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Hi everyone,

I'm a bit confused about the payload. Is the payload of a steadicam related to the arm only, to the sled only or to both? Or is any sled capable of holding virtually any load?

I mean, except for the size and the electronics, what is the difference between a sled and an other one in terms of payload capacity (between an archer 2, a shadow and a M1 for example)?  I often just read the arm capacity and that you have to work out, based on it and the weight of the sled, the weight of the camera setup.

Thanks

 

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Hello Tomasso,

The quick answer to your question is - "it depends". For most full-sized rigs (I.E. M1, Ultra2, XCS Ultimate, GPI PRO, MK-V, etc...) the sled is not sold with a specific weight limit, or is sold with a weight limit that exceeds the weight limit of arms on the market. This is not always very helpful, as some sleds are built more rigidly than others, and will cope with heavier weights better than others. In real terms, I'd expect any sled in this class to be able to support 40-50 pounds of camera payload (though some will support much more, and some may support this in a less than optimal way).

With smaller rigs, sleds are often built down to a specific size, weight, or cost level, and may not be capable of supporting the heaviest of loads. The Archer2 is a prime example of this. The post diameter is smaller (although not much), the stage is smaller and uses a smaller size dovetail, and the gimbal, most importantly, is designed to be small and lightweight. The combination of these factors mean that if you overload the suggested payload of the Archer 2, you will almost certainly get vibration in your shots, and there have been many people who have broken their gimbals (I have known at least one personally), either dropping the camera and causing damage, or at least taking their sleds out of commission for some time while they are serviced. For an even more extreme example, a lot of Zephyr owners found that even though their rigs were rated for 24 pounds of camera, they could put over 30 pounds of camera on it before the arm started sagging, and did so. Later many of these same owners had to send their rigs back to Tiffen for new bearings and new gimbal parts, as they had destroyed their gimbals.

For each rig, and each manufacturer, things may be different. For instance, with Tiffen's smallest rigs, the "payload" designation often refers to everything you add to the sled - batteries, camera, focus units, etc..., and sometimes even just refers to the weight carrying capacity of the arm. So the Aero 30 doesn't support a 30 pound camera, but has a 30 pound capacity arm. The Archer's weight limit is likely in the sled more than the G50 arm, as the sled doesn't weigh 20 pounds (the G50 arm supporting 50 pounds, and the Archer2 saying its payload is about 30 pounds). The Shadow is basically a full-sized rig, so I would trust reasonably heavy camera packages on it.

Another issue to consider when weighing which rig to buy, although harder to tell via pictures and spec sheets, is how the weight of a sled is distributed. For instance, my M1 is a heavier sled than an Archer is, and so for the same camera payload, and number of batteries, my M1 will not be extended as far as the Archer would be. Post extension, especially at really long lengths, is one of the main causes of camera vibrations (which are a big, big issue, and have gotten many operators fired, including myself!). So if you are flying heavy camera packages every day, getting the biggest, beefiest rig you can makes sense, so that you're flying it within its comfort zone, rather than flying a lighter rig at the end of its useful range.

I hope this helps in your selection!

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