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Jens Piotrowski SOC

Tiffen Steadicam M1 modular

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If the M1 is able to be taken apart and field repairable, I think it's a wonderful feature for operators. In the past, a Tiffen repair would require sending in the rig pretty much always. With the M1, it would appear that a problematic gimbal or component could be removed and swapped in the field by the operator.

 

Interoperability of components is the responsibility of the owner to research. Nobody is required to adhere to standards of interoperability with components between manufacturers unless it's advertised as such. My ability to field service my rig or swap components should a piece fail gives me great confidence in my gear. I'm happy for those operators who are considering the M1 will have that option at their disposal.

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About a month ago, my new M-1 was delivered to me, and I put it to work right away. I put a lot of thought into this purchase, and I must say, I couldn't be happier with my decision.

 

For me, what immediately stands out about the sled is I have the ability to position the masses anywhere I like. Want the batteries low and the monitor high? Takes about 20 seconds. Want the rig completey coplanar? Takes about 20 seconds. Because of the extreme low profile base, the rig is almost all centerpost, maximizing the extension while also being able to go compact. It can be big or small, depending on what camera I'm flying. The monitor can be mounted quickly to either post, but it leaves no clamp rings behind. Instead, they have gone with plastic sleeves that snap on/off the centerpost and provide a barrier between the metal clamp and the carbon post.

 

It's obvious right away that one of their main focuses of the M-1 was rigidity. The monitor and battery mounts, while being able to swivel vertically, are bombproof, and the sled feels rock solid with the thicker post diameter. I've done running shots in both high and low mode, with long, heavy builds, and I've yet to detect any vibration whatsoever. And of course, having the post and monitor mount indexed takes all the guesswork out of lengthening the rig or going into lowmode.

 

The new vernier tilthead is a big improvement. While I have always been a fan of the tilthead on other Tiffen rigs, it was a bit cumbersome for me to set the tilt while I was wearing the rig. Now, I just open the two locks with my arm hand, and dial in the tilt the same way I would dial in the trim. I can stand at a certain mark, during rehearsal, quickly get it right where I want it, and just lock it right back up.

 

The camera assistants on my current show really like the new dovetail lock. Drop in the camera, hear a *click*, and close the lever. Battery changes are a little simpler now: because the 12/24 and on/off switches are now two separate buttons, the assistants just walk up to the rig and push one button, one direction, to power everything.

 

The gimbal feels great in the hand, feels buttery smooth under load, and comes apart very easily, offering access to the bearings.

 

The whole sled can be taken apart in just a few minutes. I learned this through necessity after a long couple of days in Altadena. We found ourselves on a stretch of fire road that was basically a dust vortex, and the rig was filthy. Over the weekend, I took everything apart and made it sparkling clean over the course of one glass of beer.

 

Again, I'm so happy with this rig. I feel very good about the direction they've taken, and Dan and Jacob, along with the rest of the Tiffen guys, have made themselves extremely available to answer any questions I've had.

 

Fly safe, everyone.

Edited by Neal Bryant
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Absolutely - you simply need an arm post sized for the M-1 sled, or a bushing in the gimbal handle to reduce the .740" arm post hole down to 5/8". I've been flying the M-1 on my PRO arm for a few months, and I love the way it works.

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I have a machine shop, and made a bushing for the gimbal handle, as I already had a full set of PRO arm posts I wanted to continue using. If you're thinking of doing the same, give me an email at willsvideo@gmail.com. I can probably help you out.

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