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Should I buy a Steadicam Pilot ?


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#1 Bart Wierzbicki

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:09 AM

Hey guys,
First of all, I'm new to this forum ... so hi all ! :rolleyes:
A few months ago I bought myself a kind of steadicam. It's the ProAim 7000. That's the Flycam 6000 + special vest etc.

My idea was buying a steadycam and that one looked very good and looked liked the real expensive steadycams.
So I thought ... ok ... it just comes from India so it's normal that it's cheaper and maybe with steadycam you just pay more
to have a brand name.
Now after some time, I'm thinking it was just a stupid thought. Because I just can't get that thing to work decently.
Every time I want to use it, I'm busy more then an hour to have it balanced. When I think I have it balanced .... I spin
it 180 degrees and then it isn't balanced anymore. I really just don't understand and I'm getting really frustrated about it.

Now when I look at some footages of the Pilot. It really looks great, but I wonder if it is because they have been busy days and weeks to balance it or if it's just better.
How long does it take to have the Steadicam balanced ?
I want to use a steadicam most of the times for wedding shoots. So I need to have it up and running smoothly quite fast and for short
times.
If the pilot is great to handle, I'll just throw my Flycam in the garbage and I will go for the Pilot. Hope someone can help me out.
Thanks
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#2 RobVanGelder

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 12:00 PM

Hi Bart, welcome here.

You probably have looked around on this forum and have read that the opinions about these kind of cheaper rigs are not so positive.
It all comes down to: you get what you pay for.

I have seen pictures of this indian firm, where operators demonstrate their "stabilisers", not even knowing that they do it completely wrong!
So it is impossible to rely on their expertise when it comes to making the rigs. That shows in the use of inferior parts, with large tolerances, as they have no clue about what is really important in a Steadicam.

That said, you can be assured that any rig, small or large, made by Tiffen or any other respected makers will perform flawless.
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#3 Imran Naqvi

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 03:34 PM

Sorry to say this to you Bart, but yes, the Pilot is just better.
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#4 Bart Wierzbicki

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 04:13 PM

Sorry to say this to you Bart, but yes, the Pilot is just better.


Yeah, I was trying to find a place in Belgium where I can rent a Pilot so I can see it for myself, but I haven't found a place yet.
That's why I was hoping to find the answer here. ;)
Do you have a Pilot yourself ?
How long does it take for you to stabilize it everytime you use it ?
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#5 Nick Tsamandanis

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 06:52 PM

Hi Bart, unzipping the bag to getting dynamic balnce takes me just under ten minutes.
Yes it is just better.
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#6 Erik Brul

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:27 PM

Howdy Bart..

- First also a nice welcome to this board.
- Second try Fotokonijnenberg in Belgium.. don´t know if the website is up to date because it seems only 1 Pilot is available in the Netherlands.. but it should be easy for them to move this rig from to NL to BE

Best, Erik
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#7 Michael Suchar

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:56 PM

Hi Bart welcome aboard. Hands down the Steadicam Pilot or Flyer LE are far better then the India rig. If you have the moeny buy a Syeadicam if not, I understand, the cost of a real rig can be out of reach for some of us. I'm in the same boat; I bought the inda rig due to lack of money and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to operate a stabilizer. I have since become addicted to the concept and I'm saving for a used Steadicam. Don't dispair, the india rig can be modified to make it a bit more usable and pactice until you can get yourself into a Steadicam. I can get dynamic balance in less tham 5-mins with my india rig; so it can be done.

Here are some links to a forum where I did a review and mods on the india rig. Lots of pics and info. you will have to register an account to see the photos.

My review post: http://hbsboard.com/...pic,3702.0.html

My Mods: http://hbsboard.com/...pic,3708.0.html
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#8 Bart Wierzbicki

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 05:30 AM

Hi Bart welcome aboard. Hands down the Steadicam Pilot or Flyer LE are far better then the India rig. If you have the moeny buy a Syeadicam if not, I understand, the cost of a real rig can be out of reach for some of us. I'm in the same boat; I bought the inda rig due to lack of money and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to operate a stabilizer. I have since become addicted to the concept and I'm saving for a used Steadicam. Don't dispair, the india rig can be modified to make it a bit more usable and pactice until you can get yourself into a Steadicam. I can get dynamic balance in less tham 5-mins with my india rig; so it can be done.

Here are some links to a forum where I did a review and mods on the india rig. Lots of pics and info. you will have to register an account to see the photos.

My review post: http://hbsboard.com/...pic,3702.0.html

My Mods: http://hbsboard.com/...pic,3708.0.html


Hey Michael. Nice mods that you have done to your rig.
The thing is ... I'm not really good with modifying things etc. I'm not a very handy guy if I can say it like this. :unsure: hehe
Anyway. The thing is that I can buy the Pilot. It's not a money issue, but I hesitate a little just to be sure that if I put
down the extra few 1000 dollars that I will get something that will actually work and not that I got stuck with 2 steadicams that will work the same and both are a pain in the ass to have them dynamically balanced. :P
If not, I will drive down to the shop next week to get myself a Pilot. :rolleyes:
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#9 Sven Joukes

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 08:09 AM

Hi Bart

Send me an email at sven(dot)joukes(at)telenet(dot)be, I'll give you the address of a shop that has the Pilot in store... Where in Belgium are you located?

Best,

Sven
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#10 Dave Gish

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 08:16 AM

Do you have a Pilot yourself ?

Hi Bart,
Yes, I've had my Pilot for just over a year.

What's more, I've hooked up with a few other beginning steadicam operators in my area for practice sessions, and one of them has a rig like yours, Flycam 6000 if I remember correctly. It wouldn't balance properly either. Just like you say, if you get it balanced in one direction, then flip it 180°, its no longer balanced. The Flycam looks good. No cheap looking parts or anything. But it just didn't work.

In addition, the guy I was practicing with didn't have a monitor on the bottom of his Flycam, and that forced him into holding the rig directly in front of his body in order to see the LCD on the camera. This position not only wears out your back, it also makes the shots a lot less stable.

I also used a rented Glidecam V-20 for a student film with a 16mm film camera. The camera and accessories were probably around 25 pounds. The Glidecam stuff is way more crude than Steadicam, but you can actually get it to work if you spend enough time fiddling with it. It wasn't as smooth as the Steadicam, and it takes way more time to set up, but you can get it to work if you add a monitor to the bottom.

Bottom line: The Steadicam brand stuff is really much better. Steadicam has some real competition on the high end (PRO, MK-V, ActionCam, etc.), but these are all more expensive, bigger rigs. For any rig costing less than $15,000 U.S., the Steadicam brand stuff is head-and-shoulders above the rest. No comparison.

There's a lot of info on the Steadicam Pilot over on DVInfo:
http://www.dvinfo.ne...-steadicam-etc/

Also, note that the Steadicam Forum "Steadi-Newbies" section has 38 pages. You should flip through the first 5 or 10 and look for Pilot posts.

Hope this helps,
Dave

Edited by Dave Gish, 15 February 2009 - 08:25 AM.

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#11 Dave Gish

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 08:37 AM

How long does it take for you to stabilize it everytime you use it ?

If you use the same camera, keep the sled post at the same height, and use the same accessories, then you can arrive on location, set up your Pilot, and re-balance it in 10 minutes. That includes unpacking, setting up the balancing stand, etc..

There are lots of tips and tricks for this on DVInfo, and on pages 2-10 here on the Steadi-Newbies section.
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#12 Bart Wierzbicki

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 05:09 PM

I think I have made up my mind about it.
I have to get myself a Steadicam Pilot. So my Proaim 7000 is up for sale ! :lol:
So if anyone is intrested ... just let me know. ;)

About the Pilot. Is there anything specific I need to look for ?
I see there is a Pilot-AA, Pilot-AB, Pilot-VL, Co-Pilot ...
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#13 Dave Gish

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 06:27 PM

About the Pilot. Is there anything specific I need to look for ?
I see there is a Pilot-AA, Pilot-AB, Pilot-VL, Co-Pilot ...

The Pilot-AA and Pilot-VLB are the most popular.

More info here:
http://www.dvinfo.ne...-started-q.html
and here:
http://www.dvinfo.ne...attery-mod.html
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#14 Bart Wierzbicki

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 06:17 PM

Hey guys,
Today I am going to a store to check out the Steadicam Pilot.
I'm very excited about it. :lol:
I've read on a forum that if I buy the Steadicam Pilot, I should immediately buy also a steadistand for balancing it.
Is it true ?
I'll keep ya updated ! ;)
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#15 Dave Gish

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 06:30 PM

I've read on a forum that if I buy the Steadicam Pilot, I should immediately buy also a steadistand for balancing it.
Is it true ?

Yes, you'll need a stand. You'll also probably want 8 extra middle weights, the EFP DVD, and a scale. Follow the links above for details.
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