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Uber Newbie - I won a Steadicam vest/gimbal kit, what the heck is it

vest help identify

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#1 Kevin Shelton

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:45 AM

Hi,
I am an Engineer/Researcher at NASA Langley in Virginia and i very recently won a Steadicam kit in a government equipment auction. It was in a lot with several Sony cameras (DSR300AL,DXC3000A) which I plan to resell. AND, I thought it was just a couple of tripods for the cameras in a nice padded case. I get the lot home and packed very nicely in layers of notched out foam is a bunch of "Steadicam" components {vest, monitor, gimbal....}. These are some incredibly nice components. I am in the aviation industry and know good engineering, machining and materials when I see it.

I see "Tiffen" and "Steadicam" all over the case and components so I googled a couple of videos of it in action and then find this forum. I got to admit it I am overwhelmed and inpressed by this group and industry in general. I am a sucker for things that are high tech AND require special skills/training, like Aviation. I am primarily a still photographer and not sure this will do much for me but sure looks like nice suff. It seems to be used entirely for video/film photography, correct? Would it help for air-to-air photography?

So I am asking for help because I am a total newbie with this equipmkent. I wasnt even sure where to post this. (Please re-direct me if it is not the place to ask).
I need to 1) to figure out what I have and 2) figure out If I am equiped to utilize it properly. If not, 3) figure out what the value is and how can I sell it.

I couldnt find a model that exactly matched on the steadicam.com site. Everything looks in brand new condition. I found some paperwork with at 2005 date. It is a "Certificate of Compliance" from Tiffen to B&H photo. It has serial numbers for Arm, Sled, Vest, & Monitor. The model number written in is [SC721 SK-2 AB "NTSC"]. Couldnt find a match for these numbers.

The vest (and case) is blue/black nylon type material that is well padded with a waist/hip pads and an aluminum chest piece that the straps clip into. It looks to be a carbon fiber tube with a red aluminum grip below the gimbal. I managed to put everything together like I saw in the videos and tried it on. Amazingly smoth gimbal action, but it wasnt ballanced well as I dont have a battery to counter the monitor. There is a very stout tripod stand to hold the whole deal and a nifty bracekt on top that I suppose you use to get the balance right. There are a bunch of nice annodized aluminum machined parts, brackets and cables. The monitor seems to be a basic monichrome display and has a minor scratch on the glass.

Any help is appreciated. Does this model have a name? Does it have much value?

I can answer any question and can take pictures if necessary and post if this forum is capable of it.


Thanks Much
Kevin
Yorktown VA
Jeez, sorry for the long post.
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#2 Ken Nguyen

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:18 AM

Based on the color of the vest and the "SK2" in the model number, I'm pretty sure that it is a Steadicam SK2.
Value: $2500 to $5000 depends on condition and included accessories.

It is not an air-to-air equipment.

Cheers,
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#3 thomas-english

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:22 AM

The sk-2 was cool. I used this arm when I started out. Buy Jerry Holway's book on using Steadicam and read it cover to cover then decide if its something u want to play with.
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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:25 AM

It's a SK-2. New they were less than $8500. Used? Not that much. It was designed to fly a SD Video camera of 9-19lbs

The Tiffen Product Page is here http://www.tiffen.com/videoSK2.html

can you use it for Air to AIr photo work? I wouldn't
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#5 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:26 AM

Value: $2500 to $5000 depends on condition and included accessories.


Good Luck getting $5K for it....
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#6 AndySchwartz

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:59 AM

hey kevin

i am based in your area
send me a pm thru the forum and i can give you a call and maybe help you figure out how to deal with your winnings.

cheers

andy
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#7 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:01 AM

Imagine if it was a complete PROII he found?

That black arm with blue and black shock absorbers is junk and flops all around. I'll give you $500 just to save you the dump fee.
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#8 Chris Van Campen

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:28 PM

Ah, this brings back memories. My first hands on experience with Steadicam was in the early 90's when I worked at NASA Lewis Research Center (now Glenn) in Cleveland.

We had a Universal Model II that was auctioned up from Kennedy. Seems no one wanted to learn the thing and deal with the fixed weight 51-pound arm. The documentation said it was a Model I, so we thought a ~20 pound video camera would get the arm working properly. Nope. A call to CP led to a call to Jerry, then a call to Garrett who quickly realized that it was the Model II, and we had to add a bunch of weight. I still remember Garrett's mind-wheels spinning as he started to suggest fabricating a way to mount external springs to lessen the required weight, but he smartly didn't "go there" for long.

I got just good enough to convince the old time filmmakers there that the tool had merit, and they ended up hiring a local owner/op with his EFP. I just couldn't believe how incredibly light that EFP was after the beastly Model II. Good times...

Anyway Kevin, buy the book and get it balanced correctly. Look up the EFP video which I think is on YouTube somewhere. Then decide if you want to fly or sell...

Congrats on your acquisition!!

Cheers,
Chris
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#9 Kevin Shelton

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:08 PM

Wow, great info. Yes, the link to the SK-2 is definitely it. Thanks to all.

I have looked at all the signature links for more insight to this industry. This is a new and fascinating technology/profession and artistry that I never looked at before. I am seeing that I am in completely over my head, but it is so very intriguing. I definitely need to do research, thanks for the book reference. I have a suspicion that it would take A LOT more money for me to "play" with this properly. It would be another hobby, my wife would not approve of.

So a few more questions:
1) There is a part in the kit that I have not been able to identify. It seems to be an adapter of some sort. See red part in the center of the photo below.
2) Suppose I were to get training, Is there a market for part time gomers like me to rent it/and myself as an operator? Would the effort it pay for itself? Should I stay away from the industry (not being a qualified professional) taking limited work, or are operators/equipment in high demand?

Last question, 3) if I were to sell, based on the pics/info provided below, what should I ask for it? Is it actually worth the 4k-5k mentioned previously?

Here is a link to some very poor (iPhone) photos of the gear. http://s1170.photobu...lton/Steadicam/ Dog not included :)

Thanks Again! for all the advice.
Kevin



Posted Image
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#10 Brian Freesh

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

Hi Kevin,

The part you are trying to identify is a 2-piece low mode kit. The larger piece is the "sushi plate" that can be attached to the top handle of a prosumer video camera, and the smaller piece inside is the F bracket that attaches to the arm post so the gimbal handle can be hung from it to get the sled a few inches lower. http://www.bhphotovi...w_mode_kit.html

You might be able to get u to $5k for that, but anyone who knows what they are looking for would want to buy a Flyer LE first, (same max weight but more versatile) and even with a couple batteries those go for about the same (or less), so it's probably a long shot.
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#11 Chris Van Campen

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:38 PM

Hi Kevin - looks like a low mode bracket (attaches to the top handle of a video/film camera), and seeing that there's a pin there you might also have the F-bracket tucked in there as well. This facilitates running in low mode where the camera is on the bottom and the sled is inverted.

I'll let the pros chime in on your other questions...

-C
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#12 Chris Van Campen

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 03:54 PM

Looks like there's some SK-specific instructions regarding low mode:


Invert the Steadicam
a. SK – Remove the center post from the sled. Unscrew the cap at the bottom of the Sled. Reconnect the
center post to the bottom of the sled. Replace the cap over the top connector on the sled.
b. All Other Steadicams – Invert the monitor so that if the Steadicam is upside-down, the monitor is facing up

from: http://www.tiffen.co...ow Mode Kit.pdf
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#13 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 04:17 AM

I love it when an auction buy includes way more than you thought it did.
I paid $25 once (including shipping) for a "lot" of "Jurgen Elbow", that was all that was in the description.
When it arrived, it was 4 (Four) Brand New Jurgen 35BL4 video elbow prisms with the iris leaves in it. I sold one for 1000 on ebay in like 2 days, traded two more for 2-1000' BL3 mags and hard cases, and kept the other for one of the BL2's I had. Good times!!.

Congrats on the Buy. A better way to get rid of it quick, would be to put it on Ebay ( vest, Sled and Arm) as is, start the bidding at 2500 and shipping for like $150 and let it ride. Should move a bit better than the 2500. and like brian mentioned, a Flyer would be better suited for todays work and cost about 4500-5K in the used market.
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#14 Janice Arthur

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:00 AM

Hi all;

This is not even the second time, more like a 3rd time at least, a government auction has yielded a free Steadicam, it happened back in the mid 80's too!

Janice
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#15 Ken Nguyen

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 03:12 PM

Just a bit off topic.
In the mid 80's, the army started its own video-instructional program.
So they bought almost everything related to video shooting. They got budget!
Friends called me from everywhere saying: "Hey, we got a Steadicam, Jimmy Jib, dolly, ..."
But, they didn't have enough training or time to train.
Also, instructional video at that time didn't employ much moving shot.
So, those stuffs were ending up collecting dust in the storage room.

Lucky for those who won the auction.

Ken Nguyen.
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