Help For Total Newbie!, Panasonic HVX200 to Canon Optura 50 at

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Old July 5th, 2008, 06:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Palo Alto, CA
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Help For Total Newbie!, Panasonic HVX200 to Canon Optura 50

Hi everyone,

Well I just got my Merlin yesterday and starting playing around with it and am having some difficulties as you might well relate to.... :-)

Reading through the various online resources it sounds like to me that learning how to use the Merlin correctly will be quite a journey but very worth it!

I bought the Merlin (no vest or arm) with the idea of using it with my Panasonic AG-HVX200 because I read online that people had done so successfully, however after trying it for a couple of hours my girlfriend and I decided to weigh the unit and it came out to 7lbs! much too heavy for the Merlin (I may have had an external mic attached and I definitely had the large battery both of which would be needed)

I decided to try the Merlin with an older DV Cam I have which is the Canon Optura don't hear a lot about this little cam but it shoots some pretty good looking video. It weighs about 1.2 lbs and I am having much better luck but still am experiencing significant issues that are preventing me from getting the full "camera flying/floating through air" effect I am going for.

Right now I am practicing while seated since I am thinking that this would be the easiest position to take while learning.

Although I think I may have the overall balance "close" I can't say whether or not I have achieved a perfectly neutral balance yet.

The specific problems I have right now are:

1) Wobble both up and down and side to side that is enough to be noticed in the video. What is "pendulum" swing? Is that side to side or is that up and down (like floor to ceiling?)

2) This is an odd one...the lower weights (one start, one mid and one finish) have a tendency to bump into my arm...I am now trying to be more aware of my arm position and getting it out of the way! Have other operators experienced this while learning?

3) Stage Position....Unfortunately I am finding the documentation that comes with the Merlin (while an obvious large amount of work went into it) confusing, too vague and contradictory at times. For instance, in regards to "stage position" the Cookbook gives you a number but then doesn't tell you where to measure it at. When looking at the left hand side of the camera (the side with the fold out LCD screen) it the "front" of the dovetail plate that is supposed to align with the given number or is that number supposed to line up more towards the rear of the dovetail plate?

4) I am using the "C" mounting holes. Right now I have the Optura aligned so that the front of the dovetail plate is 3 line marks underneath 4 - I don't know if that is right or not. Basically I've tried to center the camera on the dovetail plate and stage so that hopefully the camera's center of gravity is just over the handle.

5) I am totally confused by the z adjustments and from which position you start counting. I thought I read in the instructions that the default position was 4 threads down and that the Cookbook settings listed are meant to be adjustments up or down to that that if the cookbook says -4 you are really 8 full turns down from fully locked at the top. Do I have that correct?

Okay that's enough for one poster and one post!

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer

Steve Crow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 5th, 2008, 08:16 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Posts: 318
Hi Steve. Don't worry about the cook book for the Panasonic.
The metal gimbal can handle 7.5 lbs so you are OK. First, don't bother measuring the arc, just open it all the way, that will take one problem out of the equation. Second don't concern about the position of the z turn too much, just make it have a drop time of 2 seconds. Now just trim so you have good static/dynamic balance and you should be good to go. It wouldn't hurt to read the manual and watch the video again - and practice a lot...
Nick Tsamandanis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 7th, 2008, 04:43 AM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 1,498
use the instructions from the pdf and forumula. Measure from scratch the CG and input the details to the spreadsheet. It worked for my HC1 which was in the cookbook. Ha but I found out later y i couldnt balance it. Becuz the battery was different! So I guess it is better to trust the pdf n spreadsheet cuz it works much better now.
Sean Seah is offline   Reply

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