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Old March 9th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #1
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Who has a Steadicam Merlin?

..And what camera's are you flying on it?

Any reviews, photos or video?


There's a lot of talk about it, and I end up fielding a lot of questions, but I'd really love to hear back from those of you who have them now.
How are you using them? Impressions, 'war stories', coments for those considering getting one, or just starting out using one...

- Mikko
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Old March 9th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #2
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Mikko,

I've had my Merlin for about 3 weeks. I'm flying a GL2 (w and w/o a wide angle) and a BP 945 size battery. This is my first experience with a Steady anything so I've got a pretty steep learning curve.

I've probaby only had about two hours of practice with it so far and don't yet feel like I'm ready to charge a client for using it! I've had some problems with getting the right balance. It sounds and appears easy in the DVD and instructions but I've found that it has to be VERY precise to work right and that takes some time.

Don't know if there are enough users out there to support a seperate forum but might be worth it in the future.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 01:16 PM   #3
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merlin and dvx100a

I'm using a Panny DVX100a on my Merlin. I'm really happy with it in spite of the fact so far my work has been mediocre at best. I've made just enough progress to feel like with real practice I might even become good at it. Like Rob, my biggest struggle is getting it and keeping it in balance.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 01:38 PM   #4
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i got one..for 2 months and havnt used it once yet lol...soon soon..... my foot broken so i cant walk .. :D
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Old March 10th, 2006, 03:14 PM   #5
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Thanks guys! Anyone else?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturnin Kondratiew
i got one..for 2 months and havnt used it once yet lol...soon soon..... my foot broken so i cant walk .. :D
You can still learn to balance and use it, even without walking around! Heal fast!

- Mikko
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Old March 10th, 2006, 03:23 PM   #6
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I've had mine for about three weeks and I'm loving it! I was a jr user since they came out. I have to say, I was worried about not having a monitor, but the fold out LCD works just fine....plus it's closer to my eyes. The Merlin is very solid. I love my jr but when you walk fast or run you can see a little bounce in the picture here and there. One of my first tests was to go out in the parking lot and run by the cars, what a JOY! No bounce or foot steps showing in the video. (sorry video was recorded over) The other great feature is the quick release on the Merlin, going from the Merlin to the Tripod or Crane is just a flick away. Balancing was painless and easy. I'm flying the Sony VX2000, most times with a Century wide angle lens.

The only thing I would change is the case that comes with the Merlin, the Merlin fits fine, but if you want to keep your camera attached you'll have to find a different case. Maybe Tiffin will come out with a Merlin Bag, molded for the Merlin to sit down in vertical with your camera atop.
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Old March 11th, 2006, 03:41 PM   #7
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Hi gents, glad to hear people are using and enjoying.

Saturnin, I feel your pain (literally...figuratively...unfortunately...). I broke my foot last June, clean fracture through the talus bone, and I was out of Steadicam work for 5 months. I was in a non-load-bearing cast for over two months, so it's taking a while for the foot to regain balance and strength--all I can say is, make sure to get physical therapy and stick with it!

The other day I had to chase Jeff Goldblum down a narrow walkway between two houses, my first real running shot since the injury. I got through it but it was definitely a little dicey. Had to chase and follow (i.e. missionary and Don Juan), and the worse of it was a single step right in the middle of the walkway leading to a side door. Once I went flying off it and jammed my bad foot a little bit, so on future takes I had to stutter step to make sure I was leading with the other foot.

Perhaps worth mentioning that I picked up new kicks for this show; Nike Huarache 2K5's. Best sneaker I've ever owned for Steadicam. Lots of support and cushioning but still feel "connected" to the ground, great stability and adjustable ankle support. It's a bit more of an issue when operating a big rig vs a Merlin (about 60 lbs difference!) but I'd still want to use them with a handheld rig.

Tim, great feedback on your setup. I understand the Merlin is a lot more stable especially for telephoto work--great! You guys would laugh if you saw Garrett's prototype for the JR that he built over 15 years ago--it looks much more like the Merlin than what CP came out with as a production model (bureauocracy at its worst).
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Old April 13th, 2006, 10:42 AM   #8
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I've had the Merlin for nearly four months now and I'm extemely happy with it. I use it every weekend shooting weddings on a Sony FX1. At first it was extremely frustrating learning how to balance and use it, but as time went on I improved, and I still am. I recently filmed 15 minutes straight - a long intro/dance sequence. I had to change hands a couple of times, but watching it back I can't notice when I changed hands - very impressive gadget! Clients love the footage as well. The merlin is perfect for wedding videographers because it is so much more discreet than a vest system.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 03:58 PM   #9
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I currently have an older Sony VX1000 - my original plan was to upgrade to the VX2100 but I may need to hold off for now. I purchased the Merlin just before a vacation/business trip to New Mexico, but was not able to devote enough time with it - so left it at home. The setup and balancing went very smoothly, and the preliminary shots I took before the trip - of running through the hallways and offices at work came out great, even though there's no LCD screen on the camera.

Which brings up a question - is there an inexpensive way to attach a lightweight LCD monitor to this camera in the meantime?

Thanks,
Don
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:08 PM   #10
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Soon a Merlin

I was glad to hear that Nick was successfully using a Merlin with an FX1.

I am waiting for my Merlin to arrive in the next week or so.
I had doubts about the camera weight range.
However after some ideas from Mikko I decided to go with the Merlin for my FX1 and even my Z1.
I realised that if I cahnge from the larger battery pack to one of the smaller batteries - I would get the weight down to within the range.

I will post here at a later date with a report on my success or failure!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:29 PM   #11
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i've shot a few things with it and its great. My foot is still messed up, i cant really run on it just yet, might have to go see a doctor and do some therapy, lol.

merlin is a-ok with me:D
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 11:42 PM   #12
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broke mine trying to fold back into the travel position. broke the lower spar trying to fold back the wrong way. do you guys know how good the customer service is at tiffen?
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Old May 24th, 2006, 06:48 PM   #13
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Ouch that sucks. Remember never to force any part. How did it break?

Tiffen's customer service is great, call them at: 818-843-4600

- Mikko
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Old May 24th, 2006, 11:44 PM   #14
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i folded the bottom bar the wrong way back to the travel position. i called tiffen and their customer service is great. they are replacing the part that broke. i was honest with them that i broke it and they totally hooked me up. honesty is the best policy.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 05:55 PM   #15
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Merlin now

Well, I finally ordered my Merlin.
It arrived yesterday.
The DVD and Instruction manual are the best combination of instructions I have ever seen in any product!
I spent an hour yesterday just watching the DVD and gettin familiar with the set-up.
Then I did a trial set-up before I fell asleep.
I have it almost perfectly balanced now........later today I will fine trim it and give it a tryout.

I was able to get it balanced to take my Sony Z1 with a NP-F970 battery pack!
So far - so good!
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