Stedicam VEST or just the stabilizer?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by matteusclement, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. matteusclement macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
  2. Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    i'm using a steadicam merlin without a vest with a panasonic AF100 camera (and sometimes with a GH3). I did a lot of furniture-exhibition videos with it (see for exampe - some might have been filmed in 50fps converted to 25 and/or additionally stabilized in fcpx), where it allowed me to be much quicker and make more interesting images than with a regular tripod.

    i once tried a glidecam without a vest with similar results im steadiness (but not quite as good). i also tried the glidecam with a vest - it didn't add anything to the stability but required less strength in the arms to operate (but put a lot more stress on my back - i, for once, prefer the pain in my arms :)!). i'd definitely go for the merlin over the glidecam because it's lighter, smaller, has better built quality and takes a lot less strength to operate because the weight rests directly above your hand. also, you can fold it, so it takes less space when transporting.

    on the downsides: the merlin doesn't take as much weight (but seems to work with lighter cams than the glidecam), is harder to calibrate, probably easier to destroy and you can't reverse it (put the camera on the bottom and get shots really close to the ground)

    if i were you, i'd try it with and without the vest. if you're planning on operating the cam on really long uninterrupted shots (say 2 minutes plus) a vest is probably a good idea.

    also, operating a steadicam takes some practice (imho the merlin even more so than the glidecam), so don't be disappointed if it's not as smooth as you'd like in the beginning, or if you have a hard time calibrating it.

    as i said before, it takes me less time on an exhibition to get good shots with the steadicam than with a regular tripod. but it's not fire and forget - you have to recalibrate the cam pretty often, it doesn't work if it's to windy and if you touch something with the steadicam, the whole shot is ruined. and you can't add any gear (cables, monitors, wireless audio) to it without recalibrating it (5 minutes if you're quick, usually more like 15-30 min, i would't want to calibrate it to a new lens while in the field) - so it's probably never "the quick over the long". it's a pretty cool tool that gives you a lot of opportunities for shots you'd otherwise only get with cranes, sliders & dollies, which take even longer to setup) - btw. obviously you can't touch the cam while filming, so no focus changes without a wireless follow focus) - but it's not a universal tool.

    i use it for exhibitions, image-films, music videos & drama. i wouldn't recommend it for concert shots (too long uninterrupted shots, usually not enough space to move uninterrupted), lots of outdoors work (wind), anything that requires touching the camera (in camera audio, manual focus changes, manual zoom) and situations that require you to be really quick (like ENG work)
  3. mBox, Jan 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014

    mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    From where I hang most are still dedicated to the SteadiCam.
    Even with Freefly and all gimbal options cropping up.
    Were currently using an EasyRig and the Gravity One with a RED MX.
    Would have loved an actual SteadiCam for that unit.

    To add we dont use DSLRs but Im jealous cause you guys dont have to kill yourselves lugging a 60lbs RED :p
  4. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    In my experience, it depends on weight of camera rig.

    Shooting with a heavy film camera, the vest is way easier.

    Shooting with light cameras like DSLR, I prefer arms only.

    On the other hand, if you have crew, you can just detach the camera rig from the vest or hand it off to someone to recover your strength, so with crew, it makes little difference unless the shot runs for a few minutes each take.
  5. Miguel Cunha macrumors 6502

    Miguel Cunha

    Sep 14, 2012
    Braga, Portugal
    I Think you answered your own question.
    Also, as stated below,

    That's about what I do.

    By the book, you must always use the vest and to be able to keep the camera still whitout using your arms, but you should use whatever makes you feel more comfortable and capable of maneuvering the camera, in the timeframe you have to do it.
  6. matteusclement thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
    What about follow focus

    The only other big benefit I can see coming from a vest is that I will be able to pull focus. Or am I pushing it?

    Would you just use a whip to extended your focus ring?
  7. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Not to derail the topic but we used the EZ-Rig along with a Flowcine Gravity for two hours shooting a marathon in the park.

    The shooter told me that if this was a Steadicam he would have to take it off after every 10 to 20 minutes to get his hips back.

    I was impressed he had this system on for 2 hours.

    I haven't seen the footies yet so I can't comment on the gimbal system.

    Again this was in a large event and I had to play lineman and body guard due to shear size of this RED cannon.

  8. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    Any physical connection to the camera is going to throw off the steadicam's ability to stabilize. I learned the hard way trying that exact same idea using a whip.

    It's not often that a steadicam shot is done on a lens with shallow DOF anyway...

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