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#1 Salman Sajun

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 02:03 AM

Hey guys,

Im new to this form and have been looking around for a while now. This feels like a really well informed community when it comes to Steadicams and since I was in the market to purchase one I was wondering if any one could help me with my buying decision.

I have had a Merlin for some time now and am used to using it fairly well, its still a headache to balance and is quite finicky. I wanted to upgrade to a bigger rig because the Merlin can be a bit strenuous on the hand after a while. That being said I had a buddy lend me his Pilot and its been a dream to use as compared to the Merlin. However achieving Dynamic balance is something im still struggling with. Having had it just a few days Im sure that kink will be worked out soon. If anyone has any tips please do let me know. The camera I am using is a Canon 7D and will be using this for a while.

I will be shooting a documentary this summer in quite a rough terrain and want to have all my shots looking smooth as possible.

So here are my questions

Is the Pilot the best option for me given what im flying?
Is it a good time to buy the Pilot or are there any indications that Steadicam will be releasing a newer upgrade to this rig that would work better in my case and I should wait for that?
I hear everyone talk about Workshops - I live in Toronto - are there any around here that someone would recommend? How much do they usually cost?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback
Thanks in advance guys.

Salman
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#2 Alan Rencher

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 03:25 AM

Hey guys,

Im new to this form and have been looking around for a while now. This feels like a really well informed community when it comes to Steadicams and since I was in the market to purchase one I was wondering if any one could help me with my buying decision.

I have had a Merlin for some time now and am used to using it fairly well, its still a headache to balance and is quite finicky. I wanted to upgrade to a bigger rig because the Merlin can be a bit strenuous on the hand after a while. That being said I had a buddy lend me his Pilot and its been a dream to use as compared to the Merlin. However achieving Dynamic balance is something im still struggling with. Having had it just a few days Im sure that kink will be worked out soon. If anyone has any tips please do let me know. The camera I am using is a Canon 7D and will be using this for a while.

I will be shooting a documentary this summer in quite a rough terrain and want to have all my shots looking smooth as possible.

So here are my questions

Is the Pilot the best option for me given what im flying?
Is it a good time to buy the Pilot or are there any indications that Steadicam will be releasing a newer upgrade to this rig that would work better in my case and I should wait for that?
I hear everyone talk about Workshops - I live in Toronto - are there any around here that someone would recommend? How much do they usually cost?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback
Thanks in advance guys.

Salman


Look into the Scout. I think it's a better buy.
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#3 Amedeo Fabroni

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:16 AM

Hey guys,

Im new to this form and have been looking around for a while now. This feels like a really well informed community when it comes to Steadicams and since I was in the market to purchase one I was wondering if any one could help me with my buying decision.

I have had a Merlin for some time now and am used to using it fairly well, its still a headache to balance and is quite finicky. I wanted to upgrade to a bigger rig because the Merlin can be a bit strenuous on the hand after a while. That being said I had a buddy lend me his Pilot and its been a dream to use as compared to the Merlin. However achieving Dynamic balance is something im still struggling with. Having had it just a few days Im sure that kink will be worked out soon. If anyone has any tips please do let me know. The camera I am using is a Canon 7D and will be using this for a while.

I will be shooting a documentary this summer in quite a rough terrain and want to have all my shots looking smooth as possible.

So here are my questions

Is the Pilot the best option for me given what im flying?
Is it a good time to buy the Pilot or are there any indications that Steadicam will be releasing a newer upgrade to this rig that would work better in my case and I should wait for that?
I hear everyone talk about Workshops - I live in Toronto - are there any around here that someone would recommend? How much do they usually cost?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback
Thanks in advance guys.

Salman


Hi Salman,
I have used the Steadicam Merlin handheld and then I have upgraded to The Steadicam Pilot. This experience with the Merlin helped me although using a “full” steadicam rig is very different. The Pilot is an awesome rig with a great arm. The Pilot is designed and built to allow a perfect balancing (both statically and dynamically) and this is a great feature for a Steadicam rig.
Amedeo
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#4 Blair Phillips

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 02:07 PM

Good to see a fellow Torontonian

Damn shame, they just held a pilot/flyer workshop in Toronto in November. http://www.thesteadicamworkshops.com/ has a list of the workshops available. $500 USD if I recall. I went to Florida to do mine. If you want to do a longer workshop the SOA is holding one in May down in Pennsylvania.

A pilot or scout should do fine if all you want to do is DSLRs, but you might quickly decide you want to shoot on something heavier. It really depends on your budget.
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#5 Andrew Stone

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 07:06 PM

Hi Salman,

From what I recall, the 2 day workshops come around about twice a year in major Canadian centres. Incredible bang for the buck. But I would suggest you order yourself a copy of the Steadicam EFP Training Video directly from TIFFEN in NYC and get a copy of The Steadicam Operators Handbook on Focal Press.

Use the search engine. There are plenty of threads on how to achieve dynamic balance here.

The kind of rig you get is essentially based on what kind of gear you will be flying. Not knowing the kind of cameras you are going to be throwing at the sled make it impossible to give you an informed answer.
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#6 Salman Sajun

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 07:11 PM

Hey guys,

Im new to this form and have been looking around for a while now. This feels like a really well informed community when it comes to Steadicams and since I was in the market to purchase one I was wondering if any one could help me with my buying decision.

I have had a Merlin for some time now and am used to using it fairly well, its still a headache to balance and is quite finicky. I wanted to upgrade to a bigger rig because the Merlin can be a bit strenuous on the hand after a while. That being said I had a buddy lend me his Pilot and its been a dream to use as compared to the Merlin. However achieving Dynamic balance is something im still struggling with. Having had it just a few days Im sure that kink will be worked out soon. If anyone has any tips please do let me know. The camera I am using is a Canon 7D and will be using this for a while.

I will be shooting a documentary this summer in quite a rough terrain and want to have all my shots looking smooth as possible.

So here are my questions

Is the Pilot the best option for me given what im flying?
Is it a good time to buy the Pilot or are there any indications that Steadicam will be releasing a newer upgrade to this rig that would work better in my case and I should wait for that?
I hear everyone talk about Workshops - I live in Toronto - are there any around here that someone would recommend? How much do they usually cost?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback
Thanks in advance guys.

Salman


Look into the Scout. I think it's a better buy.

Thanks for the reply Alan. I will look into that. In fact I was just doing some research on the Scout after you mentioned it. Seems to be a quite well rounded. But might be a bit over my price range. Thanks again!
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#7 Salman Sajun

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:05 PM

Hey guys,

Im new to this form and have been looking around for a while now. This feels like a really well informed community when it comes to Steadicams and since I was in the market to purchase one I was wondering if any one could help me with my buying decision.

I have had a Merlin for some time now and am used to using it fairly well, its still a headache to balance and is quite finicky. I wanted to upgrade to a bigger rig because the Merlin can be a bit strenuous on the hand after a while. That being said I had a buddy lend me his Pilot and its been a dream to use as compared to the Merlin. However achieving Dynamic balance is something im still struggling with. Having had it just a few days Im sure that kink will be worked out soon. If anyone has any tips please do let me know. The camera I am using is a Canon 7D and will be using this for a while.

I will be shooting a documentary this summer in quite a rough terrain and want to have all my shots looking smooth as possible.

So here are my questions

Is the Pilot the best option for me given what im flying?
Is it a good time to buy the Pilot or are there any indications that Steadicam will be releasing a newer upgrade to this rig that would work better in my case and I should wait for that?
I hear everyone talk about Workshops - I live in Toronto - are there any around here that someone would recommend? How much do they usually cost?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback
Thanks in advance guys.

Salman


Hi Salman,
I have used the Steadicam Merlin handheld and then I have upgraded to The Steadicam Pilot. This experience with the Merlin helped me although using a “full” steadicam rig is very different. The Pilot is an awesome rig with a great arm. The Pilot is designed and built to allow a perfect balancing (both statically and dynamically) and this is a great feature for a Steadicam rig.
Amedeo

Hey Amedeo,
Thanks for the reply, Yeah the Merlin is quite an awesome piece but its rather small and like I mentioned a bit too strenuous. I am already noticing the befits of a bigger rig that my buddy has let me borrow. The Piolt is quite fun. Hard to get it balanced dynamically, Any tips. Are you flying your with a DSLR?

Edited by Salman Sajun, 08 January 2011 - 09:06 PM.

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#8 Salman Sajun

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:23 PM

Good to see a fellow Torontonian

Damn shame, they just held a pilot/flyer workshop in Toronto in November. http://www.thesteadicamworkshops.com/ has a list of the workshops available. $500 USD if I recall. I went to Florida to do mine. If you want to do a longer workshop the SOA is holding one in May down in Pennsylvania.

A pilot or scout should do fine if all you want to do is DSLRs, but you might quickly decide you want to shoot on something heavier. It really depends on your budget.

Hey Blair,
Thanks for all that info buddy really appreciate the reply. Yeah it is a shame I missed it. Pennsylvania might be a bit of a stretch. I guess the next time its here in Canada ill definitely try making it.

Yeah after reading a bit more about the Scout (which I only found out cause of a previous post on the tread by Alan). Its seeming more and more appealing. However, I would ideally like to try one out. The price is rather steep as well almost double compared to the Pilot AA. Do you have any idea if there is a significant difference in performance in terms of hardware (vest ,arm and stage) and ease of use The Scout looks a lot nicer but is it that much better?. I know it all comes down to practice at the end of the day. Is worth my time, saving up some more dough in oder have a Scout? At the moment I am not planning to shoot anything other than lightweight cameras. So the Pilot I thought was my only option. With news of the Scout- oh how the decision gets trickier than it already was.
Thanks again for the link. Ill keep checking for the next workshop in and around Toronto.

Salman
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#9 Salman Sajun

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:42 PM

Hi Salman,

From what I recall, the 2 day workshops come around about twice a year in major Canadian centres. Incredible bang for the buck. But I would suggest you order yourself a copy of the Steadicam EFP Training Video directly from TIFFEN in NYC and get a copy of The Steadicam Operators Handbook on Focal Press.

Use the search engine. There are plenty of threads on how to achieve dynamic balance here.

The kind of rig you get is essentially based on what kind of gear you will be flying. Not knowing the kind of cameras you are going to be throwing at the sled make it impossible to give you an informed answer.

Hey Andrew,

Thanks for the reply. Thats awesome to know that the workshop comes around twice a year. I think I just missed one in October so Im assuming the next one should be around May. Ill keep an eye out for when they are offering one in Toronto again. Ill also look into the literature and videos you mentioned. Thanks for that tip.

As for what I'm planning to fly of the sled. I own a Canon 7D (DSLR) and will be sticking with flying lower weight cameras. A few other form members mentioned the Steadicam Scout and having done a little bit of research on it. Im kinda confused weather I should save up some more money and go for that or stick with the pilot. I do have a buddies Pilot that I'm trying to get my hands dirty with at the moment and am loving every minute of it. My setup right now has a follow focus, mic and a rotolight. So the it is heavy enough to be flown on a Scout. I'm just not sure if I will be able to justify that extra $3500 for a Scout.

Thanks again for all the information Andrew

Salman
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#10 Nigel Barker

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 12:55 AM

We newbies are always asking this question & I personally started a thread on the same subject a couple of months ago. http://www.steadicam...showtopic=12998

I eventually decided to go with a Pilot rather than a Scout (or even a Zephyr) as all the cameras that I am flying are under the Pilot's 10lb limit. I also figured that even if I do outgrow the Pilot that there is a healthy used market so I selling the Pilot should be able to recoup much of my expenditure to put towards the price of a larger model. Paying an extra couple of thousand on the off chance that I would need the bigger lift of the Scout or paying double the price of the Pilot to get the admittedly much nicer vest of the Zephyr didn't seem such good value.
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#11 Salman Sajun

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 02:20 AM

Thanks Nigel!
I just had a look at the thread. It was quite informative. As you may have read I have a friends Pilot im using right now just to get a better feel of a bigger rig. SInce you are flying a Dslr as well. Any chance you can post your settings on the pilot and are you able to achieve dynamic balance?

Salman

We newbies are always asking this question & I personally started a thread on the same subject a couple of months ago. http://www.steadicam...showtopic=12998

I eventually decided to go with a Pilot rather than a Scout (or even a Zephyr) as all the cameras that I am flying are under the Pilot's 10lb limit. I also figured that even if I do outgrow the Pilot that there is a healthy used market so I selling the Pilot should be able to recoup much of my expenditure to put towards the price of a larger model. Paying an extra couple of thousand on the off chance that I would need the bigger lift of the Scout or paying double the price of the Pilot to get the admittedly much nicer vest of the Zephyr didn't seem such good value.


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#12 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 10:09 AM

Used Flyers are also a good value, quite capable with a 15lb (original model) or 18-20lb (LE model). You can find a used original Flyer for very near the price of a new Pilot, and have the capacity to fly both dslr's and heavier cameras, up to and including some broadcast class HD cameras such as the Panasonic HPX500.

I'm selling my used Flyer on the forum right now, because I am upgrading to a bigger rig. They come on the market fairly regularly.

If you firm on buying a new rig then the Pilot is definitely your only legit choice in your price range.
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#13 Salman Sajun

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 11:36 PM

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the reply. I don't think ill be getting a Steadicam rig for some time, well not until spring at least. I think I need to play around with my friends pilot and get a hang of it. Ill be on the lookout for a Steadicam workshop meanwhile as well. And since I am waiting it out for a bit and saving up. I am confused over the Scout and the Pilot. Im really liking the Pilot. I know Im not going to be shooting anything too heavy or take this on as a full time job. But if the Scout has a lot more bang for its buck I can look into getting that. Since its a newer rig, does it have any advantages over the Pilot apart from the ability to fly a heavier camera?

Salman

Used Flyers are also a good value, quite capable with a 15lb (original model) or 18-20lb (LE model). You can find a used original Flyer for very near the price of a new Pilot, and have the capacity to fly both dslr's and heavier cameras, up to and including some broadcast class HD cameras such as the Panasonic HPX500.

I'm selling my used Flyer on the forum right now, because I am upgrading to a bigger rig. They come on the market fairly regularly.

If you firm on buying a new rig then the Pilot is definitely your only legit choice in your price range.


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#14 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 08:17 AM

It has all the advantages that the old Flyer had over the Pilot. Off the top of my head...

-heavier payload (15lb for the Scout)
-beefier post/gimbal
-better/more rigid vest (basically a Flyer vest I believe)
-slightly longer arm with more vertical travel
-I believe it has a better topstage but not sure

And it maintains the Pilot's clever inertial weight system and static/dynamic balancing design.
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#15 John E Fry

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 04:26 AM

Hi everyone,

I always look a the 'what to buy' posts with a little scepticism due to my own experience, because basically, Steadicam Operating is the same skill whatever size rig you fly. Ergo, I would reccommend work on yourself rather than spending time contemplating all the various hardware out there. Buying a rig yes, is a big descision but it can only be made once you have really invested the time in yourself, (by hiring or borrowing a rig as you very sensibly are doing) and explored all the possibilities of where you can or are likely to go with your operating. You may find you simply don't donut often enough to make it really worth buying your own rig at all, or you might find that once you get known as an operator all your clients want to shoot with heavier cameras.

Either way I would suggest keep doing what you're doing now, borrowing a friends rig and building up your experience and reputation with that until you are really sure what you are capable of, what you want to be doing with your Steadicam career, and particularly what cameras most of your potential borers are or will be using if & when they hire you. Only then is it worth, I think, buying your own rig, otherwise you could be stuck in the position that many others have been in which is having bought a rig then getting no work for it, either because you are not getting enough Steadicam jobs or because those you are getting need a different rig.

Anyone think I'm way off the mark here? (who AREN'T selling a rig!)
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