Flyer LE?
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Old January 12th, 2010, 07:58 PM   #3
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Glad you liked the Flyer, Julian. Did you try the Archer2 as well, or any of the other big rigs?

Most people who have spent the time learning the skill of operating with a small rig like a Pilot often find the large rigs "easier" in that it the added inertia means a naturally more stable frame. Operator input can be a little more aggressive. The rig has a tendency to just "sit there", in a good way. This is part of the reason that few of my full-size rig flying colleagues have taken to the little rigs, because it actually is harder work to get the same results! Given a light camera like the Canon DSLR's or an EX3 etc., most will tack on a 20 lb weight plate and use their big rig over a fine smaller rig like a Pilot or Flyer.

Personally I prefer the physical design of the Pilot sled better than the Flyer but hopefully this NAB we will see an update of the Flyer lower spar which will allow for more balancing possibilities.

Jon, you describe two separate skills; learning to fly the rig on your body, which is something like learning to ride a bike; and the function of one's operating hand on the post. The former comes quite quickly for most, within a week or two really. However the latter can take much longer, perhaps years to "master" (I use quotes because there's always room for improvement!)
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Old January 12th, 2010, 08:03 PM   #4
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Hi Jon,

The Pilot is great, I love mine. I want to try flying the Canon 5D mk II DSLR at some point too, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

The Flyer LE has a better vest, the arm seems to isolate the sled's movement more, and you can support a heavier camera. Operating the Flyer LE seemed really easy, compared to the Pilot... probably due to the greater inertia of the unit. The wider, knurled grip on the post also helps control the sled a lot more. While I'm certain I made numerous mistakes while operating the Flyer LE at the show, I think I got better results with it, more easily, compared to the Pilot. I took to it like a duck to water, and didn't want to give it back!

Julian
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Old January 12th, 2010, 08:16 PM   #5
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Hi Charles,

No, I didn't try the Archer2. Wish I had, but I didn't see it there. I think you're definitely right about the bigger rigs being easier to fly after learning on the smaller rigs. I saw the Archer2 at the Tiffen factory a few months ago and it looked very impressive. Totally out of my price range, of course!

If an updated Flyer comes out, I'll have to seriously consider getting it.

Julian
BTW, Charles, your name came up while I was operating the Flyer LE... I told Dan that whenever I think I might actually be getting the hang of flying my Pilot, I re-watch "American History X", and that instantly puts me back in my place!!
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Old January 12th, 2010, 08:33 PM   #6
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The Pilot has a neat trick that allows it to have the inertial feel of a much bigger rig (not like a big rig, but impressive for such a lightweight setup). Taking advantage of the square law, the clever Pilot/Merlin weights are positioned fore and aft on the stage and lower spar, to really slow the rig down. I tried a Pilot recently for the first time, and it was quite impressive how you can add a lot of inertia without a lot of weight.

One hopes that any Flyer update will include a similar capability to add inertial weights well fore and aft, to get a lot of inertia without a lot of additional mass.

[
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Old January 12th, 2010, 10:55 PM   #7
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Thanks Julian!

Yeah, the inertia thing makes sense. While the Pilot was smooth, it's touchy to my unskilled hands.

Being CES, they didn't bring the more expensive rigs to the show. However, later, I came upon a G50 arm setup on a stand. The operator normally flies for the NFL and was shooting at the convention. I was able to snap a number of closeups with my macro lens. Of course, without a tripod and/or lights, the photos suffer from a bit of shake and very shallow DOF. I did what I could.

I still don't get exactly how the Ride and Lift mechanisms are implemented. I get the theory and where things move, but I'd love to see the bits laid out on a table. It's not enough to move the bits. It's got to be strong, light, and precise to do the job well.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #8
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Julian,

When you next get the opportunity, try the Archer out. Its beautiful and i feel in love with one at SMPTE last year.

The Flyer is a great rig but it sounds like its due an upgrade, hopefully NAB.

Currently booking flights and accom in Vegas. This will be my first NAB and im looking forward to meeting some operators!

Joe
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Old January 13th, 2010, 05:39 PM   #9
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Not sure I want to try the Archer2... it's way too much money, and I know I'd love it and would never feel happy with my Pilot again!

But just for the experience of flying it... yeah, I'd have to do it! Maybe the fine folks at Tiffen-Steadicam would lend me one... for T&E purposes, you understand! Heh! :-)

Julian
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Old January 14th, 2010, 08:27 AM   #10
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I used the original Archer. I know some didn't like it, but I thought it was great. Very easy to pack and move between locations too. I would love one, but looks like it will be the Flyer instead.

Only thing is now that someone has mentioned NAB... I always seem to choose equipment near the end of a revision cycle!
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