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Adjusting for lighter camera


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#1 joe davies

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:54 AM

Hi there,
We have an old Steadicam Mini - 5-15 lbs, used in previously for video cameras, we'd like to adapt to take 2-8lbs. Looking for advice from anyone who might have done this. the arm has 4 springs - am considering removing two of them, or replacing all 4 with lighter ones.
Any advice gratefully received - seems crazy to have this unit gathering dust when it could perhaps be modified to our suit current needs.
many thanks
Joe
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#2 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 09:21 AM

Why don't you use weights around your camera, or ad a monitor on the top. It will give you a better stability.
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#3 joe davies

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 10:58 AM

Thanks for this Victor, but the operator we'd like to set up with this little rig is a small female operator - I'd like to minimise weight on board rather than add to it. Re-jgging this rig for 2-8lbs would the best solution for us in this particular scenario.
If anyone has tinkered with the springs in order to re-use an old rig for lighter gear - any info is welcome.
Joe
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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 12:50 PM

Thanks for this Victor, but the operator we'd like to set up with this little rig is a small female operator - I'd like to minimise weight on board rather than add to it. Re-jgging this rig for 2-8lbs would the best solution for us in this particular scenario.
If anyone has tinkered with the springs in order to re-use an old rig for lighter gear - any info is welcome.
Joe



Unless your smaller operator is 40lbs just use a weight plate
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#5 David M. Aronson

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 11:08 PM

You're going to have a lot more issues than springs if you go with a lighter camera with no weight plate. The rig will be incredibly bottom heavy and wont be very stable at all. the slightest gust of wind would make the shot unusable. adding 5Lbs of weight isn't that much. Most standard people, not just steadicam ops, but people you pull off the street can operate a rig with a 7 lb load. It's like carring a backpack with a few textbooks in it, only spread out over your entire body. Trust us, adding weight is the best option.
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#6 Alan Rencher

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 12:14 AM

I would go with Eric on this. There are plenty of female operators out there, and they can handle the weight just like the rest of us.
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#7 joe davies

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:11 AM

thanks for the input folks, will give this another go, we have tried adding weight before, but it was a little too much for the small operator.
Just following on form your post David, thanks for this, but we weren't intending to 'go with a lighter camera with no weight plate' we were actually going to try removing the springs and replacing them with alternatives designed and tested to carry a lighter weight ie 2-8lbs if that was possible. Have read posts about others changing springs to allow more weight, and thought someone might have tried the reverse.
thanks for taking the time to respond guys. much appreciated.
Joe
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#8 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:54 AM

thanks for the input folks, will give this another go, we have tried adding weight before, but it was a little too much for the small operator.
Just following on form your post David, thanks for this, but we weren't intending to 'go with a lighter camera with no weight plate' we were actually going to try removing the springs and replacing them with alternatives designed and tested to carry a lighter weight ie 2-8lbs if that was possible. Have read posts about others changing springs to allow more weight, and thought someone might have tried the reverse.
thanks for taking the time to respond guys. much appreciated.
Joe


Another option would be to use a smaller rig from Steadicam like the Pilot. which will allow you to reduce the weight of the plate (I would still advise you to use sone sort of weight plate, but smaller, DSLRs are just too light to flight right overall)
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#9 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:58 AM

Perhaps a bit lost in this discussion is that the Mini is essentially a Flyer (gen 1) sled with a wonky pre-Flyer arm. As I remember, these springs are fairly lightweight, like you might find on an old wooden screen door or a Luxo lamp.

Removing a couple of springs might work fine, and considering the arm has almost no market value, what's the harm in experimenting? Don't have firsthand experience, other than having tried on a Mini a couple of times.

On the other hand, the advice of adding a small weight plate (when needed) is good for the reasons stated. Two or three pounds is probably all you need (mount up some rods and maybe a mattebox, add a rod-mounted battery plate with a dionic, and you're there).

The Mini/Flyer sled -might- be bottom-heavy with a lighter camera, but my guess is that it is within a workable range, as the bottom of that sled is very light by nature.
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#10 joe davies

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:15 PM

Hi Mark,
many thanks your input, much appreciated. I enclose an image of the arm showing the springs. Just putting the theory to the test, would one remove all springs and replace with lighter ones, or rather attempt to remove one off each side. Now i totally imagine this would not work, but might as well ask, any ideas on what would happen if i removed the springs just off one side? logic tells me it would be a non starter, but not fully understanding the design, I simply wouldn't know.
Joe

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#11 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:35 PM

Now I see.
I guess you can replace one spring on each side by a simple wire and adjust the length of the wire to adjust the tensile strength. You can still go back to the original setup in no time. I would say trial and errors is the best way to learn and discover. Share your results with us.
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#12 joe davies

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:43 PM

Ah, that's an idea Victor, hadn't thought of trying that set up, and it does get around my worries about totally wrecking the arm and not easily being able to go back to the original set up. Will certainly share the results.
Can anyone shed any light on the science behind the 3 second drop? would be keen to deeper understand, and to make sure I play with the right side of physics :-)
Joe
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#13 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 01:52 PM

If your operator complained about the weight than they need instruction and practice. Going Lighter will only cause problems.Even maxed out at 25 pounds a 100 pound girl who knows what they are doing should be able to fly it.

Minimum camera weight on a mini is 5 pounds. Just about anyone should be able to fly that.
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#14 joe davies

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:10 AM

Thanks for this jess. but more than the ops capabilities and build, the main issue here is that basically, long term, we would like to use lighter cameras on this unit - 2-8lb, which is less than it is designed for, therefore we are trying to tinker with the springs to allow this.
In case the model is being confused, the unit doesn't actually do 25 lbs, it is 5-15lbs, and we require 2-8lbs.
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#15 Brian Freesh

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:47 AM

but more than the ops capabilities and build, the main issue here is that basically, long term, we would like to use lighter cameras on this unit - 2-8lb, which is less than it is designed for


Careful, you're going in circles. Your main issue as described here has been addressed. A weight plate is the simplest answer, suggested already by many.

The only reason some are bringing up your op's capabilities is because you brought it up as an overriding concern to the weight plate suggestion. I too don't believe for a second that your op can handle 8lbs but not 15lbs. I more or less accept the possibility there is imperative information that we're missing to understand why this person is different from everyone else, but without that information we're going to keep telling you to add weight. Based on the information you've provided, all of the professional advice here has given you the best answer multiple times over.

As correctly pointed out by others, even if adjusting the springs on the arm proves to be no issue, going under 5lbs is likely to cause balancing issues on the sled. The good news is you can test this before you touch the arm. Put your 2lb set-up on the rig and see how well it balances. If it doesn't balance well, you know not to waste your time with the arm springs. If it does balance well, start experimenting as you desire, carefully of course.

But even if it balances alright, more weight = easier to control (for such a light rig that is), so you might as well work within the rig's limits. Personally I think you should work in the upper range of that rig, 10-15lbs, but if it really is a problem then there are two pretty simple options.

You can get a 5lb weight plate from Janice Arthur here on the forum. Her weight plates come with recommendation from many, many operators. If your op can fly 8lbs, she must be able to fly 9lbs. Camera's 2-4lbs use the plate, cameras 5-8lbs do not. Only between 3-4.9lbs do you go over the 8lb limit you are trying to avoid.

The other option is to simply add your own weight to the 2-4.9lb cameras. Add accessories to the lighter cameras to break the 5lbs minimum. Or, even have your own weight plate made at a machine shop, 3-4lbs so you never go over the 8lb limit. I think (don't quote me) Janice makes one lighter than 5lbs, but it may be too light for your 2lb camera.

By the way, another great thing about the weight plates is that they spread the mass of the camera weight, making for a better balance if the camera itself is compact.

Good luck! Experiment with balancing 2lb cameras on the rig, and if that works out just fine let us know. If it doesn't, try 4 lbs, 3lbs, to see where the limits are. Shoot Janice a message and see what she has in the way of plates.

Honestly though, I doubt the limits of the rig are that sensitive. While I would bet on a 2lb camera being too light to fly very well, you may find that 4lbs works just as well as 5lbs, requiring only 2lbs of additional weight for your lighter cameras. On the flip side, you may find that anything under 6lbs doesn't work out too well. Test the current limits of your rig before you start messing with the springs.
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