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Old July 31st, 2011, 12:37 PM   #1
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Pilot question AA or VLB?

I've been doing some research, but want to ask here also..

I'm doing wedding videos primarily, and running an XHA1..
The pilot will act as B roll, and be used in sessions of 1/2 hr or so, throughout the day...
I've also got a Swit light mounted over the hot shoe, using the same Canon battery i use to power up my camera...It's very top heavy..

Would you suggest to stay with the AA adpater?
I don't mind switching out battery packs if necessary.

Considering runtime vs. cost vs. equipment needs, what would you suggest?

AA or VLB??
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 11:57 AM   #2
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Re: Pilot question AA or VLB?

if you're using pilots pack just for the monitor, and it is original pilots monitor, I don't think you even need to switch the batteries, in my case i power EX1 and monitor from the pilot's battery so I chose IDX, it is a bit longer than half hour for me, maybe couple hours during the whole day, but one stamina is enough for even longer than that, so if it's heavy enough for you, cuz I like it heavy, and your Pilot's monitor is the only thing that you'll power from the pack, go with the budget,
but i like a bit of extra of everything, extra power, extra media, couple backup cameras, you know,
but that's me
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 01:38 AM   #3
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Re: Pilot question AA or VLB?

Peter, I had exactly the same question few years ago. I chose VLB model with IDX as it is more convenient and has more weight/power. IDX is also giving power to my Litepanels Micro LED light and that is how I got rid of this top heavy camera issue. There is no batteries attached to the light... just short cable to the Pilot's stage power plug.
Same solution should also work with AA pack too but now questions remains, how long it will last if using it for monitor AND light at the same time.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 03:37 PM   #4
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Re: Pilot question AA or VLB?

Several points to make here:

1) Top heavy can be a good thing. With the pilot, you want about 8 pounds of top weight (camera, accessories, and screw-on weights), and about 2 pounds of bottom weight (battery plus screw-on weights). This seems to yeild the best stability for me. The XHA1 only weighs around 5 pounds, so you want extra top weight with that.

2) If you are powering the camera (e.g. EX1, EX3) from the Pilot's battery, choose the IDX. NiMH AA batteries have a slightly different voltage, so the camera thinks the battery is low when it's not.

3) You can power other accessories besides the monitor with AA batteries. For example, a freshly charged set of NiMH AA batteries will power the monitor alone for around 4 hours. If I add a small video transmitter, the NiMH AA battery pack lasts around 2.75 hours.

4) Contrary to popular belief, AA batteries can be very convenient. I bought 2 extra battery holders, 30 rechargable AA batteries, and four 8-slot AA fast chargers. With this configuration, I can charge enough batteries to shoot all day in only 1 hour. I also stuff the batteries into the holders at home, so I don't have to fool with AAs on location. And if for some reason all 3 packs run out, I can just use regular non-rechargable AA batteries as back-up. This means I usually don't have to charge batteries on location at all. The combination of charging all 3 packs at home in 1 hour, plus not having to break out a charger on location, that makes it very convenient for me.
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Last edited by Dave Gish; August 8th, 2011 at 04:07 PM.
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Old August 16th, 2011, 09:49 AM   #5
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Re: Pilot question AA or VLB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Gish View Post
1) Top heavy can be a good thing. With the pilot, you want about 8 pounds of top weight (camera, accessories, and screw-on weights), and about 2 pounds of bottom weight (battery plus screw-on weights). This seems to yeild the best stability for me. The XHA1 only weighs around 5 pounds, so you want extra top weight with that.
Dave, don't get the guy confused;)
top/bottom weight distribution totally depends on gimbal position, so I would say there is no preferred recipe for that
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Old August 16th, 2011, 05:57 PM   #6
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Re: Pilot question AA or VLB?

Gimbal position affects stability. Top/bottom weight distribution affects gimbal position.

To understand the gimbal position issue, grab a pencil. Hold it between thumb and finger of your left hand, and wiggle the bottom of the pencil with your right hand. When you hold the pencil in the middle, the eraser moves a lot. But if you hold it up close toward the eraser, the eraser moves much less. So having the gimbal closer to the lens decreases the effect of sled movement at the lens.

In order to get the gimbal to move toward the camera plate while maintaining a 2-3 second drop time, you'll need to add weight to the top, near the camera. The Steadicam Pilot allows allows you to screw on various numbers of weights at the top for this purpose. You can buy additional weights here:
Steadicam 801-7920-05 Middle Balance Weight B&H

Each of these weights is .25 pounds.

Adding weight in the form of camera accessories also helps. In fact, the higher the weight is above the camera, the more the gimbal will move toward the camera. So a battery behind a shoe mounted LED panel might work quite well with an XHA1, provided it doesn't move around.

Anyway, with 8 pounds at the top, 2 pounds at the bottom, the center post extended 2-3 inches, and a 2.5 second drop time, the gimbal sits very close to the top of the sled post, but still has enough room to hang on the docking bracket. I found this yeilds the best stability. Your mileage may vary.

Last edited by Dave Gish; August 16th, 2011 at 06:28 PM.
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Old August 16th, 2011, 10:30 PM   #7
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Re: Pilot question AA or VLB?

Thanks everybody...

I'm in the process of buying an AA...
Current needs and setup don't call for more expensive battery options.

I'll take the extra cost and drop it on some training.
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