Tweet me! @eddiemakes (twitter.com/eddiemakes)
NOTE!! I no longer use the Steadicam Merlin, although I still use the Steadicam Merlin Arm and Vest. I have mated it to a Glidecam HD-4000 thanks to @emmagination and his video found here: vimeo.com/9108689
I'm happy to answer any questions about the Merlin, however I no longer recommend the Merlin because IT DOES NOT WORK IN THE WIND. The Glidecam HD-4000 is much better.
Learn how to balance your 5d mkii with your 50mm f1.4 lens! I explain all the different things you need to do in order to achieve good balance.
***** I meant 2 mid weights on the bottom part and a mid weight and END WEIGHT on the middle part.
******At all times, try to remember to keep your camera as upright as possible by using the blue roll bars on the sides of the merlin. Even though it may not be balanced perfectly, make sure you try to keep the camera looking forward and not falling to the side.
Main idea: Focus on your drop time first. Hold the bottom weights up so that the camera is sideways and let it fall back down so the camera is straight again, and it should take a full second for this to happen, or a little bit longer.
When I have a new camera that I need to balance, first I check merlincookbook.com to figure out the hardest stuff - what hole to use on the dovetail plate and which weights to use. Google if you can't find your camera on merlincookbook.com (check the user setting section as well) because I bet you someone else in the world has already figured it out.
One of the main things you need to be able to know right away is whether the camera is too top-heavy or bottom-heavy. If it's too bottom heavy, the camera will tend to "boat" or swing out from the bottom so that it looks like you're getting seasick from a boat in the waves. If it's too top-heavy, the camera will keep trying to fall over and the bottom weights will be very very light when you try the drop test.
You need to know whether it's top-heavy or bottom-heavy because you do opposite things based on the situation. The z-axis (right above the handle, able to be screwed in or out) is super important next (once you know you've got the right weight and the right hole on the dovetail plate). If it's too top-heavy, you need to screw the z-axis up into the merlin. If it's too bottom-heavy, you'll need to screw the z-axis so that it comes downwards and lengthens the handle. If you reach the top and can't screw anymore, or you reach the bottom and you're in danger of the handle falling off (once you see that you've come to the end of the screw threads), you need to re-calculate your weight.
Practice makes perfect. As you can see, the footage isn't flawless when I'm walking around my apartment, but that is mainly because I wasn't doing as good a job as I could have to keep the camera perfectly balanced (I also only had one chance to get a take because I currently have no editing software :)
Hit me up if you have any questions or if I can help further.
------>eddie (lucky raft films)