Monday, November 21, 2011

Glidecam vs Merlin and My AF-100

Okay, I know it's been a while. Stop your griping and get over it! Anyway, I don't have much time obviously, so I'm gonna get right down to business and skip all the chit-chat about my love life and what my favorite celebs are up to... BOOM! Look at this weekend's test! (Yes, it also tasted delicious).

This is a test which served two purposes. Firstly, I simply wanted to know whether the Merlin would even be able to support my heavy AF-100 with Canon lenses. Secondly, I wanted to compare these two very inexpensive stabilization systems in order to pin-point their strengths and weaknesses for future jobs. These are my findings:

Yes, the Merlin CAN hold my AF-100, along with a mounted lav receiver and shotgun mic! It's very important to note that with this heavy of a camera, one should put gaf tape between the quick release plate and the camera. Having only one mounting screw can lead to the camera spinning, loosening, falling off, and ultimately... your unhappiness.

One thing's for sure: I really pushed the Merlin to the limit here. I had to use all the weights in the kit.

Long Shots: With the Merlin, I would most definitely not be able to shoot for a long period of time without rest. Every once in a while you'll see a tiny bit of trembling in the cooking footage... that's my arm muscles about to give out! I could not find any rental companies which have the vest and arm in stock, which could be a remedy for this. The vest and arm for the Glidecam 4000Pro really took the weight off my arms, allowing me operation with little to no fatigue, even for long shots.

Setup Time: The Merlin beats Glidecam in ease of setup. It would take me about 20 minutes for an initial setup and then about 5 minutes between shots to adjust the fore-aft balance. Using the Glidecam would take about double the time due to it's somewhat clumsy design.

Wind: If outdoor shots are required, the Glidecam is much better. The Merlin is so small that any breeze pushes it around and makes it wobble like a drunkard!

Size: The Merlin is much more compact, and could fit easier within small interior shooting locations.

Versatility: The Merlin is excellent when switching from tripod to steadicam. It comes with a tripod adapter plate that allows you to use the same quick-release mount for both systems. It can also fold into a sort of strange, but effective shoulder-rig.

Be well, friends. -Nate


  1. Could you please post all your settings for the Merlin anf Af 100?Thanks Alberto

  2. Hi Alberto, It's been a while since this post so my memory isn't so fresh regarding my steadicam settings... I regret I didn't take note of the balancing positions I found. However I remember using all the weights included in the rental (from the photo, that's 6, plus the 2 end caps).