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ABC Products

Steadicam Gets Competition

by David Fox and Christina Fox

There were several companies offering camera stabilising systems as Steadicam alternatives. We take a look at what Chrosziel, Sachtler, MK-V Glidecam and ABC products have to offer.


Chrosziel's RIG "can be used with the Steadicam arm and vest and the George Paddock PRO arm and vest" says Chrosziel's Gabi Kilian. She explained that it is offering the rig because "Steadicam still has long delivery times and we wanted to offer something to cameramen." Its RIG consists of three posts, with a quick-lock safety mechanism, extendible from 75cm (making it easier to use on staircases) up to 175cm. The battery mounts at the base of the rig can be inverted to enable a minimum height of 60cm. It weighs 5.2kg, excluding monitor.

It is built to "take anything from a Canon XL1 to an Arri 435, and it needs no tools, not even a screwdriver to change anything," she says. It has a built-in electronic bubble level, Lemo/BNC connectors for power and video, and a 5-inch monitor (4:3/16:9 switchable) with integrated frameline/crosshair generator.

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Sachtler ARTEMIS DVSachtler's new Artemis HD/Cine modular camera balance system features: RGB wiring, a built-in Tally system, an interchangeable post, and an optional video distributor. The arm can take different spring sets with a load capacity range from 15 to 35kg (the standard arm carries 25kg). The lightweight vest is available in two sizes, and its design promises reduced pressure on the user's back.

For smaller cameras (up to 2.5kg), there is the new Artemis DV, which looks like a large G balanced under the camera. The aluminium system weighs under 1kg, but is claimed to be "exceptionally" strong and stable. Balancing the system requires no tools.

The handgrip design allows users to carry it in one hand, while controlling the camera with the other. The monitor mount fits all standard 2.5- and 3-inch TTF monitors and its handle, monitor mount and balance weights are all adjustable, giving it dynamic balance. It is collapsible and includes a docking stand, counterweights and carrying case as standard. 

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MK-V has a modular Steadicam rival which can be assembled for any camera from DV to a heavy old Arri BL 35mm. To a frame and battery module (which can take any type of battery) are added a choice of monitor, the gimbal, and top stage, with Tally lights for video and/or gyroscopes for stabilisation as desired. The BBC uses a version with its digital wireless camera system for sport. The system can also be used to upgrade existing Steadicam rigs (or users can fit Steadicam parts to the MK-V system). It costs from about £2,500.

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To keep Steadicam users on the level, Marell has introduced a new electronic digital level, which its technical director, David Ellis, claims is half the price of any rival. It can be plugged in line with the monitor and has a built-in crosshair, which can be positioned to keep the actor in the correct part of the shot.

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Glidecam showed its new Gold series camera stabiliser. The complete system, including vest, rig and monitor costs $20,000 and comes with a no-tool adjustment guarantee. Six high-strength titanium springs in the Gold Arm can take from 5.9kg to 17.3kg, with Hyper-Extension hinges allowing greater freedom of movement.

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ABC Products' Handyman 100, 1000 and 2000 rigs are designed for lightweight DV cameras. The 100 is for cameras that have built-in monitor screens, such as the Sony PC 7. It can take a camera weight of 1.2kg (or up to 2.4kg with additional trim weights). The 1000 for cameras like the Sony VX-1000 without an LCD screen. The rig has a colour LCD monitor which doubles up as a counterweight. The Handyman 2000 is for users strong enough to hand-hold the rig and a 2-4.5kg camera. If, like me, you couldn't hand-hold it steady for more than a few minutes you'd need to complete the kit with ABC's Easyflex vest and arm to let your body take some of the strain.

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Steadicam, which is now owned by Tiffen, showed its new top-of-the-range Ultra series. These feature a major redesign to make them quicker and simpler to set up (with no tools required) and use. It includes a built-in Palm Pilot computer, which runs a dynamic balance application to ensure the camera remains perfectly balanced during the most difficult shots. The rig also extends to more than 175cm, which Tiffen claims is the maximum possible on any system. The sled is now slimmer, at under 9cm, so that it can stay closer to the user's body, which improves control and reduces fatigue - as does reduced weight and greater rigidity through the use of titanium, aluminium and carbon fibre.

JAN 2002

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© 2000 - 2017

  • Review of new camera tripods and mounts from all the manufacturers at IBC 2001.
  • The Tortlerig and Easyrig 2 - camera-work without back pain?
  • CamSling - a low-cost alternative to the SteadiCam.

    Christina Fox and David Fox