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Old April 8th, 2010, 02:42 PM   #1
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Affordable Steady Cams?

Are there any consumer level steady cams? I'm interested in purchasing one, preferably under $1000 and one that would work with a Canon GL 2. I've seen the Flycam on ebay, is this worth investing in?
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Old April 8th, 2010, 02:58 PM   #2
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CMR Blackbird. I have one and love it. Do a search on the forums and you will see it gets pretty great reviews.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:29 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Lee Tamer View Post
I've seen the Flycam on ebay, is this worth investing in?
I've used a Flycam and I wouldn't recommend it. It looks like it would work great, but when it comes down to actually working - lots of problems, particularly with the gimbal.

I've also used Glidecam. These do work, but not great. The isolation isn't the best, and it takes a long time to set up for each shot.

If you want something under $1000, I've also heard good things about the CMR Blackbird. Charles Papert did a nice writeup on it here:
NAB2009 Stabilizer Wrap-Up at DVInfo.net
(toward the bottom).

If you want a system with a vest and arm, good ones start around $4000.

Hope this helps.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 07:20 AM   #4
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HWM CMR Blackbird Review Firewerkz Films Singapore

This is what I did with the Blackbird. I have worked with Glidecam, Merlin, Flycam, Blackbird. Most have their own strengths so its hard to decide. Really depends what features u r looking for.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 08:10 AM   #5
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Hi Lee

I have had both the Flycam 5000 and vest and the 6000 and vest...Ok, you need to clean up the engineering a bit but after that they work pretty well. All the necessary mods are listed on the HBS forum under modifying commercial systems.
The Blackbird looks great for anything under say 1.5lbs in weight but heavier than that you will need to eat plenty of protein. I truly believe that the Blackbird or Merlin should be used with DSLR's rather than bigger cams. My cams clock in at 8lbs each (HMC Panasonics) and I certainly wouldn't like to run them on a Blackbird !! They were great on the Flycam 6000 with a vest but I do weddings and don't have time to suit up as things happen so fast!!!

If you have plenty of shoot prep time then the Flycam 6000 is good value ($1050 for the entire rig and vest!!!) However you do need to get the springs changed for a GL2 to lighter ones!! If you want a "pickup and go" rig then it might be worth looking at a small HD camcorder or a Canon T2i and a Blackbird...The Flycam 5000 is an "el-cheapo" version of the 6000 with a single arm and not worth the small saving!!!

Chris
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Old April 9th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #6
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Cris, you are right about DSLR's on the Balck Bird that is what I fly with mine, a 7D. But a GL2 is pretty light. I was at the CMR factory the other day and they had an eight pound test rig set up and let me take it for a whirl and there is NO WAY I could fly that thing for more than about 30 seconds. The GL2 comes in at just under three pounds and I think would fly like a dream on the Black Bird.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:23 PM   #7
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Lee,


I have a fly cam Vest and Arm (for a heavier camera) but an indie cam sled. It works well with gl2, xl2, xlh1 fx1000. I add weight to the sled to make it work better with the lighter camera.

The CineCity*::*Flycam Stabilization systems*::*Flycam Stablization Steadicam system*::*Comfort Arm & Vest + Flycam 5000 + quick release plate

Look at some of the videos of them using their product and ask yourself if that will do!!


Generally with lower end stuff a little work on it makes it much better and for the person on a budget it will do the job, but do not expect 20,000 dollar results.

I bought mine for one particular shot in a project and we pulled it off well enough we got positive feed back on the footage! I had only practiced about two hours with it before the D-Day.


dale
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Old April 10th, 2010, 10:34 AM   #8
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first off you always get what you pay for, second - if you're ready to spend up to $1K buy Merlin, you'll never regret, amazing piece, keeps value, for GL2 it's a perfect one,
would be great if you could try available options yourself, if not just take my word, i've had them all
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Old May 28th, 2010, 08:48 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Buba Kastorski View Post
first off you always get what you pay for, second - if you're ready to spend up to $1K buy Merlin, you'll never regret, amazing piece, keeps value, for GL2 it's a perfect one,
would be great if you could try available options yourself, if not just take my word, i've had them all
Well, would you say that is not a wise move to sell a merlin in order to buy a Flycam 6000 with magic arm?
I am ready to do so!

I love my merlin, I really do but I think that is time to move to a bigger steadycam rig in order to get more high end footage.
Do you think that I will get the opposite results from the ones I Expect?
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Old May 28th, 2010, 09:49 AM   #10
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There is no vest-arm system for under $4000 that will give you "more high end results." than your Merlin. A properly setup and operated Merlin will give you high end results with a GL2. The sled, vest and arm will mainly add the ability to fly for longer periods and higher weights. You're throwing your money away on a Flycam if you want improved results. You won't get them and you will learn bad form to compensate for the equipment's lack of capability. Bottom line: bad equipment can hamper you but good equipment doesn't operate itself.

My suggestions, either:
-- buy the Merlin vest and arm now, then you could upgrade to a Pilot sled later, or
-- buy a Pilot (new or used) now
-- buy a used Flyer (1st or second generation or LE), make or buy a weight plate
-- buy a new Flyer LE, make or buy a weight plate

In the lower end you can't go wrong with a Tiffen product. Glidecam, Indicam and Varizoom all have fans but all have shortcomings and compromises. Flycam is not worth the hassle unless you have lots of time and maybe money to tinker until it is marginally passable.

In any case, if you're serious you should invest $45 in the "Steadicam Operators Handbook" by Jerry Holway and Laurie Hayball if you haven't already.

Disclaimer: no direct experience with Glidecam, Indicam, Varizoom or Flycam products. My opinion from reading and studying videos and photos. After much research I bought a used Flyer last year and am very glad I did. I have also taken a Steadicam Workshop and had the chance to fly big rigs during the workshop.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 06:26 AM   #11
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You totally expressed my fears exactly!
I too think that the flycam cannot replace a steadicam and that is not the equipment but good practice that makes it better ;)

Thanx for the reply...
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Old June 1st, 2010, 12:31 PM   #12
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I'm thinking i may buy the BlackBird basic kit, it's right in my price range in what i can afford right now.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 11:29 PM   #13
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I own a Flycam 5000 sled, arm and vest. The whole setup was only about $650 two years ago. The sled is a Glidecam knockoff that was ok to me except for a poorly designed connection for the head to the pole. It broke just before a wedding we were filming. Arghh!!! However I took it to a machine shop and they replaced it with a solid connection so that is not going to happen again.

However because of that scare and the excessive time it took to balance the sled each time we used it I bought a new Glidecam 4000HS to go with the Flycam 5000 arm and sled. It is a great combination for the money.

The HD versions of the glidecam sleds are soooooo easy to balance compared to the older designs. You simply loosen a few locking hand screws and rotate two knobs clockwise or counter clockwise to move the sled forward / backward and left to right.

The combinatin of the Glidecam 4000HD and Flycam 5000 arm and vest do not get the same results as a $5000 steadicam system but allow you get some amazing footage that you could never get without it.

Between the Glidecam sled and Flycam arm and vest I have about $1150 invested and it is worth at least double that in my opinion. I could sell the Flycam sled on ebay for probably $150 or more so the next investment would be $1000.

Our next step is going to be to upgrade to the Glidecam X-10 arm and vest which is already designed to use our Glidecam 4000 sled.

Oh, FYI we are flying a Sony V1u with an LCD4 7" monitor mounted on the bottom of the sled with a clamp mount.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 01:08 AM   #14
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Another vote for the Blackbird. Flies the T2i/Tokina 11-16 perfectly (3lbs). I tried putting my HMC-150 (4.5lbs) on it and while it worked, I could only really control it for a few minutes at a time before my arm wanted to fall off! While there's only a 1.5lb difference in cameras, the additional counterweights really start to add up!
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Old June 11th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #15
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DJ Ammons have you got any footage of the Glide4000 with the flycam I can look at? And what was the cost of your entire rig including sled (glide)

Matt
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