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.

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Have you ever checked out any of Bruce Dorn's stuff?

Yes I have seen this... I love this video stuff but man it can get expensive quick

thanks man. this help me a lot on understanding how these things work.

Thanks for the review, it was really good. I have actually used the merlin for quite some time now, and have literally traveled around the world shooting videos with it. Your two concerns have never been an issue with mine. the clamp locks in really snuggly and has never even though about coming loose. and the velcro is holding like a champ. I would def contact merlin about about the clamp, sounds like a defect to me. I did have other issues tho. the button that screws the handle up and down very slightly did once fall off and I super glued it back on. good as new now. I also love being able to literally throw everything in my backpack, to go to a shoot. Contact me, I would love to help. from texas.

Thanks so much Colin, I am glad your plate doesn't have this issue. I will call steadicam tomorrow and get it replaced. I am going to check out your work now.

hey thanks for the review. im slowly getting into the video thing as well and the merlin looks like a great investment. look forward to more product reviews and will submit a video as soon as i get going! thanks patrick and lee...

Thanks for the review, got me quite interested about it.
After I watched the videos at Steadycam Merlin site I was convinced.
After some more browsing I found out about that rig:

Would be great to hear some comments about it as well. Although it seems weird at first, it seems to be quite practical as well. Although maybe not so flexible as the Steadycam.

Well, I got mine. I must say, once one tries Merling, he is sold to the devil :)
Amazing how well it works.

According to me, go ahead with Flycam 5000.http://www.flycamshoppe.com/fc/FLYCAM-5000-Stabilizer-with-Quick-Release... Don’t go on it size. It is small yet very powerful stabilizing system. It has plenty number of features from lightweight to durable to full functional to portable.

Best suited quote is “good things come in small packages”