First impressions of the Merlin at
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Old January 10th, 2006, 09:10 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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First impressions of the Merlin

Ok, you can't get one right now. B&H, EVS, JR's are all backordered. Apparently another order comes out from steadicam at the end of the month. I got mine sent to me from Seattle (Oppenheimer Camera).

Took slightly less than an hour to set up. I have a PDX10. After the set up, it's a little heavier than I was hoping, but luckily the sholder mount mode or the supported holding suggestions will come in fine.

The cons first: Very pricey. Plastic gimble is sure to break at some point. Balancing it is very tricky, but I'm sure with practice and experience, it will be easier.

Pros: small. folds up. Can fit into my camera case with my camera for travel (yay). Light. Pretty easy to use and to re-set again.

I can already do nice moving shots with it. I'm looking forward to getting better at using it, but I'm sure that I won't be able to do more than 10 mins holding it out, despite my arms of steel.

One thing I've found though, because of the weighted design is that if you move the camera too fast, side to side, or around, it will start to pendulum swing because of inertia. Does this happen with the glidecam 2000? Or is it because I don't have it truly balanced that I get this? I suspect that it's not the balance (it is hard to get precise balance though), that it's either the weight at the 1) bottom or 2) top, or the air/wind resistance on the camera is making it swing.

Or, I am over controlling the camera and shouldn't expect anything beyond a slow and smooth long shot?

And I do notice that, despite being in balance, that the camera and stabilizer will do some swinging around, just a little bit, to be picky. But I noticed that even on the DVD with the demos of the guys doing it (perhaps these guys weren't the best guys?).

Other than other major problem areas so far....I just hope it doesn't break in half, like Saturnin's. I heard that he slipped on his cast as he was reaching for a beer, while holding it and fell on his camera which in turn snapped the Merlin in half.
Ronald Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 10th, 2006, 09:38 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
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Originally Posted by Ronald Ng
I heard that he slipped on his cast as he was reaching for a beer, while holding it and fell on his camera which in turn snapped the Merlin in half.
I'm thinking there *must* be a lesson there somewhere... ;-)
Boyd Ostroff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 11th, 2006, 12:03 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: vancouver
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ahahah..yah thats what happend.... your $hit shouldnt turn sideways if u got it balanced, unless your using your hand and moving it side to side..
i can move mine left and right ....back and forth and its pretty sway, unless i make it sway by over correcting with the other hand
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Old January 11th, 2006, 02:38 AM   #4
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Location: Juneau, Alaska, USA
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Nice review Ronald, thanks!

The rig will always pendulum a little:
If you move an object from a point far from it's center of gravity, the heavier side will 'lag' behind. - This is why we carefully ballance a Steadicam so that the center of gravity is at the gimble.. so the movement won't cause part of it to 'lag', causing it to pendulum.
However if the rig was totally perfetly neutraly balanced vertially, with the gimble exactly at the CG, it would hang at any angle you left it at. So you need to move the CG down a little.
Every rig has to be slightly bottom heavy so that it hangs vertically.

As a result, every rig will pendulum slightly whenever you acceletare (speeding up or slowing down, or cornering - all types of acceleration). It is up to the operator to learn to (very very lightly) correct for this. Of course if you over-correct, or it sways when you are not changing speed/direction then you need to lighted up the controling hand a little. Practice practice...

How bottom heavy it is (how much it pendulums) is personal preferance. Heavier (more pendulum) will hang vertically stright more when still, but will pendulum more when accelerating. This is better for slow moves.
Less bottom heavy (less pendulum) won't hang vertically by itself so strongly. but will also pendulum less. This is better for stops and starts and cornering.
This is something that an experienced opertor will change depending on the shot type they are dooing. (a "Z" turn or two will be enough with the Merlin)

Saturnin, did you really fall and break your rig all ready? - Are you ok?

And yes, note to everyone: just as drinking and driving don't mix, neither do drinking and flying! (seriously)

So guys, when do we get to see some video from your Merlins?

Fly safe,
- Mikko
Mikko Wilson - Steadicam Owner / Operator - Juneau, Alaska, USA
+1 (907) 321-8387 - -
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