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Tripods, Tripods, Tripods... and Heads!

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Danny Grizzle
Tripods, Tripods, Tripods... and Heads!
on Aug 14, 2011 at 2:31:49 am

Let's skip Manfrotto and go straight to a discussion of Libec, Gitzo, Vinten, Miller, O'Conner, and Sachtler.

I've shot with more tripods mismatched to my camera and application than I care to remember.

I'd like to hear pros/cons of specific makes and models for DSLR rigs, both lightweight and also with full follow focus and matte box.

This subject is too important, and so rarely discussed. Surely there is some passion and favorites.

I've been around for decades and never seen some of these brands (except at shows). How do you pick the perfect match? What is your dream tripod and head?


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Brent Dunn
Re: Tripods, Tripods, Tripods... and Heads!
on Aug 19, 2011 at 6:58:24 pm

I guess you see that when you eliminate Manfrotto, you don't get much response. The other tripods are great, but DSLR cameras, even rigged out, are light weight and do not require the higher end and heavy duty tripods and heads you are leaning toward.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite





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Danny Grizzle
Re: Tripods, Tripods, Tripods... and Heads!
on Aug 19, 2011 at 8:30:50 pm

I've decided to purchase a Vinten Vision blue. It looks to be a beautiful, precision tripod, in contrast to my pile of Manfrotto gear.

Here's the thing: anybody who has operated camera more than a day or two knows about the problem of backlash with video heads -- once you release pressure on the pan bar, the shot rebounds slightly. It ruins shots, and makes super human demands on the operator's muscles. Some operators have neat tricks using rubber bands to isolate the pan bar from their body, and also the elasticity of the rubber band adds a natural ramp up and ramp down action on moves. These work best on straight pans, much less so on tilts.

What sold me on the Vision blue is the tilt mechanism has a feature known as "Perfect Balance". Basically, this allows the operator to precision calibrate the counterbalance spring so that tilts do not backlash. This is a precision adjustment, depending on weight and center of gravity of the load.

FYI - researching this over the past few days, I found that Libec (Japanese) RS-series tripods also have a perfect balance feature. My preference is the Vinten for typical HDSLR rigs, but the Libec RS-450 may be a better choice for heavier HDSLR rigs which include follow focus, monitors, big lenses, and matte boxes.

For instance: My Canon 5D Mk II w/ Canon 70-200mm, iDC System One follow focus, a SmallHD DP6, and Redrock Micro Matte Box is too heavy for the Vinten Vision blue. Currently, I have it on a Gitzo G1380 Fluide head, something originally purchased for a shoulder mount broadcast camera.

Both the Vinten Vision blue and the Libec RS-450M are about $1,200, not the $3,000 - $5,000 something in this grade cost only a year or two ago. I think the Vision blue is very reasonably priced.

One video on the Vinten website hit a chord with me -- the futility of using stiff drag settings to compensate for incorrect balance on the fluid head. Another huge problem with HDSLRs is interchangeable lenses. It is frustrating to me that I have to tear the Gitzo head apart and change springs inside every time I want to change lenses, if there is a substantial weight discrepency. This is not acceptable, with the practical limitation that, during production, I am locked into using a single lens.

Many people believe the tripod is the most important piece of gear after the camera and lens. I've shot with a lot of tripods, and suffered through a lot. I'm really looking forward to the Vision blue because it brings some very high end performance down to a very attractive price point that is perfect for quality HDSLR work. If the Perfect Balance system delivers as advertised, it may persuade me to upgrade the tripods for all the cameras in my package. Cheap tripods have been a weak link in my system.


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Brent Dunn
Re: Tripods, Tripods, Tripods... and Heads!
on Aug 26, 2011 at 6:49:59 pm

Sounds like you've answered your own questions. Good luck. Sounds like a nice tripod

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite





Return to posts index

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