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EX1 and the Merlin Steadicam Vest/Arm a good combination?


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#1 olly law

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 11:41 AM

I am seriously considering buying a EX1 - although I need to check that it is going to be versatile when using it with a steadicam.

I am new to the world of steadicams, but from what I have gathered so far, balance and weighting are really important. I was discouraged from the FX1, because after adding a battery and light, it would be too heavy for the Merlin Arm/vest. Plus it's HDV and a pain compared to DVCAM apparently.

Does anyone have any experience of using the EX1 with the merlin? Or maybe there is another affordable steadicam option you know of I should be looking at?

For info; the camera will be used mostly for filming wedding and some corporate video - the final out put of which must be able to be played on non-HD TV's - additionally, it will be exported for web - I am a little concerned as one review (http://provideocoali...s_hd_camcorder/ ) stated that the EX1 is...awkward to handhold, some controls are hard to use, and it lacks SD recording, but its excellent pictures, comprehensive image tweaks, and pin-sharp LCD make it a compelling HD camcorder...I would need the output to be displayed on both HD TV and Standard Definition TV - would this still allow this?

If indeed these are problems to be seriously considered, then what would be the next best option, i.e. good in low light, minimal drop outs etc.
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#2 Brian Freesh

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:24 PM

Hi Olly, and welcome to the world of Steadicam!

On the Steadicam front, I looked up the weights of the EX1 and the FX1. The FX1 is actually .7 lbs lighter than the EX1 (at 4.6 lbs vs 5.3 lbs before battery or any other add-ons) so it looks like that's your better bet as far as weight goes. The Merlin with arm and vest is good up to 7.5 lbs, so I would think you could make either of those cameras work. If you're really worried about weight though, you could go with the Pilot, which is good up to 10lbs.

As far as the cameras, try some of the DV forums, they may have more specific help in regards to recording and outputting. Although I can vouch for the hand-holding issue of the EX1. THe problem is the swivel grip. It's a neat idea, but ultimately it solves a problem that didn't exist while creating another problem: The grip is now attached to the side of the camera as opposed to being part of the camera, pushing your hand so far to the right that the weight of the camera now has a lot of leverage on you, making it difficult to hold up and level. Preferably, your hand would be closer to the center of mass for the camera, putting it farther away means you have to work harder. However, a two-handed approach generally works a lot better.
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#3 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 04:11 AM

I am a steadi newb so read with a pich of salt

the 'naked' Ex1 seems to be right at the top of the pracical limit of the merlin

I got it nice with the 'kit' battery but the larger battery on the camera seems to make balance very hard - of course you could go 'out of spec' with another weight or two on the bottom but that may shorten the life of the rig I would imagine

some clever mounting of a microphone low down could help because the standard mic mount is quite far up and will have a big influence on balance

I would imaging that getting a bigger steadi Pilot/Flyyer would be far better - you could actually add some more weight (more inertia/smoother) and some accesories

The naked ex1 on the merlin was my smoothest flying experience yet compared to the ultralight, ultra low CofG, DSLRs I have been playing with

Also to use Merlin/Ex1 for more than a few minutes you need a vest unless you have back and arms of a gorrilla

Personally I would choose between spending your money on..

An EX1/Expensive rig

An EX1/Cheap/light second camera/cheap rig

I went for option 2 which I see as being more flexible for MY needs because I like my EX1 with a Letus adapter on it which pushes the wight and CofG up into the realms of no on the merlin, maybe on the Pilot and yes on the Flyer

S
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#4 Chris McKissick

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 07:49 AM

Hey Olly,

I've used the ex1 with my Pilot many times and trust me when I say that this is the way to go. Using a mattebox was important to me and also being able to use the extra merlin weights on the bottom of the Pilot sled to boost inertia is extremly valuable. It's still a compact rig - very inert and nicely flyable. The best setup I've worked with. (the xlh1 on the pilot is pretty solid as well...)

You're not going to be able to carry the merlin with ex1 for extended periods of time anyway... so before you go for a merlin with arm and vest set up, go for the pilot.

The ex1 is a great camera - having a fully mechanical lens is invaluable for focusing and handling fullHD but you can look for reviews on google and slashcam on the camera.

The only negative thing I can say about the camera is the fact, that it has no "professional" video jack. There is sadly only a bnc sdi output and a consumer jack for the a/v cable that is in the package. Having it on the pilot means having to use the a/v cable.
It's not a big problem or anything, but it would have been nicer to have a solid bnc or cinch out.

Hope that helped a little...

Chris
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#5 Charles Papert

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 08:08 AM

The EX1 and 3 use a 14.4 camcorder battery, which is a welcome change from the 7.2v standard that has been in vogue in recent years. This means that if you fly it on a Pilot, you can use the rig to power the camera, or use the camera battery to power the rig (I have been reading that some are doing this mod which I think is a great idea--I believe Swit is making an aftermarket less expensive version of the battery). If you were to use it on the Merlin, you could remote the battery to the base of the rig, replacing a few of the weights which would save you some payload. There isn't a plug-and-play solution out there just yet but it is surely on the way.
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#6 Eric Neal Young

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:51 AM

I'm having a tough time balancing my Ex-1 on the Merlin. I'm using the user-submitted cookbook settings and not getting ahead.

Does anyone have suggestions? I'm new to Merlin and realize the camera is at the upper limit of weight – I am using the small battery and no additional accesories mounted.
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#7 romeo sevilla

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 10:33 PM

I'm having a tough time balancing my Ex-1 on the Merlin. I'm using the user-submitted cookbook settings and not getting ahead.

Does anyone have suggestions? I'm new to Merlin and realize the camera is at the upper limit of weight – I am using the small battery and no additional accesories mounted.


I am using the XH-A1 on the Merlin. I just bought the Merlin with arm and vest 3 weeks ago, and I was able to fly right away. My setup is probably around 6.5 lbs. I didn't follow the cookbook except for the mounting pin hole. Start with mid and 1 finish on the front and add all the weights on the bottom. Then do the 1 second drop, if it drops less than a second, remove 1 weight at a time and adjust the "Z" as needed, counter is making bottom lighter, clockwise makes it bottom heavy. Adjust the drop time to 1 to 1.5 seconds. Then do the side to side movement, if it tilts, it means that you maybe top or bottom heavy (more like bottom heavy). When you go side to side movement, it may go out of balance, this is normal, just trim it and readjust. Hope this helps.
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#8 Scott Mohrman

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 01:00 PM

I am also flying the Sony EX1 with the Merlin (w/ vest and arm). Knowing that a bare EX1 is at the top end of the Merlin's payload capacity, I am having trouble. As I move forward and back forwards the rig sways. Does that mean it is too bottom heavy? I am using 1 mid and 1 finish weight on front and 1 start, 1 finish and 7 mid weights on the bottom. I am pushing for my work to upgrade to the Pilot, but so far no luck.

mohrhd.com
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#9 Andrew Stone

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 02:32 PM

You can use the supplied battery with the EX1 to power it instead of taking power off the sled. I would not go anything smaller than a Pilot.

I would strongly suggest to the original poster that you live with your EX1 for a period of time before you buy a Steadicam. You may find that once you add accessories like a wide angle zoom through lens (which is a fairly common add-on with the EX cameras) that your weight much heavier than you originally thought.

I run an EX3, a couple of pounds heavier than a EX1. With all the accessories I typically use, I am close to the end of the range of my Flyer.

-Andrew
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#10 Brian Freesh

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 02:34 PM

Scott,

The swaying could be you, it could be too bottom heavy. You say it happens when you move forwards and backwards, is it swaying forwards/backwards (tilting) or is it swaying side to side (dutch)? Do you have fingers on the gimbal when this happens, or do you just have your hand on the grip?

Are you using a bare EX1 with battery, or do you have anything else on the camera? With just a battery, it should be around 6 lbs, well within the 7.5 lb limit.

I don't have enough experience with the Merlin to know off the bat if you have it balanced too heavy for that camera, but it sounds pretty bottom heavy. You can also raise the bottom caliper section to help it be less bottom heavy, and you can lower the gimbal by unscrewing it a few clicks.

Brian |-)
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#11 Chuck Swan

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:53 PM

I started out with an EX1/Pilot combination. It flys great if you are only using the EX1. That combo worked well through the addition of a (single) wireless receiver, shotgun mic, clip-on mattebox, but that was about the limit. Light, compact, stable. However, as my accessory list grew (Lightpanels light, 2nd wireless channel, etc.), I had to upgrade to the Flyer LE. On the Pilot, follow focus, wasn't an option with any other accessories. Low mode wasn't.

EX1 is a nice cam to shoot with. A spare AV cable can be had for about 20 bucks and chopped to make a short video feed for the monitor. On the Pilot, if you are handy with a soldering iron you can make a cable to power from the sled which will help with the weight.

I haven't used the Merlin, but I don't see how it would work with EX1 unless the camera was stripped.

I am seriously considering buying a EX1 - although I need to check that it is going to be versatile when using it with a steadicam.

I am new to the world of steadicams, but from what I have gathered so far, balance and weighting are really important. I was discouraged from the FX1, because after adding a battery and light, it would be too heavy for the Merlin Arm/vest. Plus it's HDV and a pain compared to DVCAM apparently.

Does anyone have any experience of using the EX1 with the merlin? Or maybe there is another affordable steadicam option you know of I should be looking at?

For info; the camera will be used mostly for filming wedding and some corporate video - the final out put of which must be able to be played on non-HD TV's - additionally, it will be exported for web - I am a little concerned as one review (http://provideocoali...s_hd_camcorder/ ) stated that the EX1 is...awkward to handhold, some controls are hard to use, and it lacks SD recording, but its excellent pictures, comprehensive image tweaks, and pin-sharp LCD make it a compelling HD camcorder...I would need the output to be displayed on both HD TV and Standard Definition TV - would this still allow this?

If indeed these are problems to be seriously considered, then what would be the next best option, i.e. good in low light, minimal drop outs etc.


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#12 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:05 PM

I believe that the latest EX1 (EX1R) does allow standard def recording.

I started out with an EX1/Pilot combination. It flys great if you are only using the EX1. That combo worked well through the addition of a (single) wireless receiver, shotgun mic, clip-on mattebox, but that was about the limit. Light, compact, stable. However, as my accessory list grew (Lightpanels light, 2nd wireless channel, etc.), I had to upgrade to the Flyer LE. On the Pilot, follow focus, wasn't an option with any other accessories. Low mode wasn't.

EX1 is a nice cam to shoot with. A spare AV cable can be had for about 20 bucks and chopped to make a short video feed for the monitor. On the Pilot, if you are handy with a soldering iron you can make a cable to power from the sled which will help with the weight.

I haven't used the Merlin, but I don't see how it would work with EX1 unless the camera was stripped.

I am seriously considering buying a EX1 - although I need to check that it is going to be versatile when using it with a steadicam.

I am new to the world of steadicams, but from what I have gathered so far, balance and weighting are really important. I was discouraged from the FX1, because after adding a battery and light, it would be too heavy for the Merlin Arm/vest. Plus it's HDV and a pain compared to DVCAM apparently.

Does anyone have any experience of using the EX1 with the merlin? Or maybe there is another affordable steadicam option you know of I should be looking at?

For info; the camera will be used mostly for filming wedding and some corporate video - the final out put of which must be able to be played on non-HD TV's - additionally, it will be exported for web - I am a little concerned as one review (http://provideocoali...s_hd_camcorder/ ) stated that the EX1 is...awkward to handhold, some controls are hard to use, and it lacks SD recording, but its excellent pictures, comprehensive image tweaks, and pin-sharp LCD make it a compelling HD camcorder...I would need the output to be displayed on both HD TV and Standard Definition TV - would this still allow this?

If indeed these are problems to be seriously considered, then what would be the next best option, i.e. good in low light, minimal drop outs etc.


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#13 kurt nolen

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 03:49 AM

for what it's worth at this point because this topic is a little older, I actually had to use my merlin (+arm & vest) to fly an EX1 on a shoot this summer (sans wide angle lens adapter) and it worked fairly well. the primary problem was trying to execute quick pans and dead stops from running. there just isn't enough real estate for your fingers to manipulate the "sled" without having to exert additional pressure on the little finger grip that ultimately transfered to the final image.

with enough run-troughs I was able to get the shots we wanted, but a larger rig would have afforded me a lot more control.

hope it worked out for you!

Edited by kurt nolen, 26 September 2010 - 03:50 AM.

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