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Ultra2 vs Pro GPI vs XCS2


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#1 Alex Kornreich

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 02:28 AM

Hi All,

After operating a smaller rig for about a year and a half, I feel I'm ready to move up to one of the big guys. I've read all I can regarding the Ultra 2, Pro GPI and XCS sleds, but I'm having trouble finding any sort of direct comparisons. I'm also looking for info regarding the G70 arm vs the Pro arm as well.

I know this is sort of a vague question, but any guidance will be of great help. If it all comes down to personal preference, then please say so. But I'd really like to know why some operators prefer one of these sleds over the other, and equally important, why some ops prefer one of the arms over the other. Also if there's a sled or arm that I'm missing, I'd appreciate learning about that as well. Whether it's straight up feature set, or how the rig just feels, I'd like to know any/all opinions.

Ultimately I'll be testing everything that I possibly can (I start demoing tomorrow), but opinions from the ops on this forum would be invaluable.

Thanks, and I've already learned a ton on this forum over the 2 or so years, even though this is my first post :)

Alex
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#2 Alex Kornreich

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 02:30 AM

And customer service, warranty, and reliability info would be appreciated as well!

Alex
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#3 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 02:48 AM

At the level your looking at its really personal preference. There are some differences but everyone is going to have a different opinion on which is better.

Pro: Soild. Great customer service. LCD monitors require a battery on the monitor for weight to be able to dynamic balance.
XCS: 2" center post means less flex, etc. Fancy electronic base.
Ultra 2: Tilt Stage. Balancing Remote. Integrated super post. 2 battery setup means longer post length than with the 3 battery setup used by Pro and XCS.

If you are looking to save some money somewhere you could look at a used arm or the Steadyrig silver spring arm.

G70: ride adjustment knob. tools free adjustment. Larger boom range although the difference may not actually be beneficial.
Pro: Simple solid design. easier to clean and service. Compression spring canister design means less chance of catastrophic spring failure. (the chance is extremely small for either arm) Full set of springs gives you a backup set that can quickly be swapped out in the field.
Steadyrig: old 3A arm design refined and built rock solid. Less expensive. Not as isoelastic. Not as wide of a weight range. Australian company so non local customer service.

Try them all and see what you like. You can also mix and match some parts. Personally if I was to go with the Ultra2 I would still get a pro vest since it fits me so much better. I believe XCS makes a 2" post that can be used with the pro top and bottom and the XCS gimbal.

Ultra2 Vest: Heavily padded. Some people on the smaller side don't think it is very comfortable (I am 5'7" 160pounds). Has emergency quick release. Designed to easily adjust to different individuals
Pro Vest: Thinner but perfectly adequate padding. Custom setup for the individual. No emergency quick release.

Anyone have weights of the different sleds and arms?

~Jess
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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 03:00 AM

XCS: 2" center post means less flex, etc. Fancy electronic base.
Ultra 2: Tilt Stage. Balancing Remote. Integrated super post. 2 battery setup means longer post length than with the 3 battery setup used by Pro and XCS.


Saying that the XCS has a "Fancy electronic base" just means that you don't understand what it does. Because of those electronics you can run a 435 at 150fps on a SINGLE Anton Bauer trim pac... Doesn't matter anyway since he asked about a Ultimate 2 which lacks the Ultimate 1's power supply. Additionally due to the very low profile upper stage you can run a shorter post... Jess maybe you should use the rig before you compare it otherwise you do it (and any gear) a disservice
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#5 Alex Kornreich

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 03:43 AM

Thanks Jess and Eric.

So basically the XCS not only has a thicker post diameter, which is a good thing as it allows there to be less flex, as well as having 3 batteries on the bottom, so the sled can be shorter and more compact, which is also a good thing. Is this correct?

On the other hand, the Ultra 2 has a built in super post, while the others do not, as well as a motorized stage, and the others do not. Is this correct as well?

Eric, I noticed you have an XCS setup with pro arm, and as I'm leaning towards the Ultra 2, I'd really like to know your take as to why you prefer the XCS and Pro arm. You mention the electronics as being one reason. Can you elaborate on that? Can you also elaborate as to why the setup of the XCS (3 batts on bottom, 2" post diameter, etc.), in your opinion, is better than the setup of the Ultra 2?

Also, Im on the shorter side (5'7"), so being able to easily adjust lens height is important to me. Is the Ultra 2 more suitable for adjusting the lens height?

Any other insights?
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#6 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 04:45 AM

Saying that the XCS has a "Fancy electronic base" just means that you don't understand what it does. Because of those electronics you can run a 435 at 150fps on a SINGLE Anton Bauer trim pac... Doesn't matter anyway since he asked about a Ultimate 2 which lacks the Ultimate 1's power supply. Additionally due to the very low profile upper stage you can run a shorter post... Jess maybe you should use the rig before you compare it otherwise you do it (and any gear) a disservice


I was listing it as a feature not a negative and I am fully aware that he was asking about the Ultimate2 which while different than the 1 still uses much more advanced electronics than anything else out there. I am also fully aware of what the fancy electronic base does but didn't feel like going into every little detail as I figured those with more experience with the rig would chime in. I felt a quick overview of what I knew about them would be helpful. You don't have to go around jumping to conclusions and insulting people every time they post you know. Personally I like the simplicity of the electronics of my very custom rig but if I were to spend some time with the XCS I can see how it could change my mind.

~Jess
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#7 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 05:02 AM

basically the XCS not only has a thicker post diameter, which is a good thing as it allows there to be less flex, as well as having 3 batteries on the bottom, so the sled can be shorter and more compact, which is also a good thing. Is this correct?

Sled length is somewhat of a personal thing. I think shorter is good but some other operators might not care at all. Taller operators may have less use for a short post as they don't have as many clearance issues on the bottom. More weight on the bottom equals a shorter post but also means a heavier rig. Personally I like options so I have my sled wired up to be able to take up to 4 batteries. I don't normally use all 4 but when I want to collapse my sled all the way when doing vehicle mount work or something similar it is a useful option.

On the other hand, the Ultra 2 has a built in super post, while the others do not, as well as a motorized stage, and the others do not. Is this correct as well?

Yes. Some would argue that the superpost is unnecessary and adds extra flex and weight because they rarely use one. Others would argue that you use it more when it is right there and readily available. I feel like it would be mostly useful when it comes to low mode as that seems to be the most common scenario for wanting a longer post. As far as the motorized stage some people swear by it and others see it as adding unnecessary complication.

Also, Im on the shorter side (5'7"), so being able to easily adjust lens height is important to me. Is the Ultra 2 more suitable for adjusting the lens height?

Honestly you shouldn't have any problem with this with any of the rigs. The Ultra2s super post is only going to come into play when you want to go really high or low.

Any other insights?

Try not to make up your mind on any of them until you have a chance to actually try them yourself. They are all excellent rigs and you really just need to find what fits you best.

~Jess
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#8 Afton Grant

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 05:43 AM

I doubt there are many people on here who have actually had a chance to use all 3 rigs in question so felt a quick overview of what I knew about them would be helpful. You don't have to go around jumping to conclusions and insulting people every time they post you know.


That's a bit of a conclusion jump itself. On the contrary, I know of many operators that have used all three. Evidence of which can be seen by the number of "franken-rigs" out there made up of what they consider to be the best parts of each system. I know if I were buying a new sled today, it wouldn't be a one-stop shop. Just my opinion though.

Advice like this is so hard to give because after years of work, the sleds become so very personalized and to explain why one part is chosen over another is near impossible. That old saying, "If I had to explain it, you wouldn't understand," really is true in this case. Alex, please don't take that as a cop-out of giving advice. If you can get your hands on some rigs to try, that's great. Read through these forums and try to digest whatever information you can. There's plenty of discussion on all kinds of gear. As suggested already, if you don't know exactly what to look for technically, you might just have to go with whatever "feels" right for now. You can't go wrong with any of the rigs in discussion, so try not to worry too much. You can always change, upgrade, trade, etc.
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#9 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 05:53 AM

I doubt there are many people on here who have actually had a chance to use all 3 rigs in question so felt a quick overview of what I knew about them would be helpful. You don't have to go around jumping to conclusions and insulting people every time they post you know.


That's a bit of a conclusion jump itself. On the contrary, I know of many operators that have used all three.

Your right and frankly I don't even know why I said it. The rest of my statement still makes sense without it though. Lack of sleep and the internet are a great combination! :-)
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#10 Rogerhaugen

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 06:01 AM

Hi!
You will always get very personal answers when asking these questions.
I went to a tiffen workshop once where they listed up every rig out there as non good, except their own. And all the new hopeful operators nodded without asking questions. My tip is to spend a lot of time investigating what rig you want to buy. There are several good options, but sometimes you will not know what is working best for you before you get enough experience. But usually people fall in love with the gear they own their self.

Roger
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#11 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 07:07 AM

I know operators that have the factory version of all three rigs and each operator 'Loves' their rig. I'd venture to guess that if you buy any of the top of the line rigs you will be happy with it.

It's sort of like arguing which is better, a Porsche, Ferrari, or Lamborghini, they are all bad ass cars and an owner of each will tell you it's superior to the others.

About the additional battery on the monitor of the PRO... You can also use a Hytron 140 for your front battery along with PRO's long monitor arm and it seems to give you the same dynamic balance as the stock short monitor arm, 3 Hytron 50's and a Greenie monitor.

For my 1.75 cents... Go all PRO. I've been using one since 1998 and I have not a single complaint. Great customer service and great equipment.

Finally, if I were buying a rig now, I'd for 100% sure buy a used rig. There are so many fully loaded rigs for sale you could get a hell of a deal.
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#12 chris fawcett

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 07:30 AM

I went to a tiffen workshop once where they listed up every rig out there as non good, except their own.

Hi Roger,

I'm surprised you heard that. I've taught dozens of Tiffen workshops, and I don't remember any instructor expressing that opinion either privately or publicly.

Fly (on the wall),

Chris
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#13 Erwin Landau

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 07:55 AM

It's very hard to be objective about that topic I guess...

Why do you drive a Ford or a Volkswagen over a Chevy?
Why do you like Sushi but hate Tofu?

I used to own a Super Post and used it twice in 3 years... I also owned gyros and used them twice in four years... yes it's true that if you own a particular piece of equipment it's more likely that you use it more often...

I started with a 3A that Clairmont Camera was kind enough to let me run around with ... I used the Master Series at my first workshop that i took... disliked it very much as my Knee just wanted to make contact with the K-section... used the original Ultra Prototype for a week... as well as the ProVid, ProVid2, EFP, SK and Mini... but I only had the "Aha moment" when i saw my first PRO, actually Charles Papert's PRO 1. I owned 7 models of the PRO.

I saw the Ultimate very soon afterwards and didn't get it. Finally after gathering enough experience on set and operating I finally got it and my Ultimate. The rig is one of the original first run and is almost 12 years old, and had only one failure in that time. (the 12 Volt power supply burned out... but as i was flying a Moviecam and all lights were still on as well as all parts still worked, I ignored the smoke coming from the Lower Electronics Housing and finished day... free special effects I guess) I had it for now 6 years and it's like a hammer, I take it out of the case, use it and put it back in the case, period.

You can actually use it as a hammer.. or baseball bat... I crashed several times... the camera was gone, the battery was scratched... only thing I ever bend was the battery rails... twice. But that was it.

The center post has 16 conductors... most of them I don't use. It's HD capable... which I don't use. The MDR plug is connected with the onboard plug... so that you can trigger the recorder via the remote follow focus... which I no longer use... You can use up to 3 batteries... I never use more then 2. It has transmittable frame lines which I use all the time, it has build in double frame lines and a digital level that i use all the time.

I used many different rigs over the years. I build a bunch of let's call them creations. I returned to an almost of the shelf rig from Greg Bubb. Quality is great. Costumer Service is second to none (which manufacturer would open up his shop on a weekend or get up in the middle of the night or a holiday... Actually George Paddock did that for me and opened the shop on Presidents day, or was it thanksgiving)...

I started with a PRO vest as my first one that i paid out of my pocket... had a DSD then a Klassen and now a PRO again.

Owned a 3A arm because that was what I could afford at the time... later bought a PRO Arm and have owned it now for over 8 years... Tried and am still trying every arm I can get my hands on... but nothing compares to my beat up and trusty PRO arm... that works the same way it did when I got it so many years ago.

Try every rig you can get your hands on and over time you will develop a certain taste or distaste for certain manufacturers and find the right one for you.

The more you operate, the more you will start developing habits and mis-habits that will shape how and with what you operate. I like my post short so i chopped it down to 16 inches... I like to operate with my monitor in the table top position, use only 2 batteries ... always have my canatrans high on top and on a custom plate velcroed... all my cables are right angled, al power cables are coiled... and everything goes out the window once you have to make the shot work...

You will see the light eventually... won't be the same light as I saw but some kind of bulb will go off and you will in a couple of years spend way to much time in the middle of the night to defend your decision...


AKS are coming and going but the Sled, Arm and Vest are staying.


And I just realized I am going on and on.... sorry.... you will ask 40 guys and you will get 40 answers...


Check the for sale section and see what comes up all the time for sale and what you never see for sale. There are almost 400 PRO Arms in existence... how many have been for sale in the last couple of years as individual items? I counted 7 in about the same time frame... And how many are looking for a used one... That should tell you something...

Talk to owners and ask them why they like there equipment. You'll get a way better inside then asking what they like better... many have an opinion without the knowledge or the experience with a certain piece of equipment... but people still get into pissing matches.

Just my experience, nothing else.


Good Luck!


Erwin
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#14 Erwin Landau

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 08:19 AM

About the additional battery on the monitor of the PRO... You can also use a Hytron 140 for your front battery along with PRO's long monitor arm and it seems to give you the same dynamic balance as the stock short monitor arm, 3 Hytron 50's and a Greenie monitor.



I have never seen a battery on the back of a PRO Monitor.
If you use a stock PRO from GPI, it will balance just beautifully.

If you use an LCD you might want to use an additional battery...
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#15 RonBaldwin

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 09:38 AM

On any sled, you will have to add weight to a light weight lcd monitor to help preserve dynamic balance (or to the front of the sled as Mike suggested or push the lcd farther from the seld). So to suggest it's only the Pro that needs it is pure silliness. The Tiffen monitor's got to be about 4 lbs which is only a pound less than a Pro monitor so it obviously wouldn't have to go out as far (anyone have numbers on this?).

I like all the sleds listed. I think the best power management goes to the XCS sled (no one can argue this point). The best customer service goes to Pro and XCS (which is to me about the most important). The U2 sled is really nice and has some really super features -- but it's a seriously top-heavy sled, meaning that you will have to drop the post way more than the others to balance the same camera (evidenced by all the weights available...I still can't figure out why another battery isn't added?). Flame suit on.

That being said, I still love the U2 sled and would have bought one a few years back if I could have bought it without the monitor (simply too big for me, though I know many who love it).

My Pro1 with 3 batts, XCS bubble level, tb-6 and Preston mdr is 22.5 lbs. The Pro2 is obviously lighter because it uses lighter batteries (a guess is 21 lbs in the same config?). The Ultra2 is 22 lbs with 2 power cubes, the ultrabrite monitor and Preston mdr. I seem to remember the XCS Ultimate sled being about a pound heavier -- but it's packed full of all sorts of electronic goodies and is a super stiff rig.

rb
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