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Old August 30th, 2011, 07:58 PM   #1
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Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm a very experienced camera operator, but have no experience whatsoever with using stabilizers. Very keen to change that asap!

Anyway, I've been researching what to buy a lot. I have had a brief look at the Blackbird at my local supplier, but not the Glidecam HD4000.

I will want to use this rig to fly a 5D, 7D, 60D predominantly at first, but maybe something heavier later such as AF101 or EX3. Also maybe a GH2 if its not too light?

I'm interested that I can upgrade both of these rigs later to use with a Merlin vest and arm (just found out this is possible with the Blackbird - am I correct? I know it's possible with the Glidecam)

So....from those that have used them....which is it to be?

-Similar prices (not enough difference to be a huge factor)
-The Glidecam appears more solid and is able to carry more weight, but is heavier itself.
- Lots of reviews from operators on the web say that the Blackbird is both easier to learn with for beginners, and easier to make fine adjustments quickly with compared to the Glidecam.
- I like that the Glidecam can stand by itself on its sled, but of course the Blackbird can come with a stand (for additional cost)
-To me the build of the Glidecam looks better, and it certainly "looks" more professional to me (I hate to say it but appearance is important on set, in front of clients etc)
-Which is easier to travel?
-Which is the better shape / design for all the moves etc?

I keep finding tons of comparisons between the Merlin and Blackbird, or the Glidecam and Merlin, but not these two. What do you guys think?

PS Slightly off-topic, but would the 60D be easier to use on these rigs due to the flip out LCD? (all other things like lenses etc being equal) - just a thought.
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Old August 31st, 2011, 10:50 AM   #2
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

I agree with all the research you've done. I've got the blackbird and have used the glidcam in workshops.
-the glidecam is heavier. I don't know if this would end up being an issue with event work, as I use the glider as more of a salt and pepper effect.
-agreed, easier to fly, maybe just cause of the tutorial support that comes with it. I don't know about if the hd version of the glidecam allows you to move the handel (arm part where the bearing is, central post). On the old model it does not and it makes it harder to balance. On their website they only have the manual for the old model. On bh photos it says the following:
"This system is upgraded from the 2000 Pro and offers fine adjustments and an improved gimbal and balance system. "
I don't know if that means that the hd version can now move the central post up and down. The blackbird has this option and it makes it easier to set it up initially.
-I like that the glidecam can stand on its own, the blackbird is always tipping over. (with the type of work I do)
-For me, the big thing is that its basically what a professional steadycam operator would be using.
-I'd say they both pack up about the same
-I'd say the glidecam has a better, tighter profile.

I might sell the blackbird down the road mainly for the glidecam's ability to take a monitor. It still gets the job done. Its lighter and a more enjoyable flying experience, but I think the glidecam has a better profile to get a better shot. With the 60d it might be a wash since you have the flip out screen. But in the end, I would choose the glidecam just because its what a professional steadycam operator is accustomed to.

The glidecam, you are holding the camera from the side and the weight pulls at your arm. With the blackbird, your arm is under the camera and its easier to leverage and hold comfortably for a longer period.
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Old September 1st, 2011, 04:05 AM   #3
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Thanks for the reply Greg.

I'm getting that basically you'd go Glidecam if you had to choose one.

With regard to the handle adjustment, from what I've read this has been improved / changed on the HD series.

I think I'm leaning towards the Glidecam HD4000 then unless you or anyone else has any more input?

Cheers,

Justin
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Old September 1st, 2011, 07:55 AM   #4
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

I own both. You're on track with your research. The BB is a good tool for DSLRs. Very quick to grab and go (once setup!) I find stripping the dslr down to it's lightest helps.

The GC is heavier and I got it for my XF300. I was lucky enough to find a used vest and arm and it's very nice. Much more enjoyable for long periods. I have put my 7D on it and it works great too. And that's with the battery grip and 11-16 lens. (on the BB I use the much lighter 28mm 1.8) Not saying it can't be used without the vest but for me, no more than a few minutes.

Haven't stuck the BB on the vest yet but I'm sure it would work fine too.

The GC gets used much more than the BB in my camp.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Thanks Robert.

My aim is to start with just the stabilizer and eventually get an arm and vest. However I want to know that I can use a reasonable set up from the get go.

How is the BB with 7d and 11-16 lens?

How about either with 5D and 16-35 lens?

Thanks for your input guys.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 05:39 PM   #6
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

The 7D/11-16 works well on the BB as long as you dont have the battery grip.
The 16-35 is a much heavier lens but is manageable on the BB. My buddy flies a 5D/16-35 on a Pilot and it's perfect. It would work well on the GC with the vest and arm too.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 06:53 PM   #7
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Thanks for all the input.

I think I'm leaning towards the GC HD4000.

I'll initially use just the stabilizer only while i get used to it with a 5D and 60D. My main uses will be a specific quick shots, so not too fussed about it weighing more. (That guy Devin on youtube etc seems to go alright with this set up eh?!!)

Anyway, later I will look into an arm and vest (probably steadicam merlin) to fly bigger and better with units like the AF100 (and F3 - will an F3 work on this rig?)

Anyway, will look forward to getting it, and no doubt be back discussing the finer details of operation!
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Old September 7th, 2011, 11:10 PM   #8
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Hey guys, what / where are the best tutorials and tips for balancing and using the Glidecam HD4000 (other than the instructions that come with it of course)?

Last edited by Justin St.Clair Lewis; September 8th, 2011 at 03:10 AM.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 12:46 AM   #9
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

The included guide works very well. I also read a bunch of Steadicam info (thanks Charles Papert!) and all together got mine dialed in nicely. Flew it tonight on a shoot and worked great!
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Old September 8th, 2011, 03:12 AM   #10
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Cool - I've heard that "The Steadicam Operator's Handbook" is pretty much the bible for all things steadicam as well.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 01:34 PM   #11
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

The Merlin works great on DSLRs.

there is one for sale in the classifieds of this forum.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 11:49 AM   #12
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Sorry comment was deleted - my bad.
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Last edited by Johnnie Caraballo; September 13th, 2011 at 02:16 PM.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #13
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Johnnie,
I ended up posting mine for sale in the marketplace for $500. Let me know if you are interested, gfiske at sbcglobal.net.

"Original price
Blackbird Basic $485.00
Blackbird Case $69.00
Blackbird Resting Stand 68.00 (missing rubber piece)

Selling a lightly used blackbird stabilizer kit for $500 plus shipping. Payment through chase quickpay (you don't need to have a chase account)."
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Old September 14th, 2011, 08:36 AM   #14
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin St.Clair Lewis View Post
Cool - I've heard that "The Steadicam Operator's Handbook" is pretty much the bible for all things steadicam as well.
yes I bought that book off of Amazon and its AMAZING ! In depth and very detailed.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 07:10 AM   #15
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Re: Blackbird vs Glidecam HD4000

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin St.Clair Lewis View Post
Hey guys, what / where are the best tutorials and tips for balancing and using the Glidecam HD4000 (other than the instructions that come with it of course)?
This is a good tutorial on balancing the Glidecam:
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