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Old July 21st, 2014, 12:05 PM   #16
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
If that's the case, then here is the good news: Tiffen isn't shipping poor quality stabilizers under the Steadicam name. It would be much worse if they hit their schedule only to deliver poor quality products.
Totally agree. I took a closer look at the stage on the Steadicam Solo in photographs online and I can see how superior it is to "competitors."

The ability to easily trim and make adjustments is everything for dialing in a camera stabilizer. I tried a competitor's product years ago and thought the design was horrible for adjusting fore, aft, and side to side,--loosen two thumb screws and then "slide" the steel stage back and forth then retighten---you either do it too much or too little.

The Steadicam JR and Merlin had precise adjustments that one can easily dial-in, so I have high expectations for the Solo.
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Old July 21st, 2014, 03:17 PM   #17
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

I've played with the Solo prototype a bit at NAB and it felt really good. It's hard to fully judge it as it had a very light payload, so it's a bit harder to work with than their bigger, more loaded models. Still, the concept is sound and the implementation looks very nice.

Having been an engineer with a late delivery schedule and 3rd party supplier issues (those dang fans!), I know that nobody wants this to ship more than those at Tiffen.
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Old August 24th, 2014, 10:06 AM   #18
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

would this work with a fluid head on top?
i use a monopod with a 701 manfrotto head in a hibjib (human tripod). the fluid head is essential to shoot at the right angle. the steady cam solo looks very interesting but it would need a fluid head to be truly useful.
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Old August 24th, 2014, 11:16 AM   #19
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

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Originally Posted by Andrew Maclaurin View Post
would this work with a fluid head on top?
i use a monopod with a 701 manfrotto head in a hibjib (human tripod). the fluid head is essential to shoot at the right angle. the steady cam solo looks very interesting but it would need a fluid head to be truly useful.
Its not typical to put any kind of pan-tilt head on top of a stabilizer.

I'm curious why you would say that would be required to make it truly useful. Can you describe the scenario where at pan-tilt head would be useful on a stabilizer?
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Old August 25th, 2014, 11:41 AM   #20
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

I think the head is helpful on a monopod - and this is a key use case for the Solo. I would recommend a ball head. Rest the monopod on the ground with a natural balance, adjust the angle, and shoot static stuff like fixed interviews. You can do this while traveling light without a vest/arm. You can also shorten the monopod, rest it on your belt or in a sling, and do the "human tripod" thing without tiring. Having a ball head to start with a natural posture helps lower fatigue.

Where the stabilizer part comes in is when you need to walk or fly the camera through the scene. Without a vest/arm, this can be very effective, but only for short takes. Once your arm starts burning and then shaking, it's nice to be able to go back to monopod mode.

Even with a vest/arm, a stabilizer isn't always the right answer. I find it easy to plant a monopod and frame an interview. Framing with a stabilizer, keeping it level, and avoiding too much "wander and float" can be challenging for occasional flyers (like me) with lightweight systems (like the Solo).

The one bummer about adding any head is that it adds more weight. Yes, it helps slow down the stabilizer, but without a vest/arm will add to the fatigue factor.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 02:47 PM   #21
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

It's kind of like what Jon has said.
If I use a monopod I need a fluid head otherwise it's just for static shots which is limited.
I have been using the Hipjib.
home | hipjib
Check out the features section. I use it as a flexible jib or solid rig. In both cases a fluid head is needed to get my shooting angles right and for the rig to be comfortable.
I use this for run and gun events like weddings, corporate events, trade shows etc.
The idea of being able to add a Steadicam to this set up without adding any more gear is exciting. I have a Glidecam 2000 but I never use it as it's too much for a one man band. I would only need it for a few short shots and would use it as a monopod 90% of the time.
So this is why I would need to add a fluid head to the Steadicam Solo, otherwise it would be very limited as a monopod and it's selling point is that it's a Steadicam and a monopod.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 04:28 PM   #22
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

Hi Andrew, I also use the monopod for tradeshows. The hipjib looks like it takes my "belt" approach to the next level. Very nice.

And yes, the Solo stabilizer would be great for flying the camera across a row of static products - but not if you have to add/remove a fluid head.

Here's an idea: Connect the hipjib to the handle on the Solo. As I envision it, one would affix a tube to the Solo handle that would go in/out of the hip unit. This would enable:

1) Extend the Solo to the ground as a monopod. (The hibjib isn't used.)
2) Use the hipjib, adjust the camera tilt and hold both the "tube" and stabilizer so it doesn't float. You could do any fixed angle that way without floating.
3) Use the hipjib and let it float. Now you can pan/tilt as needed. It's essentially a Steadicam with a locked arm. It should work well, except when walking.
4) Lift the tube from the hibjib and fly freely. You can walk, using your arm as a shock absorber - just don't expect to do long shots.

Could that work? The gimbal would essentially replace the head.
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Old August 28th, 2014, 07:06 AM   #23
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

Hi Jon,
I think it might work but it's not ideal. A fluid head offers much more control. I'm a bit tired of have kit which is almost ok, I'm now looking for set up that is strong in all areas! I'll need to see more real life reviews of the solo to see if it would work for me. Can the weights be removed and attached again rapidly? It's another thing to consider.
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Old August 28th, 2014, 12:23 PM   #24
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

I agree with you Andrew. A good fluid head stays where you put it. A gimbal floats and is more challenging to frame and control. This can be a really big deal for solo shooting. You might also be thinking about the next off-camera interview question, audio levels, focus, exposure, background noise...

If it's practical to hold the gimbal with one hand in a way that locks it down and can control framing, that could be a solution. I've played with a Solo at tradeshows, but I've never considered or tested this use case. If it works, this could be a nice way to go.

I'm not sure how quickly the weights can be added/removed. From what I've seen, the monopod can be quickly extended/retracted, and the weights can be quickly folded up/down. Weight removal/replacement is likely a sit-down-for-a-minute-or-two task, which should be avoided for the solo tradeshow shooter. Even replacing a battery or card feels like a burden to me in that environment.

Question: When do you live pan/tilt the head with the hipjib? For panning, one can turn the body. I understand the need to tilt the head to frame static shots and maintain balance, but this could be done with a ball head (or by grabbing the gimbal to lock it.) There's the jib up/down motion where you tilt down as you jib up to change perspective but maintain, but this could be done with the gimbal - maybe smoother. On most jibs, there is a second arm that keeps the platform level as you jib up/down. I don't see this on the hibjib. Having to do this with a head could be difficult - the tilt always seems to lead or lag the jib motion. With a gimbal, it will naturally stay level as you move the jib around.

The main problem would be going from a stable shot, like an interview, and smoothly transitioning to a strong tilt up/down. (Panning is easy, I can spin the monopod on the floor or spin my body with the rig on my belt.) If one is solidly holding the gimbal, there will always be an impact when you let go and transition to float mode. But this seems like a rare use case to me. I've always done that sort of thing by tilting my body or the monopod as I don't use a fluid head.

So it seems that there are these solutions with the Solo:
1) Put a ball head on the Solo. When needed, put the base of the solo on the belt/hibjib.
2) Use a tube from the hibjib to the Solo. When needed, hold the gimbal solid (if possible/comfortable).
3) Put a small fluid head on the Solo - but can you find one small enough to be practical that still has enough quality to be usable?
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Old August 28th, 2014, 01:13 PM   #25
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

Hi Jon,
I have found that I use the fluid head quite a bit in my set up as it helps keep everything fluid! Little tilt ups or downs, smoother pans, small adjustments, it has become almost automatic and I'm sure if I didn't have one I'd find the shooting experience a lot less natural and comfortable.
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Old August 28th, 2014, 03:57 PM   #26
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

That's interesting. I just use a fixed monopod without any head. I don't even think about the small movements. They come naturally. But I often wish I could get the stability of a tripod.

Sometimes, I use After Effects to clean up the motion. Ironically, it then looks more like Steadicam (floating) motion than a tripod. If I use AE too aggressively, it locks things down, but for some scenes you then notice the perspective wobble.

I see that a Manfrotto 701 weighs about 2 lbs. A DSLR can weigh another 1.5 to 2 lbs. A 16-35/2.8L lens weighs another 1.5 lbs. So figure a 5 lb payload. The Solo handles 10 lbs. The head will raise the COG of the camera, but that should be no problem as you can extend the weights quite far to compensate.

The remaining problem could be that the Solo monopod with 701 head might be too tall for comfortable use with the hipjib.
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Old August 29th, 2014, 12:34 PM   #27
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

The remaining problem could be that the Solo monopod with 701 head might be too tall for comfortable use with the hip jib.

That's possibly true. I'd have to measure the Solo and compare it to my set up.
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Old September 1st, 2014, 11:18 AM   #28
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

If I may add a voice to this discussion (although I've not seen the Solo in person):

If one were to add a fluid head to this system, each time you operated the tilt aspect of the head it would require re-balancing the system the next time you flew it. Even a degree or two of tilt on the head would alter the geometry of the system. I would imagine this to be a dealbreaker for the type of shooting that I imagine this system will be used for, which is run and gun.

The only way to avoid this would be to employ a nodal head where tilting is done around the center of gravity of the camera (impractical for that system), or the head having a spring-loaded plunger that would lock the camera in a fully horizontal position for flying mode (employ the plunger, tilt the camera through it's range and when it arrives at the centered position it auto-locks in place). The larger O'Connor heads have this feature, for instance.

If re-balancing were not an issue, a tilt head would actually be a desirable addition to the functionality of the rig as it allows you to pre-set an attitude for shots that require a significant deviation from horizontal, i.e. shooting down from a balcony or up at a stage from the orchestra pit. The idea is that you don't have to operate the post at a notable tilt, which can hinder the operating comfort and accuracy. Some of the larger Steadicam rigs have this as a feature.
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 02:32 PM   #29
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

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If re-balancing were not an issue, a tilt head would actually be a desirable addition to the functionality of the rig as it allows you to pre-set an attitude for shots that require a significant deviation from horizontal, i.e. shooting down from a balcony or up at a stage from the orchestra pit. The idea is that you don't have to operate the post at a notable tilt, which can hinder the operating comfort and accuracy. Some of the larger Steadicam rigs have this as a feature.
Excellent input, as always Charles.

Re-balancing can really be a pain. It can be fiddly, time consuming, and frustrating even in controlled conditions. On a trade show floor, it could be much worse, lead to uncomfortable operation, and make for an unpleasant experience.

I think I'm coming back to my Solo + belt-tube as an interesting starting point. No head required.

* Belt Mode 1 - Support the Solo from the belt/hibjib. Pan/tilt/yaw with the gimbal. Yes, it floats and requires skill. No, you can't walk with it as you'll see hip impacts. That said, tilts, pans, yaws will be very smooth with no head required.

* Belt Mode 2 - For easier framing and less float, hold the gimbal solid. I believe that this will be easy right out of the box. It might be improved by adding a soft pad to the fork or by adding some other custom mechanism to the fork side that can be hinged to contact the sled. (It's nearly as easy to cut and drill aluminum as it is to cut/drill hardwoods. A bit of grinding/sanding/finishing can make a professional result. But I doubt that this is even needed.) Note that this mode allows single person focus pulls.

* Floor Mode - extend the Solo. The camera will be level by default, but one can adjust the length of the monopod to get the right height for most any interview. Lean forward or back to adjust tilt slightly.

* Floor Mode (optional) - If the belt tube is extendable, one could make a "bipod". This would allow a more radical, fixed tilt.

* Flying Mode - Pull the tube from the belt and fly the solo. Short flights only, due to weight. You won't do Russian Ark but can easily do b-roll.

I realize that one mode that I use is missing: Lock down mode. At the top of my monopod, I use a handheld rig (Redrock, The Event). The rig has two handles and a chest brace. I can remove the monopod with a quick-release and adjust the handles/brace to form a low, fixed tripod at a variety of tilts. This allows timelapses and fixed views. Maybe I'd want the belt tube to actually be two tubes that can be separated to form a half meter tall tripod.

If I were to use a rig atop the Solo, it might restrict movement, add weight, and would cause the re-balance problem. By having an additional tube, I could leave the balance intact (aside from the monopod extension/retraction) and could still adjust the tilt as needed. The one downside is the need to use friction on the ground to hold it in place. I don't envision this solution having a spreader.

Now, if only I can figure out how to turn this into a slider. :)
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Old September 30th, 2014, 01:52 PM   #30
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Re: Steadicam Solo - $499

For those who looking for an alternative for the solo, take a look at this

This has been long out in the market and a lot of video reviews in youtube. Just ordered one, and I'll post reviews when I get my hand on it.
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