Newbie (to stabilizers) enquiry Stabilizer for Sony PMW-350 at DVinfo.net

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Old February 16th, 2010, 06:42 PM   #1
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Newbie (to stabilizers) enquiry Stabilizer for Sony PMW-350

I would really appreciate some sound buying advice on steadicam-type stabilizers.
I am about to purchase a Sony PMW-350K (standard fujinon HD lens) and take the big jump into stabilization. As you will all know this is a daunting task as I don't want to get it wrong. It is particularly difficult as not only am I limited to what is available in Australia as such, but my business in based in Alice Springs, in the centre of the outback, 1500 km from the nearest city. In other words I am unlikely to be able to demo a rig before I purchase.

Although it might sound obvious, my main requirement is the best stabilization. I don't really care about the design, what it looks like, how tricky it is to operate ( although obviously easier is preferable!) I just want smooth, pro results. The budget I have is up to US $13,000 for the whole kit (no surprises). If it's much cheaper that's fine too. Yes, I know a lot is up to individual skill and experience, but all things being equal what do you think is the best stabilizer I can afford? I have looked at the Swedish easyrig and eliminated that as it seems to be more an ergonomic thing, I am yet to find a convincing demo video on a sachtler on the web and the steadicam flyer LE looks interesting but again I've seen nothing convincing.

I know it's tempting to just push the rig you own for the sake of it, but if you were truly objective what would you get? (that may well be the one you've got anyway!) I'd be especially grateful to hear from pros/semi pros who have experience with similar camera weights and more than one stabilizer. Whew! I don't ask much do I? Thanks a lot.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:17 PM   #2
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For 10-19 pounds, the Steadicam Flyer is your best bet. It's not just the name, it really works better.

At the very low end, for handheld stabilizers, the CMR Blackbird is giving Steadicam real competition.

And again at the high end, for cameras up to 70 pounds, GPI Pro and MK-V are giving Steadicam real competition.

But from 4-19 pounds, I would say Steadicam is unchallenged. Sure, there are other brands, but nothing comes close in quality.

Two things I would recommend:

1) Before you buy, take a Steadicam workshop. You'll want to take this class anyway, and after taking it, you'll probably know a lot better exactly the setup you want.

2) The Flyer is due for an update, more on that here:
New Steadicam Flyer?
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:18 PM   #3
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stabillizers

You could try Movcam having tested it it's way much better than varizoom Blackhawk(hated the arm loved the vest thou) , glidecam (prefer movcam to it) and be sure to buy acessories wif it such as the zoey(zoom remote), focus remote to go along wif it.... here a link 4 movcam ????????movcam??? | Movcam.com
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Old February 17th, 2010, 04:42 AM   #4
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The Flyer would be good for the PMW-350. The 350 is about half the weight of other full size camcorders.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 12:57 AM   #5
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Yes, Thanks Simon and Dave, I think I am leaning towards the flyer now, but why don't these companies have lots of camera POV demos online? I'm a little tired to be honest of watching guys on youtube showing me how to put on buckles and watch them chase dogs around. If I'm going to buy a rig I want to see what IT is doing, not watch people shooting with it! And Mohamad, thanks for the tip on movcam I hadn't heard of it, I'm hearing pretty good things but as usual you can make the best product in the world but if people don't know about it or can see what it actually does on the web, you're wasting your time.
What is it with these stabilizer companies? It's not rocket science....potential buyers want to see what it does through the lens first THEN we can narrow it down by seeing its operational features in action.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 02:51 AM   #6
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Chris:

Many rigs at many levels are capable enough of providing a reasonably stabilized image. Demo shots are less likely to indicate the critical aspects of a stabilizer's design than you might think. It's not the same as demo footage of a given camera, which shows how it handles a given scene in terms of contrast, detail, color accuracy etc. The operation of a stabilizer is entirely dependent on the skill of the operator. A good operator should be able to produce a better shot on a low-grade stabilizer than a novice on the best rig available. Thus, it's always going to be apples to oranges when looking at through-the-lens footage.

First of all, what is the structural integrity and design of a given rig? How easy is going to be to set up, break down, make adjustments both initially and on the fly? What is the adjustability range of the arm, how easy is to adjust? How long will it take to re-balance once I add an accessory? What is the build quality (VERY important!)?

There's pure performance questions, like: how much isolation does the arm provide? How frictionless is the gimbal, and is it linear? How much force is required to boom up and down?

And then there's customer service: what is the track record of the company? What kind of support will they provide?

Ultimately, very little to none of this will be proven by a demo video of shots done with the stabilizer. I can, for instance, make a decent looking shot with a rig that demonstrates poor isolation via the arm by walking more softly; this is far less desirable than a rig that does this by default.

I will also throw my weight behind the Flyer as the best recommendation for you. The arm is second to none, the gimbal is well-made and the rig is sensible and easy to adjust.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 04:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Tangey View Post
What is it with these stabilizer companies? It's not rocket science....potential buyers want to see what it does through the lens first THEN we can narrow it down by seeing its operational features in action.
I agree with Charles. Seeing footage through the lens is fairly meaningless.

It's like skiing. A professional skier on crap skis is still way better than most people on the best skis. You can learn to ski pretty well in a couple of months, and have a lot of fun in the process. But in order to compete at the top level, it will take years of practice and working your way up through the ranks.

If you're interested in a demo video, here's a video of Garrett using the Flyer LE.
YouTube - First Look at the Steadicam Flyer LE
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Old February 20th, 2010, 01:38 AM   #8
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Dave and Charles ok, take the point, especially with people who don't do camera for a living, but I still think an increased number of POV clips would be helpful to people like me who have 18 years experience on broadcast cameras.

So I understand Dave's analogy about the snow skier but I'm not coming into it from the deserts of Arizona, I would like to think I am more like a pro water skier trying out a new sport. I have no doubt it is very hard, very different to what I'm used to and takes years of practice but I do already understand, balance, speed and going very fast on a pair of skis. And although I will not understand entirely what is going on by looking at vision from a helmetcam going down an icy, solid slope I think I will have a much better understanding than the guy straight from the desert, so POV clips would be very helpful to people like me.

OK, looks like the first ever steadicam unit based in the Australian outback will be arriving soon, although I will wait to see if NAB delivers an update in April.

Thanks all, for the advice.
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