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Old July 22nd, 2009, 01:50 PM   #1
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Glidecam or Merlin - Experiences Please

Hi all...

I am going to buy a handheld stabiliser and can't decide between the Glidecam 2000 Pro orm the Stedicam Merlin. The glidecam sort of appeals as (apart from the fact it's cheaper) it seems lighter but also has this floating gimbal that allows the unit to move up and down through the handle - apparently this alleviates any up and down movement on camera, unlike the Merlin.

I've never used one of these units. Do they both allow you to pan and tilt?

You experiences would be grateful
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:20 PM   #2
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Good question Peter.

First, what camera are you hoping to use and with what accessories i.e FX1 with large battery.

I havnt used a Merlin myself but for the past 18 months have been using a Glidecam 2000 with the smoothshooter vest. I have recently upgraded to a Pilot.

First, I will say that if you plan on using it handheld and with a pro cam like Fx1, AH-A1 or similar then you will only be able to use the stabilizer for a very short period of time before your arm hurts. Its a lot of weight.

The GC has served us well and is very configurable. In a crude way. (the giant washers for adjusting balance). You can see the sort of shots you can create in much of our work.

Its also rock solid, you can throw this thing about and it will keep on rocking.

Downside is its hard to get good dynamic balance. This mans you have it all nice and love, turn it 90 degress and its out of balance or pans a bit wonky.

The Merlin looks very good indeed. Its micro adjustable stage makes balancing easier but the one thing which put me off is the gimble, it didnt appear to protect against up and down movement. I may be wrong.

I do strongly recommend a vest and arm for either config. The Merlin vest and arm is the same as the pilot. The arm is great, really nice, smooth and works well. The vest Im not to keen on. I much prefer my glidecam vest as this was more solid. The plastic and velcro design of the merlin/pilot vest makes it a bit less stable. And its velcro, all, stick to everything, like the bridesmaids dress velcro.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:32 PM   #3
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Hi Danny - thanks for the quick response.

I use a couple of Sony Z1 cameras, one of them with a SWIT light and extra battery for the reception filming, which makes it a tad heavy

Pete
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:38 PM   #4
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I have the Glidecam 4000 for my GL2 + WD58 + large battery. I get good shots with it, and yes it was cheaper. I have heard that he Merlin is too light weight to use in any sort of wind, and since I frequently do outdoor wedding shoots, I've had many times when the wind almost knocked the GC off axis (so I counter with a little push below the gimble). I've heard that he Merlin would not be usable at all in those situations. Obviously that is just a guess.

The washers & bolts are . . . .cheese to say the least. I hate the look of that portion of the unit, but lacking the extra few hundred for the Merlin, I went with the GC and it has served me well.

I don't ever see me moving up to a full vest rig because I am still (largely) a 1 cam operator unit with an assistant (who can point and zoom, etc). So that means I will always be the main cam op, the main flyer op, the main etc etc. So I can only do so many things at a time. A vest & arm would be out of the question (not to mention, I'm only pulling in $9k / yr from weddings).
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 04:07 PM   #5
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If you want a Stedicam Merlin, I have one listed on ebay.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 05:37 PM   #6
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here is my opion

If you want freedoom and solid get the merlin . If you want cheap stabilizer that money can buy get the GC. look at the merlin gimbal and where the camera sitting and look at the gc gimbal and where the camera sitting. Can't really shoot low with the GC but with the merlin it really low. If you have an arm and vest then i'm not taking about it but if you going to use your arm then the merlin is best. I own both of them and i sold the GC 4000 two day after i got it. I still have the merlin now Check it out some of the footage at my page vtv-stuido.com (the SDE on my website is using V25). The GC gimbal is not a good design for the 2000 or 4000 model. Beteewn your hand the weight it just too far out and it hurt your wrist and easy tire your arm. The merlin on the other hand is the weight are right on top of your hand. So not much pressure that wat i think. I also own Glidecam V25 which the gimball are in the same position as other steadicam. I saw one for sale on here that are very cheap 550 for the metal gimbal which is super deal to me. i got mine 700 the signature verion. On last advice is that practive alot before you fly it on a real job. steadicam work is not as easy as you think it is. Good luck
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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The Z1 is right at the weight limit of the GC2000. While it may not be on paper trust me, it is.

You can extend the post to give you more weight capacity at the top but it changes how the rig operates and also gets in the way. You might want a GC4000 for the Z1 really.

Cant agree more with the last comment. Flying isnt as easy as it looks, not smooth with a good, level horizon. Takes months to get to a decent level.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:05 AM   #8
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Not to hijack the thread, anyone has experience with the U-Flycam? It is on sale for $ 100, okay I am being cheap =)
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:10 AM   #9
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We have just bought a merlin to compliment our steadicam pilot and it's a lovely piece of engineering. Far better than the glidecam ever was and much easier to fly.

We have not tried balancing it on our heavier cameras yet, but i would imagine it would take the fx1 with battery and little else. Forget it for the EX1.

I personally think there is no comparison to that cheap imitation sold on ebay!
The angle of the glidecam 2000/3000 handle puts a lot of strain on the wrist, but the merlin has been designed with precision taking all this into account.

It's not going to compete with the pilot, but there will be times when it will come into it's own in confined spaces where the pilot cannot take you.

Another plus is the ability to always have it in ready mode on camera ready to fly or even use as a shoulder support. Try doing that with the glidecam!

We will be using the pilot for our main cam and merlin for second cam and once we get our third camera operator in order will be adding the canon MK11.

Hope this helps.

Cheers.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:27 AM   #10
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Peter, Danny:

The vertical axis of movement is stabilized by the arm of the operator, not by the gimbal. Thus it will work equally well with either the Merlin or the Glidecam. Think of it this way--we are able to carry a very full glass of water while walking without it spilling, this is an example of the shock-absorbing capability of our body mechanics which these stabilizers exploit. The gimbal is intended to work only on the angular axes of pan, tilt and roll (rather than three spatial axes)

The centering of weight over the hand with the Merlin is thought to be more comfortable than the offset weight of the Glidecam design.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 05:03 PM   #11
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go with the glidecam..

Although I have no experience with the Merlin.. I have lots of time on a glidecam. It is one of the only handheld stabilizers that is most similar to a standard steadicam sled.. and being a steadicam operator I prefer that type of setup.

Check out our website or the recent posting I did on the forum (1st 5DM2 wedding) its all Glidecam 2000 stuff. Our website is a mixture of glidecam, flowpod and arm/vest stabilizers.. but it all looks pretty much the same.

Save some cash buy the cheaper one and put some time into understanding the body mechanics and you'll be fine.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 08:21 PM   #12
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Hi Guys

Unless you are flying a tiny prosumer cam, a hand held will virtually kill you. The Merlin is a great rig but I certainly wouldn't like to do a 1 hour shoot with a camera that weighs more than a pound!!
I personally use the CineCity Flycam 6000 and with some simple mods it is very useable!! My cameras clock in at around 5.5lbs and without a vest you would have to go to gym for a month to build up your arms!!

If you do want something like a Merlin then it's probably worth including a small domestic camera like the HD Sony so you are not carrying too much weight. Even with a vest I'm pretty much pooped after an hour with the B&G during a photo session

Chris
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Old July 24th, 2009, 12:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Hi Guys

Unless you are flying a tiny prosumer cam, a hand held will virtually kill you. The Merlin is a great rig but I certainly wouldn't like to do a 1 hour shoot with a camera that weighs more than a pound!!
I personally use the CineCity Flycam 6000 and with some simple mods it is very useable!! My cameras clock in at around 5.5lbs and without a vest you would have to go to gym for a month to build up your arms!!

If you do want something like a Merlin then it's probably worth including a small domestic camera like the HD Sony so you are not carrying too much weight. Even with a vest I'm pretty much pooped after an hour with the B&G during a photo session

Chris
I totally disagree.. Chris you must be a wimp :D

I use it all day long with a 5.5lb camera.. and for long tracking shots too - very smooth.. but I would say yes, it took some time building up to; at first it was shorter shots etc.. and my arm would cramp up after a while.. but you condition your arm as you go.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 01:18 AM   #14
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Hey Michael

You must work out!! Yep I guess I'm a wimp..that's a little too much work for me!! I will stick with the vest to take the weight

However you certainly have my admiration for handholding a rig with that weight...admittedly it's also darn quicker too. Pick up and go without trying to get into a vest, hook up an arm etc etc!!!

Chris
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Old July 24th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #15
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Yep.. that's why you should keep at it until your arm can manage it.. the speed is a major factor!
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