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Steadicam Flyer/Zephyr VS. Glidecam X-22


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#1 Joshua Miller

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 01:20 PM

Hello All,

As a student, I've been interested in camera stabilization systems for a few years, and this weekend I took a steadicam workshop with Peter in Boston. It was fantastic, and I'd love to get more involved in the steadicam world.

I used to manage equipment for an on campus production group, and we have a very old Glidecam V-16. I've worked alot with it, and am trying to convince my organization that it's time for an upgrade.

I was looking at both Glidecam's and Steadicam's, trying to figure out the advantages and disadvantages to both. I realize that the steadicam is considered the more "professional" of the two, but I found the Glidecam x-22 at about the same price point as the flyer. We do alot on campus with broadcast cameras, EX-3's, 7D's and a few RED's. The glidecam and steadicam seem to have very similar features, but the glidecam can hold 5 more pounds.

In your experience, what is the main difference between the Glidecam X-22 and the Steadicam Flyer/Zephyr, and which would you consider the best for a college organization that frequently fly cameras as heavy as the RED.
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#2 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:29 PM

I don't know much about the Glidecam models but you can't go wrong with the Flyer/Zephyr, IF you are flying under 20 lbs of weight (in addition to sled/batteries).

Some broadcast cameras and many configurations of RED are in excess of this, so buy a cheap postal scale on ebay and weigh your configurations, including all AKS and cables. If you are under 20 lbs you are golden.

If you are over 20 lbs then I guess Glidecam is your best bet, if you can't swing an entry-level Archer. But it likely won't fly as well as a Steadicam.

Hello All,

As a student, I've been interested in camera stabilization systems for a few years, and this weekend I took a steadicam workshop with Peter in Boston. It was fantastic, and I'd love to get more involved in the steadicam world.

I used to manage equipment for an on campus production group, and we have a very old Glidecam V-16. I've worked alot with it, and am trying to convince my organization that it's time for an upgrade.

I was looking at both Glidecam's and Steadicam's, trying to figure out the advantages and disadvantages to both. I realize that the steadicam is considered the more "professional" of the two, but I found the Glidecam x-22 at about the same price point as the flyer. We do alot on campus with broadcast cameras, EX-3's, 7D's and a few RED's. The glidecam and steadicam seem to have very similar features, but the glidecam can hold 5 more pounds.

In your experience, what is the main difference between the Glidecam X-22 and the Steadicam Flyer/Zephyr, and which would you consider the best for a college organization that frequently fly cameras as heavy as the RED.


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#3 Brian Freesh

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:56 PM

Hi Joshua!

Welcome to the forum! I hope you were a smart-ass to Peter all weekend, he loves that!

Simple answer: In that weight class, Steadicam is better.

But it's never that simple, is it?

What is the aim of the school program? What are students who use it hoping to do with steadicam when they graduate?


The thing about the weight capacity is that if you get the Flyer or Zephyr you're gonna want more capacity. But if you get the X-22 you're still gonna want more capacity.

I tried a Glidecam X-22 recently out of curiosity. Honestly, it's fine for what it is. If you really, absolutely, positively, your head will burst if you don't get it... want that 5lbs, get it, but know that you're dealing with an inferior piece of equipment.

The Flyer is tried and true, quality gear. The Zephyr is shaping up to be a great addition, (or hopefully replacement) so you really can't go wrong with either.

The Red is too heavy in general for all those rigs. It can be stripped down to work. If that's the heaviest camera you will be using, you'll be able to strip it down a bit less on the Glidecam, but you'll not likely notice the difference in time it takes. Either rig will require the removal of studio rods, matte box's, and the base plate. Either one will require removal of the battery/raid drive cage. With the X-22 you might be able to fly the battery or the raid drive on the camera. But if you get the IDX mount on the Flyer/Zephyr, you can just power the Red through the sled with the Red batteries, so that advantage is not enormous for X-22. You CAN do a raid drive with the shock mount, if you have one. Matteboxes need to be clip-on, lenses need to be primes. If they are Red Primes, those are heavy, that will limit you.

All of this is assuming you'll be using a wireless follow focus, which you will want to have for the Red and the DSLR. In that case, the Zephyr will give you the most power options, to power the camera, the follow focus, and a downconverter (for the SD monitor, cause the downconverter is cheaper than an HD monitor) though if you go with the Flyer and need power options, come let me know.

Good luck!
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#4 Joshua Miller

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 11:52 PM

Hi Joshua!

Welcome to the forum! I hope you were a smart-ass to Peter all weekend, he loves that!

Simple answer: In that weight class, Steadicam is better.

But it's never that simple, is it?

What is the aim of the school program? What are students who use it hoping to do with steadicam when they graduate?


Haha yes, being the youngest and an Emerson kid left lots of room for fun snarky comments. Love him, he was great.

I was in charge of the only glidecam on campus, so most of my requests were for short film projects for both grad and undergrad. The biggest "broadcast" event that we do is an awards show, but i'm trying to bring it to our news program. I get alot of kids wanting to rent RED and use a "steadicam" shot mostly for the cool factor. I've only known one legit steadicam op who wanted to focus mostly on steadicam; so my requests are usually from DP's who want to mix it up a bit.

However, no one on campus really knows how to build/op, and no teacher on campus teaches it; just shows us a rig in a book and some very very very basic theory. So naturally, I don't think anyone knows how to really build a RED for use with our glidecam. I heard from a friend that they had to gaff a brick (not like the battery, like the thing you build houses with) to the bottom of our glidecam just to counter balance the rig.

This rig was donated 20 years ago to an SGA organization that has no real connection to any classes, so when kids in film classes want to shoot on a camera heavier than an HVX, they come to us. What's worse is that the reason the school won't buy a new one is because our student org already has one, and they don't quite understand that every time they use a RED improperly, they risk breaking it, and it's so inferior to units even from 10 years ago.

While I don't think it's necessary to chuck out the money for an archer, 8 grand for a zephyr doesn't sound too bad, and will comfortably hold 80% of the cameras the kids use (HVX, EX3 w/letus, 7D).
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#5 Brian Freesh

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 02:23 AM

I've only known one legit steadicam op who wanted to focus mostly on steadicam


Forum member David Shawl?

However, no one on campus really knows how to build/op, and no teacher on campus teaches it; just shows us a rig in a book and some very very very basic theory. So naturally, I don't think anyone knows how to really build a RED for use with our glidecam. I heard from a friend that they had to gaff a brick (not like the battery, like the thing you build houses with) to the bottom of our glidecam just to counter balance the rig.


The V16 weight limit is 20 lbs (and is not 20 years old) so maximum weight capacity is the same as a Flyer/Zephyr. If someone strapped a brick to the rig they either A) had the camera too heavy, B) had the rig base too heavy, or C) both. As long as you know the principals of what you are doing (which you do now, cause Peter wouldn't have phoned it in) you don't need to know how to build a specific camera for a specific rig. You know what the max weight is, so you get it to that weight or under while retaining functionality (don't take off the lens or sumfin).

Something else to consider is that Glidecam is right there in the same city, your repair downtime is minimized.

The Zephyr will be the most like big rigs the students may encounter in the future.

8 grand for a zephyr doesn't sound too bad.


Who said that? Peter? I hadn't heard a price yet!

It sounds like as of right now Steadicam for the school is a novelty act. No one is really going to learn anything (unless someone changes that) but if anything it will serve to get people started on what it is like to work with one, which is important. We want DPs, Directors, ADs, Producers to understand as much as possible about all aspects of filmmaking. In that regard, it's a fantastic resource for the school. The equipment won't be terribly important, save for this (And anything others might add): Inexperienced DPs, Directors, ADs, Producers tend to think Steadicam is a time-consuming set-up. The Zephyr is the most versatile/easy to set-up of the 3. (The Flyer is easy as well, but less versatile). The X-22 has too much involved with adjusting certain pieces. It could get hairy in a pinch. Frankly though, no one will be quick with it no matter the equipment unless someone is the go to person and really takes to it. And then someone else when that person graduates...
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#6 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 12:19 PM

Just a quick note about weight capacities. The X-22 will carry around 26lbs in addition to the weight of the sled (with monitor and battery mounted). So you get 26lbs of pure camera gear capacity. The arm will cope safely with up to around 38lbs of weight.

Thought of course the rig that suits the situation best may not be purely based upon weight capacity.
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#7 RonBaldwin

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 02:42 PM

...they had to gaff a brick (not like the battery, like the thing you build houses with) to the bottom of our glidecam just to counter balance the rig.


I think Tiffen now sells those to put on the bottom of their rigs for counter-weight and inertial augmentation!
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:34 AM

...they had to gaff a brick (not like the battery, like the thing you build houses with) to the bottom of our glidecam just to counter balance the rig.


I think Tiffen now sells those to put on the bottom of their rigs for counter-weight and inertial augmentation!


Wasn't the first generation Fracolizer made from cinderblocks...?
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#9 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 07:54 AM

...they had to gaff a brick (not like the battery, like the thing you build houses with) to the bottom of our glidecam just to counter balance the rig.


I think Tiffen now sells those to put on the bottom of their rigs for counter-weight and inertial augmentation!


Wasn't the first generation Fracolizer made from cinderblocks...?

Possibly! But it's a hidden trade secret that Garrett cleverly designed it into the model 2... oh god... someone very slim and tall is knocking on my door!?!?
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#10 RonBaldwin

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:42 PM

...they had to gaff a brick (not like the battery, like the thing you build houses with) to the bottom of our glidecam just to counter balance the rig.


I think Tiffen now sells those to put on the bottom of their rigs for counter-weight and inertial augmentation!


Wasn't the first generation Fracolizer made from cinderblocks...?



you are correct...but we had to move to upsidasium because drilling holes in the cinderblock to save weight didn't work as well as we thought. It was easier to find my stand though...I'd just follow the debris trail.
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#11 Dean Smollar

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 12:53 PM

David Shawl isn't the only Emersonian who focuses primarily as a Steadicam operator. I was in the same boat as Josh before I graduated in 08. That said, I had already been operating for a year before that on a Flyer. The V-16 and V-20 that Emerson has (had?) worked just fine for what the average production wanted, but I always went back to my Flyer.

When I moved to LA 2 years ago, I sold the Flyer to make the trip/apt money work. I saved up and got the X-22. I love it. As a matter of fact, I'm flying a RED on it today. The only issues I've had are minor ones of convenience, such as minor tool adjustments and lack of certain accessories, but those are of little concern to me untill I can afford them. Also, I'm thinking my next rig will run with the AR Evolution, so I'm glad I didn't shell out more for the Archer or Clipper just yet.
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#12 Rory Martinez

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:38 AM

Hello All,

As a student, I've been interested in camera stabilization systems for a few years, and this weekend I took a steadicam workshop with Peter in Boston. It was fantastic, and I'd love to get more involved in the steadicam world.

I used to manage equipment for an on campus production group, and we have a very old Glidecam V-16. I've worked alot with it, and am trying to convince my organization that it's time for an upgrade.

I was looking at both Glidecam's and Steadicam's, trying to figure out the advantages and disadvantages to both. I realize that the steadicam is considered the more "professional" of the two, but I found the Glidecam x-22 at about the same price point as the flyer. We do alot on campus with broadcast cameras, EX-3's, 7D's and a few RED's. The glidecam and steadicam seem to have very similar features, but the glidecam can hold 5 more pounds.

In your experience, what is the main difference between the Glidecam X-22 and the Steadicam Flyer/Zephyr, and which would you consider the best for a college organization that frequently fly cameras as heavy as the RED.


Hi Joshua,

I am also a newbie in the steadicam world and recently purchased the Glidecam X-22. I had my first try with it yesterday and found it extremely easy to use. It took a while to get it dynamically balanced (but it was the first time that I have ever used a camera stabilizer so i thought it would) but when it was I found it extremely easy to fly. This is the video of the first test

For the price I think that the Glidecam was a great buy and since it can fly up to 26lbs of weight it is perfect for what I am wanting to learn with.

I hope this helps.

Rory Martinez
Brown Bread Films
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#13 Matt Burton

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:39 PM

Of course it helps if you have a good teacher Rory ;)
I have to admit the glidecam fits a hole in affordable starter rigs that can fly heavy setups with ease and is almost as smooth as systems costing ten times the amount.

Edited by Matt Burton, 23 September 2010 - 02:45 PM.

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#14 Matt Burton

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:51 PM

I can think of a few jobs I had to turn down back in the day when I had my flyer as it just couldn't deal with the weight of pro level cameras.
I think when your starting out as an operator it's important to make a good impression with each and every client you get. Turning down jobs is never a good look !
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