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Steadicam Zephyr Advice

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#1 Dominik Bauch

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 01:40 PM

Was hoping for some advice from some seasoned ops out there:.

I’m looking at the Zephyr to fly an Alexa Mini.
A couple of questions:
1. How is the supplied monitor? Has it been updated since the Zephyr was introduced as in some images it looks pretty old and clunky...
2. As far as a Steadicam goes, are there any compromises with the Zephyr - other than weight limitations? i.e. is it more difficult to get super smooth shots vs more expensive models?
3. As the Zephyr seems to have been out for a while is it likely to be updated soon?
More generally, if I use an Angenieux Optimo Style zoom 30 - 76, will I need to adjust the balance when zooming in or out? i.e. does the weight shift in the lens enough to unbalance a rig?
Obviously longer focal lengths are trickier but what is the sweet spot for a steadicam? I tend to prefer longer focal lengths aesthetically so would a 35mm or 50mm still be workable to a novice operator with practice?
Many thanks in advance for any advice.

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#2 Lisa Sene

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 08:50 AM

Hi Dominik,


1. Not sure if the stock monitor has changed, but I swapped it for a 7 in Marshall when I was using a Zephyr. Easy to change. Also a good idea to get a yoke mount for whichever monitor you end up with so it tilts on its own center of gravity. 


2. A more expensive rig does not equal fantastic shots; it's all in how much you practice. 


3. The Aero 15 and Aero 30 are the newer models of the Zephyr. That said, there a many used Zephyrs floating around which could save you some money up front. Again, it's not about the rig, it's about what you do with it. 


I haven't flown with an Optimo 30-76, so I'm not sure if the weight shifts fore-and-aft. If it does, just trim your balance to correct; you'll still be in dynamic balance so long as you don't adjust the monitor or battery on the bottom. 


Practice with as many different focal lengths as you can, as you will be asked to fly a wide range. There's no magic number that is easier than another. Very wide lenses are less forgiving on imperfect horizons, and very telephoto lenses can make holding a moving subject in frame tricky. Practice both! If you haven't already, look into taking a workshop. 


Happy flying!



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#3 Scott Monk

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 02:54 PM



If the Zephyr has the Marshall V-LCD70XP-3GSDI, that's a good monitor, in my opinion. I have a Zephyr with that monitor and, although I don't really use it anymore, I've flown Alexa Studios, Minis, even a 29-lb Red One build with no problems. That Optimo should not be a problem, but it depends on what else you're hanging on your camera build. 


Zooming will affect your trim, but you'll have the same problem in any rig you fly, regardless of cost. Lisa's right - it's your technique that will keep the shot level if balance changes a little, not the rig you are flying. Also, like she said, you really should get the CG monitor yolk for the Zephyr. I have one, and it makes tilting the monitor a breeze - no re-balancing.


One thing you want to do with the Zephyr, though - get the add-on battery hanger plate. It allows you to add more weight to the bottom of the sled and avoid extending the post - as well as providing more power for bigger cameras. The Zephyr will vibrate if you fly a heavy build and try to balance it by extending the post a lot.


I added a 2-into-1 battery adapter plate (aka, hot swap plate)  to my add-on battery hanger, and flew the Zephyr with 2 batteries on the expansion, as well as the one battery on the stock battery plate. That weight makes a big difference when flying heavy builds. Avoid extending the post much, if at all possible.


BTW...I'm willing to sell my Zephyr if you're interested. The power wiring has been upgraded by Terry West to handle the bigger cameras without killing your sled batteries. It also has multiple HD video lines added.


Good Luck,



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#4 Junior Loiola

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Posted Today, 09:30 AM

Hi folks, I’d like to see some pictures of the monitor yolk for the Zephyr, I’ve never seen that and I’ll try to building here in Brasil for mine...

About the conversation, I’ve flying a lot of Alexa Mini and Amira on my rig, and using anamorphic and spheric lenses, some heavy like Cookes anamorphic lens or Master Prime spherical lens and It’s ok for that, the weight is around 9/10kg and I power the camera from the sled and I did a homemade second battery plate that works great because it is lighter then the original Tiffen and I can put the other battery to shorter the post, so that I believe the lens like the Optimo short zoom like 15-40mm, 30-76mm and 45-120mm won’t be problem to fly on...

Lisa or Scott I have the same Marshall monitor, send me a pic from the monitor yolk please...
Many thanks for that...

Good luck for all...

Junior Loiola from Brazil

Enviado do meu iPhone usando Tapatalk
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#5 Scott Monk

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Posted Today, 11:56 AM

Here is a photo of the CG monitor yolk on the rig. Mine was made by Frederick Sturm. here's his post talking about it. You can contact him. http://www.steadicam...showtopic=20074

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