Merlin w/arm or Flyer or Varizoom Aviator at

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Old February 18th, 2007, 08:04 AM   #1
Still Motion
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,186
Merlin w/arm or Flyer or Varizoom Aviator

I'm looking at getting into a new stabilizer and was hoping for some feedback. I'm not just considering the price, I'm also considering which would actually be best for my situation. If the benefits of the Flyer over the Aviator are not something that are going to help with what I'm doing, I would of course prefer to save the money, which is the same as the mewrlin comparision.

I currently use a Magiqcam with the Canon XHA1. We film weddings and the stabilizer has been a huge hit, so I would now like to moveup to something better.

From reading through this forum, it sounds like the Flyer is by far the best bet if you can afford it. While I could stretch the budget to make it work, I wouldn't have much left for batteries. I was thinking of trying to run a different type of battery (Tekkeon MY Power All) rght to the monitor to get me setup right away. I realize their may be warranty issues with that. Besides the cost, this unit is also much bigger and I wouldn't be able to use the sled without the arm, which means I would need to use the glidecam handheld, which we currently have , for smaller packages where we only have 30-40 minutes to cover the preps etc.

Not being able to use the Flyer for everything plus not having any budget left after getting the system alone made me think about either the Aviator or the Merlin w/arm.

The Merlin looks like it works great with the Z1, I would be able to use it without the arm if needed, and then when the arm is available, that would also be a huge advantage. Having some budget left over would also give me room to get the extra accessory plate, extra weights etc. I'm figuring about $4000 for that setup once they release the arm. Would this be a noticable improvment over the Magiqcam, when used properly? A disadvantage of this setup is that the arm is currently not available. I would need something by June, and I'm not sure if that is way off for when it may be available- any ideas? The Merlin also has weight limitations, so I wouldn't be able to through the firestore, 35mm adapter, and other things onto the Merlin and arm. While that is a drawback, I would most often just use it with a wide angle or fisheye, so it isn't a huge drawback.

Considering the cost of the Flyer and that the arm for the Merlin isn't available yet, led me to the Varizoom Aviator. It is around $4200 with the zoom controller included at BH. I like the option of using the monitor on the sled, and I would have the budget left to get more batteries for it. I have read some bad reviews by Mikko and others about the Aviator, so I'm not sure if it should even be considered. I'm also wondering if the design flaws in the Aviator are something I would notice and find inconvenient with the cam and type of work I do (I have no idea if that is something that can be answered by anybody else?). Would this be an improvement of the Magiqcam, and a significant one at that?

I have been so close to purchasing a different one of these options every day and so some solid feedback would be greatly appreciated so I can make the right decision. Weddings is 90% of our workload with commercial being the other 10%. I'm happy to make whatever works for weddings fit for the commercial side of things, so I'm not sconsidering that type of work. Like I said, I will be using the XH-A1. Most shots are short- 2-3 seconds covering details of the day. Some shots are longer such as following people in during introductions, or during the photo-session and ceremony where you have more time and long open space to move.

If you have the time and want to see a highlighst clip of what we've done with the Magiqcam and to get an idea of the type of shots we do, you can check out the first highlights (3mins) in the video portfolio on our website at

Thanks to anybody who actually made it through this whole post. Sorry so long.

Patrick Moreau is offline   Reply

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