Can Merlin w/Arm & Vest be Good - Or is Pilot Required? - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old June 22nd, 2008, 07:10 PM   #16
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Charles, again thanks for the compliments and info, but I'm just a former kickass Merlin operator now:-)) most of the stuff I shoot now is with the Pilot. BTW should have my clipper 312 before the end of the year.
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Old June 28th, 2008, 01:24 PM   #17
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I am selling my new, unopened, Merlin Arm/Vest Metal Gimbal. (Purchasd mid-May this year.) To return it and upgrade, pay tax, etc., would cost quite a bit, so it makes more sense to sell it wanting to buy one and give them the savings.

Please see the listing in Private Classified section of the forum.

As I say in the add, I will deduct the metal gimbal if you already have it.

Price is in the listing, but offers also accepted.
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Old June 29th, 2008, 08:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Simpson View Post
...they really need to sell the Pilot Sled alone for those if us who would really like to upgrade without having to take a hit on our Melin Arm & Vests.....
never gonna happen :), but I would love to buy a Pilot sled.

I loved my Merlin with Z1 and later on with A1, but unfortunately there is a limit of Merlin's capacity, though it's perfect for A1, EX1 needs a sled. I did try to fly EX1 on merlin with accessories plate (that's the only way to fly EX1 on Merlin), it's doable, handheld and with arm and vest, but that's really overload for Merlin, and I couldn't get rid of the feeling that gimbal will crack any second
after a few weeks of searching got myself an indicam sled with Merlin adapter,
put it on Merlin arm and vest, put EX1 on top, works very well,
After flying Merlin on the arm and vest, I find that it is easier to control the camera with the sled
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Old June 29th, 2008, 08:31 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Buba Kastorski View Post
never gonna happen :), but I would love to buy a Pilot sled.
But I don't get why.

If they want to make two completely different products, why didn't they make two different arms, one for the Merlin and one for the Pilot. Why do they put a slot for the Merlin in the giant PILOT backpack? There should be a separate backpack/case for the Merlin/Arm/Vest that is more pick-up-and-move-it friendly.

How well does the Indicam sled work with the Steadicam's version of the Pilot. (It was Indicam that first came out with the Pilot, wasn't it? Maybe the Indicam Pilot sled is what God meant for Merlin arm and vest buyers to have.

It would be less distasteful of Mr. Tiffen would at least say why he won't allow the sled to be sold as an upgrade to the Merlin/Arm/Vest. I could make an uniformed guess as to why, but then my post would have to be moved to Area 51.

Maybe there will be clone of the Steadicam Pilot sled by Christmas.
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Old June 29th, 2008, 08:38 PM   #20
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Isn't the Arm the part that is superior of the Steadicam product? It's not likely people would buy Pilot sleds and use them with other arms is it?

Is the sled the loss leader part of the package and it only costs $79 to make the arm and vest? That way the sled couldn't be sold for less then the whole package, thus the sled could never be sold by itself.

I really can't figure out the point of building a modular system if you can't buy the modules separately.

Are all the parts of the sled sold separately? How much would it cost to buy the parts and put together you own Pilot sled?
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Old June 29th, 2008, 10:28 PM   #21
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Jack:

While I won't attempt to explain, condone or otherwise speak for Tiffen's marketing choices, there never has been a "modular" approach to their Steadicam packages (unlike some of the other stabilizer companies out there). The Merlin vest and arm were planned before the Pilot was introduced, so the fact that you can buy those separately had everything to do with the Merlin being available in both handheld and body-mounted versions.

It doesn't really help someone who has already bought into the system, but if one takes this out of the equation, consider how this works for the new customer; they can purchase the Pilot, the Merlin and the adaptor for the arm that lets them fly both rigs (or obviously the Merlin in handheld mode).
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Old June 30th, 2008, 12:04 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Jack:

While I won't attempt to explain, condone or otherwise speak for Tiffen's marketing choices, there never has been a "modular" approach to their Steadicam packages (unlike some of the other stabilizer companies out there). The Merlin vest and arm were planned before the Pilot was introduced, so the fact that you can buy those separately had everything to do with the Merlin being available in both handheld and body-mounted versions.

It doesn't really help someone who has already bought into the system, but if one takes this out of the equation, consider how this works for the new customer; they can purchase the Pilot, the Merlin and the adaptor for the arm that lets them fly both rigs (or obviously the Merlin in handheld mode).
Yes, Charles, I agree that it is a great advantage to have all three choices, the Merlin Handheld, the Merlin on an arm, and the Pilot.

I just jumped too soon, based on old information. I should have re-checked my old info, and I would have known to get the Pilot.

I also understand that the Steadicam is not a modular system. However, I would call the Merlin and Pilot part of the same rig. The Pilot takes different monitors, different batteries, uses Merlin weights. The Merlin, Pilot, Arm and Vest are all parts of a single rig.

I would compare the Merlin/Pilot to a fluid head and tripod. I would expect to use my $2000 fluid head on regular sticks, a hi-hat and a jib for example. I would not expect to have to buy a new head when I bought the sticks, a new head when I bought the the hi-hat and a new head when I bought the jib.

So when I'm talking about the Merlin/Pilot as modular, I mean that you need all the pieces to make a complete system. People shooting with the kind of cameras suited to the Merlin and Pilot will have a need for all three setups: handheld Merlin, Merlin on arm, and Pilot (and off the Merlin with the quick release).

Someone shooting with the small cameras is probably also going to be using at least two... maybe the same but more likely different from one another. It makes sense to have one camera on the Merlin and a second on the Pilot. The Merlin camera could be used handheld, used on a tripod (quick release plate) or dropped on the arm. The other camera would be setup as the full-time steadicam on the Pilot.

The new (yet to be fully realized) web series of the near future, that are shot fast, with a small crew, and burn through material like soaps, will have great use for the whole Merlin/Pilot system... even though Tiffen, right now anyway, doesn't see it as system... leastways not one that can be stepped into at any point.

The Merlin/Pilot arm and vest puts a true Steadicam in the hands of every school, video club, and tiny production company. As it becomes more ubiquitous and as kids start using it, the idea of a "learning curve" will disappear. A whole bunch of kids will take naturally to the Steadicam and have decent skills. They will practice it and do it just like they play video games or play basketball.

So to get back to my point....

The Pilot/Merlin system costs roughly $5000. But $5000 is not a chunk usually available to schools and other organizations. Chunks of $1000 or $2000 are more frequently about.

But to get into the Steadicam Pilot I have to spend $4000. Even if I started with the $1000 handheld Merlin, since the Pilot sled is not available separately, my next sensible jump is $4000.

However, I can get a competing product complete for $2000 or a little more. This is going to be an inferior option, but maybe me, and certainly the people who have the final say on the money, aren't going to know that now.

On the other hand, if I could get that first $1000 ($800 actually) for the Merlin -- real Steadicam -- professional -- etc. -- and I got some great looking shots... just think what I could do for another $2000 ($1750 actually). A professional arm and vest and a real Steadicam for our program. And then, when I do this long flowing shot... you know, first day of school, etc., for the school's web page... and the whole town wants to know if Spielberg is the principal... and the video class is overflowing, and I explain I can have one team out doing hand held work with the Merlin we already have, and I was so smart to get this setup that we can use the professional arm and vest from that we were using for the Merlin to make a top-professional unit by adding the Pilot sled... and this rig will be just like the one they used on Rocky... I know I'm going to be able to get the next $2000 to make the upgrade.

[And the next year, I know I'll great approved when I ask for $2500 to upgrade to the new six-foot stretch Pilot with the auto retracting post that will let me do "crane" shots from 10 feet in the air to just above the ground.

[And the next year, I'll ask for $3000 for the new gyro-flip sled accessory that lets me go from regular mode to low mode in half a second, with the electronic connector that puts a flash, wipe or one of 67 other transitions into the video at the point of the flip.....]

In the end, it's not a big deal. just more like a puzzle. And it's always the first ones down the mountain who find the rocks. For price/quality (especially quality) I don't think there's anything close to either the Merlin or Pilot.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 08:55 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
But I don't get why.
C'mon Jack, Merlin arm and vest is half the price of Copilot, but does the same job; Pilot arm can handle heavier cams, but I'm still way below Merlin's arm capacity, and even with wireless audio, wireless video, light and WA lens I'll be fine (not according to the Tiffen - 7.5Lb) I loaded Merlin arm and vest up to 15lb total weight no problem, and as you can guess the heavier setup the smoother the footage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
How well does the Indicam sled work with the Steadicam's version of the Pilot.
I don't have Pilot, I use indicam sled on Merlin arm and vest and it works fine, it's a well build sled, a bit heavier than I thought, still can't get a perfect dynamic balance, gimbal gives me troubles sometimes ( because of it's 90 degree angle design), took me some time to get use to it , does a good job for the money, nice (to my eye) flying after couple hrs. of practice

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Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
Maybe there will be clone of the Steadicam Pilot sled by Christmas.
that would be great, for now I'm waiting for the news from Sanda, would like to try it,
cheers
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Old July 3rd, 2008, 12:12 AM   #24
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Buba,

The 90 degree design was on purpose as we tried various other angles and they didn't work as well. Since the Indicam PILOT sled can also be used handheld, the connection angle helps ease the strain on the forearm. Most of us don't use it that way except for short shots where we don't need to "suit up".

If you are having problems with the dynamic balance we would be glad to call you and give you some ways of dialing it in easily. We want our customers to be more than happy since they are our best advertisements.

As mentioned, we do make an adapter which connects our sled to the Merlin arm.

Tery
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Old March 29th, 2009, 08:32 PM   #25
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Adapter with Indicam Sled / EX3 on Merlin Vest / Arm set up

I purchased the Merlin / Arm Vest kit a while back to fly a Z1..
Now I am ready to move up to the EX3.
Convinced that the EX3 is well over the Merlin Stabilizer limit .. the camera weighing in at
With Lens 7.6 lb (3.6 kg) .

As we know SteadiCam will not sell the PIOLT Sled as an upgrade separately.

Terry from Indicam is selling a Merlin "adapter" (allows connection of Indicam PILOT sled to Merlin arm).

Has anybody actually used Terry's Indicam Sled with the Merlin / vest / adapter set up?
I spoke to Terry briefly .. he thinks it may be a bit heavy ? ...
" Our sled weighs just over 6 lbs so with the weight of the EX3 we think its over the limit."
The Steadicam Piolt says from the web site .."The PILOT™ 2-10 pound weight range will work with a wide array of cameras."

OK, so i am a bit confused.. If the EX3 is 8lb and is within the range for the Piolt Rig (2-10lbs) should it not work with the Terry Sled on Merlin adapter with Arm and vest ?

Terry's Indicam sled weighs just over 6 lbs .. anyone know how much the the Pilot sled weighs in at ..?

Also the magic 2-10 pound weight range.. I'm guessing that is just the camera weight , not including sled...

looking foward to enlightenment ..
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Old March 30th, 2009, 08:15 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ming Darcy View Post
.. anyone know how much the the Pilot sled weighs in at ..?
3 pounds, 4.7 oz. (Pilot sled with 5.8" widescreen monitor and AA battery mount, no batteries)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ming Darcy View Post
Also the magic 2-10 pound weight range.. I'm guessing that is just the camera weight , not including sled...
The 10 pound limit inculdes the camera, all camera accessories, and the Pilot sled battery. Camera accessories may inculde a QR plate, wireless audio receiver, wireless video transmitter, shotgun mic, camera battery, etc..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ming Darcy View Post
looking foward to enlightenment ..
It's really dumb that Steadicam doesn't sell the Pilot sled separately. Maybe you should call Steadicam and ask if they will sell it to you as a replacement part or something.

In any case, I'm sure the 6 pound Indicam Pilot sled with an EX3 will throw you over the Merlin arm's weight limit, especially when you add in a monitor and battery.

As it is, the EX3 is at the upper range of the Pilot. You need to add in a couple of pounds for the Pilot battery and bottom inertial weights. The good news is that the EX3 weighs less than 7 pounds when you remove the EVF hood and EX3 battery. With the Pilot-VLB package, the IDX 14.4v battery works perfectly with the EX3. So you can add lots of accessories. Here are some pics:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...x1-3-ex3_1.jpg
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...x1-3-ex3_2.jpg
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/attachmen...x1-3-ex3_3.jpg
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Old March 30th, 2009, 01:10 PM   #27
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Gentlemen (and any Ladies reading),

Our sled without weights comes in at 2.95 lbs.. When configured with standard weights it weighs 5.3 lbs. and with heavy weights (needed for heavier cameras like the EX3) is 6.4 lbs. Weights can be taken off as needed of course.

Since our system was designed for cameras that use their own side mounted monitors we don't have the extra battery weight and external monitor to worry about. Owners can add a bottom mounted monitor if they would like.

Regarding dynamic balance...Our sled should be much easier to dynamically balance than rigs that use the external monitor configuration as our weight plate is symmetrical meaning the front and back weights are equal and on the same plane. Our main balancing is done at the camera stage and is fairly easy. We have a "Horizontal Spin Balance Demo" shot found here: http://www.indicam.com/media/Flash/flvplayer.html Click on the last item.

Weight carrying capacity...We have added 18 lbs. (barbel weights) to our sled and balanced it on our 214 arm. We are glad we personally don't have to carry that much weight around. We realize that to regular Steadicam operators an 18 lb. camera is in the "Flyweight Division". We salute you!

Tery
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Old March 30th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #28
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Our sled ... with heavy weights (needed for heavier cameras like the EX3) is 6.4 lbs... We have added 18 lbs. (barbel weights) to our sled and balanced it on our 214 arm.
Hi Terry,

This seems to confirm that a Steadicam Merlin arm & vest together with an Indicam Merlin "adapter" and Indicam Pilot sled will not lift an EX3, whereas an Indicam Pilot sled with Indicam vest and arm will lift an EX3. Is this right?

By the way: My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 07:28 PM   #29
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Dave, (Inigo Montoya)

That cracked me up!

I'm not sure of the total weight that the Merlin arm can hold. If someone with an arm can put some kind of weights on the end without the Merlin attached and max it out then we can get an answer.

Our 214 system can take camera weights up to about 18 lbs. We're glad we don't have a heavy camera in that weight range. We like the A1 just fine. We loved our Z1U but it was stolen at the San Francisco Airport as we were returning from the South Seas.

Tery
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Old March 30th, 2009, 10:07 PM   #30
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I'm pretty sure the arm is rated at 15 pounds, however some can lift a bit more, my Merlin arm was way stronger than my Pilot's.
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