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Vests and arms for steadicams topic
  • This is topic about various chinese (ONLY chinese!) produced vests and arms for them.

    I'll try to focus on double arm designs (aka double spring arms) as they are preferable.

    First, vest and arm from Wondlan Leopard 2 set:

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    Not cheap, but as far as I asked operators this is among best chinese vests.

    It is offered as option to Wondlan Carbon stabilizer in our deals.

    http://www.wondlan.com/product/260-leopard--carbon-fiber-standard-edition--5fdc/

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  • 41 Replies sorted by
  • Men Bo CY-008

    One of the cheapest offers (one on ebay that I found is $359+105)

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    http://www.ebay.com/itm/menbo-cy-008-steadicam-Stabilizer-Steadycam-CHRISTMAS-SALE-/290829509355

    Did not find any really good words for it. It seems that it needs heavy modification and checking for good work.

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  • Vest save you wrist and arms, but for every action their is a reaction and the weight of everything is pretty much shifted to your lower back. This is the only negative I have came across, but I assume with more use the lower back muscles will get stronger. If anybody has had back issues and such a vest might not be a great idea.

  • @GravitateMediaGroup

    This is topic about various chinese produced vests and arms for them.

    From top post. Glidecam or Steadicam brands are not for this topic.

  • LAING options

    Quite good opinions about them. Good quality.

    First, more light set, for cameras up to 7.5kg.

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    One for 7-15kg range comes in case:

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  • I ordered a Wondlan Leopard II Standard kit two weeks ago (upgraded two days later, which I will explain under cons). I am very impressed with what you get for your money!

    Pros:

    • The case is great! It got wheels and an extendable handle which makes transport very convenient.

    • High quality stabilizer, good bearing, easy to balance.

    • Nice arm.

    • Very comfortable vest. fits well (in my case) and is well padded for normal use.

    • Easy to mount monitor.

    • Easy to mount v-batteries.

    Cons:

    • The screws, especially the plastic levers and knobs on them, are quite bad. EDIT: on the stabilizer only.

    • Screw that holds the gimbal sucks in my opinion. A twist-and-lock like on some tripods would be better.

    • Adjusting the arms horizontally and tilt (I hope that is the proper word) is a bit fiddly.

    • Minor: You can't put a rigged steadicam in the case - it all has to be dismounted like with most systems.

    • Cables have to run on the outside. I hate that so I upgraded to the deluxe version, which makes it MUCH easier, because it got HDMI, BNC and AC plugs beneath the camera plate and loose ends on the bottom.

    • EDIT: The supplied stand, which is more like a free goodie in the kit is garbage. It doesn't hold the weight of my setup.

    But most importantly: it works well and it is a fast system! I just attended a steadicam workshop where I had the chance to compare the Wondlan system with the counterparts from GLidecam and Flycam and also the very expensive systems from ABC Products (MovieTech AG). Honestly, I thought it was better than Glidecam and Flycam. ABC was a different league regarding build quality (which is superb!) and details (screws, cable system, monitor bracket), but it takes much more time to assemble and balance such a system. The Wondlan, on the other hand, is a quick and easy system that "flies" very well.

    I hope my first impressions help people that are not sure whether or not to buy this system.

  • I'm looking for an arm and a vest to support my DIY-Rig ( http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/comment/83700#Comment_83700 ). One problem is the weight of about 8-9 kg fully assembled (including the special ring motor for focus - not finished yet). But this new deals look very tempting...

    ...so, some questions first:

    • Is the given "max. camera weight" limited by the gimball/ball bearing or by the arm/spring? (As the bearing on my rig isn't the limit, as it can take more than 50kg without any problem.)

    • Do this arms make any noise while moving the camera, any squeeking noise from the springs?

    • How comfortable are this vests for tall people (about 1,90m)?

    • Which vest+arm combination would you recommend for a very heavy rig (7-10kg)? Is there a big difference between the big versions from Wondlan and Laing quality wise?

    Cheers

  • Is the given "max. camera weight" limited by the gimball/ball bearing or by the arm/spring? (As the bearing on my rig isn't the limit, as it can take more than 50kg without any problem.)

    Usually it is toughter constructions, and, of course, springs are different.

    How comfortable are this vests for tall people (about 1,90m)?

    They are adjustable, so I see no problems.

    Which vest+arm combination would you recommend for a very heavy rig (7-10kg)?

    I do not use this specific vests, so can't recommend any. :-)

    Is there a big difference between the big versions from Wondlan and Laing quality wise?

    Big Wondlan version is Deluxe one, not on deals now. It is pricey. Lowest ebay that I see is $2665.

  • @Psyco

    My Wondlan is not making sounds when you move. I usually carry an FS700 with light shoulder rig and mattebox on top, and v-mount plus 7 inch monitor on the bottom. Total weight is around 9-10 kg I think. The arm takes it easily. You can put more weight on it for sure. Vest should be fine for you height. It depends more on your "volume" I think ;)

  • @Tobsen

    Big thanks for feedback.

    What do you think about making short video to show advantages of vest and arm contrary just holding stabilizer?

    I mean, for beginners. As it is most frequently asked question.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    I will ask someone at the company to help filming/demonstrating. Maybe I can get it done over the weekend.

  • I adjusted my comment.

    I can't find a price for the Wondlan Leopard, anybody know?

  • @Tobsen

    Thanks for the info.

    So you use the Wondlan "light" version with 9-10kg - which is about 2kg over its advertised limit - without any problems? How much headroom do you think is left with the supplied springs/what do you think would be the maximum load where it is still fully operational?

    Does anybody know about any differences between the Wondlan and the Laing arm or vest?

  • I own a WONDLAN stabiliser and have been snooping around for a good/cheap vest for some time now.

    The Leopard (not the "single arm" version) looks pretty expensive.. I also stumbled upon a Chinese brand called "CAME" (nope, I'm not making this up), selling Vest+Arm+Stab packages for just under 700$. They claim it can hold up to 7kg, and I like the idea of having 15mm rods integrated in the stabiliser.. but judging from the photographs the quality doesn't seem to be on par with the WONDLAN stuff. Anybody ever had any experiences with that brand?

    @Tobsen: Are you using the Leopard "single arm" or "dual arm" vest?

  • @Psyco Now I am not quite sure anymore. I thought it said that the Leopard arm/vest can carry "CAMERAS" of up to 7.5 Kg. That is why I bought tis version.

    On their Website, they first say total load capacity and then camera as well.

    So, I can't tell you the exact weight the arm-vest ombo can carry. I am definitely at the end range around 7.5 Kg (maybe I overestimated the weight of my rig) and the springs are turned half way to get the arm into a horizontal position. I can easily pull them further to take more weight.

  • @fetzu I am using the dual arm cuz it wobbles less in my opinion.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    No, the part that connects the Laing arm to the vest is not shown in the detail pictures and is hidden by the arm in the full picture.

    In the Wondlan pictures (1 and 2) it is explicitly shown, labeled "arm pin" or "pin connected to vest". It lets you adjust the tilt of the arm to the vest.

    It would be interesting, if Laing is using a similar part or not.

    Ebay deal: "2-15 kg", PV deal "7-15 kg" and as you pointed out, the biggest differences are in the strength of the built and the used springs - so, it LOOKS the same, but IS it the same?

  • Ebay deal: "2-15 kg", PV deal "7-15 kg"

    Just use logic. This thing uses springs, so all this 2-15kg is bullshit really. If you use big rig you need different springs (in this ase ones that work up to 15kg), period.

    In original statement they list 2-15kg, but I really advise you use proper arm for proper weight. Just check Wondlan leopard 2 editions. They have much more true statements.

  • Thats the part I was asking about:

    By turning those small wheels you can move the bolts in or out, this tilts the arm up or down and let you adjust it to make the axis vertical.

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  • @Psyco In my case, you have to take it ALL apart to move the bolts in or out. I never noticed cuz the configuration was perfectly balanced for me right out of the box. When I was thinking of doing a short review/hands-on video of the Wondlan (will do in early next year), I noticed that the wheels don't move anything. They just lock the bolts int he position you like. If you want to adjust the bolts, you have to remove the big vertical bolt and the parts attached to it (in your picture, the left part) to screw the bolts themselves in or out. Then, you can put it back together and test if balance it right. Really not ideal, in my opinion....

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  • In comparison with a Steadicam, Sachtler or ABC system that allow the bolts to be adjusted freely without dissassembly, this is much more time consuming. I think Wondlan should change that in future models.

  • @Tobsen thanks for the information - that sounds really like Wondlan copied the design from one of the other manufacturers but without understandig the function of this part - so, they made it to look like the others ;-)

    I will give the Laing system a try, where this part seems to be missing at all - maybe I will add it later on if it will really help to adjust the rig.

  • Great info guys, thanks for posting.

    Emm says this arm has performance close to that of the Merlin (i.e. the gold standard for small arms) . He points out that a lot of these cheap arms have springs that are too powerful for light cameras, but apparently not the case with Wieldy. emm will be doing further video comparison . Wieldy also has good demo video (including 320mm FF long lens work) for its single-arm system at:

    Wieldy rig is also on ebay labelled as "Came" brand although there are some reports Came bearings are of differentquality.

    I requested that these arms be assessed in videos by a few critical performance indicators:

    • the effective boom range

    • the range of payload weights and what feels like the “sweetest” load on each arm. This is the critical “iso-elastic feel” of each arm (i.e. Merlin claims that only a small constant lifting force from your hand is required to boom the arm through its entire range, even at the extremeties of the spring range, which means it is highly iso-elastic). Whereas a less than ideal spring will need heaps of grunt from your hand to lift at the ends of the boom range and is thus not considered iso-elastic.) The iso-elastic performance will vary according to the weight that is placed on the arm, hence the "sweet spot" or ideal carrying weight for each arm.

    • the "operating footprint" or room that the arm takes up outside the hip area of the operator (i.e. how easy it will be to operate in confined quarters). This can be influenced by the length of the "bones" (i.e. "arm sections") and also how far out to the side the socket-block connection or “effective rear pivot point” of the arm is. Often the cheaper arms have a more monstrous “operating footprint” are are bad news for any sort of confined shooting. Having a 2-axis adjustable socketblock like the Merlin/Wondlan (although helpful for adjusting the "fall" or natural floating position of the arm) is likely to increase the operating footprint of the rig and make it more likely to bang into door frames when going through doors or confined spaces. I tried a Wondlan-copy arm and the rear pivot point of the arm sat 37cm from the centreline of the vest - effectively 15cm outside my natural hipline! That's a lot of real estate. The Wieldy has only a drop-in socket-block without axis adjustments and looks to have a smaller operating footprint, but I am waiting on confirmation from supplier, as it also has longer arm sections.

    Regarding the quality of bearings (especially the critical pan bearing around the post) there is a good simple test --> Hold the rig at arms length straight out in front of you and rotate your whole body through 360 degrees over about three seconds and come to a stop. A perfect bearing will retain the original camera axis (pointing direction), whereas if there is significant friction in the bearing, the camera will be pulled off axis. (A few degrees can be acceptable). This test simulates the standard moves of an operator who has to walk around the rig during the shot and have the camera orientation undisturbed.

    It is interesting to see the Laing stabiliser pictured above offers an in-built HDMI cable run through the centre-post for proper monitoring. It is possible to do a DIY mod on these posts to run HDMI, as per the attached sketch ... with the warning that drilling the carbon fibre might affect its structural integrity / flexibility.

    I hope people can post any videos they know of for these rigs ... in terms of setup and also operating results.

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  • @cp_from_oz

    As far as I know, Wieldy is just reseller brand.

  • Wieldy sled is Glidecam knock-off. I do not know if the arm has been copied from elsewhere.