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Old May 7th, 2006, 11:50 AM   #1
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The merlin

Has anyone used the Tiffen Merlin... I am strongly considering buying one.

Here's a link: http://www.steadicam.com/handheldmerlin.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

I will be using it to carry the vx2100 / DVX100a
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Old May 7th, 2006, 07:06 PM   #2
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Why?
1.) It can only hold up to 5 pounds. Forget ever using an on camera light with a big battery. Or a wideangle lens, or a wireless mic.

2.) The thing is 800 bucks!

Solution:
Get a glidecam for less than half the price. It works just as well and will hold your camera and all its accessories.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 08:04 AM   #3
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A videographer friend of mine has one and there were some aspects of it that were noteworthy. While it had some very unique characteristics including being able to fine tune balance with a threaded bolt it's down-side is the weight limitations.

The glidecam is indeed a better choice in my opinion. It also comes in two flavors the 2000 and the 4000. Depending on the size/weight of your camera + accessories.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #4
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glen,

I'm a firm believer of "you get what you pay for". so on that thought, what makes the merlin so much more expensive? form factor? weight? etc..??

looks like you have to operate the glidecam with two hands? the second hand being the support? looks like the merlin, you can operate with one hand? is this true?

Yooch
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Old May 8th, 2006, 10:50 AM   #5
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The Merlin is so expensive because it is a true Steadicam, as the others are not. I have been following threads about this over on DVXuser and there is a gentleman who uses real Steadicams for film work. He recommends this over any of the other stabilizers due to its design. According to him the Glidecam stabilizers will torque out your wrist, and the others are heavier and not as stable. This is just what I have read. I am sure the name brand doesn't help the price.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 12:46 PM   #6
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The Steadicam site PDF shows a person using 2 hands with the Merlin. With a DVX-100 or PD170 type camera, I can't imagine using 1 hand for more than a few minutes unless your arm looks like Popeye's.

I read somewhere that the Merlin's high price is due to it's unique design and production difficulty. A while back, I wote to Tiffen and suggested that they post a video of the Merlin in action. I noticed today that they do have a demo but it's not working on my PC.

http://www.steadicam.com/handheldmerlin.html
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Old May 8th, 2006, 12:50 PM   #7
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Moved here from W/EVT.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
Moved here from W/EVT.
...Explains how I missed it.


The DVX100 flies fantastically on the Merlin, even with a WA or certain lights or a mic reciver. There is in fact an accesory beeing worked on that will allow you to mount a mic revicer on the bottom to replace some of those counterweights.

The biggest bonus for the Merlin is how light it is. Balanced with a small camera the Merlin weighs less than a Glidecam without any weights, let alone a camera! This allows you to operate longer.

Also the Merlin is designed from the ground up (by the person who inveted Steadicam BTW, and he's still developing the stuff, after 30 years) to be a handheld stabilizer. The Glidecam is a copy of the basic principles of a large (vest supported) sleds. The physics are there, but it's just damn heavy and vey unergonomic for handheld use. That torque isse mentioned above is a killer. The Merlin places the center of gravity above your hand, so the weight presses down into your hand. The Glidecams place the center of gravity out next to your hand, this not only pulls down with the full wieght of the system but also twists your wrist to match.
Eventually of course you will get tired with each rig, The Merlin will make you tired, the Glidecam risks injuring your wirst (and tired).

Then there's all the other features of the Merlin, like the thumb rollers to set balance (compared to 8 screws to loosen so you can slide the plates on the glidecam, then tighten and check, and repeat till happy.) The Merlin folds, making it very nice and small. I hauled mine around all weekend on the bottom of a PD150 and I hardly noticed it tucked away. - or you can pull it off with the included quick release (Glidecam dones't have one) Merlin also comes with a handy little tripod adapter so you don't need to buy a seperate QR plate, you have all you need to go from the Merlin to tripod and back in less than 10 seconds (total).

But the Merlin will only hold 5.5lb ... yeah, so will you! Sure you can put a 7lb camera on the Glidecam - but hot damn that plus the hevy rig, you must be carrying well over 10lb twisting your arm! I wince every time I look at that guy with an XL1 on the GC 4K on the Glidecam website. Yeah, right.


Now as for results: This is majorly up to the operator, a good operator can get prety equivilant shots with both systems (except you can in deed reach and use Merlin one handed too - so more range) but the will last longer with the Merlin and it will be much more convinient to use.

And yes, a major factor of the price, much to Tiffen's dissapointment, is the cost of making those special bent tubes for the arc of the Merlin. Special lightweight materials with a very special bend don't come cheap.

If you can afford the Merlin, it is well worth the difference, if you can't, then you don't have the option to choose and this is a mute point.

- Mikko
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Old May 8th, 2006, 02:45 PM   #9
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Try before you buy. You can listen to as many different opinions as your bandwidth will allow, but only YOU can decide which stabiliser is the right one to go with.

I demo for Tiffen at their trade shows here in the UK, so I should have a heavily biased opinion. I personally used to have a GC2000 a few years ago, and I loved it. I recently tried the Merlin, and personally it's not for me. But we had many people falling in love as soon as they touched the thing. And it is a really nice bit of kit, no questions about it.

I also tried out a model from B-Hague here in the UK, for about 1/3rd the price of the Merlin, and it kicked ass! I was really surprised. I had to move on pretty quickly from their stall, because I started to inadvertently sell them by playing with it!

Upshot of it all…try them out for yourself, and hopefully you will make the decision that is right for you.

All the best,

Rick.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 03:50 PM   #10
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If you have a DVX or smaller camera, the Merlin absolutely DESTROYS the glidecam... not even remotely close. It is VERY hard to balance but once you get it, the performance is fantastic, even at FULL ZOOM! However, if you have a larger camera like the XL1, it just wont work.


ash =o)
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:43 AM   #11
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"I will be using it to carry the vx2100 / DVX100a"

These will fly really nice on the Glidecam too.


Rick "still trying to be impartial" Lewis
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Old May 26th, 2006, 05:14 PM   #12
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Well I ordered a Merlin. I have a G2K right now, so I can't wait to compare the two. Once I get some practice in, I'll post up some footage.
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Old May 26th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #13
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The merlin is the only sub $3000 stabilizer I have ever used or seen that you can use the lens long and STILL get very steady shots... it is however a pain to balance... expect 4-6 hours the first time... AT LEAST!



ash =o)
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Old May 26th, 2006, 05:46 PM   #14
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Steddiepod

I would like to make a suggestion.. I like the steddiepod the best. It does a lot of things. and i believe that this is literally the most versatile camera support ever!

The Steddiepod can be used as:
1. A very good hand held camera stabilizer
2. A Body camera mount/ego cam
3. Tripod
4. Monopod
5. Body Brace Mount
6. Camera Boom
7. Doggy/Kitty cam

Steddiepod also has a built-in level ball, a counter balance spring and a dutch tilt.

You can check it out at www.BarberTVP.com

and it's only $449!!!
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Old May 27th, 2006, 08:21 AM   #15
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I have a Glidecam 2000 for about 8 months now and have been very happy with the performance - minus the pain. It wasn't too hard to balance, but it takes time like any stabilizer. I fly my VX1000 or TRV900 with WA lens. Once it's set up, and I do my part, I get great smooth tracking shots. I film children videos for parents and love how I can run and gun on the fly and get smooth shots of them running around and climbing stuff. On the flip side, it starts to feel darn heavy after a few minutes and when fatique sets in it's very difficult to control, and my shots are off balance -- always taking a short break between shots. I bought the forearm brace and that lessened the fatique somewhat, but it's still heavy. It just transfers the weight to your bicep/deltoid muscle group as opposed to your wrist.

I love the performance and the shots I get are great, but I DO NOT enjoy the fatique I feel from using it.

I ordered a Merlin and will give that a try and compare the two, can't wait!
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