Which Should You Buy? Steadicam Merlin or Flycam 5000
When Patrick and I first started dabbling with the new video functions in our D90 camera, we quickly realized how important it was to stabilize our camera. A lot of the footage shot on our first Fstoppers Originals was shot just by hand holding our cameras…and it sure does show! As a photographer I usually think in terms of light but with video you need to start thinking in terms of how to stabilize your camera especially when getting good motion shots.
The best way currently to stabilize your DSLR cameras is to use a lens with image stabilization built into the lens itself. The best lens we have found for both Nikon and Canon is the tamron 17-50 2.8 VC because it’s one of the few crop lenses that features both a 2.8 aperture and stabilization. Hopefully Nikon and Canon will update their APS-C lenses to feature IS or VR if for only the videographers out there. Check out the Fstoppers review of the Tamron 17-50 lens to see why we like it so much if that interests you.
The next step of stabilization involves balancing your entire camera on a weighted system. This not only allows you to stabilize your non VR or IS lenses better but it also lets you run around and capture moving shots with very little camera shake. The results are not perfect since most DSLR cameras still have a rolling shutter (and limited bit rates) but with some training you can really up the production value on your own DSLR videos. There are a ton of options but the most popular balancing systems seem to be the Steadicam Merlin and the more budget Flycam 5000. Of course there are a lot of Steadicam alternatives but these are the two we will focus on because they are the only two we have actually bought.
In this video I discuss some of the pros and cons to both the Steadicam Merlin and the Flycam 5000. Obviously the Steadicam system is much more expensive than the Flycam system but the Merlin really does have some features that will make your life a lot easier especially when traveling. That being said, the Flycam does a really good job for the price, and I have no doubt that a good operator can get amazing results out of either system.