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Merlin vs Pilot vs Glidecam X10

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#1 Zach Love

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 12:42 PM

Hi all, first post here! Thanks in advance for any help.

So I have a Sony Z1 & a Z7 & looking to start flying. In this economy I have to make sure that every cent is spent wisely so I'm trying to figure out what I should buy.

The rigs I'm mainly looking at are:

Steadicam Merlin (w/ arm & vest)
Steadicam Pilot
Glidecam X-10 & 4000 Pro

I'm leaning toward the Merlin w/ the hope that there will be an easy path to upgrade to the Pilot in the future if I need the extra features. But I could go X-10 right now for about the price of the Merlin & save on a future upgrade.

What I'd like to know is what people think of the pros / cons of these rigs?

Also, has anyone used the Z7 on the Merlin?
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#2 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 06:37 PM

If I were you I would go with the Pilot. It is more like a big rig which has a lot of advantages and is a really well designed piece of gear.

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#3 Dave Gish

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 07:29 PM

Go for the Pilot. It's the best rig for cameras under 8 pounds. Perfect for the HVX200, EX1, Z7U, XH-A1, V1U, etc.

Having the monitor on the bottom is a big deal. It allows shots you can't do with the Merlin, like walking forward with the lens pointing back, low mode with the camera on the bottom, etc.. It also makes it a lot easier to see where you're going and the image your shooting at the same time.

As for the X-10, I've never flown it, but I have flown the Glidecam V-20 and this is a lot more crude. For example, balancing the rig requires you to loosen 8 small knurled brass thumb-screws on the stage and then use an Allen wrench to make the adjustment. On the Pilot, you just turn one knob to do the same thing. This makes it possible to re-trim the sled in seconds while you're wearing it. This is really important for adjusting headroom of the shot, otherwise you'll have to apply more pressure to tilt manually, and the shot will be less stable. This is just one example. The Steadicam stuff is really better. It's not just a name thing.

Steadicams are basically mechanical, so they tend to hold their value better than electronic stuff. The way cameras are going, you'll probably have replaced your Z7U three or four times before you even think about replacing your Pilot. So you might as well get the good one.

More info on the Pilot here:

One note: Steadicam is an investment in time as well as money. Learning is fun, but it will take weeks or months to get really good steady shots. Lots of practice. The 2-day workshop helps a lot. If you master the steadicam, you'll have a big advantage over your peers.
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#4 Peter Chung

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 09:54 AM

If money is tight and you want a good stabilizer to start out with, you might want to take a look at the Indicam Pilot. IMHO, it is the best bang for the buck at its price point and for all of the features it offers.

If you have the money and want more high end features like a bottom mounted LCD, micro-adjustable top stage, and socket block adjustments, take a good look at the Steadicam Pilot.

I am currently in between rigs so I have both at the moment. They both have their pros and cons so its a matter of what your needs are.

Hope this helps,
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#5 Collin Miller

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 12:03 AM

I would highly recommend that you purchase the pilot. The pilot is a great rig for small HD cameras. It has a arm that feels like a real steadicam arm. The monitor is really bright and easy to view on the pilot. The pilot is just a mini version of the higher end steadicam's. The steadicam pilot is worth the extra investment. Good luck.
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#6 Frank Simpson

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 10:18 PM

I give another vote for the Steadicam Pilot. For the reaons mentioned above, but also because it is NOT an easy upgrade path from the Merlin to the Pilot. This is exactly what I had to do. I took a hit of several hundred dollars in selling the Merlin rig which was only about 4 months old. Not to mention the time lost between selling the old rig to have enough money to buy the new rig, which of course is the identical arm & vest. I had contacted Steadicam about purchasing a Pilot sled and post, but no dice.

You can buy a Merlin and Merlin post to use with a Pilot, so there's a "downgrade" path, but no upgrade.

But now finally having my Pilot I could not be happier with it!

Edited by Frank Simpson, 22 November 2008 - 10:20 PM.

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