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Arri ALEXA 3.0 Software Update

Exciting news here at RBC is that Arri, keeping with their promise of delivering updates for ALEXA, have recently released version 3.0 which now allows video playback of the clips from the SxS media cards, audio recording via the 5 pin XLR stereo input and embedded in the HD-SDI outputs, and max 3200 ASA. Push the PLAY soft button on the camera side, and scroll through the clips to select one. Push the knob and your viewing your footage on all outputs. A future update will allow audio to play back as well, but for now this is another step in the right direction from Arri. With ALEXA’s multiple output and record options, 3.0 has made it easier to independently select each output/record path gamma setting. For example; record LogC to SxS cards while outputting Rec709 from HD-SDI outputs. All easily accessible from the lcd without going into the menu hierarchy. The Rec709 color processing has also been improved from last version. If you do choose to record LogC to SxS , Arri has made available a LUT generator (Look Up Table) on their website for downloading LUT’s and applying them to footage in post. The viewfinder has an optional Smooth mode which reduces flicker in the viewfinder at 30fps and under. A much more pleasant viewing experience but this will not be the same as all other outputs which will still have motion flicker in respect to frame rates. False Color Check can be activated in the viewfinder and/or the monitor output path. False Color Check is an exposure level guide using different colors to relay different exposure levels in your picture. This is helpful as it’s the only exposure guide in the camera. Where traditional video and HD cameras have Zebra settings or spot meters, ALEXA is based on setting an ASA and measuring for that sensitivity. A more traditional film method.

False Color Map (From ALEXA manual 3.0)
Metadata can be set via the lcd which includes production info like director, cinematographer, location, and user info that could include scene names,etc. The data is saved with the ProRes files making it available post. Single Frame Grab is a nice function that will store the current frame in the Rec Out path to the cameras SD card as 1920×1080 Jpeg, Tiff, or Dpx files. Thanks to Arri for keeping the updates coming and ALEXA evolving. The camera will continue to produce exceptional images with amazing latitude into the future. Dave Kudrowitz Senior Engineer

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In The Showroom: PMW-F3, Ki-Pro Mini, Zeiss CP.2 & More!

I love the smell of fresh styrofoam and cardboard.  Especially since that’s all I’ve been smelling for the last 4 days as I open up a new PMW-F3, KiPro Mini, Pan. AF-100, Marshall HDMI 5″ monitor, Zeiss ZF.2’s (18, 28, 35, 50, 85mm), Zeiss CP.2 (28, 35mm). Not so bad. Pair these diesel items with some custom Zacuto rigs, which I’ve been building lately (and which are the equivalent of grown-up legos) and you’ve got a set-up made specifically for you.  These items are so new and so popular that they’re challenging enough to use successfully without being overrated.  We’ve been sending AF-100’s and F3’s out to high-end freelancers, art schools, film schools, and pro feature film production sets.  They fit in anywhere if you can take advantage of the features that they offer.  Rule has recently become a Zeiss dealer and we’re pairing the latest Zeiss lenses with many of our cameras along with the Canon lensing and optional stock lensing from both Sony and Panasonic.  I just recently used an 18mm ZF.2 with the 60D last weekend up in Maine, but that’s a blog post for another time! Some questions have recently come up about lensing options for these cameras, specifically the F3 and AF-100, and, luckily, we’ll have some answers at this Wednesday’s 3/2 Learning Lab when Birger Engineering visits with their new Canon 4/3 to EF adapter which will be out in April.    As the Spring goes on, you’ll see lots of new announcements pending NAB.  I’ve included some pictures below of the F3 with the Mini Ki-Pro and CP.2.  Enjoy! Also, stay tuned — Mike Sutton is taking the F3 out with a Zeiss CP.2 this weekend, and I’m sure you’ll see a blog post from him sometime soon! Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Representative

Sony PMW-F3
Zeiss CP.2
Sony PMW-F3 with AJA Mini Ki-Pro & Zeiss CP.2

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Production Outfitters: New Swag!

Productions Outfitters just received some new swag! Now available — sleek black hats and custom printed Wiha tool kits.

The hats are classic baseball caps modeled by our own Bryan Alford…

The tool kits are an AC’s dream, with 30 different wrenches and screwdrivers, conveniently packed in a small Velcro kit.

We also carry a variety of other grip and camera pouches that easily strap onto your belt for easy accessibility!

Stop by and check it out!

Nick Giannino, Production Outfitters Store

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The Phantom Flex High-Speed Digital Camera

The Phantom Flex is the latest in HD high-speed image capturing from manufacturer Vision Research. I have been spending some time testing the Flex over the past two weeks and I am very impressed. With a 1000 ISO, the sensitivity this camera allows is far superior to its predecessor the Phantom HD Gold (ISO 320) which is a superb camera in its own right. This kind of sensitivity proves beneficial in high-speed image capturing. With it’s capability to capture over 2500fps at 1920×1080, or over 5000fps at 1280×720, you quickly see why Flex is the most sensitive high-speed camera on the market today.

The Phantom Flex
Another fine feature of the Flex is its internal capping shutter. This makes black balancing much easier to do during production with the press of a button on the side of the camera. Because of high operating temperatures, the sensor needs to be regularly black balanced to stabilize the signal levels. With this in mind, the camera also has an optional HQ mode. HQ mode eliminates the need to manually black balance as it does it automatically within each captured frame. Although HQ reduces the maximum frame rate capture speeds by approximately one half than standard mode, it makes for quicker shooting in the field as well as increases the signal to noise ratio in the image. An improperly black balanced camera will ruin your shot and that is not an option when you often have one short opportunity to capture it. Flex has two recording operation modes to choose from:  Loop mode or Run/Stop mode. In Loop mode the Flex uses an internal buffer that stores each take. The duration of the recorded action respectively decreases as the frame rate increases. So you may only have 2 seconds of capture time to film that exploding water balloon, or 4 seconds to film that acrobat in midair. (Check out RBC client Tom Guilmette’s recent blog and Flex footage for a creative example at http://www.tomguilmette.com/archives/1986 ) The clip in the buffer can then be trimmed and saved to the on-board CineMag, which is a 128G, 256G, or 512G flash mag mounted to the camera.
Mounting the CineMag onto the Flex
Run/Stop mode allows you to record direct to the CineMag while avoiding the short time allowed in the buffer. This may be a better choice when the action is longer or continuous. The caveat here is that the maximum frame rate is much lower. Maximum frame rate direct to CineMag is 361fps at 1920×1080. But the bonus is recording for longer periods of time. The operator can start and stop recording like a regular camera until the CineMag is full. The CineMag files are downloaded via Phantom software on a PC, either while still on the camera or on a Vision Research CineStation. The files on the CineMag are RAW files with the .cine extension. These are very large files that take a considerable amount of time to download to external hard drives to deliver to post. These files can be opened with software like Glue Tools , or Iridas. Glue Tools opens the files in a QuickTime wrapper and allows you to edit and view them in Final Cut Pro or other QT based applications for editing, grading and coloring. A different approach to saving the Phantom footage is using a video workflow method, by capturing the video playback directly from the Flex or CineStation onto a recordable device.
CineStation
Both have dual link HD-SDI outputs for high quality recording. Popular choices for this may include the CineDeck Extreme(4:2:2, 4:4:4), Convergent Design’s NanoFlash recorder(4:2:2), AJA KiPro(4:2:2)  or KiPro Mini(4:2:2) or direct to a CPU via a video card(4:2:2, 4:4:4). The Flex also has auto-scaling which allows shooting over-sampled resolution of 2560×1440(16:9) and scaling the SDI output to 1920×1080. Over-sampling gives us a better quality image (no artifacts) and greater dynamic range.
Two HD-SDI outputs can be set to dual link 4:4:4 for high-quality image capture
Rule Boston Camera’s Flex comes standard with a PL mount allowing the use of our entire inventory of 35mm motion picture camera lenses. Super 16 lenses can also be used when operating the Flex at 1280×720. RBC has 128G and 256G CineMags available for rental with the Flex. Be prepared for long download times when saving the .cine files from flash mags. Flex Max Frame Rates in LOOP mode: 2560×1440 – SQ: 1617fps , HQ: 802fps 1920×1080 – SQ: 2564fps , HQ: 1267fps Flex Max Frame Rates in R/S mode: 2560×1440 – SQ: 217fps , HQ: 217fps 1920×1080 – SQ: 361fps , HQ: 361fps CineMag Recording Time: 2560×1440 – 128G = 20 minutes@24fps 256G = 40 minutes@24fps 1920×1080-  128G = 33 minutes@24fps 256G = 67 minutes@24fps Download Time via 1G Ethernet /PC : 128G = 1.75 hours 256G = 3.5 hours The quality of the images Flex creates combined with the super slow motion truly make for stunning cinematography. Often described as “jaw dropping”. Dave Kudrowitz, Senior Engineer

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Sony F3’s @ Rule Boston Camera next week !

The highly anticipated Sony F3 is making its way to Rule next week.  We will have the F3 available in our rental department as well as in our showroom.  If you have not put down a deposit on the camera you will want to reserve one asap.   We anticipate the camera will be sold out and become one of the most popular cameras for 2011 due to its familiar workflow, lensing options, sensor size, and form factor.  Myself and the sales team will be available for demos on the showroom camera (please call in advance to book an appointment) with various lenses and accessories. Soon we will have Zeiss CP.2 lenses (several sets on order) on hand in rentals and sales to test with the camera. We will also have the MTF services Nikon mount and Zeiss ZF.2 lenses as well very soon. Come check out the camera everyone is talking about. Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974

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Sony PMW-F3: Back to Back Events

Yesterday, we here at Rule Boston Camera were graced with the presence of Sony’s new Super35-style HD camera, the PMW-F3. We hosted our own event about the camera as part of our weekly Learning Lab Series, and then the New England chapter of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) held their own meeting about the camera and its technology here in the evening. Sony was kind enough to bring a prototype of the F3 as well as an SXRD 4K projector to show off their new tech. Each event had its own personal flair, but both offered interesting insights into Sony’s new large-sensor offering. I recommend reading Mike Sutton’s blog post for a more complete and more technical feature description, but I’ll highlight some of the important parts that were featured during Wednesday’s presentations. The morning Learning Lab event was led by Sony’s Peter Crithary, who took us through the functions of the camera and showed us some truly breathtaking short-form pieces shot by people at USC and Stargate Films. Right off the bat, I have to say the footage looks beautiful. Even with 35Mbit/sec XDCAM EX internal recording, the images hold up well to color grading and compositing. When the camera is attached to an external recording device, though, like an AJA KiPro, Convergent Design’s NanoFlash, or Sony’s own HDCAM SR deck, the imager on this thing really shines. No noise, great depth of field, impressive dynamic range—it has it all. Don’t forget that your lenses can make all the difference in the world! And with the appropriate adaptors, the F3 can use a variety of prime or zoom lenses that are large enough to cover the super35 imager. Peter’s presentation gave us a ton of information on what the camera can do and how it can be applied to the typical, or sometimes not-so-typical, workflow. Not only does it make pretty pictures, it also gives you functionality to boot. For the absolute highest-possible recording quality, he recommended recording to the internal SxS slots for an off-line version, while simultaneously taking advantage of the 4:4:4 Dual-Link SDI output (with a firmware upgrade, available soon) to an HDCAM SR deck for your on-line edit. Both versions will be in perfect sync and the workflow is totally seamless. You can also take advantage of the additional SD/HD switchable SDI port to run an on-set monitor for your client without the need for headache-inducing distribution amplifiers. You can even apply the Look Up Table (LUT) settings you plan to use in post-production color grading in the camera itself, allowing the DP and the client to see it in its (almost) final form—without affecting your 4:4:4 master. Amazing! This is far more than many people will actually take advantage of, but the scalability here is definitely notable. He also highlighted features like 3D Link, where you can connect two F3’s and with one cable, can control both simultaneously for perfectly-synced 3D shooting.  Check out Peter’s Learning Lab session in its entirety on vimeo:  http://vimeo.com/channels/rulelearninglabseries. While Peter’s presentation was a little more practical, aimed at the average user, Hugo Gaggioni took the reigns at the evening’s SMPTE event and spoke more on the technology behind the F3. He took us all the way back to the 70’s and 80’s when CCD imagers were first developed and discussed the transition to new CMOS technologies up to and including future 4K sensors along with the new Super35mm chip in the F3 itself. While not necessarily for the layman, his presentation was packed with fascinating information on how we got to be where we are now—and how the new chips coming out of Sony’s new manufacturing plant are changing the way we shoot HD, 3D and 4K. The people in attendance even got a sneak peek at some of the new technology Sony will be unveiling this year—very exciting stuff! The Sony F3 often seems to come up in conversations about the Panasonic AF100 and Canon’s line of DSLR’s. While the size of the sensor on each of these suggests they are all in the same class, this is hardly the case. Each one is designed to fit a certain set of needs and a certain budget. The F3 is in a slightly different price range than the offerings from Canon and Panasonic, but again, the functionality and feature set far outstrip its competition. On the flip side, however, at $16,000 list price, it is much cheaper than both the Red One and Arri Alexa, another set of cameras the F3 is bound to be compared to. What you must do is really evaluate the needs of your shoot and decide which of these cameras best suits your demands and budget. We were assured that the camera is on schedule to ship in February. We’re all excited about what this camera can do, and I hope you are, too! Peter Brunet, Engineering Technician

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The New Sony PMW-F3

Sony’s most anticipated camera is finally just around the corner with delivery expected mid-February.  The F3 is a dream camera for most in that it offers a large sensor like DSLR’s but with the feature sets and ergonomics of a professional HD camera.  The F3 features a Super 35mm-sized sensor and a PL mount adapter.  On the surface, the camera appears to be no more than an EX1R with a large sensor, but, under the covers, it’s actually so much more.  Its numerous features will mean more to some than others, but, it’s fair to say that Sony has a winner on its hands for both entry level shooters all the way up to seasoned professionals.  Beyond the sensor’s increased low-light capability is a huge increase in noise reduction and the forethought of keeping the flange depth (in relation to the sensor) accurate and in-tune for use with most professional motion 35mm Cine Lenses.  Great features like over crank and under crank are present (1fps-60fps), and the camera features the same amazing 3.5″ viewfinder as the EX1R.  Even with this great viewfinder, it’s advisable to use an on-board monitor since the depth of field is shallower than the EX series and focus will be much more critical.  A good monitor with focus assist is key if not pulling tape on each shot. Photo: F3 camera body with PL mount adapter. I noticed online via various forums, blogs, etc., a lot of confusion about the mount on the F3.  The F3 features a removable PL mount but the camera has its own F3 mount as well.  Many people have asked why there is a zoom rocker on a camera that comes with a PL mount.  The zoom control is specifically for the F3 mount on the body which, in the near future, will be able to control S35mm F3 mount zoom lenses which Sony has plans to bring to market in the near future.  These zooms are the 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 (manual focus and zoom), 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 (auto), and the 17-50mm f/2.8 (auto). These lenses are not due until the end of 2011 and price is TBD.  This is still very encouraging and something that cannot currently be found in the DSLR arena.  S35mm zoom lenses, even in a new F3 mount, are a solution that opens up the use of smaller crews and less external components (microforce, etc.).  Sony has the ability to make lenses like this due to their acquisition of Konica / Minolta.  Outside of the F3 mount the camera comes with a PL mount.  It’s not a dummy mount in that it has the ability to transmit Arri Lens Data and Cooke/i data to the camera body.  These data pins are located in the 12 and 3 o’clock positions inside the PL mount. This metadata is passed onto the SxS cards during recording so you have the ability in post to review lens information (think Canon EXIF data with Aperture but with motion pictures).  Sony also has an F3K bundle which features three of its own PL lenses (35mm, 50mm & 85mm) all f/2.0 with 95mm filter diameters.  I think this is a very clever choice to have a bundle with these primes because they are fast, consistent and can be purchased for a lot less than most PL mount cine glass.  Canon and Nikon users are not left out as Nikon (G and DX will all work) and Canon FD lens adapter to F3 mount are available from MTF Services.  Birger Engineering also has plans to release a Canon EF mount with full protocol control.  I think most users will be looking at Zeiss CP.2 PL lenses as an affordable solution for owning, and lens renters will be looking at Cooke S4, Arri and Zeiss PL mount lenses to take full advantage of the amazing sensor on the camera. Photo: F3 with PL mount. Notice the data pins at the 12 and 3 position in the mount. The Sony F3 uses SxS cards just like the rest of the Sony PMW series of cameras.  The camera records MPEG-2 Long GOP which is also used by the rest of the XDCAM HD cameras in Sony’s professional line.  The bit rate is selectable between the 35 Mb/s @ 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 in HQ mode or 1440 x 1080 if using 25 Mb/s SP mode at all the standard frame rates we are accustomed to with Sony’s CineAlta line of cameras (1fps – 60fps).  This was smart on Sony’s part as it allows you to inter-cut with other Sony professional cameras in the line if needed. The camera features two SxS slots which can hold up to two 64GB SxS-1A cards for a total of 200 minutes of continuous recording time without having to offload (well beyond DSLR capabilities) A great feature of the F3, which also has some lack of clarity on the web, is its ability to output Dual Link 3G SDI 10bit 4:2:2 and RBG.  This is an optional feature available in April via a software unlock (price TBD), and it will allow you to use several different recording options like a CineDeck, HDCAM SRW5500/2, Codex, Astro HR-7502, S.Two, direct to AJA Kona 3G (ideally with CineForm DDR), etc.  You can also use a NanoFlash or a KiPro Mini if you just want to bypass the SxS or as a secondary or primary (with SxS as a backup). With 3D being popular in the past few years, Sony has wisely added a 3D system link option that will allow you to lock-up timecode, genlock and other controls with a single cable — simplifying the process.  This is really smart because it allows you to use simple side-by-side 3D rigs without the need for external devices, etc.  3D focus, zoom, iris can all be done with a Preston HU3 and 2 x MDR-2 units with 6 motors via 3D tweak in the Preston hand unit. When Sony puts out their own S35 Zoom lens with built in servos this process will be even easier as you can use a Varizoom and other simple electronic controls for FI+Z.  It’s also important in that the F3 has an 8pin remote terminal so you can use standard remote units like the RMB150 controller.  I mention this with 3D as it is possible to use one remote to control two cameras with an 8pin adapter cable. The 3D link option will be available in April and price is TBD. Overall, the Sony F3 is destined to become one of the most talked about and popular cameras of 2011.  With the Panasonic AF100 and the Sony F3, it is safe to say a shift to large sensor cameras by manufacturers is a priority.  Sony and Panasonic have been paying attention and both reacted with two quality products that directly address a number of features and requests that we have all had with DSLRs.  Ergonomics, proper audio (XLR connections with monitoring), proper waveform/vector, recording length, codecs, etc., have all been addressed affordably.  The camera comes with a PL adapter, Stereo Mic, Windscreen, IR remote, Shoulder strap (not sure why), manual, CD-ROM with drivers and digital manual and warranty.  The F3K comes with the same supplied accessories with the addition of the PL lens kit featuring a 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses. The camera does not come with batteries or a charger.  Luckily, it uses the Sony BP series of batteries so if you already have an EX1 or EX3, you’ll be all set.  These batteries and charger will be sold and rented at Rule along with the Sony PMW-F3 camera.   We’ll be hosting a Learning Lab for the F3 on Wed, Jan 19th 2011 at Rule Boston Camera. Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974

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Arri Alexa Workshop

Just came from today’s Learning Lab on the new Arri Alexa camera and I’m practically salivating!
The presentation was done by Arri technical sales representative Guenter Noesner who wowed us with the elegant design and seemingly perfect mechanics of the much anticipated Alexa.
I was most impressed with how modular and adaptable the camera is.  Arri designed the camera to grow and adapt with time and the changing technological trends.  The Alexa currently records to Sony SXS cards but can be updated to stay current with the fastest recording media.  The robust metal shell of the camera is separated into plates that can be replaced or upgraded. You break a BNC connector on set? No worries! The BNC connectors can be switched out and repaired right on location!
The Alexa boots up in no time and has a customized ventilation system that keeps the camera quiet while recording.  If the camera starts to get loud over time the fan can be replaced easily without having to send the whole unit out for repair.  The Alexa menu system is intuitive and easy to navigate.  I toggled through the camera changing  ASA, Shutter, Frame rates – all by the touch of a button or the turn of a dial.
If you haven’t had a chance to play around with the Alexa visit the Arri website and check out the Alexa simulator, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the camera menu – http://www.arridigital.com/technical/simulator
Can’t wait to see all the amazing footage our clients will be shooting with the new Alexa.  Don’t wait another day to get out their and get shooting!

Evelyn Seijido, Rental Agent
Up close with the Alexa

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The First Look at the Panasonic AG AF100…

Jan Crittenden-Livingston brought the working prototype of the AF100 to Rule yesterday! The first impression — it has a rather light body (2.5lbs), although it looks “stocky”. The handle can be removed and the right side grip can be removed, too, leaving a pretty simple cube. It came with a PL adaptor for Zeiss cine lens, rod attachment and Vocas mattebox. Quite a small package. The camera is easy to set and most menus will be familiar to Panasonic camera users. You have to get used to the lack of rocker switch for zoom on the grip and Start/Stop recording button being on the body.  It has a very nice camera picture, although Jan asked us not to judge it – it is a prototype. Perfect choice for P+S Technik DOF Adapter user? Possibly yes. Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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The First Forum Shoot

In past posts, I mentioned that this room at Harvard’s School of Public Health, is interesting because of its dual purpose. Well, on Friday we broke in the production part of the room. Here is the techno-geeky breakdown of the shoot: The goal was redundancy to prevent failure. Four BRC-H700 Cameras mounted on ceiling lifts that lower them down to eye level when needed. Each fed HDSDI into an AnyCast switcher. Two more sources from an EX3 stationed in the room to provide a human operator better equipped to grab audience questions, and a PC running a PowerPoint. The PC was converted through an Extron USP 507 to HDSDI and fed not only to the Anycast but also to two 40″ LCD screens in the room for audience viewing. Audio in from four wired lav mics in the room and one wireless hand held into a Shure mixer for processing then to the Anycast to combine with the video. Also 8 Clock Audio ceiling mics through a Nexia DSP to the AnyCast for audience questions. Music in from an iPod to open the show rounded out the audio scheme. Recording was done on six different devices. Two KiPros each taking a program feed from the AnyCast. Three camera backups to HVR-1500s, so that everything could be fixed in post. There is also an audio recording done to a Marantz MP3 recorder. This file was emailed directly after the event to have a transcript made. In addition to all of this, the unit that we are using to do a live encode for the web does its own recording, a Digital Rapids StreamZ HD. There is a future technology coming to the location as well. Using VYVX, we will be able to transmit full-quality HD to any network in the world. This system has a lot of complexity stuffed into a small space, but it all works very well. I look forward to seeing many more of these events in the future. Ian Tosh, Director of Engineering Services

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Production Outfitters: New G-Drives!

New to Productions Outfitters are the G-Technology G-Drives!  These light and portable drives come in a range of storage sizes and include a sleek silver design.  They are naturally rugged and  capable of faster transfer speeds and a range of connectivity. The G-drive mini has some added bonuses including 2 firewire 800 ports and no need for AC power.  You can just plug it right into your computer via the firewire cable.  We have them available right next to rentals, so if the need should arise you can pick one up right away! Gen Andrews, Production Outfitters Store

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Recent Steadicam Workshop with Zephyr & Scout

At the recent Columbus Day Weekend Steadicam Workshop with Peter Abraham, I was intrigued by a couple of things.  First off, the people that I spent those two days with were AWESOME.  You literally walk away feeling like you are best friends (check out the photos at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rule-Boston-Camera/46957103796?ref=ts). Next to that, I got to use the new Steadicam Scout for the first time, which will be the replacement for the Flyer eventually.  The Scout is the first one in the country to be used in the workshop, so it was great getting a firsthand look at it, and seeing the differences and changes that so many people are going to want if they decide to update their Steadicam.  First off, instead of only having the ability to rig weights at both ends of the monitor, there is a screw-in spot in the middle, behind the monitor.  This gives you some added weight, and works well to balance out the 24 lb. capacity if you go up that high on top.  You can also slide the monitor backwards and forwards, which also works to balance out the weight.  Speaking of the monitor, it’s a new model, one not seen yet, and for being standard definition as well as glare proof, I was really pleased with the image and would buy it that way easily. Many people have asked me my preference- Scout or Zephyr.  Well, after using both, they are different tools.  The Zephyr is definitely a bit heavier, but also is a nice feel, and a bit more robust if you’re using something like the Sony PMW-320, which is what we had on it.  The Scout is a nice middle range.  Heavier than the Pilot, lighter than the Zephyr.  The Pilot vest is also being redone, and there is a kit available to update yours if you want to.  The current Pilot vest is mostly Velcro and if you’ve ever tried to get it off while shooting- well don’t.  It’s like popping the packaging bubbles that your camera comes wrapped in.  Loud. The new kit gives you clips, etc., to make it a little more like the Zephyr and Scout vests. And last, here are some tips from Peter Abraham himself (who by the way, shot Notorious B.I.G.’s first music video, and if you haven’t appreciated slight differences in Steadicam operators’ work, you will after watching this video). Sand- Get a can of air and spray the Steadicam every so often to blow off the gimbal.  You won’t be getting sand out easily if you let it build up.  If you’re walking on sand and don’t want to kill your ankles, get metal screening from Home Depot or Lowes, and lay it down on the sand for support. Shooting with DSLR- get a thin foam sheet from any fabric store, cut a small rectangle and screw in the camera to the Steadicam plate through that.  You won’t wear down the bottom of the camera, or scratch your Steadicam plate, and it won’t move around on you or come loose. Self Adhesive Velcro- This stuff is magic.  Keep your ends on your vest tied down with it, use it to attach a water cover, keep a roll with you at all times. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Representative