Steadicam Merlin – Quick Overview

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.

Steadicam Merlin Vest

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.

find-price-button Steadicam Merlin Video Camera Stabilizer

29 thoughts on “Steadicam Merlin – Quick Overview

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @dorit - The Merlin is not designed to support heavy camera systems. If you like the design of the Merlin, perhaps you should look into the BlackBird Stabilizer. httpss://

  2. Dany

    hey man ... i use merlin since the day they invented it , on my 5d mark ii using 15 mm fisheye , now i bought 14mm Samyang and i want to balance it again , can you help me with it ...
    as for the weight all in all its 1470 g
    i cant find the good balance

  3. imgpro615

    ...i really want this arm and vest...i thought about the glidecam x10, and even a couple of the more recent pro aim offerings from India...they have some nicely made gear as of late but the cost of shipping kinda breaks even with some of the stateside kits...if i had 1500USD to drop right now, i could have that merlin/pilot arm and vest within about 5 days...i better not get pre-approved for ANYTHING credit card related right about now!

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  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Mark Serrano - Thanks. Do you know if this is the Merlin vest? I know there are other Steadicam Vests too that have the clips.

  7. Mark Serrano

    Hey emm,

    Just got my Steadicam vest and arm from B&H. I think they changed the vest abit. Seems they added a back pad / belt with clips and a single clip on the left shoulder. Just an FYI.


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  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Zack - I think the camera you have is too light for the Merlin. Find a way to add more weight to the top and then rebalance. Maybe add a quick release plate, a battery grip, or something.

  10. I just purchased the merlin and I have a canon t3i witha 18-55mm lens on it and I can not balance it for the life of me I have tried everything could you please give me some tips on how to balace thanks 🙂

  11. Chris

    I just got this Merlin Steadicam, I'm using my Nikon D7000 w/18-105mm DX lens. I can't find any tutorial how to balance my setup. Do you have any suggestion or website I can learn to get my Merlin to work correctly.

    Thank you.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @mike_tee_vee - The Blackbird is cheaper and has many more options for balancing than the Merlin. The 'Full Blown' Blackbird kit still comes in way cheaper than a standard Merlin stabilizer. The Gimbal on the Merlin is very very loose, which means it can teeter-totter very very easily if your balance is just a tick off.

    The adjustable friction on the BlackBird GImbal prevents it from rockin' and rollin', which is a very nice feature. The BlackBird can also balance lighter cameras than the Merlin, and also Heavier cameras than the Merlin. In my opinion the Blackbird gives you way more bang for the buck. You can get a table clamp, light stand mount, and a bunch of other accessories that are not included with a Merlin. BUT - the BlackBird can't be broken down as small as the Merlin. If size is a concern, the Merlin wins there.

    There's a bunch of comments about the Merlin and how people have owned it for very long and it's still hard to balance perfectly. If you've owned a Merlin and just tried a Blackbird, you'll find a world of difference just from the adjustable friction Gimbal.

    Link: BlackBird Camera Stabilizer Full Kit

  13. mike_tee_vee

    Emm, how does the Merlin compare to the Blackbird? They look like they are based on the same principle with the gimbal below the center of gravity. Pound for pound, which would you choose?

  14. Emm

    Post author

    @Kevin Evans - I've got some really really early Merlin videos, and it did pretty good. I then borrowed a Glidecam one day, and well the rest is history. I just did the demo because some people are still asking about more information about it.

  15. I purchased a Merlin 12 months ago for my 5D mkII and 16 - 35 Canon lens... spents days trying to get it balanced... still have not been able to do it... I've got patience but there is a limit to everything... the online video by steadiecam sold me... LOVE the idea... but I cannot get it to work... BE WARNED IF YOU PURCHASE one... there are easier tools in the shed to use

    Thanks Emmm... LOVE what you do and share with use preplexed filmmakers

  16. Alan

    Hey Emm, serious question here. Do you know what you and all associated with Cheesycam are awesome?

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @kicap - I leave mine fairly tight so it doesn't shift, but I can reposition it if I need to. I don't use it very loose to steer the Merlin.

  18. Emm, I have one setup just like this (with the Arm and Vest). Just wondering, do you tighten up the Arm Post (you know the thing that connects the Arm and the Merlin Handle)? Or you just let it loose (so it will move once in a while)?

    I have also bought the Glidecam-to-Steadicam Arm&Vest Adapter from Berkley. I will let you know the two comparison once I am done with the video review of flying both soon ok.


  19. Jon

    I'd look forward to a more in-depth video of the ins and outs of balancing and using the Merlin. My employer purchased one (with the vest) a while back. No one uses it, it is tougher to use/set-up then a glidecam it seems. Any further info would be great!

  20. J Toha

    Emm, didn't you sell your Merlin sometime ago? Did you buy it back just to shoot this video for us folks learning to master balancing a stabilizer? LOL

    Enjoyed the video again. I often do 🙂

  21. i'm a film student and i use the merlin all the time. its fantastic and its not that hard to balance it once you understand the instrument, like a guitar, you just need to understand and practice with it.

    You can check out my merlin showreel here, i have also placed my merlin settings on the vimeo page so you may use it to balance a Canon 7D with Canon 10-22mm.

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @HD-tography - Yeah I don't take the vest out very much. Most of the time it's either the Glidecam HD1000 or Flycam Nano. I try to pack pretty light and just use the bare necessities. When I have to fly with LED lights, Microphones, and other junk I have to use the bigger setup and that requires the vest.

  23. HD-tography

    Nice work Emm, I REALLY enjoyed the arm demo... gotta get me one of them... almost did too last month, but my Original Flycam Nano with arm/wrist support is flying perfectly fine for now (maybe next year when I step up to full frame) and I don't think many clients would like me using such a threatening looking vest/arm on location...

    Hey have you been working out? Looking great Emm, or is it just an illusion with the vest that makes you look like a cage fighter? LOL you don't have to answer that... thanks again bro!

    PS I just love the last line... "Pretty expensive, but... some people like............ expensive things I guess?"

    I know I do 🙂 But it's not always necessary to feed the "Gear Lust"

    Practicing Self Control (Trying Anyway)

  24. SteveO

    Agreed, just a royal pain in the behind to balance. Interesting to hear people are giving theirs up for a glidecam...

  25. Patrick

    o0oo i'm looking forward to your video on the merlin. My boss let me hold to his merlin since he bought a glidecam 2000. He said he was having trouble with the merlin on his setup.

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