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Old January 27th, 2011, 09:40 AM   #1
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is this Merlin kit worthwhile or a waste? Need advice.

Hi guys, Iím considering getting a Merlin and I use an XH-A1s primarily. I will be getting a DSLR soon and will use the Merlin with it. My question is: I see a new kit on BH photo and it includes a tripod and a base with wheels. It is

Steadicam STMTPK Merlin Stabilization Tripod Kit B&H Photo Video

Unfortunately it has no reviews yet. I like the idea of a stand to put the merlin on it. Is this kit a good idea, or should I just get the bracket they sell and stick that bracket onto a tripod to be used as a stand? Are the wheels useful? Is this a waste of money? What are your opinions? thanks !!!
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Old January 27th, 2011, 10:21 AM   #2
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The bracket is essential for having something to rest your Merlin on when perfecting the balance, and having a place to hang it ready for use. This will fit on any cheap light stand (put a weight on the stand at the bottom for security). The tripod in the kit and the dolly have no relationship with the use of the MERLIN, not needed unless you don't have a tripod. There is no stand in the kit to put the bracket on--it can't mount on the included tripod.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 10:53 AM   #3
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so you are saying that the "Merlin Docking Bracket" won't even go on the stand? How can you tell? I might have to give them a call to clear this up. And, no, I do not need another tripod right now.

I did check the Tiffen site but they do not mention this "kit" whatsoever. I did a google search for the kit and it appears nowhere but B/H.

anyone else?
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Old January 27th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #4
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Have you looked at the blackbird stabalizer?
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Old January 27th, 2011, 11:13 AM   #5
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As far as I know, the kit's a B&H thing, and might be useful if you don't already have a suitable tripod, etc. (as it sounds like you do). So the kit's probably not particularly useful for you -- but the stand adapter docking bracket thing may be. Unlike the previous poster, I don't think it's *essential*, but it can be very useful for balancing the rig and keeping it set up and ready at hand during shots, but you can do both without it if you're careful and patient (incidentally, patience is the key to using something like the Merlin :-) ). The bracket's designed to attach to light stands, and won't attach to most tripods without another adapter. But hell, it's only $40, and I think it's worth it.

Note that the big Merlin travel bag that's in the kit is also part of the basic Merlin package (as opposed to the kit) from B&H. The bag *is* useful (or it has been for me) -- I can keep my camera attached and put it all in the bag, but I'm not sure that'll work for every camera.

Frankly, and speaking as a (very) satisfied long-time B&H customer, I'd give the kit a miss and just buy the basic Merlin from them with the bracket as an accessory.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 12:30 PM   #6
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thanks Galen and Hamish for your input! I *had* a feeling the kit was not what I needed. I will look into getting the Merlin with the bracket for now.

I'm also a big B/H fan.

thanks guys!
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Old January 28th, 2011, 03:13 AM   #7
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this thread has an easy DIY tripod clamp for a Merlin that works very well...
learning the balancement of a merlin on a fx1
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Old January 29th, 2011, 03:50 PM   #8
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Nancy, I weight the stand down with little dumbell type weights, mine have a velcro strap to attach to the stand, Use at least 5 lbs. Always keep one of the legs of the stand aligned with the bracket to keep things from tilting when bumped. I don't like to take the Merlin/camera assembly apart, I want it ready all the time, so when not on the stand, it is sitting on the edge of my desk, the lower arm extending under the desktop, keep a very thick foam pad under the folded up handle to protect the pointed extension of the adjusting nut.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 01:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy Fleming View Post
I will look into getting the Merlin with the bracket for now.

I'm also a big B/H fan.

thanks guys!
Some people say the CMR Blackbird is better than the Merlin. It certainly costs less. Here's a link to the Blackbird on the B&H site:
Camera Motion Research Blackbird Camera Stabilizer BB100 B&H
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Old January 30th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #10
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Give a choice, go with the Blackbird. Buy the "complete" kit with the carrying case, "kickstand," and the mounting bracket. The cost is several hundred dollars less than the Merlin, plus the Blackbird appears to be better engineered and has a larger range of adjustment than the Merlin. The Blackbird comes with a T-bar balance weight which gives better rotational stability.

I bought the Blackbird kit about a month-and-a-half ago. It literally comes complete with everything you need -- just add a camera, plus a tripod/lightstand/worktable/whatever to use the stand adapter to park the blackbird when you're not using it. The DVD is excellent for showing you how to set up the unit properly, if laid out a bit randomly in my opinion, and the printed documentation is superb. I was literally running around with mine about twenty minutes after watching the video (okay, I cheated -- I downloaded the documentation from their website a week before the box arrived and had already familiarized myself with the balancing procedure).

Just my $0.02

Martin
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