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#1 Tommy Rorvik

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 05:00 AM

Hi!

I have worked as a cameraman at a TV station for 13 years now and have always wanted to be a steadicam operator. But my station just wount prioritize getting the equipment needed for it. And I really feel the need to develop in my career beyond normal handheld photo. Am very good at handheld, but want to evolve my skills. So I have decided to buy a camera stabilizing rig with my own money. I want to spend max 3000$ to get started and start practising. I will just play around with the rig and use it as often as possible at work on the more advanced news stores to get better at it. Realise it will take some time to get good at it, but am willing to spend the time it takes. I am not going to take on paid assignments outside my job, so don't need a rig that will fit others needs.
Was thinking about getting a candadion rig called the FS PRO that will handle 21 lbs of equipment. It looks good to an untrained eye, but they use ages to answer mails and is not too good with their communication. So I've become doubtful about that rig. Have searched out every other cheap rig availabe on the net, but they all seem to have their problems. Except the ones form Tiffen. But they are expensive.
Would really have liked to get a Steadicam Flyer. But although i might be able to afford one sooner or later I don't know it I want to use that much money on a rig before I know for sure that this is something I will work with in the long term and not get tired of doing.
So for now it comes down to choosing between a Steadicam Merlin with arm and vest, and the FS PRO.
The station I work at have a lot of hvx200 cameras (which the Merlin should handle fine) and 3 Panasonic AJ-HPX3000 HD cameras (that the FS PRO will be able to work with). Plus 6 studio cameras (which also only the FS PRO will handle).

So I am asking for some advice on what to get.
If I go for the Merlin with arm and vest and get good at balancing and working with that with the HVX200, will that help me adapt faster to a Steadicam Flyer if I get that later? Is the experience working with the Merlin valuable and comparable to working with bigger rigs? Or is it totally different to the other steadicams and really just a toy? Should I just get the bigger rig FS PRO that is probably of lower quality and just hope for the best? The price difference isn't that big although the FS PRO is a bit more expensive.

And if I get a Flyer later will that be able to handle something like the Panasonic AJ-HPX3000 with a HD lens and a battery?

Hope someone can give some advice. Thanks :-)
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#2 Janice Arthur

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 09:53 AM

Tommy;

1) If you can't get a company on the phone or to respond to you when you are waving money at them that's a bad sign. Go with a company that will pay attention to you, tiffen.

2) Customer service is part of what you are paying for.

3) You're going to need help, they have that.

Where is Stavenger, or whatever place you are from?

Read past posts about the other questions you have.

Good luck.

I have a Pilot, they work fine and you'll get what you need for the HVX-200.

JA
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#3 Tommy Rorvik

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 10:10 AM

Stavanger is in Norway (Europe). Not any steadicam workshops or dealers available here as far as I know. But can apply to get some funds from the place i work to travel to one. So think I should do that. London might be the nearest I guess?

Tommy;

1) If you can't get a company on the phone or to respond to you when you are waving money at them that's a bad sign. Go with a company that will pay attention to you, tiffen.

2) Customer service is part of what you are paying for.

3) You're going to need help, they have that.

Where is Stavenger, or whatever place you are from?

Read past posts about the other questions you have.

Good luck.

I have a Pilot, they work fine and you'll get what you need for the HVX-200.

JA


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#4 Michael Suchar

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 10:15 AM

Tommy, I fully agree with JA about the fact the company is not resposive to your interest in their product. I'd stay away from that one. If cost is a constraint, you should look at the Pilot; youl'll have more options than the Merlin.

Check out this video with the Steadicam inventor himself: Garrett Brown.





Hi!

I have worked as a cameraman at a TV station for 13 years now and have always wanted to be a steadicam operator. But my station just wount prioritize getting the equipment needed for it. And I really feel the need to develop in my career beyond normal handheld photo. Am very good at handheld, but want to evolve my skills. So I have decided to buy a camera stabilizing rig with my own money. I want to spend max 3000$ to get started and start practising. I will just play around with the rig and use it as often as possible at work on the more advanced news stores to get better at it. Realise it will take some time to get good at it, but am willing to spend the time it takes. I am not going to take on paid assignments outside my job, so don't need a rig that will fit others needs.
Was thinking about getting a candadion rig called the FS PRO that will handle 21 lbs of equipment. It looks good to an untrained eye, but they use ages to answer mails and is not too good with their communication. So I've become doubtful about that rig. Have searched out every other cheap rig availabe on the net, but they all seem to have their problems. Except the ones form Tiffen. But they are expensive.
Would really have liked to get a Steadicam Flyer. But although i might be able to afford one sooner or later I don't know it I want to use that much money on a rig before I know for sure that this is something I will work with in the long term and not get tired of doing.
So for now it comes down to choosing between a Steadicam Merlin with arm and vest, and the FS PRO.
The station I work at have a lot of hvx200 cameras (which the Merlin should handle fine) and 3 Panasonic AJ-HPX3000 HD cameras (that the FS PRO will be able to work with). Plus 6 studio cameras (which also only the FS PRO will handle).

So I am asking for some advice on what to get.
If I go for the Merlin with arm and vest and get good at balancing and working with that with the HVX200, will that help me adapt faster to a Steadicam Flyer if I get that later? Is the experience working with the Merlin valuable and comparable to working with bigger rigs? Or is it totally different to the other steadicams and really just a toy? Should I just get the bigger rig FS PRO that is probably of lower quality and just hope for the best? The price difference isn't that big although the FS PRO is a bit more expensive.

And if I get a Flyer later will that be able to handle something like the Panasonic AJ-HPX3000 with a HD lens and a battery?

Hope someone can give some advice. Thanks :-)


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#5 chris fawcett

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:52 PM

Agreed,

Get the Pilot. It's a fantastic fully-functioning small rig.

There might be a workshop in Denmark within the year. Look out for postings, or contact Peter Hofmann peter@hofmann.dk directly—though the sooner you take a workshop, the better, so don't wait specially.

What about if you spent that cash on training, and got a certificate to show your company? Might that show of commitment convince them to buy a larger rig?

Whatever you choose, have fun,

Chris
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#6 Tommy Rorvik

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 07:10 PM

Thanks for all the good advice :-) I think I'll forget about the FS PRO and stick to Tiffen products. Both the quality, the level of support, the amount of users, all add up to a feeling that your making a safe investment.

And from all the information on the different boards it seems like the Merlin is just too different in the way it works to give me "real" experience I can take with me when moving on to bigger rigs later. So it seems like I might just go for the "pilot" as some of you suggested. Either a new package or 2nd hand.

I haven't found any 2nd hand Pilots on the marked yet, so I guess there are not many of them available as second hand. But I have until september to find one (am traveling from Europe to Los Angeles to visit my brother in september and am planning on picking one up when I am over there).

And if I don't find a second hand one I will just have to buy a new set. Does anyone know if this is something you can expect to find in stock in stores in the Los Angeles area at any given time, or do I have to pre-order one to be sure? Anyone know any dealers in the San Clemente area? (couldnt find any listed on the tiffen page).

And from all the shops, forums and other web pages I have read I haven't been able to find out just how much space (and weight) a Pilot system will take. Does the vest fit into the backpack or any case that comes with the system so it will be easy to get it with me unharmed on my flight back home?





Agreed,

Get the Pilot. It's a fantastic fully-functioning small rig.

There might be a workshop in Denmark within the year. Look out for postings, or contact Peter Hofmann peter@hofmann.dk directly—though the sooner you take a workshop, the better, so don't wait specially.

What about if you spent that cash on training, and got a certificate to show your company? Might that show of commitment convince them to buy a larger rig?

Whatever you choose, have fun,

Chris


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#7 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 04:54 PM

Worth considering is the CMR black bird - its a handheld rig that is simliar to the merlin but a lot bigger and more stable a bit more like a real rig

its the only non Steadicam item worth considering IMO - just because SC doesnt offer a 'serious' handheld product IMO

the advantage of the BB over the pilot is you can use it without a vest if you have minimal time to suit up and are using one camera

also if none of the rigs can do the big cameras then by not buying a pilot you have some money left in your proper big rig fund

of course the pilot holds value I would assume and would have value as a trade up to a bigger rig

S
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#8 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 08:27 PM

Tommy,

I've recently seen used Pilots go for $3100 US asking price. Try watching dvinfo.net or dvxuer.com as well as this forum. With negotiation you may be able to do a bit better and have your brother in LA store it for you until September.

If you can, I'd maybe hold out a little while longer for a (2nd generation standard) Flyer, used. If you are patient and watch for deals, you should be able to get a nice used Flyer for under $5000 US (or even less; I bought mine, in pristine condition, for under $4000).

I don't know if the Flyer can hold the Panny3000 but I'm told that it can fly the HPX500 (I plan to test that very thing next week).

You can't go wrong with either a Pilot or Flyer, in my opinion. Resale value should be very strong, when you trade up to an Archer2 or Clipper. :-)

Good luck and have fun!
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#9 Tommy Rorvik

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 03:18 AM

Thanks :-) If I get one for 3100$ that would be OK. Saw one on ebay around that price recently. But that didn't have the Anton Bauer mount (any idea how much it would cost to change the battery mount, haven't found that as as spare part in any listings)? Is it complicated to change between different battery mounts?
Is the backpack or any other carrying case usually included when you buy one new or used?
I found out that The Flyer sadly wount be able to carry any of out big HD camcorders or studio cameras. They all come in around 16-17lbs. And that would be over it's limit. So i found out that the flyer wount have any advantages to me over the pilot, since the Pilot carries our HVX200's just fine. But if I like my experience with the Pilot I will start saving for a Flyer-LE. That one will be able to carry all our cameras.

Tommy,

I've recently seen used Pilots go for $3100 US asking price. Try watching dvinfo.net or dvxuer.com as well as this forum. With negotiation you may be able to do a bit better and have your brother in LA store it for you until September.

If you can, I'd maybe hold out a little while longer for a (2nd generation standard) Flyer, used. If you are patient and watch for deals, you should be able to get a nice used Flyer for under $5000 US (or even less; I bought mine, in pristine condition, for under $4000).

I don't know if the Flyer can hold the Panny3000 but I'm told that it can fly the HPX500 (I plan to test that very thing next week).

You can't go wrong with either a Pilot or Flyer, in my opinion. Resale value should be very strong, when you trade up to an Archer2 or Clipper. :-)

Good luck and have fun!


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#10 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 04:22 AM

I found out that The Flyer sadly wount be able to carry any of out big HD camcorders or studio cameras. They all come in around 16-17lbs. And that would be over it's limit. So i found out that the flyer wount have any advantages to me over the pilot, since the Pilot carries our HVX200's just fine. But if I like my experience with the Pilot I will start saving for a Flyer-LE. That one will be able to carry all our cameras.



Hold on there. Big HD cameras or Studio cameras are all MUCH heavier than 16 or 17lbs. The Flyer-LE won't fly them either.
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#11 Tommy Rorvik

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 11:31 AM

I found out that The Flyer sadly wount be able to carry any of out big HD camcorders or studio cameras. They all come in around 16-17lbs. And that would be over it's limit. So i found out that the flyer wount have any advantages to me over the pilot, since the Pilot carries our HVX200's just fine. But if I like my experience with the Pilot I will start saving for a Flyer-LE. That one will be able to carry all our cameras.



Hold on there. Big HD cameras or Studio cameras are all MUCH heavier than 16 or 17lbs. The Flyer-LE won't fly them either.



I checked the weight of our cameras and our HD camcorders for field work are Panasonic HPX2100E which should be 9.92 lbs, and they have Fujinon HD lenses which weigh 4.37 lbs. So that should be around 14 lbs total. But the wireless mic system, and a small Anton Bauer battery would bring the weigh up to over 15 lbs. I would guess a total of around 16-17 lbs. Which should work fine within the 19lbs limit of the Flyer-LE. Or have i forgot to include something important here?

Our HD studio-cameras are Grass Valley LDK8000 which are 11lbs (with 2'' viewfinder which I wount need) and have Fujinon HD lenses that weigh 3.64 lbs. Which should bring the total under 15 lbs. But I would guess you need some wireless CCU and video transmitter to be mounted to the camera (anyone know if it is possible to operate a camera on steadicam when it has a CCU cable conected?). Have never tried this, but if this does not weigh more than 5 lbs that should work to? Right?

As is obvious I have never worked with a steadicam so there might be aspects that I haven't thought about that would bring the weight up.
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#12 Brian Freesh

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 11:54 AM

Tommy,

Since you work with the cameras you'll be using on a regular basis already, and in the same working environment, you've probably thought of everything you need. The thing is, no matter how perfectly you've figured it out, there's inevitably SOMETHING that ends up adding weight. As for right now, you're probably more or less safe with the numbers you've figured out. Maybe add 2 lbs just for the sake of error. Or 3 or 4. You can operate tethered to something, it's quite a common practice, though much maligned as well. It provides the potential for something to affect the balance of the camera out of your control. There are several ways of dealing with the issue, but all involve securing the tether against outside forces.

Depending on how old the Flyer arm you get, you're actually good up to 18 lbs, a little birdy once told me. The more recent the better. Also, that's guaranteed minimum top weight. Each arm is different, due to slight mechanical variances, but each will get you at least to 15lbs,18lbs, 19lbs depending on the arm. However most if not all will do more. My Flyer arm (not LE, but new enough to be rated for 18lbs) turns out to be pretty beefy and can handle 27lbs camera+battery weight. However, the gimbal is likely taking a beating when I do that and may fail easily if I did it on a regular basis, so I don't. But if I was running 19lbs or 20lbs regularly I wouldn't sweat it. That's me though, I'm not ever gonna recommend to anyone they operate out of the range of the specs. But I'm happy to make you aware of your options.

Brian |-)~
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#13 Tommy Rorvik

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 12:50 PM

Thanks for making me aware of that :-)
One of our "big" Hd camcorders comes in just right over the 15lbs limit. Between 15 and 16 lbs. So if I get a Flyer it would be nice to at least try it out and see if it will work. Didn't know that any of the "regular" flyers could take 18lbs officiallty.

Anyway the most important thing to me is to get a lot of practice and experience in working with a steadicam system. I know that potential future employers aleready have Steadicams to use. So having worked with the pilot or flyer a lot might strengthen my chance of being chosen before others that haven't worked with stadicams before.
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#14 Brian Freesh

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 10:05 PM

I never said "officially" |-)~

It'll definitely work, even if you're not counting on the battery weight. If you are, you can take that battery off and add that weight to the bottom of the sled. But if you end up adding other stuff to the rig that you didn't count on, don't stress out the gimbal!

24lb camera set up+3lbs worth of batteries I do adamantly recommend NOT doing this for a shoot:
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#15 Dave Gish

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:24 AM

And from all the shops, forums and other web pages I have read I haven't been able to find out just how much space (and weight) a Pilot system will take. Does the vest fit into the backpack or any case that comes with the system so it will be easy to get it with me unharmed on my flight back home?

The Pilot backpack is very large, much larger than the pictures below would indicate. But since it's mostly carbon fiber and foam, it's not that heavy, so you can wear it as a backpack. It's way too big for airplane overhead storage though. Think of it as a medium to large sized canvas suitcase with straps that happens to be fairly light for its size. There is als a bag for the old style SteadiStand. I've heard the new SteadiStand is more flat so you can squeezeit in with the vest. Hope this helps.
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