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Old February 13th, 2011, 05:39 PM   #1
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Questions about Steadicam Zephyr

Hello,

I do have some questions about the Tiffen Steadicam Zephyr:

Is it possible to use an alternative monitor on this model? I already own a Panasonic LH-80 monitor (component input only) and I wonder if it's possible to hook it up to the Zephyr? I don't see the point buying a HD monitor when I already own one. I presume there is an Anton Bauer D-tap providing the power to the monitor (which I also have on my Panasonic LH-80)?

Can anyone tell me the difference between the Standard Vest vs the Compact Vest?
It would be nice to know why I should choose the Compact Vest before the Standard Vest?

Even if I own a Sony EX-3 I plan to use the Zephyr with Canon DSLRs. I guess the weight on these cameras are a bit on the light side, even if I end up pimping the rig with accessories? Do you know of some type of weight (plate?) that could help me bringing the weight up a bit? I see that the Zephyr has weights included. Maybe it's a solution buying more of these weights when I order the Zephyr?

Thank you for your help!

Best,
-terje
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Old February 14th, 2011, 01:05 AM   #2
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The monitor on a Tiffen Steadicam will have received proprietary anti-reflective coatings which will make it more useful in daylight. You are not going to be able to use a wraparound hood very effectively on a Steadicam, you need maximum visibility at a wide range of angles. Standard monitors wash out in the sun--treated LCD's are somewhat better. The 500 nit monitor on the Zephyr is not the best but it will be more viewable.

In addition, you'll need an HD-SDI capable monitor, such as the one supplied with the Zephyr.

Ultimately it's a moot point--you can't buy the Zephyr without a monitor.

The standard vest will fit most operators, the compact vest is for shorter operators.

There are some weight plates available here and there, unfortunately I can't quote a consistent source for them (various operators have done runs over the years). You are somewhat better off using weights that are positioned to the outside of the camera mass rather than centered, i.e. think a dumbbell rather than a diving weight--this will increase inertia.

The best way in my mind to approach the DSLR's is with a setup that requires the least amount of moving around components between Steadicam, handheld and conventional (studio) setup. I use a custom baseplate with all components mounted on the back; from conventional to handheld requires adding the crossbar with handlegrips to the front, an eyepiece cover to the monitor and a velcro pad to the base. For Steadicam, it's the conventional mode less the monitor. Everything else including battery (Dionic 90), voltage regulators, Blackmagic HD-SDI converter, Preston receiver, motors and whatever else is needed ride full-time on the back. This way the conversion is as quick as possible, the system balances well on the shoulder and likewise on the Steadicam, at about 15 lbs.
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Old February 14th, 2011, 08:56 AM   #3
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Hello Charles,

Thank you for taking time to share your knowledge. I appreciate it. I hear you about the monitor. It's of course better to use a suitable monitor when doing Steadicam work. But aren't there other monitor solutions out there that will bring the cost down and that'll represent a more flexible alternative (in other words, a monitor that can be used elsewhere when it's needed)? One solution might be the SmallHD, which provides a great viewing angle? I'm not sure the monitor is coated though. But Marshall has great alternatives as well (the ST-series), which are anti-reflective coated, if I remember correctly? Both models mentioned are HD-SDI compatible.

I understand that the Zephyr comes with a monitor, but by purchasing the SD version and swapping the monitor I would be able to put together a more optimal rig for MY use. I'm not planning to offer my services as a professional Steadicam operator, even if I plan to attend the five-day Steadicam seminar. I'm buing a Steadicam so I can tell my own stories even better.

From what you write I already have some ideas how I can utilize my rail system by using extended rails and adding accosseries there. I just need to find the mounting alternatives that's needed, that'll also provide enough weight to the rig, preferably on the outside of the camera mass (as you mention).

The standard vest it is then. I hardly believe anyone would call me short. On the other hand, the Norwegian translation of «short» can also sometimes imply «not very smart», so I should be careful not to
presume... ;-)

Best,
-terje
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Old February 14th, 2011, 09:28 AM   #4
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Hi Terje, I am 1.74m. The standard vest is ok for me. I just received my unit this week.
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Old February 14th, 2011, 10:38 AM   #5
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Yes, you would definitely save money by going with the Marshall transflective and swapping out the SD Zephyr's monitor (I thought you were comparing their HD monitor with another HD monitor). I haven't seen the monitor bracket in use with the Zephyr, perhaps Sean can detail the connection--I imagine it has more than the standard 1/4"-20 screw in use, which would make for a quick switch! Not sure if the wiring is the same down the post on the SD vs HD version, but I would guess that it might be.

The Marshall transflective is the best bang for the buck in terms of daylight viewability. That factor is an extremely important one for good operation. Trying to use a Steadicam outdoors with a standard LCD is a frustrating experience, whether one is using the rig for one's own projects or for hire for someone else. Shooting blind is shooting blind! BTW I have the DP6 and I would not want to use it on a Steadicam for day exteriors--it's too reflective and not bright enough.
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Old February 14th, 2011, 12:11 PM   #6
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Hello Charles,

Thank you for your input. It's great to hear about your experiences with the SmallHD. But I really like this product and would mind getting a SmallHD myself. I almost bought one just before Christmas. Owning a small monitor with both HDMI and HDSDI would be very convenient, I think. I'm just tired of buying "exclusive equipment", that only work in a certain context. Because of this I keep bringing more and more equipment every time I go out to another production. Lights, cameras, batteries, lenses, adapters, crane, slider, microphones, accessories and so on really add up. Not very practical and mobile, I think.

I totally get your point though. Daylight viewability is vital. The Marshall ST-series is a great alternative. But they don't have a model that provides HDMI and HDSDI inputs, which probably has to do with cost? We do tend to want it all, don't we? But at least a monitor like that could double up as "travel monitor" for my DSLRs when I'm not using the Steadicam. When I'm shooting with my Sony EX3 I usually use the Panasonic LH-80 or LH-1750 monitor anyway. The Marshall accepts even a component signal, so I could also use it there. I'll post a question to Mr. Seah to hear his opinion about this subject.

Thank you for your kind help, Mr. Papert.

Best,
-terje
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Old February 14th, 2011, 12:21 PM   #7
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Hello Sean,

Thank you for your vest info. I'm a bit taller than you, so I'm good to go :-)

Congratulation with your newly purchased Zephyr. I saw the little visual teaser about your Steadicam seminar on your web site. Very cool. I'm happy for you. I guess it was a great experience? I hope to join a seminar here in Europe a few months. I'm really looking forward to it.

Would you mind telling me how you mount the included monitor to your Steadicam? Do you think it's possible to mount another monitor on the Zephyr? Do you know if the wiring is the same for both the SD and HD model? Do you have any thoughts on the extra weight issue I mention earlier in this thread? And could you explain how the battery power distribution works? For instance do I need to buy one or more Lemo connector to D-tap cables to utilize my Anton Bauer batteries?

By the way, what type of camera do you plan to use with your rig?

Thank you.

Best,
-terje
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Last edited by Terje Rian; February 14th, 2011 at 07:21 PM.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 10:11 AM   #8
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Hi Terje,
I'm outstationed now so i will answer based on my short memory of 30min handling. I remember the monitor interface is via a screw in the bottom middle of the monitor, very much like the Pilot. Only now there is some additional mechanism to prevent the screw from loosening. I have no idea of the thread type (I'm in metric land) but it is pretty standard from impression.

Connector wise is not the same as the HD. I'm only getting an RCA interface but the sled is HD ready so it should not be a problem. I'll try to snap some photos when i get back next week. Sorry i cant remb how the power part works out but i know my IDX v mount has a lemo output at the stage. The connector is provided.

I'm currently building a cage for the DSLR. Other camera would be the Sony EX1 and Canon XF305.

Yes, the workshop was quite an experience of a lifetime! Jerry and Garett are legends.... the rest of the instructors are darn good too of course.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 02:56 PM   #9
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Hello Sean,

Thank you for your reply. Please don't spend your busy schedule on these issues. I'll need to contact Tiffen anyway, so I'll get the details then. But if you take the time to upload a few product pictures I'll really appreciate it. Without a manual to download it's hard to figure out the product details.

By the way, I'm also in metric land. This is the reason I have to be certain about the mounting of the monitor, so I can order the correct parts.

Best,
-terje
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Last edited by Terje Rian; February 15th, 2011 at 06:32 PM.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 05:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terje Rian View Post
Without a manual to download it's be hard to figure out the product details.
I'm the same way. I always download the user manual before I buy a product. If there's no manual online, I'll wait. I hope Tiffen and other manufacturers take note.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 11:51 AM   #11
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My Zephyr ships next week. Here's what I can contribute based on what I've learned or seen so far (at a workshop):

1. SD monitor is upgraded from the Flyer, but Tiffen hasn't made specs readily available yet. Maybe it has more than 500nits. Same with the HD monitor, it may be a new model but don't know.

2. The post is wired for composite and HDSDI. No component or HDMI.

3. SD monitor uses the same proprietary connector as the Flyer.

4. Physical connection appears to be standard 1/4-20 screw.

5. Vest is more adjustable than the Flyer vest, so more flexible sizing.

Hope this helps.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 02:14 PM   #12
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Thank you, Mark! Very useful input.

Do you know if it's possible to add to the wiring on the Zephyr? To be able to shoot DSLRS (without the use of an additional converter) a HDMI cable would be very helpful.

Best of luck with your new Zephyr, Mark! Or happy flying as a Steadicam operator probably would say...? :-)

-terje
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Old February 16th, 2011, 08:16 PM   #13
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Most operators will probably choose an HDMI to HDSDI converter box on the top stage, and then use the existing cabling with an HDSDI-capable monitor.

The other choice is to run an external wire (usually run from the front of the camera under the lens, straight down to the monitor, away from the post). Not ideal but also not uncommon (for tally lights, for instance).

My guess based on what I know of HDMI is that the connectors would be quite expensive/difficult to fabricate into the wiring loom because of the specialized equipment needed to wire up the HDMI connectors, and that's why Tiffen didn't include it.

I plan to go the external wire route, powering a Lilliput HDMI monitor off of the d-tap of my battery plate.
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Old February 17th, 2011, 05:20 AM   #14
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Hello Mark,

You're probably right. The cost of integrating HDMI might be just too high? Using a converter is an option. Do you have any idea how to power a converter? If you already power the camera, the monitor and maybe even the on camera light, how do you get it (power) connected? Is there some type of a power distribution unit specially made for Steadicam use? I only have a vague idea on how a well-functioning Steadicam rig is put together. I therefore feel the need to ask these very basic questions. Please feel free to direct me to a web site where I can read more about these issues.

Thanks for your help.

Best,
-terje
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Old February 17th, 2011, 06:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terje Rian View Post
Is there some type of a power distribution unit specially made for Steadicam use?
Try normalizing all your power connections to a particular connector using adapters, and then use a splitter for that. For example, you can normalize everything to d-tap using adapters and then use a d-tap splitter.
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