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Old February 21st, 2007, 10:15 PM   #1
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Merlin with remote control zoom

I do primarily wedding video and I want a reasonably affordable steadicam solution. I've been eyeing the Merlin for a while now but I am not sure about zoom control while using the Merlin. I'd like to get a Bogen 521 Pro Remote Control (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ist&sku=357846) for my camera (Sony PD170) but I don't see how I would use that in conjunction with the Merlin? Anyone have any thoughts on that combination together, would it work? How else would I control the zoom during a shot using the Merlin since touching the camera would throw it off balance? Would the LANC cord from the Bogen remote control throw it off balance too?

Yes, I'm sure it's obvious that I'm on the beginning end of the learning curve here, but I'd be interested to know owners of the Merlin think of this idea, or if they can offer alternatives. For that matter maybe there is a better solution than the Merlin for me too. I'd like a steadicam that is light, not a full rig (maybe some day, but not now) and one that has a lot of utility and flexibilty for someone with a limited budget (under $1000). I do like the idea of the Bogen remote so maybe some steadicam alternatives that would allow me to incorporate that.

On a side note, thanks for all the good posts and professionalism I've seen here. I've been pouring over the site the last few days since I found it and I've been impressed with the good relationship between the pros and the newbies.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 08:01 AM   #2
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Merlin and remote control

I always have my cameras remote control (the one that is usually supplied with new cameras, these days) It is "cordless" and can control the zoom and tele without any problems.
I have attached the remote to a cellphone neck-cord.
That way I always have the remote hanging round my neck and it is easily accessible whenever I want to zoom in or out.
Planning the shot in advance,whenever possible, makes things work even smoother.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 08:22 AM   #3
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Hi Brian & Douglas,

Since most Cams have their IR sensor in the front, not sure how Douglas gets his IR remote to work.

I've made a setup the uses FiberOptic cable with an attachment to both the Remote and the Cam's front.

Check my post in the "Remote Lens Controllers" section for comments and Pics of same. It might help.

Harold
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 11:03 AM   #4
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Remote control

I have a remote control too and to be honest I never even thought of that. If it gave me the degree of control I want as far as zoom speed, smooth zooms, etc. and it can communicate with my camera from behind then it's worth a shot. I'll try it and see.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 11:08 AM   #5
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Merlin/remote control

I would still be interested in hearing from Merlin owners as to whether that Bogen remote would even be attachable and whether it would throw off the ability of the Merlin to perform as a steadicam?

Again, alternatives to the Merlin would be welcome too, I just like the Merlin's size, weight, and portability. Maybe there's a much more versatile solution like the flowpod or something else. I need something that can handle the PD170, and a wireless receiver or on camera light, and yet still allow me some sort of zoom control through a control like the Bogen (which seems like it would offer a finer level of control than the remote which came with the camera since the Bogen would offer variable speed zooming while the remote won't).
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 05:39 PM   #6
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Remote zoom control

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harold Schreiber
Hi Brian & Douglas,

Since most Cams have their IR sensor in the front, not sure how Douglas gets his IR remote to work.
Harold
A good point, Harold.
I should have mentioned that I have a Sony Z1 and a Sony FX1 - both cameras have front and REAR IR sensors.

Douglas
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 06:29 PM   #7
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A cabled remote for a camera on a Merlin would not be very high on my list. It's going to be a challenge trying to manage the cable, and you can't just let it flop free. The balance on the Merlin is really precise, which is one of the reasons that it works so well.

You might also think about why and how often you need to zoom while you're flying the camera. Most of the time, you want to be back toward the wider end of the lens to further reduce motion. Instead of zooming, I tend to just move closer or further away from the subject.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 09:05 PM   #8
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Hey Douglas,

That makes things a lot easier.

But I would still have to do my FiberOptic trick, due to the Video I do and the Telescopic control handles (2' - 4') I made and use. With my set up, it would be difficult to aim well enough to do it by the remote alone.

Harold
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Old February 24th, 2007, 06:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Keyser
A cabled remote for a camera on a Merlin would not be very high on my list. It's going to be a challenge trying to manage the cable, and you can't just let it flop free. The balance on the Merlin is really precise, which is one of the reasons that it works so well.

You might also think about why and how often you need to zoom while you're flying the camera. Most of the time, you want to be back toward the wider end of the lens to further reduce motion. Instead of zooming, I tend to just move closer or further away from the subject.
I figured the cable would ruin the balance, but not having firsthand experience yet, and no store close by to try it, I'm relying on the good advice I'm getting here. Not to diverge, but I think the Merlin is out and I'm tending toward a Flowpod or Bogen / Manfrotto 560B. Both have strong and weak points and I'm torn on which way to go from a wedding video point of view.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 07:01 PM   #10
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Hi Brian,

I use both the Merlin and the DVRigPro. I use a remote with the DVRig and it works well. In fact, I think a remote is a required accessory for the DVRig.

The Merlin, as Ralph mentioned, is precisely balanced. Literally, a feather falling on it will affect the balance. In my experience -- almost a year now -- a corded remote would not work with the Merlin. I zoom in or out by getting closer to or further away from the subject. No problem.

Even using an IR remote with the Merlin wouldn't work well, because for the most part, the Merlin is a two-handed operation. That second hand is needed to occasionally provide only a light touch. If it's doing something else when that light touch is needed, the Merlin can get out of control in a hurry.

The Merlin is a fantastic piece of engineering, but it has to be handled properly.

There is a prototype arm & vest for the Merlin which might make a difference. But, last I read, when or even if the outfit will actually go into production is still to be decided.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 07:17 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Tom Tomkowiak
There is a prototype arm & vest for the Merlin which might make a difference. [/QUOTE]

The only way I could see the vest and arm helping with this issue is that the hand that normally supports the Merlin is still placing it in space, but without having to bear the load, so it could more easily accomodate a remote zoom control. However the issue of a cable betweeen the handle and the camera would remain as much of a problem.

Hopefully the camera manufacturers will dial in to some sort of "thought control" mode where we can trigger the zoom with our minds, but until then, indeed one's legs become the zoom!
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Old February 27th, 2007, 04:14 PM   #12
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I tested my Libec ZC-3DV zoom controller on my Merlin with mixed results.

The first chalenge was to find a way to mount the controller on Merlin's handle in such a way that I could use it. I recall having actually used a small peice of bent metal as a simple bracket to mount the controller off the handle in a convenient place.

As mentioned, the cable is a major issue. With a heavier camera - like the 150/170 - and a carefully routed cable, it is workable. But a wireless solution would be preferable.

So no real definative answer: Yes it is workable, but yes it will also impede your operating somewhat.

- Mikko
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Old February 27th, 2007, 05:52 PM   #13
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The Spartans and Merlin!

As the original question was about using the Merlin with a remote control, I described the method I use occassionally. However I recall a story about the Romans and Spartans from my history class many many years ago. The story gives you the best answer to the Merlin problem. Indeed a few other posts have already mentioned the best method.

Just before an impending battle between a hugs army of Romans and a smaller army of Spartans the Spartan general was talking to his troops. (For those of you not familiar with Spartans, they were over in Greece and they had a reputation of fighting to the last man rather than surrender).
During the talk one of the Spartans said, "General, The Romans have swords that are 1 foot longer than ours. They can kill us before we come in range."
The general said , "So we must take an extra step before we kill them!"

Yep, the best way, is taking the extra steps to get closer to the subject. In fact zooming as you move around with the Merlin can produce headaches and dizziness when viewing the result.
When I do use the remote IR control, I am not actually moving with the Merlin. I use it to reframe a shot before shooting again. I use it so as to avoid touching the Merlin while I am in the middle of shots and have the Merlin balanced correctly.

Be a Spartan! Take an extra step!
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Old February 28th, 2007, 10:17 PM   #14
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You guys have given me an idea. I'm going to attach a small piece of aluminum (reflective) to the front of the camera where the remote IR can hit and reflect into the camera's IR receiver. Since I am using a vest and arm I'll look for a good place to put the remote where it can hit the "spot". I don't know if it will work correctly but it's worth trying out. I'm not interested in using the zoom as much as I am the start and stop function.

I agree with your story conclusion. The movement with the rig gives a nice dynamic effect that the steadicam is famous for.

Terry
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Last edited by Terry Thompson; February 28th, 2007 at 10:57 PM.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 02:53 PM   #15
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If you zoom in more any camera movement will apear amplified....except for going toward and away from the object, but camera roll will look worse.(I have not used the merlin, but I assume the camera still "rolls")
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