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#1 Emanuele Chiocchio

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 04:53 AM

Hi, I'm very new to video so, please, be patient with me. I'm a happy owner of a full Merlin system (arm+vest) and I've successfully balanced it with my Nikon D5000 and almost all my 35mm lenses, even the heavier ones (14-24mm, 24-70mm and so on). After some days of practice, I've decided to upgrade to the Pilot to have the possibility to mount heavier DSLR bodies so I bought the AAS version (it will arrive in the next days).
Since I don't want to stick with AAs I've searched the internet and found a very useful post here by a Pilot user that managed to install SONY's li-ion BP-U60 successfully (http://www.pauljoy.c...p-u-conversion/). That solves brilliantly the "power" aspect but I've another question that I hope you can answer. I would like to install an HDMI Marshall monitor in the future and connect directly to my DSLR. Is there a guide or an on-line resource to see how to make this mod? I apologize if this topic was discussed before.

Thanks in advance,

Best.

Emanuele

Edited by Emanuele Chiocchio, 23 February 2010 - 04:56 AM.

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#2 Janice Arthur

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 02:44 PM

E.;

Welcome and good luck with your efforts.

A word of caution, from my point of view.

You haven't even gotten the rig yet and you're already seeing changes to key structures in it.

Why not first; hold off on purchase for a while to see where your true desires might be; save some more money and buy the "right" rig rather than see how to modify the hilt out of this one; lastly remember maybe a couple of mods are good but too many mods and it will be so customized that no one will want to buy it when you sell it. (Remember the buyer also wants a rig he/she can customized and those features you've changed almost certainly not work for them.)

The final word here is don't expect rigs to last tremendously long now; so a highly modified rig may never sell on the secondhand market.

Buy a rig you don't need to make so many changes to; use it for its lifetime of legitimate use and then sell it and move up.

You can modify anything but between the time and the money is it really worth it in the end?

Hope you have good fun.

JA
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#3 Emanuele Chiocchio

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 09:57 AM

E.;

Welcome and good luck with your efforts.

A word of caution, from my point of view.

You haven't even gotten the rig yet and you're already seeing changes to key structures in it.

Why not first; hold off on purchase for a while to see where your true desires might be; save some more money and buy the "right" rig rather than see how to modify the hilt out of this one; lastly remember maybe a couple of mods are good but too many mods and it will be so customized that no one will want to buy it when you sell it. (Remember the buyer also wants a rig he/she can customized and those features you've changed almost certainly not work for them.)

The final word here is don't expect rigs to last tremendously long now; so a highly modified rig may never sell on the secondhand market.

Buy a rig you don't need to make so many changes to; use it for its lifetime of legitimate use and then sell it and move up.

You can modify anything but between the time and the money is it really worth it in the end?

Hope you have good fun.

JA


JA,

thankyou very much for your time and the thoughtful answer, really appreciated. As a pro-photographer, I'm very new to the whole "video thing" but I was always very attracted by the possibility to describe reality through moving-photographs and the new breed of HDDSLRs seems to be capable of the results I was hoping for.

That said, I've started to explore the video-world few months ago and quickly become aware of the fact that it's completely different from photography, both creatively and technically speaking. Things like fluid-heads, video tripods, shoulder mounts, follow focuses (remote too), sliders, dollies, steadicams and so on are (were) totally new to me but the idea to be able to make things like these (the movies are of a friend of mine that works for NatGeo and Fox) was too attractive not to be explored.

http://www.vimeo.com/5486559 and http://www.vimeo.com/8248199

It's an expensive journey to buy all those new tools but I wanted to start to learn them seriously and, most important, where I live (center Italy) it's almost impossible to find and/or rent them easily. You cannot understand how envious I am thinking to the possibility that you have to assist to a Papert's workshop, for example: I know that, even making practice every day and reading books (I do), I'll end to have bad habits in flying my Pilot if I do exercises alone, without a supervisor/teacher.

Back onto topic. The Pilot arrived yesterday and I found it VERY easy to balance (both statically and dynamically), especially compared to the Merlin. The latter is very sensible even to the slightest whisper of wind and -in my very humble opinion- it's a very good tool for beginners. The Pilot is a completely different beast, MORE stable, less prone to the wind, easier to control with the right hand fingers (I've mounted the arm on the left side of the vest): in few words, a tool made for work.

I can confirm my suspects: AAs aren't very handy. Currently I'm using a bunch of Eneloops that I use to power my flash units and other photographic tools but I find that a single unit like the SONY BP-U60 would be a better solution so I've ordered it (2) along a Sony charger and the Dolgin/e-film adapter plate.

The second hand market isn't a problem for me for a simple reason. AT something like 4,5Kgs, the Pilot's max load is ideal for a full HDDSLR setup (body+lens+audio+mattebox+remote FF) so my opinion is that I could enjoy it for a long time (I hope so :) ).

Sorry for: the long post, the not perfect english and probably the idiocies I wrote. :)

Ciao,

Emanuele

Edited by Emanuele Chiocchio, 11 March 2010 - 10:00 AM.

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#4 Tom Wills

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 12:39 PM

Emanuele,

I fly a rig in the Pilot weight class. A few thoughts came to mind when I read your posts.

I know I started off with, and flew with a ton of non-standard battery systems for a few years - everything from cheap eBay finds to drill batteries - and I finally got a professional battery system from Anton Bauer. I haven't looked back. The difference in my confidence in my gear is amazing. Instead of having to worry if my charger would die, or the batteries would last the take (let alone if the director would be spooked by cheap looking batteries), I'm able to focus on my shot, and know that if my monitor dies, I can send the AC to go pull me a fresh brick off the charger.

While I'm sure your batteries are going to be a bit better than my hacked together solutions, it might be worthwhile to look into how much it would cost to go with a V-Lock system for your rig. I looked up some quick prices, and the IDX E7S batteries (what Tiffen recommends for the Pilot) cost around $200, cheaper than the BP-U60s, and the charger, while much more expensive at around $500, can charge 2 batteries at once. Also, you get the advantage of being able to rent batteries whenever you might need them, or power professional cameras with those batteries. It's a big investment, but sometimes it can be worth it, especially if you can find some deals. I'm not sure how much a new battery mount for the V-Locks on the Pilot costs, but Tiffen would be able to give you that answer.

Other than that, good luck with the rig, and I hope it serves you as well as my gear has served me!
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#5 Emanuele Chiocchio

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 03:04 AM

Emanuele,

I fly a rig in the Pilot weight class. A few thoughts came to mind when I read your posts.

I know I started off with, and flew with a ton of non-standard battery systems for a few years - everything from cheap eBay finds to drill batteries - and I finally got a professional battery system from Anton Bauer. I haven't looked back. The difference in my confidence in my gear is amazing. Instead of having to worry if my charger would die, or the batteries would last the take (let alone if the director would be spooked by cheap looking batteries), I'm able to focus on my shot, and know that if my monitor dies, I can send the AC to go pull me a fresh brick off the charger.

While I'm sure your batteries are going to be a bit better than my hacked together solutions, it might be worthwhile to look into how much it would cost to go with a V-Lock system for your rig. I looked up some quick prices, and the IDX E7S batteries (what Tiffen recommends for the Pilot) cost around $200, cheaper than the BP-U60s, and the charger, while much more expensive at around $500, can charge 2 batteries at once. Also, you get the advantage of being able to rent batteries whenever you might need them, or power professional cameras with those batteries. It's a big investment, but sometimes it can be worth it, especially if you can find some deals. I'm not sure how much a new battery mount for the V-Locks on the Pilot costs, but Tiffen would be able to give you that answer.

Other than that, good luck with the rig, and I hope it serves you as well as my gear has served me!



Hi Tom,

I've really appreciated your considerations because they have been mine too when I decided to buy the Pilot.

I understand your point of view. Being an art director myself for my company I want the best from the people that work for me and I carefully -but discretely- inspect their equipment and skills.

At first I thought that it was better to go with a system like IDX or AB so I started to lurk and found that those batteries where quite heavy and needed an extra bag to be carried around with the charger. Moreover they weren't properly cheap but, at least for me, this one wasn't a problem. So I started to consider AAs for their friendlier form factor: they were small, easy to find in any store, rechargeable and I had a bunch of great Eneloops that served me very well with my photo equipment.

I bought the Pilot AAs but I was aware of the fact that even AAs have their weak points. I simply couldn't believe that with so many options around there wasn't a version of the Pilot using SONY/Canon batteries. After an extensive search I found several users that done the mod and adapted the SONY BT-U60 (but one can mount also the U30 that is cheaper -120USD- and even lighter at 220 grams) in a very professional ,industrial-like manner. Just an example:

http://www.pauljoy.c...ads/flipped.jpg

http://www.pauljoy.c...ipped_close.jpg

The SONY BP-U60 battery solves all the problems at once (at least for me): it's relatively light at about 350 grams (IDX are for example 540), lasts long, is durable, has a compact and easily portable form-factor, charges fast, has an electronic indicator on top for the residual charge. Good enough for me to order the kit (batteries+charger+dolgin plate) that should arrive next weeks.

Time will tell if I've made the right thing (the mod on the Pilot is reversible afterall). In the mean time I'm having fun learning the Pilot, a great piece of equipment.

Ciao,

Emanuele
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#6 Emanuele Chiocchio

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 12:04 PM

Following my first post, I've finally managed to modify the Pilot rig with the SONY BP-U60 battery and I couldn't be happier.
It took some time for the Dolgin adapter to come but it was worth the wait... anyway, let's cut to the chase.

The mod is fairly easy to perform and the it doesn't seem a DIY anyway. As a result you have: a long lasting battery system, an electronic residual charge indicator on top, all the advantages of Li-Ion vs. Ni-Mh, a more compact and easy to carry solution, fast switching between batteries, cheaper than IDX/AB solutions, durable, a standard system and a battery that one can buy almost everywhere. Last but not the least, it's professional looking. Moreover the mod is fully reversible. In other words, it's the way to go. IMO

You need the following: SONY BP-U60 or BP-U30 Li-Ion batts http://www.bhphotovi...ony_BP_U60.html ($249 or $117) - Dolgin EX-V adapter plate ($49) http://www.bhphotovi...ering_EX_V.html - SONY Charger for BP batts http://www.bhphotovi...Sony_BC_U1.html ($124). And a screw driver. :D

How to. Simply unscrew the Pilot battery holder for the AAs (put it in the closet), then open the Dolgin adapter (it's made of two durable, hard plastic shells) and fix it to the Pilot through the four original screws, close the Dolgin adapter. End.

Weights.
Original Steadicam Pilot battery holder (as seen in the last picture) and 10 rechargeable AAs (Eneloops) = 382grams (13.47Oz)
Dolgin adapter and SONY BP-U60 = 470grams (16.57Oz); with BP-U30 = 264grams (9.31Oz)
The SONY solution weights about the same (88grams more with BP-U60) or is lighter (118grams less with BP-U30)

Posted Image

http://emanuelec.smu...810_WYHHK-O.jpg

http://emanuelec.smu...843_oeqHu-O.jpg

http://emanuelec.smu...897_xC4dz-O.jpg

http://emanuelec.smu...831_8PPSA-O.jpg

This is the original piece to put into the closet and forget. :)

http://emanuelec.smu...166_d39zA-O.jpg

I dunno why a SONY Li-Ion version of the Pilot doesn't exist but I can say that it works like a charm and is much more professional looking than the AAS. Moreover the BP-U60 battery lasts VERY long and is relatively lightweight (one can use the BP-U30 that is half the size/weight/price).

And now the answer: how does the Pilot flies with the new battery? Well, as said, I'm a complete steadicam newbie and I'm still learning but in my humble opinion it's great and I'll post some clips ASAP, if you're interested.

Hope to be helpful.

Ciao,

Emanuele
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