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  1. Hello everybody! Warm November greetings from St. Petersburg, Russia. Mostly I work as DoP and was not planning to be a professional steadicam operator. However, a year ago one of my projects called for a lot of steadicam shots, producers couldn't afford to hire a steadicam operator for so many days, so I bought a Tiffen Zephyr HD. I enjoyed it very much, until I hit its limitations. It never failed me though. I thought it’s nice to have a rig always on set, flying it when needed, but never actually considered using it outside my own projects. It was only when fellow DoPs started calling and asking me to fly their cameras, I realized it was time to upgrade. In September I made up my mind finally. The choice was anything but easy. So I want to share my experience with others, who might find themselves in the same situation. Being based in Russia, my choice was less affected by the place where the manufacturer was based. I just wanted the gear to be reliable and, well… the best I could afford. I started with the arm. Just reading through this forum the PRO arm felt like the best choice. Concerning reliability and simplicity mostly. So I quickly found out that the closest place I could get one was Betz Tools in Munchen. By that time I knew something about the Betz RIG, but VERY little info could be found on this forum or elsewhere. Writing all this because I basically feel that I could have used this kind of info myself while still choosing. For some reason Christian is very conservative with advertising his sled. Although it's just great. It shows more than 30 years of Christian's experience in the business. All the tiny details are thoroughly thought through (typically German). The precision and quality are also top notch, of course. The thing is pricey, that is true. In fact it is as expensive as any hi-end rig, but well worth the money. If any of you want to know more about my personal experience with the rig, I'll gladly share. However, it's not just the rig that was worth the trip to Munich. It is something I would call "the Betz Experience". Christian really helped me with everything and I spent two pleasant days with him, Isabel and Alex in Munich. There was no rush so I could try on all the different vests, sleds and arms. Christian never pushed or urged my decision, and honestly gave his opinion about everything. It felt more like a friendly workshop, rather than browsing the store. It was fun. I quickly understood that, while choosing the right steadicam, you don’t have to be committed to one particular brand. For example, my system now consists of a Betz HD rig, PRO Titan arm and a Sachtler vest. I have tried every vest they had in store, including the Exovest and Klassen. Sachtler simply fitted me the best. Christian gave his advice on what in his opinion was needed and which gadgets and parts were actually of less importance. Some of the parts he actually modified on the spot, specially for me. For example he upgraded the tilt plate with 2 additional locking nuts, so that it felt absolutely rigid. We called it "Russian edition" ;) To conclude, I feel like it was the right path with Betz Tools. It is great when people care more about your long term involvement with the craft. So if you feel strong about your passion with steadicam operating, you should definitely rely on such people. Hope this opus of mine came out not too long ) My first steadicam. Home made with my dad. My second steadicam (for sale), with my lovely wife (not for sale). My third steadicam All the best, Nikita
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