Steadycam, Glidecam, Gimbal, or Ronin? For DVX200 Camera.

LavalleLee

New member
Hey everyone,

I wanted to start making some test videos and I still haven't purchased a Steadycam, Glidecam, Gimbal, or a Ronin.

I was wondering what is the,

1. Best Steadycam, Glidecam, Gimbal, or a Ronin for a DVX200 (To save up for)
2. What is the cheapest Steadycam, Glidecam, Gimbal, or a Ronin for a DVX200 (To start with)

I am REALLY new to live action recording, I have been an animator for almost 20 years. It is a leap to go from animation to live action. All help is appreciated, there are so many accessories it is a bit confusing.
 
You sorta have to know what you're going to be shooting first, because they're different tools for different jobs and have their own personalities.

First, let's divide this up properly. You have the motorized gimbals (Ronin) which may be outfitted with something like an EZ Rig, and you have the sleds (Steadicam) which usually are accompanied with an arm and vest necessary for accommodating big cameras.

Motorized gimbals have a tendency to bob up and down with the operator. Sleds have a tendency to "float" when improperly flown. You can always get better at your flying skills to make sure the horizon stays nice and level with a Steadicam, but a motorized gimbal is always going to bob. An EZ Rig might help. An arm and vest help even more.

I'm also going to assume you mean to fly the DVX200. So you need a rig that can support at least 10lbs to accommodate the camera and a big battery with some room to spare for maybe an external recorder, just in case. 6 lbs plus peripherals, basically.

If you go the Ronin route, you need a motorized gimbal that can support the weight AND the size of the camera. The Steadicam route is much easier.

I'm a Steadicam guy, so I'd personally go in that direction. I just like to have my hands on the device instead of a motion control, I guess is one reason.

Cheap-route could be just getting a sled. Best-to-save-up-for would then be getting a arm and vest system for later. Glidecam is pretty good. Don't buy cheap knock-offs.
 
Ed was posting on this forum, not sure if he is still active. He uses a DVX with a glidecam and seems to get good results. Jason is correct, it depends on what you are doing. Also the price ranges vary. We paid about $6,000 for a Steadicam system years ago, and seldom used it. It was a great investment, but was not always needed. Mostly we shot with large jibs - interior shots. The Ronin and Steadicams will be more than the Glidecam. The Glidecam Ed uses is the Devan Graham model about $800 - you can get knockoffs for a couple of hundred bucks, but they can be a nightmare to adjust.

All stabilizing systems have a learning curve, and will take time to adjust the balance.

 
If you go the sled route (it's cheaper), get a vest (not so cheap). The rig gets damn heavy. More than you'll be able to manage hand-holding for any length of time. But also realize that it takes a LOT of practice with a sled to get nice smooth shots. I've been playing around with one for a year and even though I am getting pretty OK with it I still feel I need to log more time with it. Alternately, I've built a hybrid rig using a Steadycam vest and arm WITH a Ronin. The arm takes out the 4th axis vertical walking motions. I've used this with DSLR's and my XA30 (they are considerably more compact, and I can LANC the XA easily). Haven't had a chance to mess with the DVX on it, but no reason it couldn't work. Whatever stabilizer you end up with, do realize it takes PRACTICE and SKILL to pull of the shots you can envision with it! Don't underestimate that bit of the equation! I got all this stuff used but practically in new condition (saving a ton of $$$) from people who did and got frustrated (their loss, my gain)!
 
Yeah...and I COMPLETELY recommend investing in an arm and vest system. DO NOT buy knockoffs. You don't need your $6000 camera on a $200 sled which suddenly snaps and your camera goes and smashes onto the floor. It's an expensive hobby, but it's support gear intended to enhance and protect the prime investment, in this case, the camera. In the case of cinema: the lenses.

Also, go to the gym and get stronger. Thank me later. :D
 
Yeah...and I COMPLETELY recommend investing in an arm and vest system. DO NOT buy knockoffs. You don't need your $6000 camera on a $200 sled which suddenly snaps and your camera goes and smashes onto the floor. It's an expensive hobby, but it's support gear intended to enhance and protect the prime investment, in this case, the camera. In the case of cinema: the lenses.

Also, go to the gym and get stronger. Thank me later. :D

Actually going to the gym and getting stronger is good advice. The weight is subjective and will depend on a persons strength.

Keep in mind, that vest systems were developed for high end cameras and back in the day they were very HEAVY. Today the cameras are much lighter. Jason, I think you probably can remember the heavy shoulder mount cameras you used to use - I think you are old enough to know.

The DVX200 although it is not light, like Jason said, when you add things to it, it can feel weighty.

Bottom line:
What's your budget?
What will you be using it for?
What percentage of your will require a stabilized system?
How smooth do you need the motion?
Will the equipment pay for itself?
Do you have the time and discipline to learn how to use it?
Will you be going to the gym to get stronger?
etc. etc.

I think digging deep into what your needs are will help decide what system works best for you and your budget.

The real cheap setups might be alluring, but yes, if you dumped a camera you would be sorry. Buy once, cry once. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Keep us posted and let us know what you decide. And show us some footage.
 
I’m going to digress a bit on the whole stabilizer thing for a moment….

When I got mine, the tendency was to try and shoot everything with it! I suppose it’s the “new toy” syndrome. No harm in that, and I learned really quickly how to use them (or not…). Here’s the lesson in all this: Having a stabilizer is like having a really good hammer. Everything starts looking like a nail so you have an excuse to use it! It may or may not benefit the storytelling.

Case in point: I did a vid for a friends company that does private security. Not the rent-a-cop security. These are they guys you call out to overthrow a banana republic, retake a building from bad guys but maintain plausible deniability, or have dirty deeds done dirt cheap and not have your fingerprints on the operation. Needless to say I can’t share the direct footage due to confidentiality. The scene was their guys piling out of a van to secure a building. Lots of quick edits. Kind of action movie like stuff. I used the Ronin for a lot of it. Came out great. BUT it didn’t suit the “tension” the storyline was trying to create. Got a chance to reshoot (these guys loved playing it up for the camera), but this time hand held. Even turned the stabilizer off. This imparted a lot of gritty, “J. J. Abrams, you are there” vibe to it that worked better. Only used the Ronin footage for one shot, low angle, of the guys running to their station, which COULD have been done with a tracked-dolly in retrospect. Edited with quick shots it all looked very “first person” and documentary style.

So here’s my point – the tool supports the story. If doing a wedding and need to fly the camera up the reception table past the cake to a close up of the bride and groom, a Ronin is my best bet; walking around a large hanger for B footage of the secret captured alien spacecraft, I’d go for the Steadycam or my hybrid rig mentioned above (wider the angle & greater the distance, the better sled footage looks and is more forgiving). Goon-squad action scene, hand held correspondent style is an option I seriously consider again.

My advice: Rent one and see what works best for your style and subject. Then rent the other rig. Log some time with them and see what works. Neither of them is a “silver bullet” so to speak or especially cheap!
 
Thank you guys for all your great responses, I knew coming to this forum was not going to be a mistake.

My plan is to do a bunch of shorts, I love to write and this will definitely require different shots. I plan on buying a DJI Phantom 4 for opening horizon and sky shots. I plan on moving alot with the camera and some still shots.

So this will be my first purchases. (I hope I am making the right decisions)

1.) Tripod - Benro S8 Single Leg Aluminum Video Tripod Kit (For still shots, someone recommended this in another topic)
2.) DJI Phantom 4 (For sky shots)
3.) Devin Graham Glidecam: http://amzn.to/2f8QgSL (The one in the Ed Ricker video that Design Media posted above)

As MichaelA points out, I do have a problem with “new toy” syndrome. But I would like to make shorts without going completely broke. I am not getting into this world for the money, more for the love of film making. I just have to do it on a shoe string budget. :)

One question about the Tripod - Benro S8 Single Leg Aluminum Video Tripod Kit, do you guys recommend this for a not too expensive tripod?
 
1. I hate those sticks. Those are photography sticks and suck for video. What you need to move quickly is expensive, though. You need no more than one widget to pull for each leg that'll loosen each riser on each stick simultaneously. And mid-level spreaders are better than floor spreaders or locking spiders. Again, less buttons to push. That Benro head is just okay. I have a Sachtler Video 18, again, probably not in your price range.

2. Phantom 4 - the regular one you can buy at any consumer electronics store? I guess it's alright. I always think the lens' FOV is too wide for those, but it's ok. Buy lots of extra batteries...and follow your national and local laws about commercial drone photography. Be legit. Do the paperwork, pay the fees, get the training.

3. That's a pretty good flyer. I don't know or care who this hipster millennial Devin Graham is, but that particular Glidecam is faster and easier to use than the legacy models. You will soon find you will SERIOUSLY need to consider investing in an arm and vest. A 6lb camera on a 9lb sled is going to get extremely heavy really, really fast.

It's not about getting into this biz for the money. If that's true, then you're not getting into this biz, are you, really? You're just buying tools to help you tell the stories you want to tell and you don't care if you get rich doing it. That's perfectly fine. But, you can tell your stories better and faster and with less anguish on set if you buy the right stuff. It's expensive, but...how does it go? Buy once, cry once.

As for the Benro...Benro's pretty good. They reverse-engineered the old Sachtlers from the 90's....but the S8 is a fluid drag head. I hate those. You need a fluid head. Yes, there's a difference. There's been others, like the BV10, which don't seem to be around anymore, but I would look at the BV6 as that one seems to be kinda the same from what I remember. It has independent counterbalance and drag adjustments, which is what you need for video. Then, for sticks, probably look at the E-Image 2 Stage Aluminum Tripod Legs with 75mm Bowl. That's pretty ok and not too expensive. Or, less expensive, check out the Benro BV6 Pro Video Tripod Kit. But, each riser has a thing to pull. I'd rather do the E-Image as it's just one thing to pull for each leg...each leg having two risers. That's a lot less prams to push.
 
looking for a steadycam for my DVX200. I have the flycam HD3000 but the payload of the dvx200 is too much. I was looking at the flycam redking (glidecam devin graham knock off) but it seems a heavy steadycam. I use vest + arm from flycam but I'm affraid after some hours the extra weight will be a problem.

So today what can I best buy? a second hand one from a brand?
 
Trying looking for a used Steadicam Pilot. The arm is much more responsive than knockoff versions, as it is downscaled from the tech used in their full size Steadicams. Solid machine.
 
Agree with Charles advice. I purchased my Pilot many years ago for my HVX200 - and it performed very well (me being the weak link in performance). I don't use it much these days - it sits in a closet... but haven't really wanted to sell it either - cause I keep thinking I'll use it more again someday as lighter cine cams appear.
 
thx for the advice but even a second hand one is above my budget. I only use this steadycam about 2 times a year for a yearly event (carnival)
What about the glidecam xr-pro? Can handle 4.5 kg and only weighs about 1 kg? These are also second hand for sale on ebay
 
thx for the advice but even a second hand one is above my budget. I only use this steadycam about 2 times a year for a yearly event (carnival)
What about the glidecam xr-pro? Can handle 4.5 kg and only weighs about 1 kg? These are also second hand for sale on ebay

Since you only use it a couple times a year....have you considered renting?
 
Since you only use it a couple times a year....have you considered renting?

renting is waste of money for me. but these events are every year so after 2 years or so I already have my invested money back.

the flycam HD3000 was very good for me but not enough payload for the dvx200.
 
Any thoughts on the Steadicam Pilot in 2023? I already have a RS3 Pro, but Steadicam has a certain allure. I have a chance to pick up a used one for about $350.
 
If it comes with a vest and spring arm, I'd say go for it. You could pair the DJI and the Steadicam for a poor-mans Arri Trinity. A properly calibrated spring arm should eliminate the vertical bobble that you get in electronic gimbal shots, but you still have to practice a ton.
 
If it comes with a vest and spring arm, I'd say go for it. You could pair the DJI and the Steadicam for a poor-mans Arri Trinity. A properly calibrated spring arm should eliminate the vertical bobble that you get in electronic gimbal shots, but you still have to practice a ton.

Thanks for the advice. I might go for it!

Also wondering if it is easy to replace the existing LCD on the Pilot with an RCA(!) cable with something more contemporary.

 
The Pilot is still a good machine. The vest is underwhelming, but OK unless you are really pushing the load.t. The monitor should indeed be replaced in this day and age, it won't be very daylight viewable but fortunately there are many inexpensive options now in the Feelworld/Portkeys end of the market. You will however need to replace the internal wiring in the post with an HD-SDI line, the old composite video line will most likely not be able to pass the HD signal. There's a bit of voodoo inside there with how the internal cable is configured to allow the post to telescope. If you do buy and want to tackle, I'd recommend reaching out to Tom Wills (@willsvideo), he's a NY Steadicam operator who I think has reconfigured a Pilot as a lightweight rig so he might have some insight.

As far as turning it into a combo Steadicam/gimbal setup,

At $350, it's a steal. Just be prepared to put in some time practicing (a lot of time) if you want to get really good at it!

Here's a review I did of the system...good golly...15 years ago?! Cute demo clip on the last page. https://www.dvinfo.net/article/production/camsupport/steadicam-pilot-review-1.html
 
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