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Stuck with Merlin Steadicam

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Katie Browning
Stuck with Merlin Steadicam
on Feb 24, 2012 at 10:29:39 am

Hi there!

Please help me :) I bought a Merlin Steadicam about a month ago and have tried my best to fiddle with the settings... have looked at a few suggestions but have still not gotten anywhere, in regards to balancing it. I think the problem is that the cookbook settings, and other advised settings Ive taken from the internet havnt taken into account the lens that Im using. So instead of looking, looking for the ready made answer, Im gonna stop and ask.

I have a Canon T2i (550D) and 18- 135mm lens. Any clue what I should put the merlin settings at?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Katie


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Katie Browning
Re: Stuck with Merlin Steadicam
on Feb 26, 2012 at 6:36:15 am

bump :)


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Mark Suszko
Re: Stuck with Merlin Steadicam
on Feb 28, 2012 at 5:45:49 pm

Sorry nobody's responded yet. I don't have a Merlin, but I think the first thing you need to figure out is the center of gravity of the loaded (with battery) camera and lens as a whole.

How I would do that is, I'd take a piece of scrap wood that is as long as the the distance from lens front to camera back, and add a bolt somewhere in the middle of that board with the standard threads all DSLR's accept.

Screw the camera down onto the piece of board with that bolt, now, put a pencil or piece of dowel rod under the board to make a teeter-totter kind of thing. Move the fulcrum back and forth until you find the balance point of the camera-lens combination, and take a measurement of the distance from lens front and camera back, *to* that point. That's your "CG", your center of gravity.

On your Merlin, place the camera's plate where the camera's CG is close to the Neutral Point on the Merlin's plate system. I'm unfamiliar with the fine adjustments on the Merlin, you may end up needing to add some stick-on weights somewhere, back or front, to make up the final increment.

Stick-on lead weights can be found in a good hobby shop's model airplane parts section, or from Tower Hobbies or Hobby People online. It's a lead bar with increments molded into it, you can bend off or saw or scissor-off as few or many little "chunks" of the lead as you need, and it comes with self-stick backing, just press in place. The same thing is sometimes part of a Pinewood Derby Car model supply section in craft stores like "Hobby Lobby", as well.

Good luck, let me know if this actually worked out.


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Tom Nelson
Re: Stuck with Merlin Steadicam
on Mar 15, 2012 at 4:32:46 pm

What is the extension on that lens at full wide? Many DSLR lenses are hard to balance on a Merlin because the center of gravity shifts with zoom and focus changes. Having said that, I'd recommend shooting as wide as possible and trying to lock the lens barrel so it doesn't move. Also, I would imagine you don't need a lot of weights on the Merlin with that setup, as it's a pretty lightweight cam and lens.

You know you've gotten it right when you quickly shift the Merlin left to right and front to back and the unit doesn't sway at all.

Tom Nelson
Videographer/Editor
Essex Television Group


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