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Old June 20th, 2007, 11:21 PM   #16
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Topanga, CA
Posts: 139
I just got a Merlin.

And, as with so many aspects of shooting, it is only as good as the operator.
I am sure other people can fill in some details, but here are a few;

It is a very finely made instrument. All the parts are close-tolerance machined metal. Everything fits together with a very reassuring snugness.

It (for me anyway), is a challenge to set up - especially with a heavier camera like the A1.
Takes lots of patience, lots of fiddle-time. Lots...

When everything is balanced out, even something like unfolding the
monitor throws everything off and takes another chunk of time to
(re)balance - almost like starting over, it's that sensitive.

However. There is a very thorough, very painstakingly set-out-by-the-numbers, instruction booklet which reminds you
to remember details like having the monitor already out when you start
the balance procedure.

Once everything is balanced out, it is relatively easy to start getting
a rough indication of what you want to be able to do.
Actually doing it, as you will have guessed, takes a tremendous amount of practice practice practice.
This not something you just set up and DO.
There is alot of the feeling of patting your head and rubbing your stomach.
You have to learn to move alittle differently.
I have tired on a regular feature film Steadicam (no, I didn't shoot using one),
with the harness and gyro's etc. and the A1 on the Merlin
has a great deal of the feel of what the camera feels like on a Seadicam post,
only without the horrible restriction of the harness and without having to fight the
countermovement produced by the gyro's.

You feel the weight but it is not terribly uncomfortable for short periods of time.
It's definately not something you 'just wear'.

The overriding reminder with the Merlin is - and this is uppermost with every steadicam shot - it is very important to have the shot planned out, unless you are going to stay very wide and restrict movement, which kind of goes against the whole idea of using one.

All in all I would say like most other specialized pieces of equipment
it has it's place and when used with care (and practice), it is capable of
producing amazing shots.


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Old June 21st, 2007, 06:18 PM   #17
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 4,449
We have a Hollywood Lite steadycam for use with 15-25 pound cameras, and that's a lot of weight hanging out there off your lower back. I can only use it for a short period of time, but generally a shot is set up and you do it in a couple of takes. I like the idea of the small, light system that you can get the vest for if needed for some shooting situations.

As far as balance, all steadycam devices are like that. It may take me half an hour to rebalance the DSR500 on the Hollywood Lite after it's been adjusted to another camera. Even the lateral position of the viewfinder affects balance.
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 08:15 AM   #18
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Location: London, England
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Thanks for all the great advice. The thread Neal suggested had some great footage attached to it. Definitely makes me want to get one!!
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Old June 24th, 2007, 09:50 AM   #19
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Location: Toronto Ontario Canada!
Posts: 353
Here is my ridiculously easy way to Balance the A1.

-Use the stock battery only
-I have a J-Rod attached to my A1 (I needed the J-Rod to attach 2 wireless + a Light to my a1 for my needs) sometimes

I think the J-Rod balances out the weight of the lcd when the lcd is extended out and to balance the J-Rod from here:

-fully extend the lower spar from ther merlin
-5 full weights
-2 1/2 wieghts (one starting + one finishing)
-G-Platz screw goes into the hole that is farther away from teh gimbal
-the top of the G-Platz screw is to rest between the focus and zoom rings of the A1
-the plate hole to use is hole I if i recall correctly

That's it; you may have to trim it heavily for the first time to get it to balance; but everytime after that you can dissemble the merlin/re-assemble and have it pretty much very well balanced in about 2 minutes every single time with very MINOR trimming since all the other balancing variables (fully extended spar, g-platz contact point with a1) are easily exactly replicated. I dont work for J-rod, but without the Rod in place I notice right away how much of a pain in the ass it is for me to Balance the Merlin.

I'll probably put up a video in due time showing how easy it is to do this.
dreaming hobbyist + storyteller

Last edited by Michael Y Wong; June 24th, 2007 at 01:00 PM.
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Old June 24th, 2007, 10:38 AM   #20
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Location: Topanga, CA
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The J-Rod looks like exactly what I need.
Good find.

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Old June 25th, 2007, 04:12 AM   #21
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Location: Norfolk, UK
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Has anyone tried using an A1 on a Merlin with the WD-72 wide adapter fitted to the camera?


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Old June 26th, 2007, 02:42 AM   #22
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,808
Using one right now with that configuration. It pushes the weight limit of the system, you will have to use every one of your weights on the bottom (including the finish weights in an odd formation) but it can be done. The biggest problem I'm having right now is that the guide hole in the A1 that is fore of the mounting screw seems to be a bit larger than the Merlin's locating pin, which allows the camera to rotate a tiny bit, necessitating constant tweaking.

I'm testing it out this week with the new vest and arm and will post some thoughts in the article section, as a supplement to the initial article I have there.
Charles Papert
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