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buying a steadicam... suggestion?

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#1 Domenico Palomba

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:58 AM

Hi to all!

My name is Domenico, I am working as freelancer in London as 1st/2nd AC and Camera operator.

I really loved this job since I started(even before!) and now I would like to become a steadicam operator.
To do so, I am thinking to buy a steadicam.
I saw many "proper"ones around 30/40.000 dollars, unfortunately I am very far from this budget.

I can spend maximum (but really, really, maximum... so hopefully I would not reach it, unless It would worth it!) 4.000 pounds, so I would like to ask to all of you experts, if there is any good "pack" (so vest, arm, and so on... ) that I could buy around this price.

I must add that I don't have experience as steadicam operator, so I would use this equipment, firstly, to learn by my own, and then starting to do some steadicam job. Therefore I would like to have a good equipment which allows me to use not just DSLR, but also cameras like RED and ARRI... if It's possible for the price I mentioned.


Anyway I would be really glad to hear any other suggestions you could have. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

In the meantime, I wish you a great week-end!


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#2 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 12:26 PM

Hi and welcome to the Steadicam Forum, this place is a great resource of informations for operators of every levels. A lot of questions have been asked and already answered, please take some time to read through the posts, use the search option before posting yourself.




If you wish to go deeper into the steadicam world, I may recommend you a few steps (in the given order if possible) to take before throwing yourself into buying a rig.


- Buy the Steadicam Operator's Handbook. LINK You will find in it a gold mine of knowledge going from operating to choosing your rig and managing your steadicam business. 


- Buy the EFP DVD LINK It is the best instructional video on how to operate a steadicam. Is is based on the older EFP rig (that a lot of operators still uses today) but is relevant for all other rigs as the physics apply the same way for all.


- Take a workshop: there are a lot of great workshops around the world. Here is a small sample,  Workshops gives you the opportunity to learn from the best, meet new people with a mutual passion, and try out the rigs.


- Contact some local steadicam operators around you, they are often happy to share their knowledge with others (if they have the time) and they are a great connection for you, they might even have a rig for rent that you can start with. If you couldn't find a workshop near you, see if they can give you a private lesson to kick start you.


- Now comes the time to look for a rig, For your first rig, No need to rush in this purchase, take your time. There are a lot of used rigs that are circulating around the Marketplace on this forum that might interest you. Learn the difference between the brands and models, Try as many rigs as you can (which you cannot really do if you don't know how to operate a little already, hence the workshop) Each person has a different approach to operating and everybody's body is different. There is a good chance that you will outgrow your first rig in a few years, and that's ok. The main brands are Tiffen (who bought the Steadicam Brand, previously owned by Cinema Product, or CP), GPI Pro, MK-V, Sachtler Artemis and Baer Bel and a few others.




Now to answer your question of a cheap sled, Sorry to disappoint you but a good cheap sled has yet to be discovered.


Tiffen has some good prices you should look into for the lower range of rigs. LINK


Know that the smallest rig capable of flying the Red Epic is the Zephyr, (the Pilot and Flyer can as well but it is pushing the rig with a stripped down camera). Forget about the Arri Alexa on a small rig, not only way too heavy but it also need a 24V power and if the production can afford the Alexa, chances are they can afford an operator with a full size rig.


Also to the Steadicam Purchase, you must add the range of accessories needed for a proper use. Batteries, Wireless video, Wireless focus, Cables, etc... which doesn't come cheap either.


/!\ There also is a number of Chinese knockoffs on the market that seem more attractive at first, but a steadicam is a fragile piece of precise engineering and you will most likely regret going the cheap knockoff route as it will certainly break quickly and you will end up racking more later for a real one, and I'm not even talking about the fact that most don't even work properly out of the box.

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#3 Domenico Palomba

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 05:54 PM

Victor, thank you very much for your precious suggestions! really appreciated!

you are right, I could regret to buy some cheap "solutions", and of course I would like to buy the best... but maybe I coud buy a steadicam which works good with DSLR at least, so I could use it for projects with DSLR (and when I work on project using RED and ARRI, I would "just" work as camera operator or AC). What do you think? or should I just wait until I will have enough money to buy a proper steadicam (and, as you said, I will take few years). But if I do so, How could I start to be a steadicam operator? I mean, I totally agree with you about studying and attending workshops, but then, I should start to use the rig I studied, otherwise I would just waste money and time for workshops.. I don't think I would be a steadicam operator for a movie after attended just few workshops, this is because I wanted something to keep training with (even though, I know that, one thing is balancing and operating a DSLR, another thing is for RED or ARRI) but at least is something.
Anyway, I find very interesting the idea of asking to steadicam operators for some private lessons... hopefully free! ehehehe

I could start to search here! So... if anyone in this forum lives in London and would be willing to teach me, I would be so grateful!

if I choose to wait for the steadicam... what do you think if I buy a remote follow focus instead? I think It could be useful for many years, besides I would have another professional tool to add to my personal equipment list... any suggestions about that? Hope there is at least a good remote follow focus for my budget!

Thanks again Victor, hope to you and everyone in the forum a wonderful week-end!

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#4 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 11:49 PM

Looks like you are answering to a lot of your own questions. A DSLR sized rig is a good way to start. I would still try to do the other steps prior to buying as they will enlighten you on what you really need vs what you want. You can even start making some money with a Steadicam Pilot (which can only carry DSLR and camcorders) and seems in your price range. You can practice on it and then rent a larger rig from a local operator when needed.
I am afraid that private classes will rarely be free. These ops will teach you the trade thy learned the hard way for you to potentially generate an income from. Consider it as an investment, as much as a piece of gear.
Lastly for the wireless focus, look around for the one you would want and make a wise decision. It is a specific piece of gear that is not fitted for every situation. Who will rent it from you when and for what price? I own a Bartech but I bought it after Steadicam when I was tired of renting it from a rental house or another operator.

My advice for now take your computer and read every thread on this forum.
Learn the name of every rig and every piece of gear, try to find the difference between them with pros and cons. A fun game I do is to look for Steadicam photos online or on instagram and try to recognize every piece of gear on the sled.
It's tedious but will avoid you the pain of asking questions already asked and avoid us the pain of answering them.
I wish you all the best and don't hesitate if you have a question. There is no bad question as long as it has not been answered before (or at least recently).
Fly safe
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#5 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 07:46 AM

Hi Domenico,

 You can get in touch with the Guild's office, check the link for further info:


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#6 Domenico Palomba

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 11:16 AM

Thanks again Victor for your further suggestions, and thanks Fabrizio for the link (I had a very quick look on it but I found it very interesting, so I will analyze it in the following days)

The day after tomorrow I am going to start a feature film (and I am going to use a Bartech remote follow focus, actually) so I will not have time to breathe until mid-Dicember ehehehe

but then I will try to follow all this suggestions and, of course, any others would come next on this Topic.

Thanks to everyone!

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#7 RobinThwaites


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Posted 18 November 2013 - 05:51 AM

Hi Domenico


Tiffen three day workshop 3rd-5th December in Oxford, email me at robin.thwaites@tiffen.com if you are interested, we have a couple of places left.



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