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Thoughts on NB arm

Shawn Wang

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Due to my narssitic personality and the eagerness to share. I've decided to copy/paste my NB arm findings from Facebook group to here. so it could be archived since there is a great chance more pro arm users will chime in and start a good argument, but i guess its all personal preference in the end. 

I've found latex rubber to be quite a breakthrough upgrade compare to all spring arms and here are my findings below. 

I've sold my pro arm and used the same amount of money to get a g70x and NB arm thinking I would use g70x indoor and NB arm outdoor. With a thought that NB arm has sealed bearings and I could treat it like trash. But now I don't even pullout g70x anymore.

I've used PRO arm exclusively for 8 full years, working 12 month a year, been through all senarios, fast and slow. No budget student folms to $40 mil USD budget. Was prasing pro equipment cuz "all feature guys uses PRO" kinda fan boy mindset , pretty similar to the panavision fanboys. But eventually as years gone by I've developed critical thinking and below are a couple points why I prefer NB over the other arms.

1. Sweet spot.
As an somewhat experienced op you might have noticed pro arm is only truly good at the middle 10% of boom range, and you tune the arm up or down offset this spot based on the height of the shot required. Part of the reason people need to get XCS mid arm swivel. But g70x is better here since it could support your lens height with the ISO adjustment. NB arm or X arm is the same ish feeling with pro. Meaning force required to hold the lens height But is better at the job due to less friction and rubber vs spring nature. More to elaborate below

2. Boom range . Pro arm has 60cm. And NB has 83cm. As an average 176cm/5"10 Asian male I have no monkey arms. But I still run out of boom range on pro arm quite often. I've bought the IBaird / mid arm swivel / Klassen vest that offers a shit load of range options to counter this issue but I still wish the pro has more in the first place. Like from standing to seating. I always bottom out on pro arm, or I'm too low at standing. NB arm on the other hand. Offers just enough. Alrhough it's not as effortless to hold camera height on both extreme side of the range, but none of the other arms does. Good thing is that U can't bottom out the NB like pro. And u can't hit the eng stop easily. So even if you use your finger tips to get the camera height there, u still can't hit the stop when u take a step. Side note, G70x is only iso in the middle 60%. Outside that you are fighting the same as all other arms.

3. Friction. All spring arms including g70x and pro have more frictions than rubber arms like xarm or NB. For pro, the each canister has two "ears" that cling and hinges on a groove on the chassis. And no matter how u deny it. It's not as smooth compare to NB or x arm, especially both of them has sealed bearings and rubber bands. This helps emensively at ultra slow movements, so slow that the shot shouldve been done on a slider. But they have to put you on steadicam cuz it "saves time". I'm not as vocal as a lot of operators out there. Mostly just nod my head and do it. So rubber arms help a shit ton here. There are countless times when I have to manually hold the sled in the same height countering the up and down from the pro arm. It's very minor, and I have to walk so perfectly. It's doable. But not everyday with every senario. If there is even a bit of terian and you aren't feeling it that day. You are mostly screwed. Still end up with a ok ish shot, but not good enough to be called "bleeding dolly". So having a rubber arm here helps sooo much. Even g70x is better than pro due to the iso adjustments

4. Maintainence. I know guys would argue how you can water hose pro arm to clean. But NB arm is the next level. I don't even cover that arm in rain, it's fully sealed and u don't need give a damn about rubber bands. White lithium grease ? Why the hell you need that! I know a lot of you will argue how robust and solid the pro arm build is. Now look below for the trade off. Also by the way the robustness has nothing to do with the shot. So to me, it's useless feature.

5. Weight savings. Pro arm is 6kg/13lbs or so when I measured it with mid arm swivel and solid xcs post. While NB is at 3kg. This is almost the weight difference between Alexa mini and Alexa LF. And at times when u can't trim the sled down like Alexa 65. This becomes a huge deal to prolong your career and health. I know people would say "man up", but we are like atheles. We all have performance peak years and slope down since. So The more we can preserve the years the better. And hopefully have a healthy body to enjoy retirement life too.
And this was the major tipping point for me to purchase an NB arm. But the performance of it blew my mind.

6. Tooless adjustments. NB arm uses latex rubber bands. I mainly just put 4-6 on my wrists as bracelet. And that's enough of a difference between a prime and a heavy zoom. I can do it on a fly. Without trying to find the hole on canisters like the pro arm. And since it's quite forgiving for filters and different primes. I dont even bother to add/remove the bands. It's quite fast.

7. Less parts. I was debating between x arm and NB arm when I was trying to get rid of the pro arm. But x arm is still 4.5kg while NB is 3kg. And NB has no cores to swap. And no spray needed to maintain the rubber bands like the x arm. And no wrench needed to tune the lift. And no rain over needed to work outside. For those who is wondering tension loss in cold, who cares. I just put on more bands.

8. Minimum weight requirement. I know pro has advised the minium is 13lbs with two blues only and NB is at 0. Also no sled is lighter than that. My argument here is , you don't have to know the approx weight of the sled to put the appropriate set of canisters. I've gone lazy through out the years and just settled with 2 blue and 2 black on pro arm. And just put more batteries on the sled to come up with the minimum. But there are times I wish I have all the adjustability without messing with canisters. Since bottoming out and fully loaded takes like 50 turns on each and it's quite some work to find the right fit between jobs or between prime / heavy zooms. The g70x and NB arm is simple as hell in comparison and I can do the best sled build always without worrying about canister combos. Or how ISO the arm is when canisters are fully loaded than minimum

There is one thing pro arm is at best where all others are bad. that is the arm post spin feature. Pro is by far the most silkly smooth one while g70x is basically Fisher Price trash. NB has got some friction to it but it's usable. So if u fold in your gimbal handle more frequent than anything then no other arm is for you.

I know many, if not all of you have witnessed the failing of the socket block on NB arm @cinegear quite a few years ago. And has been laughing at their quality. But the manufacture has fixed the issue and demoed the new design with Max load at worse senario and it helds. They deserve a chance, they always response to my emails in a matter of mins, and answers all my idiotic questions. That's way better than a lot of brands out there. And that includes weekend too which amazes me.

Hope this sort of sums the majority of my reason of switch. It is quite seamless to switch from PRO, and no one has gone back the other way around. I'm not gonna use the big op names to convince you guys here. Cuz I fell for this "woo this big op uses this and it must be good" crap when I got the pro arm. But I'm More than happy to answer PM if you are more curious

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  • 8 months later...

I too own a NB arm, sled and vest also! I enjoy working with the rig it is really well made and designed.

Nir told me he is developing a new version to his vest and I really hope to see what he comes up with. the current vest is a good fit for me, but could be better as I have a relative short and wide torso, I had thought on getting an exo vest but import tax in my country are unfair towards citizens and it made it financially impossible to buy and maintain steadicam equipment without being a big company with deep pockets.

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Great write up Shawn. I too have an NB arm and can echo everything you said. Especially the increase in boom range over my PRO arm. And Nir and Elinor have been very supportive, Couple of months ago I surprisingly received a huge replacement bag of new latex bands that Nir sourced and felt were better. 

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Thank you Shawn for explaining all of the cool differences of the NB Arm. I switched last month and am blown away every time I put it on.  It is amazing that an arm that is so lite can be so strong, and sooo smooth!  

The Arms super light weight is hands down the best feature for me. I have been operating since 1995 and not a youngster anymore.  Last week I had a 12 hour day moving to many locations around an Orlando theme park and the 8-10 lb lighter arm was a huge improvement. Plus the way the arm behaves made my day.  It is one of the best gear upgrades I have ever made and I could not be happier.

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