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Paul McDermott
Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 5:44:48 pm

Hi All
Paul from Ireland here. I am the proud owner of the Sony fs 700 and use it mainly to film weddings. I'm going to film a promo for a martial arts gym and also make a short doc following a MMA fighter as he prepares for a big fight.

I've decided to buy a camera stabiliser which I could also use for weddings. The camera with lens is just over 3KG or 6LBs.

I'm looking for something simple that ideally would intergrate with my manfrotto 501 tripod. I'm not looking for a vest or arm with it as I dont envisage using it for long periods at a time.

I have read a lot about steadicam ( which may be a little out of my price range), glidecam, Varizoom, Hague (uk) etc
Do you have any ideas/opinions that might point me in the right direction?
Thanks!!


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 5:58:47 pm

Well I'm a Steadicam user and for years was quite a snob about other non-real-Steadicam stabilizers... but some of the others have gotten much better through the years...

But...

I'm a little fuzzy on something....

[Paul McDermott] "I'm looking for something simple that ideally would intergrate with my manfrotto 501 tripod. "

Not sure what you mean by "integrate with your tripod." I'm not sure what you have in mind. Tripods and stabilizers are of course two different things that are not used together... it's an either/or kind of situation...

Unless I'm missing something you're after... can you elaborate?

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Paul McDermott
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 6:26:08 pm

Hi Todd
When I said ideally, I was refering to using the same plate to attach to the tripod and the camera stabilizer. Making it easier to move from tripod use to stabilizer use.
It's not the most important issue, but would help.

Thanks
Paul


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 6:52:55 pm

Ah... ok. Well, sad to tell you in advance there's little to no chance of that happening... at least not natively or without some modification.

Most if not all stabilizers have a top stage plate that is of "cheeseplate" design with numerous mounting holes... since every camera has a different dynamic balance there has to be lots of options for mounting at slightly different positions.

It's certainly very different than the Manfrotto quick-release plate, which is much smaller than the average stabilizer plate and pretty different that most any other tripod's as well (which is not unique to Manfrotto, very few if any tripod heads have release plates that can be swapped with different brands... wish they did).

What you could do is add a third-party release plate (and receiver) to both the stabilizer and tripod head so they would match. But that would be a little cumbersome and add weight to both.

Also some stabilizers have stage plates that have an attachment point on the bottom as well, so you could remove the camera from the stabilizer (with the plate still on it), then attach your Manfrotto plate to the bottom of that. You'd have two plates sandwiched together, but it would still work and be better than constantly removing and replacing the stabilizer plate (which can be time consuming). You'll still have to re-balance the rig each time to get it back into perfect dynamic balance... which of course takes a fair bit of time, so you'll want to keep your swaps to a minimum.

I know you said you didn't want to go with an arm/vest stabilizer, because your camera only weighs six pounds. I know it doesn't sound like much... but keep in mind that six pounds is quite on the heavy end for pure handheld stabilizing. By the time you add the weight of the rig and the counterweighting you're going to have something you probably can't hold good and firm in a controlled stabilized position for more than 60 seconds... maybe a lot less (unless you are in an Iron Man suit, or something). Walk around holding a 10-pound dumbbell weight out on front of you and see how old you can do it without any shaking or trembling. It's not long.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Paul McDermott
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 7:06:47 pm

Hi Todd
Some great food for thought there.
So, okay forget about making the tripod and the stabilizer compatible.

I agree with your advice about the arm/vest need.

What rigs do you recommend?

Thanks


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 7:39:01 pm

I can only speak to Steadicams because those are the only ones I've used... I haven't had any experience with any of the "CloneCams."

If your camera was a LITTLE bit lighter I'd heartily recommend the Steadicam Merlin (with arm/vest). There's usually lots of barely-used Merlins on eBay and sometimes at huge bargains... because people buy them and realize that Steadicamming is a fair bit harder than they thought, or that they just aren't good at it, or don't use it or whatever.

Unfortunately the Merlin will only fly cameras up to 5 pounds. Is your camera a true 6 pounds (just the body and lens)? Or does that include any accessories that would be unneeded for Steadicam use (matte box, wireless receiver, viewfinder, etc.)? If you can put it on enough of a diet to get it down to 5lb by stipping off those parts, then the Merlin is the way to go.

If not, the one that is actually rated for your camera is the Steadicam Pilot... it will fly up to about 10lb, I think. It's not a $65,000 Steadicam Ultra2, but it's not cheap either... I think about $4000 these days. You might find a deal on a used one at the Steadicam Operators Association users group or the classifieds at mandy.com.

Barring that, you might look at Glidecams. They are a fair bit clunkier than Steadicams, but get the job done and are a lot cheaper. Or see what there is on eBay now... there are usually tons of stabilizers, many from foreign based companies, that are efforting to make Steadicam clones. I can't speak to the quality of any of them, but they are usually quite inexpensive.

I'd offer you my Steadicam SK (I've been thinking of selling it), but it would be way overkill and its minimum payload is a lot more than your camera weighs.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Paul McDermott
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 21, 2013 at 8:27:59 pm

Thanks Todd
I'll probably go for a new Glidecam 4000 HD with a body pod, or with a vest if I can get it second hand.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 5:41:36 pm

Since you're a Manfrotto guy, I would suggest the Fig Rig for your MMA and wedding work, instead of a conventional steadicam system. And the Fig Rig might be able to share a quick release plate with your tripod.

Try this next time you're at a department store: go to the car accessories section, pick up one one of the steering wheel covers there, and try moving it around, two-handed, as if it contained your camera. You'll notice how two arms absorb and control shock better than one, and how maneuverable it is to go from floor height to waist height to overhead, holding the ring. If you can't afford the Steadicam Pilot, I would suggest the Fig Rig Ring.

I couldnt afford a real Fig, so I have a home-made one that's welded strapping on a discarded kid's bike rim. Still does the job, it just doesn't have the remote fingertip focus and zoom controls of the legit Fig Rig. The bolt you see is where the camera plate system would attach. Also has room to attach a light and a shotgun or radio Rx pack if needed. More mass, up to a point, just makes it more stable thru inertia. I find this really comfortable to walk with or hold for extended lengths of time. If I was going to build another one, I'd find a slightly smaller rim, like from a kid's tricycle. Plastic tubing isn't as good IMO, not as stiff as a metal bike rim.





If I was going to use it for weddings, I'd gussy-up the appearance a bit more, but it gets me the results I want at an unbeatable price.


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 5:51:01 pm

[Mark Suszko] "If I was going to use it for weddings, I'd gussy-up the appearance a bit more"

Yeah, at least put a bow on it. Ask the bride her colors... haaa.

It's nice to look cool and professional, and with some clients that's definitely expected... but I'd generally rather have something that works well rather than looks good. You should see some of the gawd awful-looking stuff around here. Looks good on screen, though.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 6:25:29 pm

That's always the bottom line.


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Paul McDermott
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:05:15 pm

Thanks for your input guys!
Paul


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Paul McDermott
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:07:24 pm

I might just get a fig rig or something like it.


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:27:31 pm

A Fig Rig is certainly a lot easier to use than a Steadicam.

A lot of wannabe Steadicammers are pretty surprised to learn that while almost anyone can do it, almost anyone can do it poorly and that it takes a lot of work and practice to do it really well... and that you have to stay in practice. I've been a Steadicam operator for pushing 20 years, but I guarantee you that if I walked next door into the studio right now and suited up in our rig that I would be pretty sucky at it for the first couple of hours, because I haven't done it in quite a while.

Fig Rigs are easy breezy. Unless you want a truly floating stabilized shot, I think a Fig Rig is a good bet.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 22, 2013 at 7:29:49 pm







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Andrew Gallucci
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 23, 2013 at 7:47:13 am

thats a neat way to do it. I didnt even know about those lol.

Glad I read through this.
I do like steadicams but I guess I have tailored my style on the glidecam. I had older ones and the new glidecam HDs are EXCELLENT. They used to have washer that would always get out of sorts and had to be adjust every time. Now they have a new system that barely ever needs tweaking provided you arent swapping lenses and use the same setup every time.


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Andrew Gallucci
Re: Camera Stabilizer
on Jan 23, 2013 at 7:40:20 am

I recommend Glidecam brand. I use it for everything and later you can get a vest if need be. The HD series is best. They have 3 sizes depending on camera weight. Id say go with the 3000 model.

They are excellent and only $400 and cheaper if you search around.


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