Tiffen announces new low cost Steadicams at NAB 07! at DVinfo.net

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Old April 15th, 2007, 11:53 PM   #1
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Tiffen announces new low cost Steadicams at NAB 07!

Tiffen/Steadicam is announcing multiple new options in the low-cost stabilizer market at NAB 2007.

See picture here: http://nab.mikkowilson.com/PilotMerlinArmVest.jpg

The new Steadicam Pilot (pictured, left) is a low cost (around $4,000) Steadicam for cameras weighing up to about 10lbs. It features:
A double section silky smooth Iso-Elastic arm with an amazing 28" boom range - which is equal to or more than any other arm on the Market except for Steadicam's own higher end arms. The arm uses the same technology as the highly regard Flyer and G-series Steadicam arms.
A telescoping carbon fiber sled that is internally wired for 12v power and Composite video.
A tools free micro adjustable X-Y camera stage with removable camera plate.
The Steadicam Pilot is available initially with a choice of a 3.5" color 4:3 LCD monitor and a 12v AA battery back, or a 5.8" 16:9/4:3 color LCD and V-mount/Anton Bauer battery mounts.
The sled base is highly adjustable for quick and easy balancing by moving the monitor, battery, and entire base. PLUS the base also accepts standard Steadicam Merlin counterweights to be screwed on in various locations as necessary to quickly add stabilizing mass.
The Pilot comes with a super light weight low profile vest with standard features for fast adjust ability of fit, a fully adjustable "socket-block" to trim the arm to fly level and the option to mount the arm on either side of the operator.
The sled and arm both break down into components for light and compact transportation. You can fit the whole system into a backpack.
When you don't need the capacity and features of the Steadicam Flyer, the Steadicam Pilot is the perfect rig for most 1/3" cameras.


The Steadicam Merlin can now carry more weight thanks to an optional upgrade of an all-metal gimble that allows the Merlin to carry cameras weighing up to 7lbs. (this would get tiring quickly, so...)


The same arm and vest from the Steadicam Pilot system, are available as a kit with the metal Merlin Gimble and additional Merlin counterweights, as the "Merlin Arm & Vest" system (pictured, right) which allows the operator to shoot with a 7lb camera payload on the Merlin for (quite literally) hours! It's so light and comfortable that the camera will run out of tape before the operator tires..
The same arm as the Pilot provides for that huge 28" boom range - that can be increased by simply flying the Merlin off the arm into "handheld mode" mid shot (I tried this today myself, takes a bit of practice but very doable).
The arm breaks down into 2 pieces for fast transportation with the folded Merlin and the packed lightweight vest.
Pricing details will be announced during the week at NAB.

- Mikko
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Old April 16th, 2007, 07:30 AM   #2
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Nice report, Mikko.

That Pilot sounds a bit more adjustable than the Flyer. I definitely like the base better. Any reports of them upgrading the Flyer? This might have to become a tool in my kit for all the small DV jobs. Aside from the weight capacity, what features does the Flyer have that this Pilot doesn't?
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Old April 16th, 2007, 07:47 AM   #3
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How does the Merlin with the vest compare to the pilot - stability wise?
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Old April 16th, 2007, 09:06 AM   #4
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Afton:

The long term design plan is for the entire Steadicam line to have a lineage based on the Ultra2. I can't divulge details here but if one is to consider the relationship between the G70 and the Pilot/Merlin arm (i.e. scaled down but with similar performance), that same relationship will (hopefully!) be implemented in the sleds as well. I say hopefully because not everything that is designed actually makes it to market...
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Old April 16th, 2007, 09:35 AM   #5
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As the Pilot is larger and heavier, it is inherently more stable than the Merlin. However the arm is primed to work equally well with both systems - and it does.

I haven't spent much time in the pilot yet to discover it's nuances. But generally speaking; all the Steadicam rigs feel the same to me! Which is exactly the goal. I can't feel the weight of the Merlin (it's like it's not there), but operationally it feels just like my Archer. Or the U2, or the Pilot or the Flyer.
The larger rigs are more "forgiving", but they all perform the exact same way!

Afton,
I too prefer the Pilot base to the Flyer. I'm not sure which stage I prefer, but the Pilot stage isn't quite finalized yet.
The pilot is more adjustable - and especially with that huge telescoping post. But the Flyer still has some key features over the Pilot: Higher weight capcity, 24v optional. HD optional. Bigger boom range on the arm (though the arms are interchangable if you like!).
The Flyer is more of a "miniture big rig" in features, where the Pilot is whole new low cost, low weight sled - more of a larger option to the Merlin. But again, basic functionaly, they are both the same.

- Mikko
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Old April 16th, 2007, 10:24 AM   #6
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Mikko:

Is the Pilot post 1.5"?
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Old April 16th, 2007, 11:30 AM   #7
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Wow...that all looks and sounds great! I'm glad to know the Pilot and Merlin will use the same base gear, makes me feel like the Merlin was a good investment. Also fun to see an XH-A1 on the Pilot, heheh (too dark to see what's on the Merlin). Now I'm more anxious than ever for pricing details. $4000 for the Pilot would kill me, so I hope the Merlin combo is around 2000...we'll see..and I'll be crossing my fingers. ;)
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Old April 17th, 2007, 01:53 AM   #8
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Price Details Released!

Charles; Post is not 1.5". It's somewhat larger than the Merlin, but long short of 1.5". I'll ask Rob tommorrow. It's about the size of a regular monopod leg.

Byron; very good guesses!

The official list prices:
The Steadicam Merlin Arm & Vest. Includes metal gimble upgrade for Merlin and some extra counterweights. (Does not include the Merlin itself) - $1995

The Steadicam Pilot. With 5.8" 16:9 monitor & professional (V-mount/AB) Battery mount. (Includes all you need, including the dock - but not the stand itself [as many people allready have a stand) - $3995

The Steadicam "Co-Pilot". With 3.5" 4:3 monitor and 12v AA battery pack. Includes the same other gear as the Pilot. - $3750


- Mikko
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Old April 17th, 2007, 11:18 AM   #9
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That's great to know, thanks very much Mikko!

I have to admit for an extra 1200 the Pilot is very tempting ($200 + $800 for Merlin = $2800 vs. $4000) but with the metal gimble upgrade included, it's probably a $1200 I wouldn't need to spend. If I can mount a fully loaded XH-A1 on their, well, my monitor is taken care of (obviously not quite what the Pilot offers I'm sure) but the option to switch to hand-held on the fly is unique, and the lighter weight should be nice for extended shots. Now I just need to know when it's coming out, so I can save up in time!
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Old April 17th, 2007, 08:32 PM   #10
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Mikko , with the new gimble upgrade do you think the merlin will balance a Sony FX1 with a Sony 10/20 light ok?
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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Wilson View Post
(Does not include the Merlin itself)
Hmm - interesting. So...

1) I can go out and buy a Merlin NOW. Get to know it, practice and practice and practice again.

2) Once the Merlin/Vest/Arm (or should that be Merlin Gimbal/weights, arm and vest) starts shipping for $1995, I can fit the new gimbal to my merlin and start long distance flying.

3) Then, once the Pilot sled is finalised and shipping, I can purchase JUST THE SLED (with the 16:9 and Anton Bauer options)

And in the meantime, take a Steadicam course with the Flyer where knowledge transfers okay.

All this with no penalty of buying anything twice. Yes?

Now, here's another kicker: I'm impatient to start, and there are a couple of second-hand Flyers I know of.

Reviewing costs, $900 for Merlin, $2000 for vest, arm, weights and gimbal, and if the Pilot is $4k, then the sled minus the above must be around $1800. Add a notional $1k for Anton Bauer kit and the uprated monitor.

So this path is around $5.7k - a fair summary?

PS: But then again, the flexibility of a flown camera that can become a stabilized hand-held (maybe even mid-shot) is a unique proposition. Nobody's been there before. :)
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Old April 18th, 2007, 06:53 PM   #12
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I just noticed Tiffen has now posted a Merlin Vest/Arm PDF on their Steadicam site, worth checking out!
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Old April 19th, 2007, 01:26 AM   #13
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Charles; The Pilot post is a little over 1" (it's not a standard size).

Nick; I'm not sure how much the 10/20 light weighs, so I can't answer that one. The upgraded Merlin holds cameras up to 7lb

Matt; Your upgrade path is correct. Note that your final cost is a little less if you sell the Merlin sled when upgrading to the Pilot to re-coup some of that initial $800 (not $900) for the Merlin.


The reeeeally cool thing about the upgrade path is that it continues al the way up the line with all the Steadicam systems!


The Merlin, the Pilot, the Flyer, the Archer and the Clipper ALL use the same post / gimble hole size. The Merlin/Pilot Arm, the Flyer Arm, and the G-50 Arm, all have that same size post. Depending on how your sled is balanced, you can switch the sleds around on the arms as you wish to suite your needs.

As rough estimates: [NOT ALL COMBINATIONS ARE YET TESTED!]
(Sled) ............ (compatible arms)
Merlin, works on: The Merlin/Pilot Arm.
Pilot, works on: The Pilot Arm, the Flyer arm, the G-50
Flyer, works on: The Pilot Arm, the Flyer arm, the G-50
Archer, works on: The Flyer Arm, the G-50
Clipper, works on: The G-50


AND ... in addition:

The Clipper can be made to fly on the G-70 arm, which of course is stnadard with the Ultra 2

The Merlin/Pilot and the Flyer vests are both cross compatible with both beeing able to fly both of the light arms. And the Archer & Clipper (LX) vest and the Ultra vest all use the industry standard socket block arm connection to use the G-50 or G-70 arms freely between them. Plus any socket block can be quickly mounted on any vest.



For example:

I own a Merlin and an Archer.

I could buy the Pilot system and be able to fly any camera from .5 to 23lbs and choose between 2 sleds, 2 arms, and 2 vests - with multiple combination options per camera. This would give huge flexibilty, with an high level of backup, without any equipment doubled.

The Steadicam system reall is exactly that: a system.

- Mikko

Last edited by Mikko Wilson; April 19th, 2007 at 08:58 AM.
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Old April 19th, 2007, 05:19 AM   #14
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Mikko, you forgot the G50 when you put the Clipper up there. Considering that it comes with it standard, I'd imagine it'd work. (Insert smiley here)

These new rigs look great, and certainly for the pricepoint, that's incredible that the rigs will do what they do. Tiffen and Garrett are really stepping up the whole industry of stabilization.
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Old April 19th, 2007, 08:19 AM   #15
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Will the upgraded metal gimbal be available, stand alone? If so, cost?
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