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Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin

B&H # STMAVQ Mfr # MERLIN-ARMVEST
In Stock
Free Expedited Shipping
You Pay: $849.99
Product Highlights
  • For Merlin Stabilization System
  • Swing Arm
  • Vest

The Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK is an upgrade kit for the Merlin stabilization system. This kit adds a swing arm and vest to the Merlin hand-held camera stabilization.

Application
This upgrade allows the Merlin to operate with a vest and arm for a more professional feel and longer shot capability.
Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin
  • Arm
  • Vest
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

    by PowerReviews
    SteadicamMERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin
     
    4.6

    (based on 38 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (30)

    • 4 Stars

       

      (3)

    • 3 Stars

       

      (4)

    • 2 Stars

       

      (1)

    • 1 Stars

       

      (0)

    95%

    of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

    Pros

    • Improves performance (27)
    • Professional quality (27)
    • Easy to use (24)
    • Compact (16)
    • Highly compatible (16)

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Independent films (29)
      • Complex projects (25)
      • In the studio (12)
      • Home movies (11)
      • Stabilization (3)
        • Reviewer Profile:
        • Business owner (20), Enthusiast (15), Professional artist (15)
        • Was this a gift?:
        • No (26)

      Most Liked Positive Review

       

      It really does live up to expectations

      After trying to fly a Glidecam HD-2000 with either a Nikon D7000 or a Canon HF-S100, first by hand, and then with the Arm-Brace... I decided to take the plunge and...Read complete review

      After trying to fly a Glidecam HD-2000 with either a Nikon D7000 or a Canon HF-S100, first by hand, and then with the Arm-Brace... I decided to take the plunge and purchase the Vest & Arm! (The other two options just led to sore wrists, forearms, and shoulders...)

      I'm happy to report that it is TOTALLY worth the investment! The fatigue factor when flying a fully loaded rig is now a thing of the past. However, as all other reviewers have noted, this thing does take some practice... Sure, you'll be able to smooth out your ride when you first strap it on, but to get those "Pro" start & stops, operate almost "hands-free", and completely eliminate the slightest wobbles... you'll need to PRACTICE! I suggest doing some research first on the Steadicam forums - once you have an appreciation for the "art" of operating a Steadicam Arm, you'll understand the need to practice and the desire to master the technique. (Once you take the plunge to own one, you'll also want to take a training class.)

      If you are really committed to get the best "flying" footage possible, then invest in the Vest & Arm. It's possible to get near the results using the Glidecam only (by hand) or with the Arm Brace (moves strain to bicep & shoulder), but once you reach your physical limits you're done flying for the day and your footage will show it. (Not so with the Vest & Arm.)

      The other factor you'll have to content with is the return on your investment. Are you really capturing that much "flying" footage that you require a Vest/Arm? In my case, not as much as I thought once I "really" started using it. At first it is tempting to capture all your footage this way, but it is overkill. You'll quickly realize that adding variety to your shots is more captivating than Steadicam-only footage. (Remember, if you fly a DLSR you'll need to use your wide angle lens and stop the aperture down to keep more in focus. - This starts to cramp your creativity with things like rack-focusing or subject isolation using bokeh.)

      It is a "production" to put the vest on, mount the sled, do a balance check, and then mentally switch your brain & motor-skills to control your body mechanics to optimize the abilities of the Arm/Vest/Sled combination - that is IF you want "Pro" quality footage. Sure, it's fun to run around with it and capture great looking footage, but when you start editing it together with B-Roll or tripod footage you'll see where practicing is the difference between "cool" and "WOW" footage.

      As for the actual product itself... It's the best option for a dual spring arm in this price range. Don't bother with getting any knock off product - as they say "You buy cheap, you buy twice!" Combined with a Glidecam this is definitely the best bargain for you buck. All the materials are high quality as you'd expect for this price. My only complaints are:
      * The rolled/bent steel at points where there's and "elbow" shaped bend show signs of cracking - which I believe are inherent to the process of manufacturing. When I first saw them, I thought I may have surpassed the load capacity and the arm was starting to show it. However, upon close inspection, it looks like the steel got that way when it was shaped.
      * The design of the shoulder buckle/strap is not the best - it is good and does the job, but it could be better.

      Overall, I highly recommend this to any serious videographer. Just be prepared to make a commitment to PRACTICE.

      VS

      Most Liked Negative Review

       

      Excellent but with a few cautions

      Firstly let's indicate the PROS of this product:
      - Ultra light weight
      - Virtually tooless out of the box
      - Lots of customization (i.e. arm tension can be set by...Read complete review

      Firstly let's indicate the PROS of this product:
      - Ultra light weight
      - Virtually tooless out of the box
      - Lots of customization (i.e. arm tension can be set by two blue knobs, velcro vest enables it to fit all sizes of people)
      - Can carry the Steadicam Pilot (requires pilot arm post, more on this later).
      - The Steadicam name is well known within the industry and instills confidence in your clients (i.e. I am a "Steadicam Operator" as opposed to a "SteadiTracker" or "Glidecam" operator).

      CONS:
      - 98% velcro. Not sure how this will hold up in the long run, only had it for about 3 weeks.
      - As you are out and about filming, the velcro on the vest makes noise due to friction between velcro straps, may be picked up by on-camera mics.
      - When upgrading to the Pilot it requires the Pilot arm post. This is a con because the Pilot Arm Post is nearly impossible to put on without the use of a hammer, plier and a makeshift surface. Once on the Merlin's post becomes unusable because the Pilot's post is impossible to take OFF! Thus forcing you to buy ANOTHER isoelastic arm exclusively for the Merlin. So this is an either/or proposition. I liked the upgrade path this arm/vest combo provides, but once you upgrade (like in Microsoft Windows) you can't really go back.
      - Price, seems overpriced for a bunch of simple hydraulics, screws and metal and velcro (!).
      - Can mount an auto zoom/focus control onto the center post. This is not officially supported but a good way to pull focus electronically. I have a Sony NEX-FS100 and I will be using the Manfrotto 521LX, so this is not verified but I am 98% confident I can add this to the center post successfully.

      BOTTOM LINE:
      - It does the job
      - Very light weight!
      - Durability of the vest is questioned and the backwards compatibility to the Merlin (after you've upgraded to the Pilot) is near impossible.

      Reviewed by 38 customers

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      Displaying reviews 1-20

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      3.0

      Its built OK, somewhat..

      By portasciugamano

      from Corfino , Italy

      About Me Hobbyist

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Compact Design
      • Easy To Use
      • Lightweight
      • Price

      Cons

      • Poor Design
      • Vest Lacks Durability

      Best Uses

        Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

        Emailed the Tiffen company to ask " what was the upper vest made of? " And their reply was " Aluminum " and when I received it , it was plastic ! So I emailed them back and the reply was ." OH sorry he thought you meant the arm" C'mon , Am I that stupid, its in black and white in the email..It says "VEST" not "ARM"... Oh well , works great , just waiting for the plastic vest part to break as posts I've been reading and Youtube videos I'v been seeing., I'm working on designing and making my own upper vest aluminum piece.. , Again.... Works great !!Kinda Love it..

        Share this review

         
        5.0

        Great!

        By Aloha Whale

        from Saipan

        About Me Business Owner, Professional Artist

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Compact Design
        • Highly Compatible
        • Improves Performance
        • Lightweight
        • Professional Quality

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Complex Projects
          • Independent Films
          • In The Studio

          Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

          Perfect design... Not for the faint of heart though (it takes a certain touch and skill to operate and master)... Coming from the Glidecam vest, i really like the quick and easy operation and storage of the Steadicam version.

          Share this review

           
          5.0

          Always looking for an advantage

          By Bill

          from Walnut Creek, CA

          About Me Hobbyist

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Improves Performance
          • Professional Quality

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Complex Projects

            Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

            I have not yet had an chance to use this vest with counterbalanced, articulated, arm on a gig.

            Read the instructions. Watch the available videos. Read the available pdf on posture.

            Set-up is straightforward. I use this vest/arm system with a Steadicam Merlin 2 stabilizer.

            According to my research, I am average height and weight (5'9", 165 pounds). The vest fit out of the box - no adjustments needed. I did move the connector device from the right to the left so I might have a chance of seeing the camcorder's LED panel (using primarily a Sony NEX-EA50UH).

            I've been practicing with the complete set up and the articulated arm works great. I wish there was a case or it could break down smaller. I may have to commandeer a piece of luggage for this.

            The thick padding seems adequate for the short times (less than an hour each time) I've worn it. I can tell that it will cause some pretty awesome sweat marks on shirts - shoulders, upper back, mid-section. If you are not working out, that is definitely worth getting into doing.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            4.0

            The Real Deal

            By Nick K

            from Raleigh,NC

            About Me Business Owner

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Improves Performance
            • Professional Quality

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Complex Projects
              • Independent Films
              • In The Studio

              Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

              The product came and was what I expected. Solidly made and very efficient. A little unwieldy, I'd like to be able to lock it off a bit more than what is going on. The instructions are very vague as well. But still, it's no knock off and it's the real thing.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

               
              5.0

              Great vest and arm

              By Eric the Photo/Video Dude

              from Menlo Park, CA

              About Me Business Owner

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Compact Design
              • Easy To Use
              • Highly Compatible
              • Improves Performance
              • Lightweight
              • Professional Quality

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Complex Projects
                • Independent Films

                Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                So far I love this vest and arm setup. I am using it with my Glidecam HD2000. I had to buy a Berkey System rod/adapter to pair up my Glidecam with the Steadycam vest. It works very well! The only complaint is that I understood the vest to have inferior velcro and no clasps, so I ordered their Steadicam Merlin Vest Buckle & Belt Upgrade Kit. The problem is that the vest and arm kit already has the same buckle and belts! I will hang on to the extra set just so i have them in the future.

                Share this review

                 
                5.0

                It is very easy to use.

                By KUMAMON

                from tokuratakashi_nerve@yahoo.co.jp

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Easy To Use
                • Highly Compatible
                • Lightweight

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Home Movies

                  Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                  I use with merlin2.
                  I am very prone to wearing.
                  I will take a picture with no blurring at all.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

                  Share this review

                   
                  2.0

                  Can't handle more than 5lbs

                  By Bart

                  from New York, New York

                  About Me Professional Artist

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Improves Performance
                  • Lightweight

                  Cons

                  • Lacks Functionality
                  • Poor Performance

                  Best Uses

                  • Independent Films

                  Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                  I tried using the Merlin with a BMCC after B&H employees assured me it would work. It is technically capable of handling 7.5lbs but just with a little over 5 lbs it was literally impossible of handling the weight. The camera was never able to successfully move on the merlin without some movement creating a feeling of being on a boat.

                  The vest however is more comfortable than Glidecam's vest. I think a merlin vest with a glidcam on the arm could work really well.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

                  Share this review

                   
                  5.0

                  The only way to shoot with a Merlin.

                  By Bear

                  from Central Massachusetts

                  About Me Professional Artist

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Easy To Use
                  • Highly Compatible
                  • Improves Performance
                  • Lightweight
                  • Professional Quality

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Complex Projects
                    • Independent Films
                    • In The Studio

                    Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                    With a little time and patients the whole system becomes crystal clear. One of my best investments.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

                    Share this review

                     
                    4.0

                    Essential

                    By Bob from Brazil

                    from Rio de Janeiro

                    About Me Professional Artist

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Improves Performance
                    • Professional Quality

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Complex Projects
                      • Independent Films

                      Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                      Don't get me wrong, the Merlin 2 and it's portability is great. But the arm & vest makes it awesome. Budget was an issue to go to the Pilot, so I went the Merlin 2 first and then the arm & vest. Results: so much better control. I'm loving it. The only thing they could improve is the velcro system and the pectoral support, but in the end I'm glad I bought this...

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Steady as you go!

                      By James Davis

                      from Guam

                      About Me Business Owner, Hobbyist, Professional Artist

                      See all my reviews

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Easy To Use
                      • Highly Compatible
                      • Improves Performance
                      • Professional Quality

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Complex Projects
                        • Independent Films

                        Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                        I love camera movement and this is a great investment together with my Glidecam HD2000 and 60D. I have to modify and make an adapter to fit the HD2000s handle. Check the photos. You can get a machine shop make you this adapter. Its basicly a thick rod and the machinist just threaded it half inch. The rod should fit perfect in the Glidecams handle so theres no play. The vest is really comfortable and the arm is well put together. Great quality overall. With little practice, you can do anything with this.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        5.0

                        2012 version = great quality

                        By will

                        from bc

                        About Me Hobbyist

                        Pros

                        • Compact Design
                        • Easy To Use
                        • Highly Compatible
                        • Improves Performance
                        • Lightweight
                        • Professional Quality

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Home Movies
                          • Independent Films

                          Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                          the previous models was all velcro straps, now they changed it to buckle and i am loving it.
                          great quality!

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

                          Share this review

                           
                          5.0

                          A Great Addition

                          By stuartatkins

                          from Atlanta, ga

                          About Me Business Owner

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Compact Design
                          • Easy To Use
                          • Improves Performance
                          • Lightweight
                          • Professional Quality

                          Cons

                          • Not as travel friendly

                          Best Uses

                          • Complex Projects
                          • Independent Films

                          Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                          This is a well built piece of equipment that does a fantastic job

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

                          Share this review

                           
                          5.0

                          It works as advertized

                          By Ron

                          from Chicago

                          About Me Hobbyist

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Professional Quality

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Complex Projects
                            • Independent Films

                            Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                            I use it with the sony FX1000 it handles it well.

                            • Was this a gift?:
                            • No

                            Share this review

                            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            The steadicam arm is amazing

                            By DSLRmovie

                            from Hollywood, CA

                            About Me Business Owner, Professional Artist

                            Verified Buyer

                            Pros

                            • Compact Design
                            • Easy To Use
                            • Highly Compatible
                            • Improves Performance
                            • Lightweight
                            • Professional Quality

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                              • Complex Projects
                              • Home Movies
                              • Independent Films
                              • In The Studio

                              Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                              The two part steadicam arm is amazing. It is really
                              easy to adjust the force it applies and attach your
                              sled. The vest is easily adjustable. Once you adjust the velcro to fit your body, it's easy to get in and out of it because it has snap-in strap attachments.
                              I use it with my Glidecam 4000HD. I did need to buy an adapter pin, though. I can't believe how much easier it is to use the Glidecam 4000HD with this arm & vest. I can easily go for hours without getting tired. The arm also makes the movements smoother as well b/c it absorbs the shock. It also
                              makes up and down movements easy b/c your arm does
                              not have to hold the sled in place. The load is
                              distributed into your torso and legs.

                              • Was this a gift?:
                              • No

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                              (0 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                               
                              3.0

                              "Hard Plastic?"

                              By Popping Fresh

                              from Bergen County, NJ

                              About Me Business Owner, Hobbyist

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Easy To Use
                              • Highly Compatible
                              • Improves Performance
                              • Lightweight

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                • Complex Projects
                                • Independent Films

                                Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                                I use this for my hacked Glidecam HD4000 system. Mainly using it for weddings/Sweet 16/side video projects.

                                Overall everything is working as expected. Only draw back is that the top 'Y' section (chest area) on the vest is made from hard bendable plastic. I can see this breaking over time. The Velcros maybe stronger than the hard plastic for the 'Y' section of the vest. Other than that the set up is pretty well built (the two arms and lower area where the arm connects to the vest) for the price you pay. Gliding is easier (but you need to practice).

                                • Was this a gift?:
                                • No

                                Share this review

                                (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Cool. Noticed immediate difference.

                                By Patrick the video guy

                                from Charlotte, NC

                                About Me Business Owner

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • Easy To Use
                                • Improves Performance
                                • Professional Quality

                                Cons

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Complex Projects
                                  • Home Movies
                                  • Independent Films
                                  • In The Studio

                                  Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                                  Worth every penny. I use with the Glidecam HD4000 and the adapter is simple to make just watch the video on Vimeo. Takes all the weight off. Easy to get set up but will take time to balance.

                                  • Was this a gift?:
                                  • No

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                                  (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  Its brought me to the next level.

                                  By Jrowe

                                  from Orlando, FL

                                  About Me Business Owner

                                  Verified Reviewer

                                  Pros

                                  • Compact Design
                                  • Easy To Use
                                  • Highly Compatible
                                  • Improves Performance
                                  • Lightweight
                                  • Professional Quality

                                  Cons

                                  • Terrible manual

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Complex Projects
                                  • Independent Films

                                  Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                                  I bought this to be a central part in my feature film next year and I know that it takes time to get proficient so I bought this now and boy am I glad I did. Sounds dorky, but I feel that after a couple of weeks and about 10 hours of flying it, it's starting to feel like a part of me... and I'm making money and creating some awesome looking footage. Ultimately it's a new toy that's a huge gamechanger.

                                  The quality is top notch. The components work, The arm is strong and solid, the connection is great, the vest is so lightweight and perfect... The only thing that is not very good is the manual. Its the worst acutally.. Absolutely aweful MANUAL that comes with it. Well Tiffen wants people to go to seminars or buy books.. but I found some info online and that helped. It's not hard to setup but it's hard to get it to your comfort level.

                                  I love this vest and arm...

                                  • Was this a gift?:
                                  • No

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                                  (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  Awesome product - definitely worth it!

                                  By Mighty Mouse

                                  from Calgary, AB

                                  About Me Professional Artist

                                  Verified Buyer

                                  Pros

                                  • Improves Performance
                                  • Lightweight
                                  • Professional Quality

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                    • Complex Projects
                                    • Home Movies
                                    • Independent Films
                                    • In The Studio

                                    Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                                    Once you figure out how to put this on it's easy and works great. We found a video online for the same product that shows you what to do.

                                    • Was this a gift?:
                                    • No

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                                    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                                     
                                    5.0

                                    yes

                                    By DJM

                                    from Southern Oregon

                                    About Me Professional Artist

                                    Verified Buyer

                                    Pros

                                    • Professional Quality

                                    Cons

                                      Best Uses

                                      • Complex Projects
                                      • Independent Films

                                      Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                                      For the money you can't beat this package. You can use with literally any hand held stabilizer out there. It's the same vest as the Pilot. You're basically paying for the arm which is extremely well built. This is a great 'my first steadicam' rig. I use it with my Glidecam HD4k and HDSLR. Thoroughly impressed.

                                      • Was this a gift?:
                                      • No

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                                      (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                                       
                                      5.0

                                      Essential requirement for the Merlin

                                      By Jim

                                      from Portland Oregon

                                      About Me Business Owner

                                      Verified Buyer

                                      Pros

                                      • Compact Design
                                      • Easy To Use
                                      • Highly Compatible
                                      • Improves Performance
                                      • Lightweight
                                      • Professional Quality

                                      Cons

                                        Best Uses

                                        • Complex Projects
                                        • Independent Films
                                        • Weddings

                                        Comments about Steadicam MERLIN-ARMVESTPK Upgrade Kit for Merlin:

                                        I bought the Merlin with a very light Sony mini cam and was able to get great flowing shots with it, but the quality of the video pales in comparison to my three chip Panasonic HMC 150s. You can't hand hold the Merlin with a 5 pound camera for more than a few minutes. I sent the minicam back and bought the Steadicam arm and vest (for the same amount as the tiny camera); it is a dream machine. I shot a wedding a few days ago with the Merlin and the Arm and Vest. It was a dream come true with flowing shots that look like I am on a Hollywood track system. I can wear the gear all day with no fatigue. I can run or walk with it and the shots look as smooth as glass. It is designed so well that it fits comfortably on any body type. Once you adjust the Merlin and Vest you will wonder how you could have gone so long without such a well designed system. Get it and impress your clients and get more business.

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                                        • No

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