NEW Dual Arm Stabilizer Vest vs Steadicam Merlin Vest

I have used and abused my Steadicam Merlin Vest over the years, and although the ISO Arm has lasted me this long, the actual worn vest has slowly been degrading. I love the Steadicam Merlin Vest, and highly recommend the performance it gives, but even at $1500 dollars for the vest only (seen here) this is considered the low end of Steadicam's Stabilizer Vests. There are other more professional Steadicam vests, but obviously much more expensive. While I continued patch-work on my Steadicam system, I took the time to test a few other vests on the market.

Steadicam Merlin Vest Plastic Chest PlateSteadicam Wieldy Stabilizer Vest Konova Budget-3
Plastic Chest Plate Cracked on my Steadicam Merlin Vest

Build quality on the few aftermarket Stabilizer Vests i've tried over the years were good, in fact many of the worn vests I thought to be more comfortable and better designed than the Steadicam Merlin Vest. The only problem was that each ISO arm on the vests seemed to require a decent amount of weight to work smoothly. The springs were basically 'too strong' to fly your basic Glidecam HD4000 and DSLR Camera. In order to work properly the stabilizer should float in the air and the ISO arm should be very flexible and responsive to movement.

Steadicam Wieldy Stabilizer Vest Konova Budget-8
Current Stabilizer Vest Collection

My most recent Video Camera Stabilizer Vest arrived, and i'm finally happy to find something that performs extremely smooth under a lightweight stabilizer such as the new Carbon Fiber Wieldy.

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find-price-button Wieldy Arm & Vest with Carbon Fiber Stabilizer

For this new vest that i've purchased, the dual arms can be dialed down to fly an average DSLR lightweight setup, or dialed to support a heavier payload. The ISO arm is responsive, reduces movement that would normally transfer to the stabilizer, and allows the stabilizer to just float. I'm not a fan of a few aesthetic pieces such as the bright blue locking knobs and metal chest plate, but overall the build quality on the vest is good, lightweight, and comfortable.

The length can be quickly adjusted with a simple pull-pin, something the Steadicam Merlin vest does not offer. The Dual ISO arm can be repositioned on the left/right side, or removed completely very very easily. To attempt this with the Steadicam Vest requires more time and more effort. The buckles allow you to get in and out without having to lose your personal fitting.

Steadicam Wieldy Stabilizer Vest Konova Budget-6Steadicam Wieldy Stabilizer Vest Konova Budget-5
Metal Plate, Quick Adjustment, Quick Release Arm, Reverse Mount

I purchased this Dual ISO Arm Stabilizer Vest with the brand logo Wieldy, but has since undergone various name changes. The common one found (at time of writing) is under the brand 'CAME' (terrible name). If you're planning to use this vest under a Glidecam or Flycam, the post diameter is just a bit small. You would need to find a way to increase the diameter a bit for a snug fit with the Glidecam or Flycam handle.

Steadicam Wieldy Stabilizer Vest Konova Budget-9Steadicam Wieldy Stabilizer Vest Konova Budget-10
Wieldy Handle Diameter vs. Glidecam Handle Diameter


Sample flight with BlackMagic Cinema Camera

At about $600-$700 dollars this vest is still not considered 'cheap or affordable', but in terms of the performance versus a $1500 dollar Steadicam Merlin Vest (seen here), it's a highly recommended alternative that i'm very pleased with. This dual arm vest is also found bundled with a Wieldy DV Pro Carbon Fiber stabilizer, which is a great combination for DSLR Video. You can find this Dual Arm Vest + Stabilizer via eBay (click here)

Wieldy Vest Dual Arm Stabilizer Steadicam Vest
find-price-button Video Camera Steadycam Dual Arm Stabilizer Load Vest

The vest is very helpful for longer video shots, but is not required. You can always purchase the vest at a later time and just start with the Wieldy Carbon Fiber hand held stabilizer. I have additional information and sample video footage shot with a Wieldy (found here). So if you are just looking for the Hand Held stabilizer, that can be found via eBay (Click Here).

Wieldy Iron Triangle DV Pro StabilizerWieldy Stabilizer Cheesycam
find-price-button Wieldy DV Pro Iron Triangle Stabilizer

Wieldy Stabilizers Currently Available on eBay





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133 thoughts on “NEW Dual Arm Stabilizer Vest vs Steadicam Merlin Vest

  1. brodie

    Can I use this wieldy arm and vest with a Laing p-04 or is the hole diameter in the handle too small. Sorry for such a boring question. I couldn't find it on my own.

  2. @Emm thanks very much for your posts i found everything really helpful and interesting...
    Just a quick one: I have a Glidecam HD 2000 and a Wieldy vest but as you mentioned in this post the handle of the Glidecam is a bit bigger than the Wieldy post...
    Do you think a Glidecam to Steadicam adapter will fix this? Im just wondering if the Steadicam post fits into the Wieldy :S

    http://sandbox.berkeysystem.com/store/specialty-items/glidecam-to-steadicam-adapter/

    It would be really helpful if you can let me know.
    Much appreciated

    Jonny

  3. Emm

    Post author

    @Mike - You can't go wrong with the Steadicam Merlin Vest. Previously it was comparing a 400 dollar vest to a 1600 dollar vest, so cost was a big concern for many. Now that the prices have been lowered it's easier to justify going for the Steadicam (especially if you can offload the Merlin Stabilizer).

  4. Thank you Emm! I've been using an HD4000 for a couple of years so that's helpful. And I should have said "vest & arm" rather than "stabilizer". My bad.

    So in your opinion, am I better off buying the Steadicam Merlin, vest arm & adaptor (money is not a concern) - OR the Wieldy vest & arm, since that one is all metal, and has the other features that sounded better quality than the Steadicam in your video review?

    Just asking because it sounded like most were pursuing the Wieldy because they were more concerned about cost. But I'm more concerned with overall quality and long-term durability, rather than cost.

    Much appreciated,
    Mike

  5. Hi Emm,

    Thanks so much for doing the reviews. It was the best info I could find of anything on line, or even calling in to the staff at B&H.

    So if money wasn't a concern, and you just wanted the 'best' overall quality stabilizer system that was ready to go without needing custom modifications for a small, lightweight DSLR camera, like the Mark III, what would you recommend?

    Thanks very much for the help,
    Cheers,
    Mike

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Tom - Well I took the upper half from another vest and made it work with the lower half of the Steadicam Merlin Vest. The trick is to get the top plate to connect with the rib plate on the Merlin Vest. I had to drill a few holes.

  7. Tom

    Emm, I just broke the Steadicam vest's chest plate just like you have. Actually this is the second time it broke but I was fortunate enough to receive a replacement under warranty... Not this time around. Can you elaborate on that Konova fix? Thanks.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Chung Dha Lam - I don't know of any vests that will take the Merlin directly. You would have to end up replacing the post. I believe someone mentioned that the Steadicam Merlin post can be installed on the Wieldy vest.

  9. I would like to know if I could use the Steadicam Merlin with the other vest and if you could post like all the hand post sizes of all of them so we can compare the sizes with each other.

  10. Ok cool thanks Emm.
    You may jus be the greatest lol. I cant wait to get this. Im shooting an action film and this will be perfect for it. Will it be hard to maneuver? Im a quick learner

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Tery Wilson - Unfortunately I have not tested the Wieldy II Vest to say if it works well. The first link does work for smaller lighter cameras.

  12. Simon

    just here to say how nice it is that a blog owner actually provides (informed) answers to the many questions.

    Thank You Emm!

  13. You mean a shotgun microphone? I'm using stereo xy-axis mic that'll pick up any audio in immediate vicinity... but I really have to get this equipment, thanks for your reply Emm

  14. Emm

    Post author

    @Jake MacManus - It does not make enough noise to be picked up if you are using a proper microphone (not the in camera mic).

  15. Hi Emm,
    can you please tell me if the Weidly arm/vest/stabiliser makes any operational noise while flying? I'm recording audio as well as video so I need the stabiliser to be absolutely silent when flying
    thanks
    Jake

  16. Apon Ahsan

    Can any body suggest me which matte box, follow focus and base plate with rail I should buy? I have checked Wondlan. Do you recommend this?

    Will appreciate your suggestion.

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @Morgan – the Merlin is designed to fly with by holding the handle slightly at an angle. As you walk the handle can then move up and down. It also moves the small stabilizer further from the arm so it has room to work

  18. @Emm

    That seems like a nice solution...

    But could you tell me something about why the merlin requires an angled post?

    And why would I need to change the back screw of the adapter for a longer one?

    Thanks A LOT!

    Morgan

  19. Thank you for the useful information!

    I know this question has been asked before:

    Does the Wieldy arm work with the Merlin 2 Steadicam?

    Your answer was that the post would not fit. What would have to be done to fit the post?

    I am going to work with a Canon C100 or a Sony Nexus FS100 and a small Schoeps MS mic (for a documentary). In combination with the Merlin Steadicam 2 this shouldn't way over 7 kg. What do you think?

    Thank you very much!

    Morgan

  20. Vladislav

    I would like to ask if you would use it (wieldy or came) with 4,5 kg camera JVC GY750E. I saw your test of wieldy with BMCC, which can be half weight of my jvc and it worked nicely, but would it be safe for the 4.5 kg camera ?
    Thanks for sharing ...

  21. Emm

    Post author

    @Jason - Check the photo in my article and compare to the listings. The cheaper vest you are talking about with the blue handle stabilizer has a spring that may be too strong for a basic DSLR. You would really have to load it up with some weights for the spring to react properly.

  22. Jason

    @Emm. I'm thinking of dropping the cash on one of these. It's confusing to me because your links to eBay seem to lead to whichever vest is available at the time and not necessarily the one you have pictured. Can you confirm the link is still valid for a vest/stabilizer that will work with my DSLR? Right now it lists the Came version with the blue handled stabilizer for $679. I'm fine with that one if I know it'll fly my 7D without any issues.

    Thanks for the great work on the site!

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/photolight/m.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&_armrs=1&_nkw=1-7kg%20steadycam%20vest%20arm&_sop=16

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