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Old March 10th, 2011, 07:45 AM   #106
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Many operators still subscribe to the "monitor is strictly for framing so SD is fine" idea. That works fine if you are working high-end, with a focus-puller, or working low-end with a wide angle lens and tons of depth of field. But if you aspire to work in live TV, for instance, where (in the US anyway) you are expected to set your own focus, I see the value for an HD monitor. Or even in situations where playback may be done on the sled from time to time.

As reasonably-priced HD monitors become more available, more and more ops will get the "the more resolution the better" religion, I predict.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:00 AM   #107
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Agree Mark, but I'm afraid the old timezone thing has got me again so off to bed. Actually I should be able to give you a very good idea of a retail price on what these Zephyr monitors actually cost in the morning, of course to Tiffen they would be a lot cheaper. Like to hazard a guess on the retail?
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Old March 10th, 2011, 09:43 AM   #108
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terje Rian View Post
I rather buy the SD version and have the option to upgrade the monitor to one that'll do a better job, that can be used with ALL of my cameras (HD-SDI/HMDI/component/composite) during ANY work scenario.
The cheapest and most straight forward way of getting all the different camera outputs to work with a steadicam is with an HD to SD down converter box, like this:
Redbyte Decimator 2 Miniature (3G/HD/SD)-SDI to HDMI w. De-embedded Analog Audio & NTSC/PAL Downconverted Outputs

And for Steadicam, I find wireless video indispensible. When the director or DP can't see the shot, they're not happy. And you don't want to be bumping into the director because he's hovering around you. And running a wire to your rig is a real pain. So I looked around and found many inexpensive solutions for wireless video, provided you use SD composite. Specific products vary depending on where you live, but most countries seem to offer reasonably priced wireless SD video solutions. By contrast, HD wireless is very expensive. So my point before was that, if the camera doesn't have composite out, you'll need a down converter to run wireless video anyway, so you can use that signal for the Steadicam monitor as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Tangey View Post
I think few of us here are planning to be just Stabilizer Operators, for me its another tool in the kit. As the world changes and we all take on multi-roles I want to be able to mix and match my equipment as well. For instance I was hoping to use this for occasional playback to Clients on a shoot and even being able to mount it on my jib when need be. It's quick and easy to do, so why not?
The Marshall monitor that Andrew mentions is close to $2000, and it's only 6.5", and that's 4x3 aspect, so it would be even smaller widescreen.
Marshall Electronics V-LCD651STX-3GSDI-AB
For non-steadicam HD monitoring, I would want a larger screen. Most larger LCDs don't work well in direct sunlight, but with sticks, dolly, jib, etc, you can use a hood and angle the monitor as necessary, so it doesn't have to work in direct sunlight.

In other words, it may be better to buy 2 monitors, one for steadicam that's optimized for sunlight, and another larger HD monitor for non-steadicam. Depending on what you buy, 2 monitors may actually be less expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Schlicher View Post
But if you aspire to work in live TV, for instance, where (in the US anyway) you are expected to set your own focus, I see the value for an HD monitor.
I'm confused. Are you pulling your own focus during the shot, or do you just set it at the beginning?

If it's just at the beginning, aren't there ways to achieve HD focus using an SD monitor? Also, if the focus is that critical, how does that work when you're moving aound? It's rare that I do a move exactly the same way twice. Even when it's blocked out with marks, it seems to vary a few inches each time.

If you're pulling your own focus during the shot, how do you do it? I find it takes all my concentration just to keep the right frame steady. Keeping the exact frame is easy if you don't worry about stability, and keeping it stable is easy if you're not too concerned with framing, but consistently getting both at the same time - that's what seems to take years of practice.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #109
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Lots of things to respond to here.

The monitor issue. First off, if anyone is going to be buying a monitor I would hold off until NAB is over. Each year Marshall has new offerings and with the huge upsurge in the DSLR market and the AF-100 roll out there are bound to be manufacturers coming out with some attractive monitors in terms of an increase pixel resolution, both HDMI & SDI inputs. There could be a couple of Steadicam oriented monitors coming out. Last year Marshall came out with the one mentioned and Nebtek came out with one that caused competition for the high end Steadicam monitors. We may see some downward pricing pressure on some units come NAB.

For non Steadicam use I would have a serious look at the TV Logic 6.5" monitor. It has scope software built into it along with a bunch of other features. Presently, I am using an SD monitor with a Decimator as much of the work I do it live work where I am shooting wide or medium shots on an EX3 or similar cameras but that is all going to change in a month or two.

The reason why I have plugged the 2,000 dollar Marshall is... this unit is the cheapest truly daylight viewable monitor out there. A couple of years ago Charles Papert had a monitor shootout and a few monitors came to the top. A Marshall was up there, the Nebtek, the Transvideo and a couple of greenscreen monitors. I'm not even sure if the Marshall mentioned above was in the shootout but in any event during the fallout from the shootout, this monitor was recognized by a fair number in the Steadicam Community as the go to deal of the year monitor.

There was a thread on the Steadicamforum about the optimal monitor size for Steadicam operating. Most agreed that 8" was too big and that scanning the eyes back and forth across the monitor was required at that size. 6.5 to 7 inch monitors were seen by many as the preferred operating monitor size. It was also pointed out that the macula, the portion of the eye that sees detail, accounts for about 2 percent of your field of view, so there was some fact to back up the notion that one has to scan back and forth if the monitor gets too big.

BTW, like Dave, I use a Decimator. It is a fantastic little box. Don't leave home without it.

Last edited by Andrew Stone; March 11th, 2011 at 12:24 AM.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 03:45 PM   #110
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Dave what is your wireless solution?
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Old March 10th, 2011, 04:12 PM   #111
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Andrew,

It's a good point to wait until after NAB. It's a long trip, but I'm really happy to go this year. I'll definitly check out the monitor options for sure :-)

Best,
-terje
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Old March 10th, 2011, 09:07 PM   #112
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Stone View Post
Dave what is your wireless solution?
RangeVideo!, Wireless video solutions.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 10:55 PM   #113
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

I use the same system (900mhz version) but i replaced the antennas with proper, longer antennas (which reduce heat and improve range). Also added a heatsink.

I had a long post about monitors but somehow lost it. Tomorrow...bedtime now. :-)
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Old March 11th, 2011, 09:45 PM   #114
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

I've been doing some research on the Zephyr monitor, but despite the manufacturer promising to send me the wholesale price, it is yet to arrive by email.

Below, I've made a list, not as serious suggestions but just to give us a sense of how low-end the zephyr monitor is and ball park figures on similar products. It would appear that these monitors could not be costing Tiffen more than $100 each and could well be as low as $50. Again the one at the end is not a specific suggestion but indicates that an SD touchscreen, a far more clever (less fiddly) option for a steadicam, could probably be sourced for just $120 each.

7 Desk-top Car LCD Monitor Black for sale at Gadgettown.com

7 Widescreen TFT LCD Monitor with Built-in Speaker for sale at Gadgettown.com

7 TFT Color Car LCD Monitor for Sale at GadgetTown.com

7 TFT Color Car LCD Monitor Black for Sale at GadgetTown.com

8 Inch Touchscreen LCD Monitor (PC, POS, Media Remote)

Last edited by Chris Tangey; March 12th, 2011 at 12:05 AM.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 11:49 PM   #115
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Lilliput makes some 450nit 640x480 monitors with composite and HDMI for around 200 US. I have one that I use for my small jib and its bright and sharp when fed HDMI. Disappointing scaler when fed SD composite.

Tiffen generally adds antireflective coatings, which will add some cost.

I don't mind a cheap monitor on the Zephyr if it's got a reasonable nit rating (at least 500 but I was hoping for 700 like the Archer). I would like at least a true SD resolution, like you.

At least they provide a standard power connector and composite connector, unlike the Flyer, so it is not a big deal to swap it out with something better. A range of SD and HD options at different price points and performance levels, to suit my operating markets and preferences.

If they cheap out somewhere I'd rather it's the monitor and not the arm. :-)
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Old March 12th, 2011, 07:50 AM   #116
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

It is unfortunate that the smaller stabilizers (and really, the whole Tiffen line) are not modular units--you have to buy the whole enchilada. Compare this with the high end offerings from manufacturers like GPI (Pro), XCS, Mark V and others--the rigs are really components that are all bought individually and many are interchangeable. It's the reason I ended up with a sled that was a composite of four manufacturers and custom parts; I started with a stock rig and over the years upgraded as I saw fit.

Yes, it's a bummer that you spend x amount on a rig like the Zephyr if you don't happen to like the included monitor. But then there is nothing stopping you from moving to a monitor you like and having parts machined as needed to make it work. I've seen very few serious mods to a smaller Tiffen sled and it's discouraging in a sense--the spirit of customization hasn't seem to trickle down into that world the way it has been for 30 years in the full-size rig community. The Flyer, for instance, was a decent overall rig that was, in my mind, severely hampered by the design of the lower spar. It would be a pretty simple task to design a dual 15mm rod conversion for that base, with the monitor and battery riding on the same rods (and the rods able to drive fore and aft; you could make use of the many options of mounting bracketry now available for many manufacturers such as Redrock. Some four years ago I briefly considered making such a conversion kit and selling it to Flyer owners, but ultimately assumed that by the time the venture was up and running it might be at the end of that rig's shelf life. Who knew it would last as long as it did.

The Zephyr has a much better lower spar design with both monitor and batteries able to migrate individually; even though I haven't spent any serious time with it, it looks good on paper. I would personally mod either the supplied or a replacement monitor with a yoke mount so that it can be tilted without any affect on balance, since all LCD's still suffer from limited vertical viewing angle and need to be adjusted throughout the day for maximum image quality. By using spring washers or similar, you can tension the tilt adjustment so that it can be done with one finger but still stays where you leave it, so you could conceivably adjust the tilt during a shot if required!
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Old March 13th, 2011, 11:30 AM   #117
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Took delivery of my new Zephyr from Showcase Atlanta yesterday. Will post observations, opinions, and experiences as I have time over the next few days. So far, so good.

The vest is a major upgrade from the Flyer vest. Rachet buckles, beefier vertical spar (borrowed from the LX, I believe), more adjustment points, thicker padding. The arm looks like a slightly scaled-up Flyer arm. The sled is an elegant, clever design with a tools-free, beefy-looking gimbal. As Charles points out, the bottom stage is a much-improved design that incorporates two of the aluminum tubes seen in the Pilot design. In theory, much easier to tune dynamic balance as well as tweak inertia to your liking.

Tiffen has postponed or cancelled their announced plan for a second battery mount option (though it's still on their Zephyr webpage). This creates challenges for using heavier cameras without being forced to extend the post. Also no hot-swap without buying a 3rd party bracket or stackable batteries. Nothing insurmountable, but a pain.

In the year since they announced the Zephyr and finally got it into production, many specs have changed. Most of the changes are improvements (new vest, new arm, increased payload).

I will try to generate some objective comparision data between the old Flyer monitor vs. the Zephyr monitor, to see whether it is a step forward or not.

The photos and specs on the Tiffen and dealer websites in many cases are outdated/inaccurate.

I'll have much more to contribute as time permits.
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Old March 13th, 2011, 02:11 PM   #118
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Mark,

I'm looking forward to hear more about your observations. I plan to order a Zephyr after I've checked it out at NAB 2011. In other words, your observations are really appreciated.

Best,
-terje
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Old March 13th, 2011, 09:09 PM   #119
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Schlicher View Post
The photos and specs on the Tiffen and dealer websites in many cases are outdated/inaccurate.

I'll have much more to contribute as time permits.
Mark, based on some of the previous posts, I was left feeling doubtful about the accuracy of current info on Tiffen's website. Like yourself, at this point I would want to see the product in person before leaping into a purchase. I will be looking forward to your comments and observations, so thanks in advance for sharing your insights and experiences. Cheers!
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Old March 16th, 2011, 02:33 PM   #120
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Re: Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes

Haven't yet had time to do measurements, weights, load testing, etc. Here are some photos in the meantime.
Attached Thumbnails
Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1617.jpg   Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1619.jpg  

Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1620.jpg   Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1621.jpg  

Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1623.jpg   Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1628.jpg  

Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1629.jpg   Steadicam Zephyr-upgrade changes-img_1630.jpg  

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