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Knockoffs from China ?

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#1 Kurtis Goodson

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 01:03 AM

I am a longtime camera op, but not a Steadicam op.  I've been thinking of transitioning or adding Steadicam to my craft so I am currently doing as much research as possible . . . I've notice on Ebay, a ton of what seem to be knockoffs. . . Came, Laing brand, etc. . . Obviously very cheap ($500-800) compared to a real Steadicam.   Anybody used these before?    I notice most are for up to a 7kg load which is probably designed only for a DSLR.   Are they okay for that use?   Are they significantly less in performance?   Also, how do they get away with calling it Steadicam . . . or is it just illegal patent infringement and are not worth pursuing?    Any thoughts on these rigs?

I did a search on the forums and didn't find much discussion. . . . Somebody must be buying these or they wouldn't continue to make them. . . Again, I'd love to hear your guys and gals thoughts about these.  Thanks.

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#2 Alan Rencher

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 10:34 AM

There are a few mentions of these did on the forums. All I can say is that you get what you pay for, which is something that looks like a Steadicam, and that's where the similarities end.
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#3 Chris Van Campen

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 10:36 AM


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#4 Frank Born

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 10:37 AM

Have one for sale, wanted to try one of these (stupid me); rig with HDMI line, carbon pole, weights, arm & vest for up to 8 kilos - the problem is that if you ever only once try a Pilot or better in comparison, you're hooked. And you wonder how the latter works like magic where the knockoff doesn't at all.

I think these things sell because of the looks - they almost have a big rig appearance. And people don't know how it should work because they never had a chance to try the original.

Mine comes with an off-centered gimbal and a top stage that is almost impossible to balance. The sled is heavy as led. The aluminum the metal parts are made of is almost as soft. All tolerances are way off the charts.

The arm bearings are not seated properly, the springs are held by a way-too-thin non-hardened screw at one end and make funny noises while moving the arm, the spring angle and pre-tension is a total disaster making it totally non-iso-non-elastic.


If you want to try, buy mine..!  ;-)


Best, Frank


PS: Imho, Tiffen maybe should do something about this - the entry-level price for the Pilot is too steep, especially in Europe. If they would get the street price for the SD system below 2,500€, they would sell a LOT more of these and take out many of the knockoff makers. They could drop the price for the HD version to 2,990€, add a HDMI-SDI converter in the top stage and get rid of the HDMI aluminum fixed post model.

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#5 Lars Erik

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:04 PM

Hi Kurtis,


welcome to this forum. As a long-time camera operator I'm sure you've come across several different brands and units, and of course you know that a certain quality has a price tag to it in the world of media. Same goes for the Steadicam world. You get what you pay for.


But before doing aything, I would strongly advise you to take a workshop or at the least get a hold of Holway/Hayball "The Steadicam Operator's Handbook." Or talk to ops you may know or are in your area.




Steadicam is a craft that take years to master. I've been doing it for 10 years now, and it's in the last 3 I think I've become a good operator. I'm not trying to de-moralize your efforts to become an operator, I'm just saying it's not about just buying a rig and start shooting.


Whatever you do, good luck. Steadicam is a great profession and fantastic fun.


PS! If you do decide to do a workshop, I've taken the liberty of pasting in some worskhops below.





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#6 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:26 PM

Hi Kurtis,

Welcome to the Steadicam community. 

If you are new to the world of steadicam I would strongly recommend taking a workshop. You will get the opportunity to learn about operating and not injuring yourself while doing so. Also you will get to be aquainted with a few of the steadicam rigs. You will get to see, try and learn what you like in each of them (light, heavy, modular...) 

Don't do the mistake of getting a cheap rig to start, you will get bad habits from it (eg: if your socket block is poorly made and can't be adjusted this will directly impact your posture)


I personally did the 2 days Tiffen workshop http://www.thesteadicamworkshops.com/, 2 years ago and just did the SOA 6 days workshop http://www.steadicam-ops.com/workshop.shtml this summer. It's pricey, but so worth it.


Two great references you should buy: 

The steadicam operators handbook has all the answers to the questions you might ask yourself (then, if it's not in it, you can ask the forum) http://www.amazon.co...y/dp/024082380X

The EFP DVD (It's old, it's SD, but it's still exactly the same thing we do today with the modern rigs, so why change the video) http://www.steadicam...am_efp_dvd.html


In regard to the Chinese knockoffs, it's like everything else, it's cheap, wont perform as well and will break quickly. That's fine it it's a DVD player for my home, but when it comes to the tool I work with and get paid for? I'll stick with the real sturdy and precise stuff. Plus when it breaks, the big Steadicam brands (Tiffen, GPI, MK-V, Artemis, XCS, *no specific order here) are great with fixing it fast (good luck getting someone on the phone from one of the chinese companies)


Good luck, 

Fly safe.

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#7 Wolfgang Troescher

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 05:55 AM

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