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Hands-On With The Glidecam Devin Graham Signature Series

Thanks to the great folks at Glidecam who just sent me the new Devin Graham Signature Series to check out!  If you don’t know who Devin is you should check out his Youtube channel – he’s undoubtedly one of the kings of branded Youtube video! You can grab this model from my favourite UK retailer ProAV here.

I’ve been pestering anxiously waiting for a new Glidecam model since I picked up my FS7… After running the XR-4000 very successfully for the last few years on my old FS700, the weightier and much less gravity-centred FS7 didn’t take well to it. The Glidecam has been so key to my shooting style that I’d been using the FS700 as a B-Cam on many shoots; despite the superior image of the FS7, it just didn’t have the movement I needed.

Enter the Glidecam Devin Graham Signature Series. In a nutshell: it’s the same approximate size as the HD-4000 unit, and features an identical base. The changes are towards the top: notably the adjustable gimbal height and quick adjust top platform with dovetail plate. I’ll cover them both in a bit more detail; though this is early days – I just wanted to show some detailed images and my thoughts on the setup as I struggled to find similar info myself online before this arrived in the office.

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The unit comes in it’s own case – not something that would suit me for travel as I have limited hands for all my equipment & would rather it be packed into a larger Peli with other items, but it’s a nice touch nevertheless.

To get a better idea of my enthusiasm for Glidecam I’d encourage you to watch my last tutorial to get an understanding of how I use it in most shooting situations.

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My favourite feature of this new unit is undoubtedly the easy adjustment top plate with built-in dovetail quick-release.

See those little F & R screws? They instantly move the platform backwards/forwards & left/right. It’s so quick to change balance, which really helps when changing between lenses, and especially with the higher centre of gravity of the FS7, and it’s monitor arm which always ends up in a slightly different position moving from shoulder setup > glidecam.

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My favourite thing about Glidecam is the true focus on engineering and industrial design. Any previous Glidecam setup demanded a quick-release plate (seen here is my favoured Manfrotto 577 system) to quickly (dis)engage the camera.

Without a quick release plate it’s a hugely time-consuming processing to remove the entire upper balance platform to insert the tripod mount screw… not something that is practical or necessary. What this meant that when purchasing a Glidecam, it was crucial to factor in a QR system.

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Glidecam XR-4000 top plate w/ Manfrotto 577 QR plate vs Glidecam Devin Graham Signature Series top plate.

The key thing to understand here is that if you need to move the platform forwards or backwards, it’s a simple turn of a single screw, rather that unscrewing screws, moving the platform, tightening 4 screws back up, testing the balance, and inevitably adjusting a couple more times to get it right. The new top platform saves time and any piece of kit that can do that regularly is worth the £.

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Overall built size is nearly identical. Again: Glidecam XR-4000 vs Glidecam Devin Graham Signature Series.

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The base plate on the new version is identical to the HD-4000. The extra expansion to compensate panning really helps, to be honest I wish I’d got the HD-4000 instead of XR-4000 but I was misadvised that they were (basically) identical… Nevertheless the XR-4000 has worked perfectly with the FS700 for the last few years.

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Again you can see the size difference between the 2 top plates…

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When this Signature Series was initially announced I was very cautious about the built-in QR plate system… though I was overjoyed to learn the plate was an identical copy of the widely-used Manfrotto 501 series, which I’d relied on for the last few years and owned numerous plates & copies.

I really feel like Glidecam & DG have genuinely understood their audience with this move. A native design would render many peoples (including mine!) other rigs – sliders, tripods, heads, dollies obsolete, but by utilising the same plate system the new Glidecam easily slides right alongside other kit.

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The supplied plate is a hybrid of the standard length Manfrotto 501 plate, and the longer ‘500PLONG’  model. The underside manufacturing is nearly identical, ensuring each works with each others relative heads/systems.

I really like the measurement gauge on the Glidecam – again another attention to detail… I used to tip-ex my Manfrotto plates!

Manfrotto 501PL / Glidecam Sig Series / Manfrotto 500PLONG

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The other major feature of this new version is the adjustable height gimbal. Here are a few shots of how it works – essentially a 2 piece unit to adjust where the gimbal sits…

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Again, a simple & beautifully engineered solution, based on physics & mechanics and not electronics!

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In this setup, the camera weighs 4.428kg (= 9.76 lb) – getting close to the apparent 12lb limit of this Glidecam. There is scope for heavier lenses (see below) but they’d benefit from stripping down the mic/top plate from the FS7.

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This setup flies just as sweet as my old FS700 + XR-4000 did. (Happy Tom!)

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Although the Shape FS7 base plate raises the centre of gravity it much improves the mounting option on the FS7, and I prefer to keep it on at all times. The Glidecam dovetail plate is set forward so I can still use the FS7 comfortably on the shoulder. Although it looks slightly strange it works perfectly, though I’ve actually switched back to the regular Manfrotto 501PL to get rid of the overhang. Modularity is key for my when shooting and being able to switch from Glidecam to shoulder mount in one simple action (+ re-attaching the FS7 handles) is very beneficial.

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FS7 + Vocas PL mount + Arri 17-35 T3.2 (rehoused Canon lens)

After a couple of commercial jobs without a huge amount of Glidecam content, I am finally getting settled in with some coverage for Nike in London, and after a few tweaks this setup is working really well.

The Ronin/Movi route is so tempting for many but I love the simplicity of the Glidecam and the purity of the mechanics… without batteries or iPhone apps!

Expect a recap post in a couple of months once I really get to grips with this system.

 

Thanks for reading! Do please tweet me @getdeluxe or use the comments below if you have any questions.