Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mad Skills

It started off with a short article about Sony’s new tiny, AVCHD camcorder the HDR-TG1. I saw a mention of it on Engadget, and Camcorderinfo had this longer article that I went to check out.

The camera is built in the pistol-grip style; it’s very small and supports 1080i. The HDR-TG1 looks cool, even if it does record to Memory Stick, a format I have so far been able to avoid. Not that I have anything specifically against Memory Stick other than the fact that I already have about 20 GB of Compact Flash and SD cards.

I was checking it out –not really serious about getting one- when I saw an ad for the Manfrotto MODOSTEADY. This is a shoulder support/counterbalancing stabilizer/table tripod all-in-one! I’m always interested in ways to improve the stabilization/carrying of camcorders, and Manfrotto makes good stuff; even if it is often expensive. A look at B and H Photo’s website revealed just three reviews. Two were basically positive:

This is a nice versatile product. Works as a shoulder or chest support, a steadycam and tabletop or low angle tripod. Made with the usual innovative Bogen/Manfrotto design. Really stabilizes your shots. […]

[…]Highly recommended for everyone who enjoys filming and editing video.

But the last one was short:

Not good at all, cheap material.

Rather uninformative too (about the basic functionality of the device.) A check for other online reviews revealed a post from someone that was looking at the ModoSteady as an alternative to the Steadicam Merlin. They ended up buying the ModoSteady and wrote:

To answer my own question the Modo Steady sucks. Not worth a penny. Just got my money back by selling it on. I'll save a little longer and get a Steadicam.


I hadn’t heard of the Merlin, and the mention of a $849 price tag ($799 at B&H) was a bit intimidating, but I ended up doing a search for info on it, and from what I’ve seen it’s definitely worth checking out. The product page has a fun demo movie, as well as the manual and other information.

There’s also several short reviews online. The one at feels a bit like it was written from a press release in parts: “Design elements really make the Merlin stand out from the pack,” “the newly designed Dovetail mounting plate,” “Steadicam's famous low-friction gimbal design,” but it’s basically informative.

Ken Stone’s review is a little more down to earth, talking as it does about using the stabilizer with cameras that are at the extremes of it’s weight limits.

But if anything will sell you on this device, it’s the demo video on the Tiffen site. There's some really nice footage; just wish they’d show some of the footage shot of the Seqways!

Guess I have to start saving for this now...