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Pilot System? or Pilot (Sled Only) ?


Bo Hallen
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Good day,

 

I am considering buying the pilot. However, the vest (which looks very flimsy and cheap) and arm look somewhat mysterious.

 

Should I buy the sled only and go for a cheaper arm and vest like Glide Gear 6001? Or buy a used flyer vest and arm?

 

Or even a chinese knockoff arm and vest?

 

Any suggestions?

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You should definitely go to the whole Pilot system. The vest is light to wear, yet solid and rigid enough for what you have to fly, the arm is smooth and can be adjusted on the fly to your camera's weight. Also own an Archer2, yet have no plan to sell my Pilot because it's a great little rig for documentary work, light cameras and rough conditions.

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Yes, the arm for the Pilot is different than the Merlin because of the shape of the arm post (it's bent on the Merlin). Just look at them on the B&H website you will see they are not the same.

The arm and vest of the Pilot are designed to properly hold the weight the Pilot sled can hold while keeping the cost down. Getting another arm than the Pilot will not be a good idea as it will not be engineered to work with the sled.

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To be clear, the difference between Merlin and Pilot arm is the post only. You can, I think, order the post part and change a merlin arm to pilot or vice versa. The vest, I believe, is also the same.

 

As has been said on a gazillion other threads, there is no cheaper knockoff that is close to acceptable. The pilot arm is properly engineered and built, and the pilot vest has proper adjustments to allow you to operate effectively. The knockoffs are not and do not. Many have found out the hard way.

 

Also, the arm post on a knockoff arm will likely not fit the pilot sled anyway.

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Right, I understand. The post is different.

 

I have no doubt the pilot arm is excellent and lives up to Tiffen's standards.

 

I have read that the Pilot/Merlin vest is not metal, but plastic. I have read that it is easily bendable. The folks at Steadicam claims their vest to be extremely comfortable and very versatile. I have just a few concerns, like the lack of buckles and all velcro. Can all that velcro be a problem for audio? Will the vest last or will the plastic break? I suppose even the most rugged of vests have a limit?

 

Also, I own a GH4. There is an AV out on the camera and, of course, the all loving micro hdmi port. The AV out should work if I run the provided rca cable to the post? And at the bottom of post can't I connect that RCA cable right to their monitor? Or would I have to use a RCA to BNC barrel?

 

I love GH4 but at the end of the day it is still a dslr (dslm if you wanna be that specific). Lacking SDI out

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And I will shut up about the pilot vest now lol.

 

I am sure it is a great system. It's just, at first glance, it looks cheap and flimsy. But I am sure they have engineered it in such a way to provide the proper capabilities it says it lives up to.

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I had, well I still have, an extensive use of the Pilot in documentary shooting, wearing it for hours in rough conditions (sun, humidity...). It's a very comfortable vest you can really trust in. Yes, the previous model had a weakness and my vest (plastic part) has broken. Tiffen immediately send me a new one, the new model with a different plastic type. It was in late 2013 and since then, there is absolutely no problem.

 

Also....There ARE buckles on the Pilot vest, and there is absolutely NO problem with velcro. Guess what ? I find this system more convenient than those of bigger vests, such my LX one because once you have properly adjust the vest to your body, the buckles + velcro make your settings last forever. Regarding audio, the Pilot vest is perfectly quiet, absolutely no problem !

 

For you video signal, no problem with a standard (non HD) Pilot system. Your signal will go in the Pilot stage RCA video input and there is nothing else to do. The Pilot's monitor is wired to the sled and will show your image, no need for anything else. If working with a HD signal, just add a DECIMATOR2 convertor, for example.

 

Some cheaper, knockoff models may look better because they try to imitate bigger rigs, while the Pilot may look like a tiny rig. The fact is, the Pilot is designed exactly as it should be to fit our needs : it is lightweight yet solid, precise and adaptable, and it behaves like a bigger rig.

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Emmanuel,

 

Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the fact that the Pilot behaves like a bigger rig, when proper weights are added to bottom or top stage. Which is more important to me than the look of the rig.

 

I have read that the GH4, which I own, does have a composite signal out but only works for playing back clips. I wonder if I should purchase an hdmi - composite converter box or hdmi - sdi ??

 

And if I do get a converter box, how should I mount it on the top stage???

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