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1st post, first question: comparing systems


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#1 Brad Williams

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 02:04 PM

Hello gents,

Lurked this board awhile back, always wanting to fly. Now, it looks like I'll have the chance, and with no skin off my nose (or rather, my wallet).

I've been assigned to spec some gear for purchase for our studio. The producers want the steadicam for a new show, and after tabulating rental costs over the course of the show, it's easier to just buy. We need a system that will support larger cameras, like the Panasonic HPX's. We're researching, with budget in mind, these two systems:

http://www.bhphotovi...bilizer_AB.html

and

http://www.bhphotovi...Stabilizer.html

We looked at the Flyer first, because it seemed to have everything we need, but we just weighed the gear, and it comes to 17lbs and change. That's why we considered the Zephyr, because it says it can handle more weight.

Although I have a lot of questions, my main one is: why would a system that can handle more weight cost less? Also what struck us is the fact that the Zephyr photo doesn't include a spring-arm pictured, although it says it includes a, "iso-elastic arm".

Any advice for what to look for? Any recommendations on other brands/systems?

Cheers,

-bw
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#2 Andrew Stone

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 02:33 PM

Hi Brad,

It would help if you specified which cameras you would be using. HPX is vague. There may be more accessory related stuff that Steadicam Ops will anticipate you need based on the specific cameras you will be flying. The Zephyr in reality gives you only a few more pounds of camera package weight which could easily be consumed by an accessory or two. Even knowing the power requirements would help, not just voltage but watts/amperage. As an example, if you threw a ringlight and an external recorder on your rig on top of your 17 lbs and you would be pushing the max of the Zephyr.
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#3 Brad Williams

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 02:46 PM

Hi Brad,

It would help if you specified which cameras you would be using. HPX is vague. There may be more accessory related stuff that Steadicam Ops will anticipate you need based on the specific cameras you will be flying. The Zephyr in reality gives you only a few more pounds of camera package weight which could easily be consumed by an accessory or two. Even knowing the power requirements would help, not just voltage but watts/amperage. As an example, if you threw a ringlight and an external recorder on your rig on top of your 17 lbs and you would be pushing the max of the Zephyr.

Hi Andrew,

The main camera will be the HPX300, with two wireless receivers attached. We just weighed it and we got 17lbs. In most scenarios, we wouldn't add lights to the camera, but thanks for the heads up. Obviously the monitor and battery would eat up some weight as well, no?

Another Op from Oakland just contacted us and suggested we go directly to Tiffen and skip B&H....
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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 03:20 PM

When weighing the camera, be sure to remove the battery. Also remove the viewfinder, you won't need it. Do put the P2 cards in, and any other accessories you may need. Also the Panasonic quick-release plate, which adds about a pound.

Tiffen spec's "net camera weight" (they used to call it "payload"), which is the total weight of camera and accessories on the top platform (the "topstage"). You add weight at the bottom to balance things out, but this is not included in that calculation. Nor do you count the Zephyr monitor.

If the 300 is indeed 17lbs configured how you anticipate needing it, then the 23lb net camera weight of the Zephyr should be fine. In fact, at 17lbs you are really in the "sweet spot" for the Zephyr. But as Andrew points out, it is quite easy to jump above the weight limit if not careful. In my experience, you don't want to fly more than 24lbs on a Zephyr, that's about the max of the arm.

The Zephyr is the smallest rig I would recommend. You will always be bumping up on the top end of the (discontinued) Flyer (or the new Scout) capacity. The Zephyr is pre-wired for HD and you can order it with an HD monitor or buy the SD version and for $2000 get a real nice Marshall HD monitor (search the forum for details). The Zephyr offers a LOT of bang for the buck. Scout is SD only. Your next option, the Archer 2, costs 2-3 times what the Zephyr does, but with much greater capacity. The Zephyr should handle 90% of broadcast cameras unless you go crazy with prompters, ring lights, directors monitors, transmitters, etc.

As for purchasing, if B&H is selling for list price anyway, then why not go direct through Tiffen? They can give you much more informed answers to your questions.

Zephyrs are primarily sold through dealers, though Tiffen will sell you one, but you'll pay full list price. If you prefer working with a dealer, you may want to check with Showcase, Inc., depending on where you live. I have received excellent service and pricing from their Atlanta location and I'm know they ship. Denny Crysler is the manager there, great guy.
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#5 Brad Williams

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 04:33 PM

When weighing the camera, be sure to remove the battery. Also remove the viewfinder, you won't need it. Do put the P2 cards in, and any other accessories you may need. Also the Panasonic quick-release plate, which adds about a pound.

Tiffen spec's "net camera weight" (they used to call it "payload"), which is the total weight of camera and accessories on the top platform (the "topstage"). You add weight at the bottom to balance things out, but this is not included in that calculation. Nor do you count the Zephyr monitor.

If the 300 is indeed 17lbs configured how you anticipate needing it, then the 23lb net camera weight of the Zephyr should be fine. In fact, at 17lbs you are really in the "sweet spot" for the Zephyr. But as Andrew points out, it is quite easy to jump above the weight limit if not careful. In my experience, you don't want to fly more than 24lbs on a Zephyr, that's about the max of the arm.

The Zephyr is the smallest rig I would recommend. You will always be bumping up on the top end of the (discontinued) Flyer (or the new Scout) capacity. The Zephyr is pre-wired for HD and you can order it with an HD monitor or buy the SD version and for $2000 get a real nice Marshall HD monitor (search the forum for details). The Zephyr offers a LOT of bang for the buck. Scout is SD only. Your next option, the Archer 2, costs 2-3 times what the Zephyr does, but with much greater capacity. The Zephyr should handle 90% of broadcast cameras unless you go crazy with prompters, ring lights, directors monitors, transmitters, etc.


Hi Mark, thanks for the reply. Great info. Such a noob here, I need to do my homework and go through this site again with the FAQ's, etc, and get a better baseline knowledge of what the terminology is. Going to give Tiffen a call as well.

I really appreciate time taken to help me out, thanks gents.

Brad
As for purchasing, if B&H is selling for list price anyway, then why not go direct through Tiffen? They can give you much more informed answers to your questions.

Zephyrs are primarily sold through dealers, though Tiffen will sell you one, but you'll pay full list price. If you prefer working with a dealer, you may want to check with Showcase, Inc., depending on where you live. I have received excellent service and pricing from their Atlanta location and I'm know they ship. Denny Crysler is the manager there, great guy.


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#6 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 04:40 PM

Do you have an operator yet? Are you tryi g to hire someone experienced or train someone from ground zero?

If you are hiring an experienced operator you might talk to them about what they think is the better rig to fly
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 04:42 PM

One other thing you should come out to cinegear where you can try a few rigs. Also your operator or operator candidates should go
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#8 Brad Williams

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 04:45 PM

Do you have an operator yet? Are you tryi g to hire someone experienced or train someone from ground zero?

If you are hiring an experienced operator you might talk to them about what they think is the better rig to fly


Hi Eric,

No Op yet. Ya gotta love some producers: "Hey! Let's give it a higher production value and use a Steadicam! We'll rent one!"

"Uh....yeah. You know that's a valuable skill, right?"

Jokes aside, it's gear we get to add to the studio, and I've always wanted to learn, it's just that on top of the learning curve on what to buy, education and EXPERIENCE is extremely important. Either way, this is the hand I'm dealt, so yes, reaching out to you all, and we're speaking with an accomplished OP here in the SF bay area. He recommended the Archer series, because of the higher-end loads we can use. Might break the budget though, so we're still hovering around the Flyer, or the Zephyr.....
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