No matter how many Honda Civics are out on the road, there will always be the other guy who'd rather drive the more expensive Porsche. Sure it's apples to oranges, but if you just need to make a trip to the grocery store, the end result is the same. My point being that a flying camera movement is a flying camera movement. In any case, here's a quick look at the Steadicam Merlin, the more expensive DSLR Video camera stabilizer that still draws a premium audience. This video is dedicated to that group of people looking for more information on flying a luxury model.
The Steadicam Merlin packs small, trimmed down as light as possible without any extra junk. It's quick to set up, quick to break down, and fast to dial in your camera's center of balance. Just because it does all these things very well, don't be fooled into thinking that it's any easier to fly. As with any stabilizer it's all about practice, practice, and a little bit more practice. The Steadicam Merlin has the option to accept the Merlin vest - possibly the most popular vest in use. The Vest can be purchased separately, or you'll receive a small discount if you decide to dish out for both items in a bundled package. The Vest doesn't really add any additional 'balance', but it will allow you to shoot for longer periods of time. I'll probably be shooting a later video on actually balancing a Steadicam Merlin setup, and If you have any questions so far, leave some comments.
Big thanks to Mark H. for taking time out to make this video. Here Mark is showing us his DIY arm brace for his Flycam Nano stabilizer. The Flycam Nano is proving to be a very popular small stabilizer, but one thing to note is that even the handle comes in small. If you're not practicing some type of Shaolin Tiger Claw Death Grip (like myself), you might want to look into swapping the handle out with something a bit larger, or better yet work with an arm brace. If you don't know, the handle to the Flycam Nano is hollow and resembles the Glidecam stabilizers. With it's hollow designed handle, it can accept the same arm brace that is used with the Glidecam stabilizers. Of course that original brace (if you're lucky to find one) retails for about $150 dollars.
Mark takes a simple medical use wrist brace found in any local pharmacy and adds a custom DIY bracket to transfer most of the weight away from the wrist, allowing you to fly a bit longer, and possibly a bit steadier. For those with Steadicam Merlin's or Steadicam Jr's this idea will also work for transferring that weight over from your wrist. Mark also makes a good point to talk about how handy an arm brace is to have when you can't travel with a vest. As an owner of a vest myself, I can attest that it's a huge pain to travel with. It's also not very quick to get in an out of and is sometimes a bit dangerous when you're surrounded by fast moving kids. This would be the ideal situation in which you could take advantage of a solid arm brace.
For something like this, you'll probably want to go with the wrist braces that have a 'splint' like Mark's to attach a bracket.
Wrist Brace with Splint
This $24 dollar shoulder rig just won't quit. Well, we may have to change the name as the popularity of this cheap plastic design gains popularity, the price has since inflated. This unit also is being sold under different names, but I have never heard of any one designed better than the other. There's an adapter that allows for an offset, I don't suggest loading that up as it's not designed well, but the base shoulder support works great. I posted several articles about this thing over the year, and there's been several others enhancing the use of this cheap support. Here's a recent look at how Vimeo member IE DNLab used it as additional support for the Steadicam Merlin DSLR Stabilizer.
Limited in range unless you feel like squatting for every low shot, but using it for something like this will definitely provide you with longer shooting times while you save up for your vest. Prices have inflated elsewhere, but right now you can find it cheaper than $24 dollars over at Amazon. As always prices subject to change normally after being posted here. LOL. If you're interested in something I did with my cheap shoulder mount, check out this video http://cheesycam.com/a-s-s-implants-how-to/
Some bit of news going out to all the iPhone Fanboys (and FanGirls). It's been a long long time since the annoucement of the Tiffen Smoothee. The 'Smoothee' is a Steadicam Merlin like device originally designed as a stabilizer for the iPhone, but it doesn't look too difficult to port something like that to support other cameras as well. The handle on the Smoothee looks like the exact same design from the Steadicam Merlin, which is very effective in stabilizing movement from walking or running. I originally posted about this stabilizer way back in May. Looks like Tiffen just missed the boat on the iPhone 4 launch, but better late than never.
They just opened up a form you can submit if you want to register for some spam as someone interested in the Tiffen Smoothee, that should be released in limited quantities around December. If you decide to drop your name down on the form, do me a favor and leave this website address in the comments, i'm hoping they'll send me something for a test drive LOL!. Here's the link: http://www.tiffen.com/steadicam_smoothee_signup_form.html.
Wait! Just gotta say sorry about the mess, I just bought the place and still moving crap in. Boxes everywhere, don't know where to put anything yet. Hey you're lucky i'm even sharing this test video, it's almost Midnight! Yeah and it might be a bit dark too, I wasn't going for quality here, just trying to get this darn thing balanced. So I have an early music video shoot tomorrow in which I thought I would do ALL Canon 60D's so I can break her in and get faster at the menu and settings. There will be three Canon 60D's on set. I didn't have the Glidecam HD1000 Stabilizer here, so I had to balance the Glidecam HD4000 Stabilizer. (always balance your rig the night before, saves time).
Yes, you can add weights under the camera, but the hot shoe was a simple way to add or remove weights, keep things almost centered with the camera weight, and also easy to shift it around for additional fine tuning balance. It's a pretty cool setup actually which would work great with some stabilizers that lack fine tuning adjustments. You can add a simple flat bar to the hot shoe and shift it around to center that camera weight. So i'm very close to having it balanced, the rest can be done by moving the lower sled up or down to make it either bottom heavy or top heavy. Check out the video above, and the photos of how I added the weights to the camera with a threaded hot shoe mount. You can find those mounts in this article: http://cheesycam.com/mounting-zoom-h1-on-camera/ or find some below.