Merlin vs Blackbird, who wins? at DVinfo.net

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Old April 29th, 2009, 08:56 AM   #1
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Merlin vs Blackbird, who wins?

Who's the winner?I'd like to hear opinions from you owners of one of my next purchase.Please help me in choosing a partner for a z1!
thx
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #2
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I own the Steadicam Merlin and my opinion is that it’s a wonderful rig, a fine piece of engineering. With arm and vest it’s awesome. I think it’s perfect for Z1. I don’t own the Blackbird. You can start with the Merlin handheld, then upgrade to arm and west and subsequently to the Pilot sled now available. (Merlin arm and vest are the same of the Pilot). You can read this "NAB2009 Stabilizer Wrap-Up DV Info Net" thread by Charles Papert with a review of the Blackbird.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amedeo Fabroni View Post
... You can start with the Merlin handheld, then upgrade to arm and west and subsequently to the Pilot sled now available.
Amedeo

don't we wish that were true! - the pilot sled isn't available separately
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Old April 29th, 2009, 04:57 PM   #4
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Hi Paul,
at Steadicam Pilot Info Page - Tiffen is written "Pilot sled kit now available". I think this means that they sell the pilot sled separately.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 03:38 AM   #5
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Hey Amedeo where did you buy in EUROPE the Merlin?How much did you pay for it?

thx
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Old April 30th, 2009, 04:58 AM   #6
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Hi Marcus,
I bought the Merlin two years ago here in Italy, at Adcom. I donít remember exactly the price but it was around Ä 800.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:54 AM   #7
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Given the caveats that the Merlin is smaller, lighter and more portable (i.e. folds up smaller), I think I might be preferring the Blackbird for most users in terms of ease of operation.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 12:38 AM   #8
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Gs-2

I think I still prefer the Merlin,but the Blackbird is nice too. I own the Merlin and have I tried the Blackbird at NAB (talked both designers as well) I think that the Merlin is better for me, because it is smaller/shorter. The Blackbird has big moment of inertia while possibly being lighter, by being longer. I think I could accidentally bump the counter weight sled - too easily. I also think that the adjustable friction can cause some problems as well as solving some. Some of the other adjustability is nice, but I don't do much other trims on the fly except for tilt, and I find it quite easy to do with the Merlin. It would be more difficult to get the system out of equilibrium, but it maybe harder to return it there, because of the residual friction. They are developing the GS-2 model, which maybe really good. It employs gyroscope, an active system - which should work really well, make the function a lot better because of stable reference plane, for given weight. It will require battery though. It can be seen on their web site: The GS2 Handheld video camera stabilizer
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Old May 1st, 2009, 02:34 AM   #9
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I was expecting the friction setting to be a can of worms but was pleasantly surprised. My caveat again is that it will probably help more novices than hurt.

The GS-2 model seems pretty far away--the gyro needs a fair amount of work as Rob (the main voice of the company) readily admits.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 06:36 AM   #10
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I have both a Merlin and a Blackbird. I also have a Flyer. I've been open about my experience level, and characterized my experience with Steadicam as intermediate - about four years of production use, primarily in event and corporate work. It's not a full-time gig for me, but it's something I use pretty regularly in my bag of tricks. I'm using it more for the stuff I shoot at home, too.

For handheld use, especially when using a very light camera, the Blackbird is a much easier, smoother device to fly. Part of this is the ability to increase the friction of the gimbal (which still has me shaking my head in amazement), but part of it is some of the other features - bubble levels for both stage axes, a pan grip that works well for my fat fingers, an extension allowing the moment of inertia to increase significantly.

Today, this is tempered by Tiffen's upgrade path through Pilot. My personal sense is that many people who buy handheld would fall in love with body-worn, and Tiffen's made that easier to do with the new ability to buy just the Pilot sled.

Still, when looking at first purchase, and "I need it for a shoot in two weeks" shooting, Blackbird's my choice.

Last edited by Dana Love; May 1st, 2009 at 06:36 AM. Reason: Spell check
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Old May 1st, 2009, 04:50 PM   #11
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Just ordered a Blackbird

After looking into the Blackbird I didn't see how I can go wrong especially for the money. It will be on my doorstep on Monday and if anyone is interested I would be happy to provide my impressions.

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Old May 1st, 2009, 07:24 PM   #12
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How much does it cost the Blackbird?My worries?I live in Spain and i don't think they sell it here in EU.

@Charles: i saw your reel!U r a kind of God here!
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 01:17 PM   #13
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Marcus: The Blackbird introductory price is $645 and there is a $50 discount for forum/board members. We do indeed ship internationally.

Amedeo: The Blackbird handle is designed to fit over a Ĺ in post and is entirely compatible with the Merlin arm and post.

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Old May 3rd, 2009, 06:22 AM   #14
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I guess everyone has their view. Though I have not tried neither of the hand held stabilizer mentioned here, it is all about personal feel and handling comfortability. So to say who wins, is not really a decisive thing to conclude. But personally I like the Blackbird for it's feature and design looks. Again, I have not tried it, but if they come to IBC this year I will definitely. hint hint...
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 06:27 AM   #15
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So i really don't know how to have it shipped in Spain...

:(
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