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Jonathan Pfundstein

Getting Steadicam Zephyr Serviced

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Does anyone have any experience getting their Steadicam Zephyr serviced through Tiffen? Just the arm, costs, results?


I've recently been noticing a vibration in my image when shooting with longer lens, that seems to be coming from the arm, different than the vibration that can come from Zephyrs being maxed out and noodling (which I've found to occur even around 13lbs).


The only visible issue with the arm is a gap (thats slowly gotten larger over the last couple years) between the socket/and quick release pin. (see attached picture) Under load however the space does not seem to be an issue as the arm presses down against it.


There's also a slight bit of play in the gimbal laterally when just the gimbal casing is shifting, but through the yoke and handle it doesn't present itself.


My concern is that the Zephyr seems to be a fairly concealed system where servicing individual parts didn't really seem to be a focus (I could be totally wrong here and hopefully I am) I just don't want to send my rig to Tiffen for them to tell me the whole grip and gimbal needs to be replaced (at a high price) for what may not be the real culprit of the vibration.


Do they just service everything like it was an overhall, or do they actually test to see what the issue could be?


I'm certainly willing to pay the money to get the the rig serviced and any parts replaced to resolve these issues, I would just hate to send everything off and then still be left with issues.









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Hi Jonathan


Where are you?


Generally vibration is FAR more likely to come from something in the sled or camera build than the arm or even gimbal. How long is the post extended? You can help by adding weights to the lower sled and shortening the extension. If the stage firmly fixed? There are screws around the post under the stage and they have been known to work loose. V-lock battery mounts can move, that doesn't help.


Before you send it anywhere build the sled with your typical camera setup and go over it thoroughly tapping and shaking all the individual components including any camera plates. Feel free to e-mail me at robin.thwaites@tiffen.com.



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Hi Robin, thanks for your response.

I'm located in Durham, North Carolina.


I agree, in most cases vibrations would most likely be coming from the camera stage or sled.

With the Zephyr being so prone to flexing of the center post I pretty much exclusively run it without the post extended.


I've gone through everything on the sled checking for play, added soft velcro to my Anton Bauer mounts to make sure there is zero play in any components.

I recently upgraded to the Skymagic Monitor yoke (thanks Frederic!) which added even more rigidity to bottom stage.


As far as any vibrations in camera builds I've flown multiple setups without issue, but also have had random/almost sporadic problems with these phantom vibrations in a couple builds over the last year, each time only being noticeable on longer focal lengths. With that being said when we noticed these problems ,the first thing we checked were the camera builds, and we came back with no issues from the camera side.


The last time this happened my AC suggested I boom the sled through the arm range to see if we noticed any vibrations and sure enough we noticed a small bump (in the image) while booming down on a 75mm. We tired the same thing again, no bump. So isolating this issue has been very troublesome, but leads me to think its the arm.


I've done testing with my practice camera and weight cage setup (about 12-13lbs) to see if I could recreate these problems which show up very occasionally as vibrations, normally when I'm stomping around trying to illicit some negative response. Besides that I've checked the top stage and the dovetail receiver plate will definitely flex with the mass of the huge 10lb weight plate, but doesn't wiggle or have any play. I checked the screws which I could tighten more, but weren't lose and once tightened the flex in the top stage didn't appear any different.


I won't be sending it anywhere as of now because its been over a month after the first email, almost two weeks since a follow up email, I've tried calling and leaving voicemails, no response at all.


In short it'd be great to talk to anyone that could give me ANY more info on what the next steps should be, but besides you Robin, I've had zero luck.

Thanks for your help in helping to try and isolate the problem.


As of now my best option is to just upgrade to full sized rig and quit fussing with this tiny noodle of a sled!


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Have you tried switching back to the standard monitor yoke? Not knocking the Skymagic monitor yoke (it makes things much more convenient) but when I use to own it and use it on the zephyr I had to swap back to the regular one for a few shoots as it seems to vibrate somewhat easily.

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