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Ed David

Buying old vs new - cheap rigs- Steadicam Master Series

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With the help of several generous veterans I have a master series sled and master arm that fly's great. It is humbling the amount of support I found in here and in the facebook groups. Don't discard the classics. The HDSDI upgrade is intimidating to do, but not impossible. Most Broken parts can be machine locally. And companies like calicocam can completely MOD the k-section and electronics.

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Man whatevs.. its a pole and weight. I'm still rockin' a Masters sled (Terry hooked it up with HD-SDI down the post) and still getting calls. The young cats pullin' focus are like "what kinda rig is this..." :P :D


90% percent operator, 10% rig....

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I'm a beginning operator and just bought a Master Series (also the arm). The HDSDI was fairly easy to do, the guys at my local camera rental did it. I find it perfect to get started. It's sturdy and heavy enough to fly nice. They also replaced the old battery plate for a V-lock. I just think if you can geg it fairly cheap, it's worth the hassle with the upgrade stuff.

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Part of a bigger discussion but some relevant points;


1) Everyone has a fixed amount they can spend. They aren't suddenly going to get an elf to drop 10k more on them so make a choice.


Here are the variables..

I need to start making money and in my market I'm going to outgrow this rig in 18 months or three years?

Over 18 months or three years can I get established and have some clients?

At the end of that time; I might have more money saved up and I can start to look for a bigger rig for my needs?

Do I need to buy other things like a Follow focus or transmitter or not?

Am I committed to this as a career path or am I bored and want to move on?

What the resale on my current stuff, do I just need a sled or is my vest ok?


If you're looking at used it means you can't buy new, question answered.

If used is where you are, are these available rigs any good?

Do I have to buy the pieces separately? Vest from one and sled and arm from another and another?


Is the master series sled ok?

SD and really you're buying the post and top stage.

Someone modified it for HD, do you trust their mod and is it OK?

The arm and vest probably fine, but how do you judge?

Everyone used to want (still do) a PRO 1 they can modify but they are mostly gone and hard to find so now everyone is modifying Master Series.


That's a good start on your decision process.


It's always, how long can I use this sled (you answer, 1-3 yrs) before I outgrow it?

Does it fit what I need and my clients for now?

What might I have to "adapt" if I put an HD camera on it?


Good luck and keep asking.



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What Janice says! Nothing wrong with older rigs - just make sure they don't vibrate or are so different from newer models that ACs want to run away (don't under estimate how much work they get you). Indeed, look at used PRO sleds too.

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The advice and help experience operators have given me.in.here and in the facebook groups is invaluable. I can say with confidence that a MS rig With the HDSDI upgrade, the 12v/24v wiring/switch/fuse, new monitor mount and a gyro can handle just about anything. Consider Mauricio at Calicocam if you want to.get rid of the k-section. Currently saving.up to.get one.of my.MS to Mauricio.

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