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Switching to Klassen Vests and the New Carbon Fiber. Anyone?


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#1 Dave Chameides

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:29 AM

I'm thinking of committing to becoming a big boy steadicam operator and getting the new Klassen Vest. Wondering first of all who has used the new Carbon Fiber version and what your thoughts are. Also, for those who have made the switch, was there a learning curve and if so was it steep? How many of you had problems with door jambs etc before you got used to the new width of the vest?

Thanks in advance.

Dave
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#2 Evrim KAYA

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 09:32 AM

Hello Dave,

The old version also was in carbon fiber. The difference is, less weight (-%30) due to less leather lining and so, more flex around the belly area and slightly less expensive pricing of 5kUSD.
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#3 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 09:43 AM

Hey Dave,
there's been almost no learning curve for me, since day one I gained a lot of precision in operating, could never step back. Solid product, can take any possible abuse. If you measure yourself well and get a good fit you'll be fine forever. Heavier that any FM, you'll get used to it. I chose to have front door only one side hinges, it's a tighter fit, stiffer and lighter harness in my opinion. Walter is top notch in customer service, a fine gentleman. I'd go again for the Universal, the finitures and the leather are great. Wouldn't trade it for the newer version probably.
Doh, After 5 years of having a WK, I still smash into doorframes from time to time -_-
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#4 Daniel Stilling DFF

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:25 AM

I got my Klassen eons ago, and I never looked back. Actually I just had to look back: I sent it in for refurbishment after almost 10 years, and I had a few jobs that I had to do with a front mounted one.
It was so different, so less precise IMHO, and a lot more fatigue.
The Klassen just frees my upper body and allows me to control the rig without any strain.
I have the original arm that comes from the back on a 90 degree angle and makes your footprint a little larger. But I really haven't had many issues with that but in the tightest spaces.
I guess you could always get the low profile curved arm and solve that issue.
As far as I can remember there wasn't really any learning curve, just a different feel from what I was used to, and that went away in no time.
I really believe that the Klassen has increased my careers lifespan, and in the spirit of thanksgiving, I'm thankful for that :)
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#5 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 06:57 PM

Hi Dave
With the release of Chris Fawcett's and Tiffens "Exovest " any day now have you tried it yet ?
For me I have only used Walters vest several times and yes it is very well made etc,etc But I found the weight of the vest to be the heaviest out there .At the other end I would say that Chris's would be the lightest out there (for big rigs).For me this is a Big issue when you consider how we are always trying to reduce every where else.
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#6 MarkKaravite

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:50 PM

Dave,

I also found zero learning curve with the Klassen harness. I've had mine about 7 or 8 years. Even though the harness is heavier than a FM vest, I still find it less fatiguing to operate with the Klassen. For me, it's more stress into your larger muscle groups (glutes, quads & hamstrings) and less strain on your lower back. My first gig with the Klassen was a music video: 8 hrs. of performance stuff, 2 hr. dinner break, followed by a 2hr. nonstop concert. I would have been crippled with a FM vest, and although tired, simply felt like a ran a lot with the Klassen.

The biggest detraction of the Klassen is the width. I find I can navigate 32" openings, but smaller than that (which we all run into with frequency) you need another plan. For me, I bought a pilot version of Garrett's Duo mount. It's a front mount that screws onto the front door. You need a reinforced Universal harness and a hinge on the side you're mounting the Duo mount to. The Duo doesn't feel like a back mount, or probably as good as a PRO, but I can switch in :30 seconds, so I do the shot through the narrow opening, then go right back to back mount. I know other guys have simply held onto their FM vests, which is probably a better option. I sold mine with my old rig when I upgraded.

Make sure you get a great fitting. I went to Walter's shop in Toronto (worth the visit). The other considerations are hinge on one side or straps on both sides, and whether you have a drop down on the carbon arm that comes off the back. Since I'm tall, I have a 2" drop down. It gets me into a "low high mode" and finds that in between height easier. I never have the carbon arm all the way up on the back adjustment, so I don't loose any height with the drop down arm. Play with different drop downs and see what fits your style. The Universal is a great harness. You won't be sorry. I remember a thread where Larry McKonkey said the Klassen harness may add 10 years to his Steadicam career. I tend to agree.

Best,
Mark Karavite, SOC
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#7 Nikolay Kerezov

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 04:52 AM

I have my Flex from 10 days now and no jobs. One think I can tell : It is not as havy as the previous for sure!
Hopefully I'll have the chance to test it soon and share some expressions!
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#8 Jon Beattie

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:39 PM

Hi Dave
With the release of Chris Fawcett's and Tiffens "Exovest " any day now have you tried it yet ?
For me I have only used Walters vest several times and yes it is very well made etc,etc But I found the weight of the vest to be the heaviest out there .At the other end I would say that Chris's would be the lightest out there (for big rigs).For me this is a Big issue when you consider how we are always trying to reduce every where else.


Spent sometime in and around exo at the last 2 SOA workshops. It is considerably lighter than the klassen (then again my Subaru is lighter then the klassen). With that said as of the version we had in Philly in October the exo vest was heavier than it looks. It's without a doubt heavier than the pro vest.
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#9 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 07:01 PM

Get one, you'll be happy you did. No learning curve other than the wider profile going through doorways as you've mentioned. I've dinged quite a few doorjambs. But if it's tight you just turn sideways for a monent.
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#10 James Davis

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 06:10 AM

Hi Dave
With the release of Chris Fawcett's and Tiffens "Exovest " any day now have you tried it yet ?
For me I have only used Walters vest several times and yes it is very well made etc,etc But I found the weight of the vest to be the heaviest out there .At the other end I would say that Chris's would be the lightest out there (for big rigs).For me this is a Big issue when you consider how we are always trying to reduce every where else.


Spent sometime in and around exo at the last 2 SOA workshops. It is considerably lighter than the klassen (then again my Subaru is lighter then the klassen). With that said as of the version we had in Philly in October the exo vest was heavier than it looks. It's without a doubt heavier than the pro vest.


Hi Jon,

Just curious, what would be your feedback with regards to overall comfort and how the load sits when wearing the exo vest, compared to normal front mounted vests and a backmount.

Going to try it out soon, but good to hear what other people have to say too.

Cheers
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#11 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:53 PM

anybody has some feedback about the new flex version vs the universal?

it's just a $500 difference, any thoughts?

THX
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#12 Thomas Schnaidt

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 02:55 AM

I love my Klassen Vest, hands down it has made me a better operator. I bought my vest after trying out Randy Nolens. The day that he let me try his on, I had twenty minutes before lunch was over to to fool around with it. And because the camera wasnt built for steadi, I just through a 30lb. sand bag on the top of my rig to "feel" the vest under a bit of load. What I found was that the rig seemed to behave better, it probably de-emphasized some of my bad beginner's form, a factor I account for by the carbon fiber arm's mounting point (in the lowest Position)... it seems that the lowest spar position is hardly affected by shifts in posture.

I also bought my vest with the 2inch drop down arm. Which I was nervous about at first, but then found that it was absolutely wonderful to be able to dig into the "no mans Land" where you aren't decisively in hi- mode or low mode.

the day I started using my Klassen vest, my Assistant remarked on how much more relaxed I was...and he was right, I had been tensing up because I never felt I could breath adequately in my FM vest. Now, I was running, walking, doing stairs with little or no though to fatiguing, at all. Physically I could breath completely normally and mentally I no longer wondered how many takes I had in me, freeing me up to just do it and to think only about the shot. LIke so many guys out there, I do a lot of days all day long in the vest, literally every shot some days for 12 hours or more... and I almost always end those days feeling like I could keep going.

The extra weight of the vest is a small trade off for the ability to breath deeply and fully, and for all the other benefits I feel the vest offers.

Now, my caveats. The vest is known by many operators to cause numbness in the legs... For me in my Right leg, exclusively. I used to think it was a circulation thing, because it is true that your internal organs do get a bit of a girdling. But a recent visit to my Holistic Chiropractor (she doesnt do any cracking or any of the other standard chiro techniques) helped me learn that there is a vertebra just above the curve of my lower back that is being impacted by my vest. I haven't determined exactly what aspect of the vest is causing that particular vertebra to be affected, but when I visited her and told her about a little tenderness back there, she immediately pulled out this map of the nervous system and showed me how that vertebra is connected to the nervous activity in my right thigh/quad area. so, what I thought was a circulation problem wasn't. I have experimented with letting the vest ride at various different heighths on my pelvis, and with various different load distributions between shoulders and pelvis just to see if I could be better or different, but to very little result. When I first got the vest, Walter warned me and he was right, that the temptation to carry the rig around or to stand around with the rig on while not shooting should be avoided, and when he said that I laughed not belieiving it was possible that I wouldnt be dying to shed the rig ASAP, just as normal. And here I am four years later, he's absolutely right.

I am looking forward to the Exo vest. I will likely buy one because of the feeling that I dont want to be caught in an impassible situation (too narrow doorway or whatever), though I have shot in the isle of a schoolbus before with no problem and have gone jamming through many doorways with no problems. I am also feeling that the vest is like a pair of shoes, you should change them every so often, its good for your feet. The other "problem" with the Klassen vest is the socket block mounting orientation. While I haven't really been able to vouch for performance differences when the Socket block is in the FM orientation as opposed the BM orientation, It is true that the BM orientation puts a different host of stresses on the linkage in the socket block adapter mechanism. I just last week had to have my eye bolts replaced (after only two years of service in the current block). While standing still waiting to start a shot, the top Eye-bolt in my Socket block adapter failed, pitching the rig forward off my gimbal and straight to the floor. It was terrifying really. What if I had been trailing down the stairs after an actor? Or reaching over a second story balcony looking down at people below? But those stressed eye-bolts likely failed in some part due to the fact that the SB adapter on the back mount vest mounts in a way it wasn't designed to. So, I think i would like to try the EXO vest for all those reasons, and likely will. Though I stand by my Klassen Vest, absolutely.

Thanks for wading through my long narrative. Hope its useful.
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#13 Martin Newstead

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:18 AM

I use both my back and front mount vests (EFP and Klassen), I always take both to a shoot and sometimes swap between shots...!
The Klassen is fantastic, rigid, well built and great for endurance operating and solid lock offs.
The EFP vest I find is great for tight spaces and running. It is nice to have both.
I read Thomas's post with interest re the socket block eye bolt....
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#14 Kyle Wullschleger

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 10:28 PM

Thomas , what arm are you operating with? Maybe it doesn't matter, given the stress you explain would incur itself upon any arm used, but it's possibly relevant.
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#15 Thomas Schnaidt

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 03:47 AM

I don't think it matters much which arm, since that linkage looks pretty much the same from arm to arm, No? The socket block adapter is one part that isn't likely to be covered by the arm manufacturer for the sole reason that the original design of the arm doesnt include being mounted in the fashion of the Back mounted vest or the garfield/hard mount, which both use a reversal of the socket block and run the arm (essentially) straight out like a diving board off its eye bolts. There is actually a conversation right now on another thread about the rod end ratings for pressure. (Btw, I reprted that my eye bolt broke in my post above, and I it would be far more accurate to call it a "rod End")

Cheers
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