Steadicam Pilot vs Merlin for A1 ? at DVinfo.net

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Old September 19th, 2007, 04:32 AM   #1
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Steadicam Pilot vs Merlin for A1 ?

Please help. I wonder anyone has experience in using both Pilot & Merlin for XH-A1 ? please can you share a bit of your preference ?

Back to NAB2007, Steadicam has demo XH-A1 on Pilot and Sony V1 on Merlin; this leads me to believe that Pilot is better for A1 then Merlin.

However I googled through a lot of forums, it seems like Merlin is good enough for A1 too (most of them handheld merlin since the vest & arm system hasn't out yet).

Then I read the reference chat from Steadicam website, both Pilot & Merlin gain 1 star when using with A1 (is there any physical reason that A1 can't get 2 stars with either one ?).

Then July Steadicam announced a new metal gimbal of Merlin which could supports up to 3.4kg camera. Will this make Merlin the better steadicam for A1, with and without vest & arm ?

I don't have any real knowledge & experience but I wonder my thought below is correct or not for A1 (A1 with LCD out on Merlin bcs Merlin doesn't have monitor):

* configuration: Merlin Handheld > Pilot Handheld

* stability: Merlin Handheld > Pilot Handheld, Merlin with Arm = Pilot with Arm

* time to master: Merlin Handheld > Merlin with Arm > Pilot Handheld or Armed

* Operation: Pilot Armed > Merlin Handheld > Merlin Armed > Pilot Armed

* Future upgrade: Pilot Armed > Merlin Armed ?? But I heard Merlin may come out with a monitor in future too, so what makes Pilot better for future since both have same limitation of max-arm-load ?

* Enter to real steadicam: Pilot Armed > Merlin Armed, but if I have no intention to become the professional steadicam operator, this is not so important to me then.

* much stable with Pilot in windy condition ?

* much low profile with Merlin in event venue ?

* much long hour operation with Merlin Armed then Pilot Armed ?

* much long lasting in term of quality built for Pilot then Merlin ?

* much easier and precise configuration for Merlin when changing size/weight/shape of your camera ? I mean adding accessories or changing battery.

* is there any reason, once "armed", none of them is considered in ideal but only suitable condition for A1 ? In fact based on the reference chart, only Merlin handheld received "ideal" condition with A1 but I don't think I have such a strong arm to handheld A1+Merlin, am I over-worried ?
(http://www.steadicam.com/ref_chart_lightwtcams.html)

* how much different between "ideal" and "suitable" ?

* will it worth the USD1000 different if both gain only "suitable" status ? or I shall give up the arm and strength up my body ? Daddy I should eat a lot more when I was young....



I have talked to Steadicam technician but haven't get any response on these yet, please can you help.

many thanks.
Ing Poh Hii is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2007, 12:55 PM   #2
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That's a very good question on the * ratings on the tiffen site. You'd think if the merlin was ideal for the A1 as a hand held, the vest/arm solution would be just as good.

I can't speak to most of these issues below but I believe the metal gimble for the merlin is really only useful with the vest/arm - without it it's too heavy to manage with just your arm

It looks like the price of the pilot complete is more than the merlin so that needs to factored in, it also doesn't look like it can be sold separately like youc an with the merlin

you may have already read this but here is someone that checked both out at NAB - some of your questions/concerns are discussed here

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=94256

trish
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Old September 20th, 2007, 12:40 AM   #3
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Thank you very much Trish for directing me to that thread, some people with similar question for A1 too. I shall summarise some good points and put it out here later :D.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 12:59 AM   #4
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I have a Merlin and last week I went to Tiffen and tried on the Pilot/Merlin vest and arm.

The big advantage to the Merlin for me is that it is extremely portable and easy to travel with -- and I mean when it is used alone, without the vest and arm. There is nothing that even compares to it.

Also, the Merlin has a special plate to let you take the camera on and off the Merlin, alternately putting the camera on a tripod. It is very quick and the rebalancing is quick due to the design of the Merlin.

The Merlin also offers more fluid and extreme motions in some situations than the Pilot.

Just so it's clear, the Merlin and the Pilot use the identical vest and arm.

The arm is basically a slightly scaled down Flyer arm. It is a genuine "Steadicam" with a capital "S." (And so is the Merlin, in my mind, but first I am referring to the arm.)

The vest is extremely comfortable. The whole outfit is beyond compare, to my mind.

It was suggested to me, though not confirmed, that the Pilot would probably be available separately later for people who already had the Merlin, arm and vest.

The Pilot is built more like the standard Steadicam units, with a sled, a monitor (available in a couple of versions) and the vertical pole (I'm not sure of the proper term for it). The Pilot may give more control for certain kinds of moves, such as whip pans, making subtle moves while running, etc., just because of the vertical nature and a slightly heavier piece.

However, I believe either one would work similarly with the XH-A1. I luse the XH-A1 with the Merlin with good results. I don't know what the issues are people may complain about. The new gimble, which comes with the arm and vest, just improves the performance and allows a little more weight, but it is not much heavier than the original plastic one.

I think the Merlin is so special and unique, that it should be owned even for those who buy a Pilot.

I am going to by the arm and vest for the Merlin soon. I then plan to by the Pilot to use on the arm and vest I will only own sometime in the future.

I don't know how it would work, but the Merlin has the possibility of being cared on the arm for long periods, then quickly lifted off for special (even continuous) shots that can't be reached with the camera on the arm.

Hopefully I will get over to Tiffen again within a week. I'm going to take my XH-A1 and Merlin as see if they'll let me try them out with the vest and arm. If I do, I'll report back.

The arm and vest are hot items. I'm on the list at B&H to be notified when they come in. Twice I've been notified and I've checked back within a couple of hours and both times they were already sold out.

For me the XH-A1 was a huge step forward in quality, features, price and portability. I think the Steadicam Merlin and Pilot take the XH-A1 to the next level. I think there will some impressive work in the near future when the talented, the Merlin/Pilot and the XH-A1 get some quality time together.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 02:01 AM   #5
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Thank you very much Jack, wao! your reviews have just assured me that I could save a lot more money for buying Merlin first instead of Pilot, and Tiffen is really care of their users, a separated Pilot sled is just a valuable upgrade path for Merlin Rig in future. I am in BH notice list as well :D.

Thank you~
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Old September 20th, 2007, 07:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post

However, I believe either one would work similarly with the XH-A1. I luse the XH-A1 with the Merlin with good results. I don't know what the issues are people may complain about. The new gimble, which comes with the arm and vest, just improves the performance and allows a little more weight, but it is not much heavier than the original plastic one.
Have you used the heavier gimble on the merlin and found it still manageable? (without the vest/arm combo)

Trish
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Old September 20th, 2007, 08:05 AM   #7
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Trish,

The Gimbal is such a tiny piece that it won't add much to the weight. I've not seen the new gimbal but having seem the old one I deduce...

http://photoalbum.matlus.com//AlbumView.aspx/6

Shiv.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 08:24 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info on the setup - maybe needing this soon

I'd be upset with the 'used' look to some of the merlin parts. At that price, you shouldn't have to be dealing with this. I'd definitely contact the vendor.

Trish
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Old September 20th, 2007, 08:39 AM   #9
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Yes I intend to. Except that I do need to Merlin for all of next week. So if I have to return it I'll be after I finish my shoot.

I was wondering if I should make a video of the key parts of balancing the Merlin. It's a daunting task doing it single handedly :) (making a video that it).

Did you read my other post and the clips I posted?
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