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SC Merlin with Arm&Vest Or SC Pilot .. WHICh?


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#1 Jay Ryde

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 08:54 AM

Hi, this is my very first post here so hoping to learn some things!! I'm in a bit of a dilema with reagrd to purchasing my first Steadicam.

I've got a wedding coming up and I?m using a SONY V1E (I?m PAL here in the UK), and cannot decide if I should go for the Merlin with Arm & Vest or the more expensive Pilot. I don?t just do weddings.. I?m a photographer by trade but I?m increasing getting calls for all sorts of video work e.g. Pop promos, docs etc.. so projects are quite diverse.

I want a future proofed system (if that?s at all applicable here) but i really have little experience in choosing such a system. My budget will just about reach the Pilot..so anything more is out of the question.

Your constructive thoughts would be very much appreciated.

thanks. :)

Edited by Jay Ryde, 24 April 2008 - 08:54 AM.

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#2 Erik Brul

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 09:11 AM

Hi Jay,

Welcome on this forum. If you use the search option, you can find a lot information about the purchase of a rig but for these smaller rigs, there is NOT a lot of info yet.., so :

If i was you, i would buy the Pilot first.., save some money.., buy the merlin post kit to change the post on the arm from Pilot to Merlin.., save some more.. and buy the Merlin itself. Then you can fly every camera(config) between 0 to 7 lbs and 2 to 10 lbs.. For example, Canon HV30 to Canon XLH1.

To me this is a dream combination when it comes to lightweight cams..

Best, Erik
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#3 Jay Ryde

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 09:22 AM

If i was you, i would buy the Pilot first.., save some money.., buy the merlin post kit to change the post on the arm from Pilot to Merlin.., save some more.. and buy the Merlin itself.
To me this is a dream combination when it comes to lightweight cams..

Best, Erik


Hi Erik,

thanks for your repsonse. However, i'm a little confused from your post.. You say buy the Pilot then say buy the Merlin?!! Do you mean to say, Buy the Merlin & The Arm & Vest rig? The Merlin is sold as a kit including the ARm & Vest for about £2000 here in UK. The Pilot for about £3000.
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#4 Erik Brul

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 09:56 AM

If i was you, i would buy the Pilot first.., save some money.., buy the merlin post kit to change the post on the arm from Pilot to Merlin.., save some more.. and buy the Merlin itself.
To me this is a dream combination when it comes to lightweight cams..

Best, Erik


Hi Erik,

thanks for your repsonse. However, i'm a little confused from your post.. You say buy the Pilot then say buy the Merlin?!! Do you mean to say, Buy the Merlin & The Arm & Vest rig? The Merlin is sold as a kit including the ARm & Vest for about £2000 here in UK. The Pilot for about £3000.


Nope, i mean :
There is not really a upgrade path from the Merlin arm vest combination to the Pilot because the Pilot Sled is not sold seperate. This means when you want to upgrade to the pilot you have to buy once again the vest and the arm.. That's nice if you like it that way, but it costs you extra.. so,

Buy the Pilot first for that £3000 and later MAYBE the: 801-7290 Merlin Arm Post Kit $49.00
and ofcourse JUST the Merlin WITHOUT the arm and vest. You can replace the Pilot post kit from the arm
with the Merlin Arm Post Kit..

2 Steadicams for a bit more then 1 Steadicam price..

just a idea,

Erik
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#5 Jay Ryde

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 03:42 AM

hi Erik,

Im wanting just one steadicam and asking if the Pilot is better than the Merlin + Arm & Vest. I will be using a SONY V1E camera with the steadicam. Basically, with my V1E, will the Pilot give me better results. Also someone may want to correct me here.. but looking at the Pilot, it looks a lot easier to balance and more stable in windy weather than the Merlin on an Arm & Vest does?!


Thanks erik.

Edited by Jay Ryde, 25 April 2008 - 03:48 AM.

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#6 James Elias

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 06:16 AM

Hi Jay / Erik:

I understand Erik's point but don't forget the Pilot comes with Merlin weights so you can use these up top for the lighter cameras. They fix onto the front and rear of the stage. Unless you want the choice of a handheld rig, there isn't really much of a need to own both a Merlin and a Pilot.

The results don't differ too much with practice, it's more in the features. The Pilot has a heavier max load, telescoping post, LCD monitor. The balancing principles are basically the same, but its true to say that the Pilot is larger so inherently more stable.

Regards
- James
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#7 Nick Tsamandanis

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 06:16 AM

Hi Jay, I currently own both. The Pilot behaves like a big rig, but I believe it has more of a learning curve, especially for a beginner. For example dynamic balance is easily achieved with a Merlin, where as the Pilot or any other Steadicam it can sometimes become a bit tricky. I have captured great shots with both rigs, they are both terrific, so I think its more a case of what you are going to use it for and how much time that you are prepared to practice with it, and you will need a lot of practice before even thinking of taking it out at a wedding.
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#8 Jay Ryde

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 06:31 AM

Hi Jay, I currently own both. The Pilot behaves like a big rig, but I believe it has more of a learning curve, especially for a beginner. For example dynamic balance is easily achieved with a Merlin, where as the Pilot or any other Steadicam it can sometimes become a bit tricky. I have captured great shots with both rigs, they are both terrific, so I think its more a case of what you are going to use it for and how much time that you are prepared to practice with it, and you will need a lot of practice before even thinking of taking it out at a wedding.


Ahh thank you .. this was the kind of info i was looking for and I thought it might just come down to the application and not necessary one rig better than another! Well, due to Steadicam repackaging of the Merlin, the Arm & Vest for it is unavailable in the UK now for a least a few weeks which takes me past my project date... so I guess Im going to get some decent practise in after all. I would expect this anyway.

By the looks of things, im probably going to go for the Merlin + Arm & Vest and use this with my V1e (that im also just about to purchase).

I have looked at vids on YouTube and couldn?t find any decent comparison of the Pilot and Merlin (with Arm & Vest) so if anyone knows of any particular resource where i could see the differences? myself, that would be marvellous.

Thanks again...
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#9 James Elias

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 06:52 AM

I have looked at vids on YouTube and couldn?t find any decent comparison of the Pilot and Merlin (with Arm & Vest) so if anyone knows of any particular resource where i could see the differences? myself, that would be marvellous.

Thanks again...


Jay:

I mentioned some of the major differences in my above post... the key thing is to try them both and then you'll really understand it.

If you have any questions, give me a call at Tiffen Europe.

- James
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#10 Jay Ryde

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 06:28 PM

I have looked at vids on YouTube and couldn?t find any decent comparison of the Pilot and Merlin (with Arm & Vest) so if anyone knows of any particular resource where i could see the differences? myself, that would be marvellous.

Thanks again...


Jay:

I mentioned some of the major differences in my above post... the key thing is to try them both and then you'll really understand it.

If you have any questions, give me a call at Tiffen Europe.

- James



thanks James for all your help.. I'm still waiting for my Steadicam T-Shirt though!!! ;)
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#11 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 07:07 PM

Personally I would say that the Pilot is far better than the Merlin. While it is possible to achieve good results with both, the Pilot is a far better rig for use with an arm and vest. Also the lack of a monitor is a deal breaker for me. The camera is not where you want to be looking.

~Jess
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#12 Jay Ryde

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 05:13 PM

I've gone for the Pilot (with the 16:9 5.8" monitor and a couple of IDX batteries/v-lock) and I love it! Though I have not tried a Merlin with the arm and vest I totally agree this is a better set up with the monitor and sled. From what I can gather this seems to behave more like the bigger rigs in that its stability is better controlled. I obviously have a learning curve ahead of me but its set up is very logical though i can see patience is real virtue in this situation! I?ve been dreaming of this rig for a long time now so for me... i don?t mind. The physics takes a bit of getting used to but once you find the balance a couple of times you start to get a feel for it. I'm using a SONY V1E and the Pilot seems to almost be made for it in terms of weight. However, I?m having to shift the stage to extreme angles to get a balance i.e winding the side-to-side screw until it almost stops completely. However, it balances and using a drop time of around 2 seconds with the NPF970 battery in place.

One question, though I have weighted the silver weights at the bottom of the rig I seem to get quite a lot of horizontal swing (side-to-side) but not so much forward and back (as seen in the videos). I?m not sure how to counter this. I think its probably my untrained technique but this seems a difficult one to conquer. Dynamic balance is OK(ish), static balance spot on.

Thanks.

J

Edited by Jay Ryde, 05 May 2008 - 05:17 PM.

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#13 Charles Papert

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 07:10 PM

One question, though I have weighted the silver weights at the bottom of the rig I seem to get quite a lot of horizontal swing (side-to-side) but not so much forward and back (as seen in the videos). I?m not sure how to counter this. I think its probably my untrained technique but this seems a difficult one to conquer.


There is a lot more mass involved in tilting the rig vs rolling it (i.e. horizon). Fore-and-aft weights will not help all that much with this. It's one of the basic Steadicam techniques that takes a while to master. For most new operators it is a function of over-controlling the rig. Try walking in a straight, evenly paced line and then release your grip on the post while you are walking (don't let go of the gimbal handle however). See if the rig demonstrates less roll once you have let go, this will tell you if you are over-influencing the rig.

Mostly, practice practice practice and your horizon will quiet down. The Pilot is a beautifully performing rig, congratulations on your purchase.
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#14 Erik Brul

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 07:28 AM

I've gone for the Pilot (with the 16:9 5.8" monitor and a couple of IDX batteries/v-lock) and I love it! I?ve been dreaming of this rig for a long time now so for me... i don?t mind.


Good for you Jay, congrats on your rig.. keep on practise.. and practise some more.. and like Charles said, PRACTISE.. ENJOY :D

Best, Erik
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#15 Jay Ryde

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 09:21 AM

A thank you to everyone for your kind help and support.
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