Merlin to Pilot? Should I or shouldn't I? at DVinfo.net

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Old February 29th, 2008, 11:27 AM   #1
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Merlin to Pilot? Should I or shouldn't I?

OK after finally buying a Sony Z7 I have been considering moving from Merlin with Vest/Arm to Pilot (or Co-Pilot). The Z7 is around 300g heavier than the Z1 and subsequently I've been unable to balance it using the standard weights and Tiffen's conclusion that it's just too heavy seems born out.

In addition to the wish to use the rig with a Z7, I also really like the idea of the 'proper' sled and it being easier to control and less 'fiddly'.

There's no Tiffen upgrade path from Merlin to Pilot, so I'm looking at doing a deal with a retailer to "trade-up". Now obviously this is going to come at significant expense and I'm really re-considering the whole idea.

Couple of options spring to mind, would anyone care to comment?

1. Just use the Merlin/Vest/Arm with my 2nd cam - Sony Z1 - for 'steady shots' - and mount the FS4 Hard disk I use on an accessory plate at the bottom of the Merlin. (do these accessory plates help balance the Merlin? plates at JimFarrell.com)

2. Buy a cheap Indian made sled, which seems pretty well made, and well featured for just a couple of hundred pounds, and use it with my existing Steadicam Vest/Arm. They will make up a small post adapter tube to be able to use it with the vest/arm (obviously keen to get the business, as are Indicam too)

3. Just suck it up and splurge the cash on a full Steadicam 'trade-up"

In addition to this, I'm still surprised to see claims of EX1's being flown with Merlin/Arm/vest as Tiffen refuse to accept it can be done and the EX1 is 200g heavier than the Z7!!

So if the EX1 can fly then maybe my Z7 CAN fly too but I'm just doing something wrong? Maybe it's the accessory plate adapter I mention that enables the EX1 (and my Z7) to fly?


All thoughts and comments welcome.

Thanks

Steve
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Old February 29th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #2
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I certainly understand your dilemma. I am wishing for a pilot sled, but am likely to remain with my Merlin vest/arm until such time as Tiffen is able/willing to offer an upgrade. I just don't want to take the substantial hit to "trade up" to the same vest & arm.

I do believe that you can get just the Pilot post (Tiffern #801-7291) and trade it out on the Merlin arm, so if you go with the Indi sled it might be a better option for you than an adaptor tube.

One thing to remember about balancing a camera is not just its weight, but where its center of gravity is.

I had a small Sony camera that balanced well on a JR. I tried for 3 days to balance by brother's similar camera and just could not get it to happen. The C.o.G. was just high enough to keep it from balancing, so the claims (one way or the other) about balancing an EX1 or a Z7 might be due to the C.o.G. Just a thought.

Last edited by Frank Simpson; February 29th, 2008 at 07:21 PM.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #3
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Maybe an Indicam Pilot sled?

Thanks for your thoughts Frank. Interesting idea about getting the Tiffen post....

I have actually been leaning towards the Indicam Pilot sled as they seem extremely helpful and there are numerous forum posts discussing the virtues of Terry's support and advice, and if I can get some kind of adapter rod to use the Merlin Arm/Vest then I'm laughing...

How important is a low mounted monitor? I can see it being useful to watch my feet and the shot and stop me tripping over things but the Indicam Pilot sled doesn't have one, is this monitor really essential?

I guess the draw of $500 for an Indicam sled, versus spending around $2000 on upgrading my existing Arm/Vest/Merlin to a Steadicam Pilot sled is a bit of a no-brainer huh? Well so long as the Indicam sled will work as promised with the Merlin/Arm vest of course...

Any comments anyone?

Thanks

Steve
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Old March 1st, 2008, 09:10 AM   #4
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last Sunday I flew an ex1 on a merlin/vest/arm for the whole day and never took it off. worked great. I don't even use a tripod anymore.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 11:04 PM   #5
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Christopher, with the extra weight of the ex1 it must handle beautiful, would love to see some footage!
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Old March 1st, 2008, 11:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Witzke View Post
last Sunday I flew an ex1 on a merlin/vest/arm for the whole day and never took it off. worked great. I don't even use a tripod anymore.
What's the weight of the camera, accessories, etc. that you are flying on the Merlin? Thanks.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 11:30 PM   #7
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I used the Sony FX1 with F970 battery with Sony HVL-20DW2 Video Light with F970 battery. Can't remember the exact weight, but it is under 7 pounds. The EX1 must be closer to max weight.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 11:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Towle View Post
How important is a low mounted monitor? I can see it being useful to watch my feet and the shot and stop me tripping over things but the Indicam Pilot sled doesn't have one, is this monitor really essential?
There are times when the rig will want to be aimed 90 degrees to the right, and you will be blind if you are using the flip-out screen. This will force you into operating the shot a different way.

Being able to keep your surroundings in your peripheral vision is obviously handy. Whether it is essential or not depends on one's preference. Somehow I don't seem to notice it being a problem with the Merlin, but perhaps the lack of body-mounting makes a psychological difference (after all, one is used to shooting handheld without the view of the ground).
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 06:39 AM   #9
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So is the Z7 NOT too heavy for Merlin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Tsamandanis View Post
Christopher, with the extra weight of the ex1 it must handle beautiful, would love to see some footage!
Hang on.... Tiffen assure me that the Sony Z7 (and hence the EX1 as it's even heavier) are too heavy for the Merlin to function, even with the Vest and Arm.

Are they wrong?

Do I not even need a Pilot Sled (Steadicam, or Indicam) to fly my Z7?

I am happy to go for an Indicam Sled if Indicam can get it to work well with my Merlin Arm and Vest, but not so keen to spend nearly 3x that much on a Steadicam Pilot Sled, especially if it's not really necessary!

So, maybe I need to go back and try and get my Z7 to balance with the Merlin? It must work I guess if the EX1 flys well.

Christopher, would you be able to just note down what weights you are using with the merlin/Arm/Vest to get it to fly correctly? Are you using the Accessry plate adapter and if so what is attached to it weight-wise?

Many Thanks

Steve
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Old March 4th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #10
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here's pic of the ex1 on the merlin....

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...5&d=1202157677


so far so good with probably over 50 hours with it and the gimble seems to handle it.

sorry I can't show any footage yet.... was told mums by the client.

If I get a chance to shoot something non client I will post.

Don't get me wrong though... I'd rather have a pilot, but the merlin/vest/arm/ex1 works just fine.
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