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Old September 24th, 2005, 12:51 AM   #1
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Steadicam Merlin

The new Steadicam Merlin looks really cool:

http://www.steadicam.com/handheldmerlin.html

It does seem expensive though. I'm looking for something like this for my new HVR-A1. Any better ideas?
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Old September 24th, 2005, 05:48 AM   #2
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I played with it at IBC extensivly...

It's the perfect (and I think only..) rig for a camera that light! - infact I believe we even tried one an A1 on it at one point.
With a super light camera, we could zoom in all the way (like 100times..) and only then could we get any jitter out of it!

If you want something else, then you are going to need to add some (lots) of weight to the camera.

And it should be shipping here at some stage! ;-)

- Mikko
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Old September 24th, 2005, 12:22 PM   #3
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Looks interesting but the price is silly... almost $1000?


ash =o)
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Old September 24th, 2005, 03:10 PM   #4
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I was curious about the price, so I asked.

The sad turth is that the bent pipes that the design calls for (to be as light and funtional) are *really* hard to bend correctly, as a result they are expensive to manufacture.

I don't think that Tiffen is ripping us off here.

For those that fly the JR, you'll know how it's been built "cheap" :-)

- Mikko
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Old September 24th, 2005, 07:50 PM   #5
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I don't know...is it really silly?

There's a certain sophistication in construction and design that sets this apart from the competition, so it is within reason that it would cost more (although I thought it was closer to $850?). I think it's more comparable to a good tripod, something you will own for many years that can be used with different cameras as they come and go. My recently sold JR started off as the platform for my brand new Hi8 camera, '91 state-of-the-art--imagine what might be flying on a Merlin in 2015 (the mind boggles--some 2lb HDCAM marvel, or will we be into a 3D holographic virtual reality mode by then...!?) For those who are in the habit of refreshing their camera of choice every few years, or buying new computers in the same time period, think of this as a long-term investment that will actually hold much of its value (that 14-year old JR sold for more than half what it cost new; how much would my Hi8 camcorder or Apple 2c be worth today???!)

I think the proof lies in the pudding. If one tests the Merlin alongside the competition and decides the difference is not worth the additional money, so be it...likewise if they simply cannot spend that much money to begin with. I've only spent a few minutes with it but having seen GB's prototype JR years ago which looked remarkably like the Merlin in shape, I know that this is what he had in mind the whole time, and it is allegedly much more stable (especially with long lenses) than anything else on the market.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:06 PM   #6
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It's $799 at B&H, but it's backordered. Check it out HERE. I'm on the fence as to the cost/benefit of this thing. I recently did a project where I used a lot of shaky footage shot by wife's uncle. I ended up using VDub and Deshaker on most of it. The funny thing was that it ended up looking a lot more stable than my usual work. It lost a little resolution in the process though, and deshaking all this footage also took about 50 hours of work. The extra stability really looked good though, and I know that something like the Merlin stabilizer would improve the quality of what I do immensely. Since I'll be using it almost all the time, I'd really like something that was light, easy to use and professional looking. Really, for me it is probably worth the money.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 04:15 AM   #7
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Laurence, just by reading your 2nd post, i'd say it's the rig for you.
it really is a MUCH better rig than the JR.

how much did you spend on your camera? tripod? accesories?

- Mikko
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Old September 25th, 2005, 08:57 AM   #8
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I'd sure like to have one, and, as suggested above, I see it as a second "lifetime" tripod with an added steadicam speciality.

Last edited by Barry Rivadue; September 25th, 2005 at 01:13 PM.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 10:44 AM   #9
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Merlin

Hi Mikko
I got a JR a couple of months ago for use with a fully loaded PD150 (W/A, big battery etc) and whilst it needs practice, I've got some great bits which I've used in corporates. I'm sure its not up to "proper" Steadicam standards, but certainly impressed a client or two!
Anyhow, whilst its fine now, the JR seems flimsy (although Charles's posts about his JR suggest otherwise!) so I thought a Merlin might be a wise investment. So finally my question(!):-
With no built-in-monitor, it easy to balance using a camera's flip out screen?
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Old September 25th, 2005, 10:53 AM   #10
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As to balanceing a camera on the Merlin.. try it with your JR.. you should be able to do it fine... it wont' be a problem.

Though beeing a left side (regular) steadicam operator, it throws me off just a little that the LCD of the cmaera is on the "wrong" side for using a JR/Merlin like that.

Should the Merlin have a monitor? for most shooters i dont' think it makes very much difference either way. - after all you work jsut fine with the camera LCD at other times. :-)
Would it be nice to have a monitor option? yeah, maybe.. but that would ad cost again.

- Mikko
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Old September 25th, 2005, 12:46 PM   #11
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I'm with you on the monitor issue, Mikko, but I haven't spent any time outside of trade shows using a handheld stabilizer that required the use of the flip-out screen. I do find that even though I operate "normally" on the left as you do with a body-mounted rig, it felt more normal for me to use my stronger right hand to support the JR so the rig would fly on the front/ride side, which would give a better view to flipscreen anyway if that was the case.

My concern was more to severe right pans made on the gimbal vs the body for whatever reason, especially with the rig held at eye height; obviously there would be periods where the image would be blocked. I imagine you get used to it though.

One of the things that I hope the more rigid construction of the Merlin alleviates over the JR is the constant need to re-trim before every shot. I have a feeling it probably does.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #12
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Yeah, let me quicly state that I havent' used a JR or Merlin outside a tradeshow either..

- Mikko
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Old September 25th, 2005, 08:09 PM   #13
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I would think the Merlin must not need constant trimming too. For one thing, the adjustment thingys aren't as accessible. It would be a major pain to constantly have to reaching underneath. I was initially stunned at the price as well, but if it works much better than JR, I think it's something we will buy in a year or so. The JR works fine for us now, but metal construction would definitely be better.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 10:48 PM   #14
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I am not sure what the street is, I know my friend ordered one with the case and bracket and it was over $1200. That just seems extreme for handheld... we'll see, I havent messed with it. I have yet to come across one that was worth half that IMHO....


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Old September 26th, 2005, 12:50 AM   #15
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I suppose having too much perspective on it makes it hard to be relevant, but the idea that one can make incredibly stable, beautiful images walking (even running) with a tiny little device married to a tiny little camcorder held in the hands for just a few thousand dollars is sort of incredible--who knows if Garrett hadn't come up with what he did when he did, if anyone else would have. It's a very different type of inventing than coming up with a faster processor or a more light sensitive chip, which is more about building on what came immediately before it; the Steadicam is a brilliant application of Newtonian physics, 100% mechanical and 100% original thinking.
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