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which laser distance measurer?


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#1 Ryan Mhor

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 12:58 AM

I am looking to purchase a laser distance measurer and was curious if anyone could recommend some models with features that would best benefit a 1st. How accurate and dependable do you find them to be? I can always 100% depend on my tape measure because its tangible. Do you guys feel 100% confident in your laser measurers as you do in your tape measurers?

Thanks
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#2 David Auner aac

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 01:36 AM

Hi Ryan,

the one I have is a Leica Disto A5. It's the first in Leica lineup that can be used outside with any confidence as it has an optical 2x finder. It works up too 200m, but in practice you rarely reach that because really bright daylight can work against you as can very porous and rough surfaces.
I have not used my Disto on an AC job so far, because I rarely AC. But a friend of mine has borrowed it for y shoot with the RED and was very happy with it and said he'd buy one as well once he had scrounged together the dough. The price tag is rather hefty at around 400 EU excl. VAT.
But a laser can't really replace tape, but it comes in handy when you can run tape for various reasons (shooting from a crane, wanting to know the distance to that wall behind the moat of a castle ruin...)

Cheers, Dave
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#3 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:51 AM

I'm using a Hilti PD-38 and find it to be remarkably accurate. I suggest springing the extra $100-150 and getting one with an optical sight though, as the laser alone can be quite useless in bright sunlight (advice also given to me by another AC, which I regrettably ignored?).
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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 01:54 PM

I have a Disto A5 as well, and it works alright. I've had it for a few months and it's failed me a few times on bright exteriors, even with the optical viewfinder. I sometimes get an error reading at distances longer than 20' even from a good target if it's too bright. I find I can't rely on it too much, but it is a handy tool to have in your bag for Steadicam and jib work. My main measuring tools are still my soft tape from 8' - 25' and the hard tape for under 8'. I'll use the Disto instead of the soft tape for longer distances if the camera doesn't have a tape hook and I don't have a 2nd AC to help me out. Check out the Hilti version as well, I've used one just for a little bit, but it seems more robust than the Leica to me.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 27 May 2008 - 01:55 PM.

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#5 Mike Simpson

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 10:44 AM

I just recently got a Hilti PD42. Its signifigantly better than anything else ive used for two reasons really.

1) the laser sight. In situations where its really bright and or the object is mildly (~100ft seems about right) far away you can actually hold the hilti to your eye, look through a mini viewfinder, and get extremely accurate with your measurement. I owned a different laser meter and took it back because it didnt have this feature and it was fairly useless outside. This feature is amazing.

2) its fast. Lately ive been working on sets where actors dont really stand around and wait for me to get marks. Its nice to be able to shoot the laser and get a mark on a moving target as well. On the lecia that I was using I would have to wait as long as 5 seconds, which made it impossible to get anything useful on someone moving. The 42 also has a continious measurement mode too which I can think of plenty of uses for but I have yet to use it for them.
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#6 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 02:46 PM

I just bought a Fatmax for $100 at OSH. It works really well, very accurate. I haven't tried it in bright outdoors, but that's not a problem since I carry soft and hard tape.

I like that it can add and subtract distances as well, and calculate volume.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 04:18 AM

I just bought a Fatmax for $100 at OSH. It works really well, very accurate. I haven't tried it in bright outdoors, but that's not a problem since I carry soft and hard tape.


I was eyein' that one at Home Depot last time I was there. Do let me know how it works in bright outdoors :)
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#8 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 02:39 PM

http://www.advpossys.../lasersmain.php
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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 03:26 PM

I was eyein' that one at Home Depot last time I was there. Do let me know how it works in bright outdoors :)

If it doesn't have a viewfinder, it won't have a very useful range (probably under 10') outdoors in bright sun. You need to able to see what the laser's hitting! I'm still interesting in hearing your report Jaime, but I'm not expecting a lot.
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#10 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:39 PM

You need to able to see what the laser's hitting!


Ohhh yeeeeeaahhhhhh, good point ;)
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#11 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 08:44 AM

Ryan, you're an excellent AC and quickly becoming my first choice when I need a Steadicam familiar AC here in Las Vegas, thanks for all the hard work and taking care of me!

I "think" maybe Hilti or someone else has some special tinted glasses you can put on to help see the lasers in daylight but you have to find them on their website or call.

We had a PD40 I think on that Cirque du Soleil shoot I tried to get you on last week and just fooling around with it we were hitting 600' + marks with a quick read on it; maybe 1 sec of waiting.

As a Steadicam operator I appreciate when an AC has a laser tape measure because it's so much faster than tape when I'm standing there holding the rig while a tape goes out.
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#12 David Auner aac

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:42 PM

I "think" maybe Hilti or someone else has some special tinted glasses you can put on to help see the lasers in daylight but you have to find them on their website or call.


From my experience these glasses are next to useless. It doesn't make that much difference and the saturated red tint of the glasses makes you crazy when you have to take them on and off... Much better to aim through the finder of the laser distance meter with the cross hairs. So if you want to use it outside get one with a finder. Even then they will fail you if the sun is too bright! I used my Disto A5 on a photo shoot in Tripoli, Libya and we rarely got good readings because of the sun.

Cheers, Dave

Edited by David Auner, 04 June 2008 - 12:45 PM.

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#13 Glen Alexander

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 01:02 PM

http://www.opticspla...iflescopes.html
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#14 Mike Simpson

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 04:31 PM

Hilti has the glasses. They are super cool looking. Wouldnt use them for much else other than impressing people with your style though.

=D
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#15 David Auner aac

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:23 AM

Hilti has the glasses. They are super cool looking. Wouldnt use them for much else other than impressing people with your style though.


Yeah, probably the props/wardrobe people would be very envious and try and borrow/steal it! :D
No seriously, we have just tried it once. Now we won't even take it with us when we use the meter. These bucks are better spent on a couple beers.

Cheers, Dave
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#16 Gunnar Mortensen

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 11:27 PM

I cant speak for the leica but I just bought the Hilti PD42 for this feature that I did and spent the extra money to get the scope. Having that option saved me multiple times in day exteriors, without it I would have lost 20% of the shots that I bought it for. Dont trip over dollars to save pennies as they say.

e gunnar
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#17 adam ward

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 12:52 PM

For quick referencing..i would go with the Hilti..for attaching to the camera and running contiuously..I go with the Sniper. For on camera infrared measuring tapes..accept no substitute.

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