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Another Choosing a Stabilizer Thread


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#1 invalid username

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 10:55 AM

I'm sure most of you are familiar with my plan at this point, which is to buy a budget rig and get what business I can in my area and consider a bigger rig once I've completed my move.

The price range I'm looking at is up to $2500 for now, considering the low ammount of business in my area. That gives me these options
- Steadicam Merlin w/Arm and Vest - $2200
- Anything in the Sobercam range with the bigger arm (1XT, 1BXT) $1400-$2200
- Glidecam X-10 arm w/4000 Pro Sled - $2400

Obviously this is all a little below the knowledge of a pro steadicam op, however I'd appreciate any advice that you guys can give me. Like I said, this is just a step along the way, but I think even you guys with 100k+ rigs can understand that a couple thousand dollars is not money to just toss about.

Thanks!
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#2 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 08:29 PM

My short take:

What is the maximum weight you think you will carry right now and in the near future? You're balancing (no pun intended) payload vs. acceptable level of performance (quality shots and ease/speed of setup and use in a production environment).

1. Merlin w/arm and vest is a very light payload. You should be able to get a used Pilot for around the same cost. If you will be using only lighter cameras then the Merlin or Pilot are the best bet.
2. Used first generation Flyer is a little more expensive (at probably $4000-4500) but well worth it for Steadicam quality, if you can stretch your budget and need the payload. The 15 lb payload can be stretched a couple of pounds to fly at least some of the broadcast cameras.
3. Never heard of Sobercam. Glidecam is well-known for its strengths and weaknesses. If you MUST have the payload and are locked into your budget, you must consider whether the rig will fight you, or limit or prevent you from executing quality shots.

Finally, consider the cost of accessories, and the rig's resale value when calculating your TCO (total cost of ownership).

I'm sure most of you are familiar with my plan at this point, which is to buy a budget rig and get what business I can in my area and consider a bigger rig once I've completed my move.

The price range I'm looking at is up to $2500 for now, considering the low ammount of business in my area. That gives me these options
- Steadicam Merlin w/Arm and Vest - $2200
- Anything in the Sobercam range with the bigger arm (1XT, 1BXT) $1400-$2200
- Glidecam X-10 arm w/4000 Pro Sled - $2400

Obviously this is all a little below the knowledge of a pro steadicam op, however I'd appreciate any advice that you guys can give me. Like I said, this is just a step along the way, but I think even you guys with 100k+ rigs can understand that a couple thousand dollars is not money to just toss about.

Thanks!


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#3 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 09:15 PM

- Anything in the Sobercam range with the bigger arm



Guess that leaves Ron out of the picture
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#4 RonBaldwin

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 09:49 PM

Hiccup!
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#5 Caleb Ennis

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 06:56 PM

Save your money and start with a Flyer... If you get a steadicam job why not rent?
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#6 Paul Gardner

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 07:35 PM

Alexander,
Caleb and Mark give sound advice. The decision to buy my first rig (I'm too embarrassed to mention the brand) was based on low cost and heavier payload. "How bad could it be?" was my rationalization and justification. After taking a Classic Steadicam 5 day workshop, I found my bargain rig simply couldn't do the stuff a Steadicam was supposed to. In short, I got hosed, rogered, etc. Then followed a long period of buyer's remorse and depression. I couldn't, in good conscience, turn around sell it on this forum knowing it didn't work.
A used Flyer is not a bad way to go. For the less costly rigs, it does a great job so you can earn money for the upgrade. Be patient and wait for the good deal to present itself, too. If you haven't already done so, take a workshop...a 2-day to start and possibly a 5-day if you catch "The bug".
Good luck!
-Paul "I can't believe I bought a Basson" Gardner
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#7 Brian Freesh

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 09:37 PM

Got over your embarrassment, Paul? :)
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#8 Thomas K. Jensen

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 01:48 AM

I also did a serious mis-investment to start of with. Then after spending more money on a 5 day workshop than the rig itself costed, I found what a real Steadicam could and shall do.
When I Got back after the workshop, i spend $50.000 on a Steadicam Clipper, Bartech and AKS, and I'm loving it every day i open my cases to set it up.

My point is: don't spend valuable money on junk. Start of with something you can easily sell, when you're ready to move up. And take the 5 day workshop.
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#9 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 02:55 AM

My point is: don't spend valuable money on junk. Start of with something you can easily sell, when you're ready to move up. And take the 5 day workshop.



Actually the better advice is to take a workshop FIRST, then look at gear to buy. And look at ALL the gear not just the tiffen line. There is other stuff out there and there is a reason people use it more than other brands
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#10 Paul Gardner

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 12:12 PM

Got over your embarrassment, Paul? :)


Fortunately, yes, Brian. Time DOES heal all wounds. I'm able to talk (and laugh) about it now...
Plus, I got a great Halloween costume out of the deal :D
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#11 invalid username

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 09:21 PM

Thanks guys. The market I'm in is only temporary (fortunatley, considering that there's hardly any market at all). Since my primary clients are going to be wedding videographers, shooting on prosumer Mini-DV and AVCHD formatted camcorders, I think I'll go ahead and buy a Pilot.

My ultimate goal once I get into my final market is to buy an MK-V Nexus2, and maybe the AR (haven't decided on that yet), but we'll see how things go.
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#12 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 12:37 AM

My ultimate goal once I get into my final market is to buy an MK-V Nexus2, and maybe the AR (haven't decided on that yet), but we'll see how things go.



First off I'd talk to some people that own a AR before you go wanting one.... and I'd also look at other rigs, there are better, much better availble
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#13 James Davis

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:29 AM

My ultimate goal once I get into my final market is to buy an MK-V Nexus2, and maybe the AR (haven't decided on that yet), but we'll see how things go.



First off I'd talk to some people that own a AR before you go wanting one.... and I'd also look at other rigs, there are better, much better availble



I would strongly recommend looking at a second hand flyer instead of a pilot....much better option, Pilot is not good for much, and as soon as you want to add accesories to even the lightest of digital cameras you will be close to or over the weight limit, plus the arm and gimbal are worlds away in quality even from the flyer, let alone, the quality of better full size rigs.

Also you might want to look at the cost/financial viability of owning and operating an AR rig, better quality cameras are getting lighter all the time, and the tango for instance is a really awesome bit of kit, that is substantially lighter, alternatively, spend your money on workshops with top operators, rent a rig for now, and buy when you are a position to purchase something more future proof?
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#14 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 10:48 AM

My ultimate goal once I get into my final market is to buy an MK-V Nexus2, and maybe the AR (haven't decided on that yet), but we'll see how things go.



First off I'd talk to some people that own a AR before you go wanting one.... and I'd also look at other rigs, there are better, much better availble



I have a PRO and a AR. AR is really not a everyday use tool. You are better off with a standard sled and get your skill level up with that first then later maybe if you really need a AR then go for it. Ive done some really great things with the AR but honestly I do 95% of everything else with my PRO. LISIGAV and just say no to sobercam right Ron?
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#15 Paul Gardner

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:10 AM

Alexander,
During a conversation yesterday with Mr McDonnell about HIS AR, I remembered you. He's already "chimed in", so there ya go.
All the recommendations in this thread are sincere and spot-on. The gist of the above advice is THIS: That you'll outgrow the Pilot as soon as you get it out of the box (does a pilot come in a box?).
Especially with weddings and such, you'll want to add a wireless audio receiver, maybe a mattebox and something to pull focus wirelessly. Even though your budget is only $2500, wait until you save some more and you can afford a used Flyer like This one or That One that comes with some decent batteries (you should really have at least 4) and a charger that you can move up to your next rig with. I'm using those as an example. Or, Rent a bigger rig. I checked all your posts and didn't find evidence you'd taken a workshop. Eric makes a good point. Start THERE, then if you want to buy, do the research, make the calls, be patient. You'll be glad you did.
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