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Old August 20th, 2007, 06:18 AM   #1
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Merlin and A1 Combo (Post your settings)

I got my Merlin this weekend and all i can say is WOW! This thing is really nice. Setting up is not easy, it takes practice setting up and using. I spent atleast 10 hours with the unit already and i know their is still improvement needed on setup. Unfortunately our camera the A1 is not in the www.merlincookbook.com Preliminary , but there are 2 user settings that helped me to get a general idea, however tweaking is still needed.

Im going to take a picture of my camera and merlin together and post the settings im using tomarro.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 01:14 AM   #2
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I will receive my XH-A1 tomorrow.

I have been using a much lighter camcorder on the Merlin since last year. I only got it TRULY balanced after using it on a few jobs. My experience is that the 1-second drop time described in the Merlin DVD is very important.

I look forward to seeing other's Merlin settings for the XH-A1 as well.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 06:21 AM   #3
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I watched the DVD last night a third time and tried out the Excell based formula on the merlin cook book last night. I think the formula put me in a better position than i had it before, because...


the 1-second drop time is very important, but i noticed in the DVD that when Garret did the 1-second drop the Camera did not twist at the same time. I had the 1-second drop however there was a degree of twisting motion as well.

Using the formula gave me a better drop with alot less twisting motion, so when i pan side to side the camera stays straight forward with out the need to aim it. I still have not got it perfect. It takes alot of practice

I did some filming this weekend and forgot to take off the electronic stability control. It still looked good but im reading now that this should be turned to off when using a tripod and merlin. What have you Paul read or experienced with this? Also i was filming at 24fps with the merlin, which i read is not a good idea cause of the fast motion
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Old August 21st, 2007, 03:14 PM   #4
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One of the user presets (4.98lb) at merlincookbook.com should get you excellent results.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 05:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Wysocki View Post
but i noticed in the DVD that when Garret did the 1-second drop the Camera did not twist at the same time. I had the 1-second drop however there was a degree of twisting motion as well.
The twisting is there because your camera is not totally level. It's either front or back heavy. Try make it extremely front heavy and do the drop test. After that, try doing the same drop test (by swinging the merlin to the same side) with a back heavy setup. You will see that your camera will twist in oppose directions. So, if you have a tilted setup, don't expect Merlin can recover a big sideway swing without twisting.

As I always have the same set up for my Merlin, now all need to do is making sure it is level and then I will do the drop test. That's all! Takes about 1-2 minutes.

I have my OIS off on Merlin as well. The OIS on my camera actually does not cause any problem on the Merlin, however, it's better to be safe by switching it off. The OIS may make some dramatic moves when you move and pan your Merlin around. I don't film a lot in 24P. I guess the basic 24p filming principle applies: always follow an object while panning/moving; otherwise it would look very jerky.

I was expecting my new XH-A1 this morning. It got struck at the customs... hopefully I will get it tomorrow.
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Old August 23rd, 2007, 10:59 AM   #6
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I was considering the Merlin for my A1, but after I read the weight specs, I assumed that it wouldn't handle the A1 considering out of the box it's 5 pounds and if I added anything it would go over the Merlin's weight limit.

So, I got the Flowpod. But, after many many tries to get the flowpod to balance correctly, I've given up on it. So, I'm selling it.
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Old August 23rd, 2007, 11:27 AM   #7
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there is that modified all metal handle (gimble) for the merlin that is supposed to compensate for the extra weight. I think it's on backorder at the moment at B&H Photo. (but of course it makes it heavier than the regular)

Trish
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Old August 23rd, 2007, 10:01 PM   #8
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A bare A1 flies fine on the Merlin but accessories like the Canon wide-angle will max it out and take it to an unpleasant weight to handhold. Indeed, the new metal gimbal and extra weight kit will aid in things but you are far better off adding the Merlin vest and arm with this type of setup (Trish, I wouldn't expect the metal gimbal to weigh noticeably more than the plastic--the replacment metal parts are pretty tiny!)

Regarding the twisting motion on the drop test, I would expect that would be more of a function of side-to-side balance issues than front to back--when the camera regains its verticality, does it hang perfectly level? If so, there are more nefarious things at play here that shouldn't be happening with a Merlin (namely dynamic balance issues) and I would invite you to post a video of this for further inspection.

Glad you guys are all enjoying your rigs! The Merlin IS a lot of fun. And by the way, if you have decided you aren't going to go for the arm and vest because of the cost, I recommend you do NOT try it out for a test spin at a store or friend's house because you will suddenly find yourself trying to jettison stuff on eBay or call in old debts--it's that seductive!
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Old August 24th, 2007, 01:10 AM   #9
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Yeah I just got a Merlin today, and it is friggin complicated to set that thing up. One little wrong adjustment and the whole thing is out of whack. I'm sure once I get it just right it'll be awesome, but geeze. I really wish Tiffen would make a setting for the A1 in the cookbook. The one off the user's cookbook seems too bottom heavy.
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Old August 24th, 2007, 02:50 PM   #10
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i got my merlin and A1 working real good, (stock battery , no accessories)
im gonna post the settings tomarro. Its soo much fun to use when its working correctly ,
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Old August 25th, 2007, 11:39 PM   #11
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Merlin and Canon XH A1 Configuration

Yes, I purchased my new Merlin Steadicam at Samys Camera a week ago today and immediately took off for the Rolex Historic races held at Laguna Seca that weekend...

Arriving late Friday night in Carmel, and with no prior experience with the Merlin or its set-up, it did take me a while to get familiar with all the components and try and balance the camera. I did encountered more difficulty than I expected but only because I insisted on using the extended capacity and much heavier battery, a Lexmar LIC970G Lithium-Ion (7.4v 7200mAh). I also used a B+W UV-Haze Filter (polarizer) on the lens (shooting in very bright light) and the Sony eye-piece slipped over the existing Canon rubber.

Since I too could not find the Canon XH A1 recommended configuration at the Tiffen website, I proceeded to spend no less than 2 hours researching the internet to hopefully find what others had done with a similar system, but was not able to find any useful references.

Here is what I recommend to anyone starting as I did;

1) View the entire Merlin DVD Instructional video included with the device.

2) Make sure you do understand how to install the dove-plate. If you make a mistake here by selecting the improper hole, you'll later have a more difficult time balancing the equipment.

3) Make sure the trim adjustments are at their middle-setting and start from there.

4) Take time to remember which way the camera will tilt (front/rear - left/right) when adjusting the trims. If not, you'll trim the wrong way possibly adding to your frustration level and taking more unnecessary time re-balancing the system.

5) Don't forget to fully deploy the display to the viewing position before balancing for the dove-plate.

6) Do remove the shoulder-strap, it gets in the way and you won't need it...

7) You can remove the mic-holder built into the camera if not planning to use. It will make a small but welcome difference. BTW, I left mine on.

MERLIN SETTING:

• Dove-plate Hole Setting: I
• Spars fully extended
• 1 Finish-Weight at the mid section of the spar
• 1 Start-Weight + 6 Regular-Weights + 1 Finish-Weight, all at the bottom spar

THE "ONE-SECOND SWING"
I felt was just under the suggested time as it swung slightly faster than what shows in the Steadicam instructional video. Since I couldn't slow it down not matter what I tried, I will need to play around with the configuration further...

Experience:
I LOVED THE DEVICED!!! It does take time to master and it's a learned skill. Wait until you see your own videos, you'll want to shoot with it ALL the time! The Canon XH A1 is for sure at the top-end of the scale for the Merlin to handle (IMO), and the way I had it configured, it did not help to make things easier. When handheld shooting (no vest/arm), you WILL get tired if shooting for more than 15 minutes at a time and you will start to shake or... Upgrading the plastic gimbel to the newer metal version, a must with the added weight.

While on location at the race track, I did have to deal with some level of wind resistance and it's very hard to try and compensate, the Canon will lean and I'm not sure at this point if there was anything else I could have done to better balance the system.

Recommend:
Get the vest/arm; I will be for sure purchasing it as soon as one becomes available. I'm truly hooked and can only compare using and not using the Merlin to going back to editing with only one monitor. ; )

By the way, while I was at the race track and while temporarily distracted for about 5 minutes, someone reached in my video bag and took off with my Merlin Steadicam and I'm now left only with the dove-plate, carrying-case and the instruction manual/DVD. TG my A1 was not attached! It sucks to me! : (

PS: I'll have to keep my eyes open at eBay...

Last edited by Armando Serrano; August 26th, 2007 at 03:49 PM. Reason: Added additional Set-Up details...
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Old August 25th, 2007, 11:51 PM   #12
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ouch!

that sucks, fingers crossed that he goes insane trying to balance the thing without any instructions
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Old August 26th, 2007, 12:55 AM   #13
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Yeah I used my Merlin on a property tour today for the first time, and I loved it! After 15 minutes of footage though my arm was dead tired though. I guess I just need to work out. =P

And it was difficult to balance at first, but I think I have a better hang of it now. I just extended the arc all the way, added 1 mid, and one finish in the front, and 5 mid and one finish in the back, placed it in hole I and trimmed. I don't remember what I turned my guide to though. It's more top heavy then what it recommends in the user's cookbook. It kept wobbling with the cookbook setting. Trimming is just annoying though, but I'll get used to it.

When I finish editing the property tour video and when it goes on the site I'll post it on these forums.
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Old February 16th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #14
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Settings confirmed

Rene - a fellow Danish videographer wrote:

"One of the user presets (4.98lb) at merlincookbook.com should get you excellent results"

I can only confirm, that this is the case. Having struggled a whole day with various settings, these settings immediately transformed the Merlin to a well balanced unit.

Now I "only" have to learn the shooting tricks :-)

Peter in Denmark
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