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Varizoom Navigator vs Glidecam Smooth Shooter


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#1 Jim Cooper

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 05:19 PM

I recently underwent surgery on my shooting shoulder. Since it will be a year or so before the shoulder will be back to snuff, I have been looking into a rig that will allow me to "hand hold" an HVX. I tried the Pilot and did like it very much - but it is rather bulky and very expensive (for my budget). I like the idea of a dual arm, but the type of shooting I will be doing really doesn't require (I don't think) it. Most importantly, I am looking for a quality, very comfortable and unobtrusive rig to take the weight off my right arm for a while. I haven't been able to find a Navigator or Smooth Shooter to test out - so I only have the Pilot (which I did try) as a reference.

Has anyone had actual experience with the Navigator or Smooth Shooter -- comments? Which is more comfortable, lighter and higher quality. I don't think I will need a monitor for most of the work I plan on doing - but should I be considering a sled that will take a monitor as part of my determination?

I know this topic has been beaten to death - but any comments that includes hands-on experience with these (or other?) rigs is very much appreciated.
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#2 JobScholtze

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 06:24 PM

I cant comment on the navigator, but i know that the pilot is far better then the gc. But becose of your shoulder, i think it would be better for you if you could use a back mounted vest. There are expensive, but way better for your shoulder. I know there are cheap rigs that has a sort of back mounted vest. Worth looking at i guess?


Good luck
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#3 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 08:25 PM

Another note to keep in mind is that models like glidecam use a certain amount of weight to be held by the operators right arm to position the sled high and low. It is their "light force" system that means you still have to put some force to the gimbal handle, especially on single arm rigs.

You may want to look into those rigs that consist of a vest and a curved pole up and over the head of the operator with a cable that hangs and holds the camera for you. Its like the carrot on a stick method. But it won't offer stabilization. I'm not sure of the name, but I see them all over magazines.
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#4 Sven Joukes

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 05:24 AM

This would be the one...

Easyrig website

Ofcourse there's Walter Klassen's Suspender, but that's a different price category, I think...

Walter Klassen Suspender website

Good luck with your choice and your shoulder!

Sven
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#5 Jim Cooper

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:55 AM

Thanks for the feedback and link to the Turtle. I had looked at the Turtle (checked out the webiste) when researching various stabilizer alternatives, and aside from its rather bizare look, it would requre my arm to be able to reach higher than I am able - and use my arm to stabilize the camera.

As I mentioned, I did try the Pilot and I was able to minipulate the camera faily well. I did find the "bulk" of the rig to be a bit cumbersome for the type of shooting I am doing (primarily verite documentary work). The ideal setup for me would be some sort of light weight vest that puts most of the weight on my hips, a streamlined arm that didn't stick out to the side (ease of going through doorways), and a good balance and stabilization system. I don't think I will need a low monitor, but this type of shooting may require it(?).

I also took a look at the back vest product (movcam) - I couldn't find any pricing and I don't think there are any dealers anywhere near me here in US - New Hampshire. I am trying to find something in the $1500-$2000 range - though, as I may decide to go back to handheld once my arm recovers, I could decide to put the rig up for sale -- and of course, steadicam seems to hold its value very well even though it is a lot up front.

In any case I appreciate the feedback --- hopefully this thread will continue to give me additional ideas. Thanks.
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#6 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 12:54 PM

As far as bulk goes I don't think you will find any reasonable steadicam style product that is less bulky than the Steadicam Pilot. Most are much more bulky. You wan't the monitor mounted on the sled. I know you don't think you need it but spend much time using it and you will realize why it is there. I know all you need is handheld like abilities but don't you think the new freedom and abilities of a steadicam might also open up what you can do? I know money is a concern for you but you would learn a lot by taking one of the 2 day ($500) steadicam workshops that tiffen puts on.

~Jess
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#7 JobScholtze

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:41 PM

As far as bulk goes I don't think you will find any reasonable steadicam style product that is less bulky than the Steadicam Pilot. Most are much more bulky. You wan't the monitor mounted on the sled. I know you don't think you need it but spend much time using it and you will realize why it is there. I know all you need is handheld like abilities but don't you think the new freedom and abilities of a steadicam might also open up what you can do? I know money is a concern for you but you would learn a lot by taking one of the 2 day ($500) steadicam workshops that tiffen puts on.

~Jess

And thats the best advice you could get.
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#8 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:54 PM

The ideal setup for me would be some sort of light weight vest that puts most of the weight on my hips, a streamlined arm that didn't stick out to the side (ease of going through doorways), and a good balance and stabilization system. I don't think I will need a low monitor, but this type of shooting may require it(?).


Just thought of this Jim. Affordable, no side arm, goes through doorways, not bulky, and a stabilization system. This is the Glidecam BodyPod combined with the 2000 pro or 4000 pro handhelds. Might be your affordable solution?

Glidecam BodyPod
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#9 JobScholtze

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:56 PM

The ideal setup for me would be some sort of light weight vest that puts most of the weight on my hips, a streamlined arm that didn't stick out to the side (ease of going through doorways), and a good balance and stabilization system. I don't think I will need a low monitor, but this type of shooting may require it(?).


Just thought of this Jim. Affordable, no side arm, goes through doorways, not bulky, and a stabilization system. This is the Glidecam BodyPod combined with the 2000 pro or 4000 pro handhelds. Might be your affordable solution?

Glidecam BodyPod

No back support, all the weight on the shoulders, not to mention it sucks to operate :P
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#10 Jim Cooper

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 05:03 PM

I found this shoulder mount that may do the trick? I wonder though, if even an inexpensive stabilizer with vest would be better - or not?http://www.varizoom.com/products/supports/vzDVMediaRig.html

Edited by Jim Cooper, 18 November 2008 - 05:04 PM.

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#11 JobScholtze

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 05:27 PM

I found this shoulder mount that may do the trick? I wonder though, if even an inexpensive stabilizer with vest would be better - or not?


Yes, again its junk
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#12 Panayiotis Hayios

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:38 PM

Jim You might wont to have a look at the < NEW Merlin Arm, Vest & 6-Ball Bearing Gimbal> www.steadicam.com
or the <Easyflex> www.abc-products.de/english/HM_ueber_koerp_e_new.htm
Don't know how useful these will be because of you're shoulder but they do have a vest for the waist.

Having don a SOA Workshop in Philadelphia and started working with a Flyer Le I can say that steadicam is a tricky tool to have but a very useful one when learn't. As Jess said before. It creates new freedoms in interviews, site touring shots, ets.

Hope this has been useful
Pete
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#13 Jim Cooper

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:58 PM

Thanks for the info Pete. I don't think the Merlin rig is not recommended for the HVX - I think only up to 4 or 5 pounds. I am beginning to think that I just ought to pick up a Pilot and be done with it. If it works out, I am sure it will more than pay for itself. And if it doesn't work out, they seem to hold their value better than any other rig - ebay.

I found a number of variations (and prices) for the Pilot - 16:9 monitors or mini 3 inch 4:3 - anton battery or AA???? Otherwise the rigs all look the same. I take it if I buy a AA (cheaper) version I can always upgrade the batteries? Jim
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