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Help Balancing Panasonic GZHD10U


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#1 JFoster

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:35 AM

Greetings, :P

I purchased a Merlin2 Steadicam. I have emailed their technical support with no response regarding info on how to balance my camera. It's light (1.37 pounds). I found the center of gravity for the camera and used the magic formula. It didn't work. So now, I am here on this forum asking anyone who may have the same problem with lighter cameras.

Do I need to purchase a heavier camera to make this thing work? If so, which one? Life is short. And time's a ticking.

Thanks,
JFoster
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#2 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:17 PM

My best suggestion would be to watch the DVD that came with your Merlin to try to figure out how to balance it properly. Balancing light cameras can be difficult to get a good balance with a slow drop time, however, it should be pretty easy to get at least a one second drop time.

If the camera is falling over and feels top heavy then increase the counterbalance weight.

If your camera drop time is too shot or pendulums when you accelerate or decelerate than you need to decrease the counterbalance weight.

If the camera is falling over with a bottom heavy distribution than you are close to achieving a slow drop time, however, you need to adjust the placement of your camera on the dovetail and then make micro adjustments so that when left alone the camera sits upright.
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#3 JFoster

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:26 AM

Thank you for your suggestions. I watched the DVD five times front to finish. I even checked off the steps in the book. HA! But again, I cannot get a reasonable balance with the Panasonic GZHD10U camera. It appears the camera is simply to light. I can get it balanced to a point. But the quick side to side movement really gets it spinning in the wrong direction.

I suspect I need to purchase a more professional camera. A friend suggested I go with a Panasonic Lumix GH2 or GH3, as long as it is hacked. . . Again, this is a smaller camera with not that much weight. I may be wrong. But even that camera would have issues with the Merlin2 Steadicam.

It is a lot of money to spend if not used repeatedly in a film. Some may say it is a tool for a handful of scenes. Not when you've invested $800 in the steadicam, plus another thousand or so with the arm and vest. I can't justify that at all. I need to wear it out with shots for it to be worthy of my budget.
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#4 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:25 PM

To me, it sounds like your rig is very bottom heavy which is causing the camera to move (pendulum) when you move it quickly side to side. You can definitely get a good balance with your camera even though its light...don't give up.

If you want to add additional weight so that you have more inertia, then there are plenty of options including adding a heavy baseplate, adding a microphone to the camera or adding custom weights to make the stage heavier (I velcro copper plates to my merlin stage when I'm using it with a DSLR). I wouldn't even worry about adding weights to your sled at this point though. The Merlin is meant to work with light cameras, in fact one of Garret Browns mottos is that just because you use lightweight gear doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to shoot like a professional. I think he would be very upset if you decided to buy a new camera because you couldn't get yours balances on a Merlin ;)
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