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Standard cables to own as a steadicam op

Joseph Hartzler

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Hello all again,

I've recently built my rig part by part (pro) and I'm finishing up buying accessories. I know there will be a plethra of cables I'll be buying through out my career as there are different cables for different cameras and what not, but I was wondering what would you guys say is the standard cables to own as a new operator?

Right now I have power cables for the alexa, amira, a p tap splitter, power cable for my monitor, and gonna buy a variation of lengths of SDI cables from Media Blackout. Also what other places do you guys suggest buying cables from (like power cables for Reds)?

So the tldr of all of this is what is the standard cables a new op should own?


Thank you for any info on this question,

Joseph H.

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Hi Joseph,


Media Blackout and Terry West are both fantastic! Highly recommend them for hyperthin SDI and all power cables.


Don't go crazy buying every cable right out of the gate; you'll have plenty of other accessories you'll find you need to spend money on. My MO has been having a good basic supply of cables (much like the ones you've already mentioned) and then purchasing specialty cables if the need arises for a job.


That said, do have multiples of every cable, as you do not want to be left stranded with no backup if a cable fails. Label everything and have a good organization system so you know where to find any cable in your kit at a moment's notice.


A good staple for me has been these curly SDI cables in various sizes. I find them a bit more robust than the hyperthin cables (which I also use and have lots of), and use them regularly. The built-in right angle connectors are nice too.


Happy flying!



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A few thoughts on cables, especially for starting out...


I'd add to your list a 4 pin XLR. That's one connector I've seen used all over - from the D Box on an Alexa Mini to the F55 to every broadcast camera ever made seemingly. In addition, it's something that most people are familiar enough with that if you're in a tight pinch, you can often get a cable from 4 pin XLR to whatever it is you need to power, rather than having to order in the special LEMO for your sled.


I think you're on the right track with P Tap, and I'd add a P Tap extension cable (Male to Female). For 99% of my operating at this point, the only cables I use are the camera cable (usually the Mini/Amira, but occasionally the Red or Alexa), the cable for my Wave, and the P Tap. It's so nice to be able to give the assistants all the power they need in a plug they're used to, without any hacked workarounds.


My thought on buying specific camera power cables is (and this is how I worked for the first 5 or so years of my career) buy what you need, and only what you need. Cables are incredibly expensive, and let's face it, most cameras nowadays are more than comfortable with a battery on the back. The only cameras I've found where not having a power cable is a death sentence are the Alexa 65, and 35mm film cameras. Pretty much anything else - from Alexas, to Reds, to Minis, to Amiras, to F55s, can be flown with a battery on the back. It is much more elegant to be able to power the camera off of the Steadicam, but it does thrash your batteries (I'm sending in my third dead battery in 2 years to be rebuilt), and it's a lot of money that can be spent elsewhere in places where it could impact your comfort or allow you to pull a better job, both of which are far more critical.


So, buy the cables you need. Assess your market and figure out what that is. In my market, it's 2 of the 24V ARRI Alexa/35mm cables, 2 4 pin XLRs, and then whatever else I want to add. What I carry at this point is:

- Alexa/ARRI 35mm 24V

- Amira/Mini 12v

- Red Weapon/Epic 12v

- 4 Pin XLR 12V

- Sony FS7

- Panavision XL2 24V (only used once, sadly)

- 3 Pin XLR 24V (built for a special rig that I've never seen again)

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Joseph, where are you based?

https://engineeredcinemasolutions.com offers cables priced in Canadian dollars and very fast turnaround, which can be favourable depending on where you are when you factor in exchange rate.


I agree that having well labelled backups is essential down the road, and agree about the 4-Pin XLR being handy for many different cameras. Also agree that buying what you need, as you need it, is a good way to keep costs down, especially when starting out with a new rig. Although it is hard to predict what you will need for a day call the next day and cough up that cable in a pinch. Of all the cables to splurge money on and be reliable, you will want to make sure that you have good quality monitor power cables and backups, as well as high quality 3G or better BNC cables going to the monitor from the sled, and good quality shielded BNC cables going to the camera. After all, as said above, most digital cameras can take onboard power in a pinch but flying without a reliable video signal or monitor power truly can be devastating.


I would say in addition to the power cables you've listed, a Red Epic/Weapon power cable and a 4-Pin XLR Power cable are good to have right now, likely to come across those cameras when starting out.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Thank you all for the replies! Really helpful!
In the end I went to Terry West for my power cables,
Bought some hyperthin SDI cables from media blackout and bought some curly SDI cables from B&H along with a ptap extension cable and a ptap splitter.
Adding all that to my previous cables I think it may be a pretty good starter cable set

Thank you all for the replies :)

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