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Old June 15th, 2006, 10:39 PM   #31
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Thats some really nice footage there.
I paticularly like the shot with the stairs, but almost all of it looked very good. :)

- Mikko
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Old June 15th, 2006, 10:47 PM   #32
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Kris,

Did the Merlin cookbook help? It has presets for several cameras in stock form. But maybe you already knew that.

http://www.merlincookbook.com/

It really came down to balancing for me. While I'm no expert, I noticed that the Merlin is very very sensitive to even the slightest adjustment and movement compared to my Glidecam 2000. My TRV900 is lightweight too so that's a plus. But I want to try it with my VX1000 next. I still haven't sold my Glidecam 2000 and I know it might come in handy, especially if I really need to do a hard running shot.

Mikko,

Thanks for the feedback. I enjoy using it and will keep practicing. The Merlin really is a fine piece of equipment compared to my G2K. I think it set the bar in handhelds again.
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Old June 26th, 2006, 01:24 PM   #33
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Mikko,

I have got my Merlin since approx. 4 weeks. unfortunately I am now busy at work, so I don't have too much time to practice.

My reasons to buy a Merlin:
I am now filming DV since 1999, always using the same Panasonic NV-DX100 (3CCD). I have always been happy with theresults, but since I am making DVD's with iMovie, the shaky parts (I shoot all film by hand) have begun to irritate me. In particular zooming looks poor. And as I film a lot when walking I found the Merlin on the internet. I am also considering buying a new (HD) videcamcorder, but then I would still have shaky shots.

When buying the Merlin, the sales man (it is sold at a professional video shop) adviced me that camera's shouldn't ne too heavy, from his point of view HDR FX1 would do, but Z1U would already be too much. And I would need a tripod (which i bought two weeks ago).

I did exactly as was written in the manual and watched the DVD and read the manual simultaneously: it is indeed the best manual ever seen for any product. it took me a few hrs before I had it more or less balanced: it is really not so easy, and in the beginning you forget to put the lens cap on the same place, to fold out the lcd-screen, etc etc.

I have only made a fwe shots in and aroudn the house (not really worthwile watching I guess), but the effect is dramatic: the shaky component disappears almost completely. What is difficult is to aim the camera at the subject you wish without making the shot look bumpy: you must really slightly touch the guide and think in advance how you are going to walk and shoot (if you bump up against something the footage is gone). Also you must switch on the record button first (then it all moves), stabilise the camera, make your shot and switch off the record button. This menas that you use much more tape and that you run out of batteries sooner. I intend to use my remote control, only I don't know where I left it (never use it).

Every time you attach the plate to the Merlin, you have to rebalance again, also during shooting you keep doing this. I would expect that for good shooting you must practice a few hrs a day for some time, just to get the feel and never forget about it (like biking).

At some times I could not make the "roll balance" (don't know the exact wording now, jaw or pitch): in any case the camera mvoed to the left or right slowly. I also felt when moving the gimbal from left to right a small click (as if there was some play in teh bearings) which didn't appear normal to me so I emailed Tiffen (dealer couldn't help me, never seen a Merlin before): the rpsonded within 24 hrs and promised to send me a new gimbal. So service appears to be excellent.

Summary: in my opinion a very good deal, it dramatically improves the footage but requires hard practicing. When it is balanced it is very smooth and the horizon remains horizontal.
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Old June 26th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #34
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Pieter,
Thanks for your review of your experiences with the Merlin. Sounds like you are happy.

You say there's a little click and you can move the gimble a little from side to side? How much movement is it?
Turn the Merlin over (without a camera mounted) and look under the stage. Look at the black metal peice that holds the gimble assembly to the rods. It's the part that has the little blue side-to-side roller in it. See if you can slide this whole piece from side to side - about 3mm. If this is the case, check if the 2 screws on the side clamp to make sure they are tight.

- Mikko
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Old June 27th, 2006, 06:10 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Wilson
Pieter,
Thanks for your review of your experiences with the Merlin. Sounds like you are happy.

You say there's a little click and you can move the gimble a little from side to side? How much movement is it?
Turn the Merlin over (without a camera mounted) and look under the stage. Look at the black metal peice that holds the gimble assembly to the rods. It's the part that has the little blue side-to-side roller in it. See if you can slide this whole piece from side to side - about 3mm. If this is the case, check if the 2 screws on the side clamp to make sure they are tight.

- Mikko
Thanks Mikko, I tried what you said and the screws are tight. When I turn over the Merlin, I can clearly see that one axis of the gimbal (going from left to right, so the one for tilting) can move a little bit within the plastic (if it is plastic, it looks like), for a distance of approx 0.25 mm. Really not very much, but you can clearly feel it. In my opinion this should not be the case as it increases the acceleration and thus force on the gimbal. I told tiffen The same and they decided to send me another gimbal assembly.

I will tell you once Tiffen has sent me the new gimbal assembly.

And yes, I am happy.

Regards,

Pieter


PS: I have some footage (quicktime, 2Mb), but how can I post this ?
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Old June 27th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieter Mali
I have some footage (quicktime, 2Mb), but how can I post this ?
You need to host the footage on a webserver somewhere, then post a link here.

- Mikko
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Old July 4th, 2006, 03:23 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieter Mali
Mikko,

I have got my Merlin since approx. 4 weeks. unfortunately I am now busy at work, so I don't have too much time to practice.

When buying the Merlin, the sales man (it is sold at a professional video shop) adviced me that camera's shouldn't ne too heavy, from his point of view HDR FX1 would do, but Z1U would already be too much. And I would need a tripod (which i bought two weeks ago).
I have had similar experiences to Pieter with the Merlin.
I need a lot more practice.....but the difference in footage is already noticeable.

As to the Z1 - if you change to the smallest available Sony battery pack you will find that it can be balanced and used with the Merlin.
The FX1 plus a smaller battery pack can be used with 1 less "weight unit".

I promised Miko I would post my setting on the Cookbook, but I want to test a little more before I do that.

The bottom line is - It works very well, but you must reckon on a lot of time and practice before you can take full advantage of the Merlin.
There is no short cut......
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Old July 12th, 2006, 06:54 PM   #38
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You can add me to the list of happy Merlin owners as well. I've had mine for about two weeks, and I'm beginning to get some decent shots with it. It does indeed take practice, and the list of ways to "blow a shot" is long and growing. It is still, without any doubt, the best stabilizer I have ever owned. The manual and DVD that come with it are a workshop in how stabilizers work all by themselves, and the unit itself is a work of art. A joy to use.

The only downside? Now that I have a taste of what Steadicams can really do, I'm wanting more. That lo-mode stuff looks good....hmmm.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 10:16 PM   #39
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Ah, but one of the joys of the Merlin is that you don't need to flip the rig over and reconfigure to get low angle shots, just bend down and get 'em! And then boom straight up into high mode again! MUCH more convenient, trust me...
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Old July 12th, 2006, 11:15 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
Ah, but one of the joys of the Merlin is that you don't need to flip the rig over and reconfigure to get low angle shots, just bend down and get 'em! And then boom straight up into high mode again! MUCH more convenient, trust me...
Very true Charles, it is a nice perk to the Merlin.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 04:30 PM   #41
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That's very true, although the lower spar does provide a practical limit on how low you can go. The real issue is probably the speed at which I can duck walk. Sounds like I just need more practice :-)
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Old July 20th, 2006, 07:55 AM   #42
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Merlin for a Day

I was the proud owner of a Merlin—for a day! I was making adjustments to the device to fly a (very old) Sony PCR-DC100. I was adjusting the lower spar height, when the caliper adjusting knob came off in my hand! I noticed there was a lot of stiffness while turning the knob, but not much movement in the spar. Then, pop! The knob was free-spinning and no longer attached to the Merlin.

I sent the unit back to Tiffen (on their dime, happily) and hopefully they'll turn it around in a week or so. I fond this forum because of the trouble I'm having with the Merlin, but now am thrilled to have found an online community that could further my DV skills!

I'll report back how my repair from Tiffen goes and if I can make good use of what seems to be an awesome tool. Nice footage, Armin!
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Old July 23rd, 2006, 03:22 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Arthur Ross Jr
Nice footage, Armin!
Thanks Arthur. Good luck with your Merlin, I think you'll enjoy it!
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:59 AM   #44
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Woot! New owner here!

Yes, yes I am. I love it and I suck at it so I can't wait to get better. You can see my first flight right here.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 08:45 PM   #45
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Yes, yes I am. I love it and I suck at it so I can't wait to get better. You can see my first flight right here.
Yep, it takes some patience. I'm still practicing and trying to get better myself, but the rewards are great! Good luck with yours!
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