I've been wanting to try out a Steadicam for my Canon 5D Mark II for awhile now. I wasn't sure which kind to get and the more research I did the more confusing it became. I finally concluded that the Merlin Steadicam was the best fit for what I needed.
I'm a strong believer in renting something before you buy. Everyone that I spoke to said that a Steadicam was something that needed lots of practice and it wasn't something you could rent for the day. I went against my own advice and bought the Merlin Steadicam. When the Steadicam arrived I thought I was going to pull it out of the box and start filming (duh, see above about the warnings regarding practice).
I spent most of the day learning to balance the camera. Setting up the camera was much harder than I thought. Once I got things configured I went out and started filming. My assistant Michael and I tested walking, running, panning, and walking on stairs. Things were looking good, but we wanted to test something that combined all the challenges at once. We found a block-long flight of stairs to test on that would work perfectly. We needed something to track as we were testing, so of course I volunteered to ride my bike down the stairs as Michael filmed.
I was very impressed with how smoothly things looked considering we didn't have much practice. If this had been filmed without the Steadicam the movie would have been extremely jumpy and unwatchable.
The purpose of the movie was really an exercise to see how the Steadicam would perform in a difficult situation with very little training. I was very happy with the results and am excited to see how much better it will look once we REALLY figure things out.
You can also watch the video on youtube.com http://youtu.be/PbiVNb7I65Y