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Merlin Steadicam Hardware Problem or User Inexperience

steadicam merlin DSLR problem balance hardware broken error gimbal friction

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#1 Daniel Munteanu

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

I have recentely purchased a steadicam Merlin. Balanced it after 30 min,
put on an accesory and haven't manged to balance it again for days and
days.

Watched all tutorials and videos, read through many forum opinions and
links, read all instructions, cookbooks, magic formulas and the like

Camera: 5D MII, 17-40mm Canon Lens. Merlin on hole "N" with nose weight 1
mid+1 finish, lower weights 3 mid+ 1 finish. drop time under control

After I discovered a strange thing about my Merlin, by mistake. I wonder
if it's normal or if it's damaged in some way and thus my impossibility
to balance it properly.

I have the Merlin set up on the original bracket so it's easier to handle.

Please watch the video, it's a much better explanation than the textual one:



This is the strange issue:

I can only balance it if I turn the grip at a certain angle (25-30
degrees) on the Y(vertical) axis, relative to the position of the grip
with the place where you put your fingers aligned parallel with the
Merlin spars. If the grip si facing forward (as the Merlin nose weights
are, for example) I can not get it to balance whatever I do, even when
bottom heavy. If I turn the grip at that certain angle something seems
to turn with (inside?) the gimbal and I have a steady point to balance
the Merlin on.

Is it normal to be able to balance the Merlin only under those
conditions and not to be able to rotate and turn the grip independently
with the camera holding steady? I don't think it should be...

As seen in the video, the Merlin displays some friction between one edge
of the ball holding the gimbal and the inner wall of the cylinder ring,
if rotated (camera un-mounted and stage turned on a side).

I would like your opinions on this. Will send the video to Tiffen as well.

Is this behavior normal as I'm a beginner at this or is there something wrong with this particular Merlin unit?


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#2 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:08 PM

It would help is the video wasn't private.  

May I recommend also posting over at DVXuser.com as it is more oriented toward large rigs over here.

Make sure that every accessory is tightly attached and that no strap or cable is free. Nothing should be moving or even vibrating when shaking the rig.

Fly safe.


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#3 Daniel Munteanu

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:22 PM

Nothig is moving or vibrating, no strap or cable. The issue is completly different. I've made the video public, sorry about that


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#4 Evrim KAYA

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:11 PM

Hello Daniel,



 

What you have is a gimbal alignment problem.

 

Your way of representing the problem is the same as the bigger rigs in order to check the same issue. I don’t know if the merlin gimbal is serviceable like the bigger sleds. If not you should exchange it via B&H. or contact Tiffen and ask how to align it again.

 

Fly safe.





 


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#5 Matija Petrovic

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:21 PM

It would help is the video wasn't private.  

May I recommend also posting over at DVXuser.com as it is more oriented toward large rigs over here.

Make sure that every accessory is tightly attached and that no strap or cable is free. Nothing should be moving or even vibrating when shaking the rig.

Fly safe.

why not to ask this question here, there are many users here who owns merlin


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#6 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:28 PM

It would help is the video wasn't private.  

May I recommend also posting over at DVXuser.com as it is more oriented toward large rigs over here.

Make sure that every accessory is tightly attached and that no strap or cable is free. Nothing should be moving or even vibrating when shaking the rig.

Fly safe.

why not to ask this question here, there are many users here who owns merlin

Just offering to ask on both places that's all. 


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#7 Daniel Munteanu

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:33 PM

I'll ask all over the place, I need to make certain what the issue is... also already sent an e-mail to Tiffen, see what happens. thanks for the replies so far. If there is something wrong with the gimbal, an alignment problem, I think it will have to be replaced as it's not serviceable as far as I know :(


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#8 Daniel Munteanu

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:36 AM

if video was still private:

 


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#9 Janice Arthur

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:15 AM

Daniel

Please change your name to your complete name

We all use real names here.

Thx good luck

JA
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#10 Bryan Fowler

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:48 PM

Daniel, 

 

Good video for the explanation. 

 

It seems like a question for B&H / Tiffen. I'd email them, and send them a link to your video.

I'd try B&H first, then Tiffen. ( Tiffen is moving locations this week, so I'd give them a couple days to catch up to their calls and emails. )

 

But what you are showing is not a normal balance problem.


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#11 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:00 PM

Daniel,  despite the lengthy video and verbal explanation, its hard for me to really see what exactly is going on. If you would use another camera (even your cell phone) to record a video of you holding the "balanced" merlin and showing how it falls over it would be a lot more helpfull. Even without any narration a video like that would go a much longer way in determining what could be wrong.

 

All this being said, to me it looks like your merlin is too top heavy.  Don't listen to the cookbook balancing recipes, I find them to be extremely bad habit forming and don't teach people how to properly balance the rig.  Your rig should be slightly bottom heavy so that the camera wants to revert back to the upright position.  Try adding more weights to the bottom in half weight increments (half weight, mid weight, half + mid weight, two middleweights, etc.) until the camera doesn't want to topple over at the angle you mentioned.  If you add too many bottom weights your rig will be too bottom heavy and while it won't topple over, it will pendulum and you will have a very quick drop time.


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#12 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:09 PM

Oh, in regards to the friction you mentioned, I believe its normal when the handle is at the 90 degree angle you showed.  The merlin is not meant to be operated at such an extreme angle and could snap the handle off of the gimbal.  The fact the merlin isn't toppling over at a specific angle...I can only imagine there is something getting caught at the angle.  I think if you Merlin was working properly, it would topple over even at that angle since your rig is currently too top heavy.


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#13 Bryan Fowler

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:18 PM

As he shows in the video, 90deg rotation horizontal, not 90degrees laterally.

And if his merlin was top heavy, wouldn't it flop over at any rotation of the gimbal?


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#14 Daniel Munteanu

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:40 PM

Elliot, I tried to make the Merlin VERY bottom heavy. it reduces the problem I have presented in the video, though it does not eliminate it completely. Then the Merlin becomes extremely bottom heavy with a very rapid drop time and a pronounced pendulum effect, as expected. If I lower the weights with half a weight and adjust the drop time, still keeping it too bottom heavy in my opinion, the problem of the balance only at a cerain angle shows up more.

 

I have contacted Tiffen and so far they think it might be something wrong with the gimbal. will await more news

 

And yes, Bryan, I think that, if top heavy, the Merlin should be impossible to balance at any angle, with an impossibility to remain perfectly still and in balance only at a certain rotation on the Y axis. but then, I'm just a beginner in this, though losing my trust and patience with this issue... :(


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: steadicam, merlin, DSLR, problem, balance, hardware, broken, error, gimbal, friction

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