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Todd Terry
Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 1:08:38 am

I think I'm gonna go tripod shopping soon, and thought I'd ask the gang here if any of you guys have particular sticks that you use that you really love.

We've made a company resolution to start shifting to smaller and lighter gear, when we can get stuff that will do the same job and do it well (and in that vein, anyone need a 600 lb crab dolly?).

Right now we have multiple sets of older Oconnor sticks and heads... which I really do love but think there may be some easier-to-manage options out there.

I guess we need something in the "medium duty+" range, as our present main camera rig weighs in at about 21 pounds. We'll probably be switching to lighter batteries than the big AB bricks that we presently use, which will probably shave a couple pounds off that. I'll keep the Oconnors for jib and 35mm work.

One thing I love about the Oconnor sticks I have is the ability to simultaniously adjust all three legs at once. You turn one control ring under the head and all three legs are released, and you can raise it up or down at will. I didn't realized at all how much I relied on this until a recent out-of-state shoot where we traveled only with camera/lenses and rented all lighting and camera support equipment on location. The grip company we used gave us what would otherwise have been a very nice Sachtler, except I was wrestling with the individually-adjusted legs all day.

And while I love my Oconnor heads, I'm probably looking at a new fluid head, too. The Oconnor heads I have both have 120mm bowl bases, and any new sticks will probably be 80mm or 100mm, I'd imagine. The Oconnors are heavy as anvils, too.

So... anybody using any particular make/model that would work for me as well as it does you?

Thanks!


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 1:46:24 am

Hi Todd,

I have been using Sachtler since 1993 and could not be happier. They have solutions for "needs of the many" but a few products that put them all together.

Sachtler most models will allow you to tackle each leg separately (both stages at once) on the newer models:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/434020-REG/Sachtler_2074_System_20_20...

But if you want quick single motion stick look into the Sachtler hot-pod.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/382499-REG/Sachtler_1214_DV_12SB_Carb...

That will allow you to spread your in a single motion as well as telescope without touching the legs. The only drawback is you cant do low mode with those tripods.

The new Soom works the same way and combines both technologies. The only drawback of that is that it's for smaller cameras.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/601885-REG/Sachtler_0380_0380_FSB_4_S...



Emre Tufekci
http://www.productionpit.com



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Todd Terry
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 2:32:08 am

Thanks Emre... I looked at each of your suggestions.

The Soom won't work, obviously, yes it is for smaller cameras. I need one rated about three times that much.

As for the others, I was a little confused by Sachtler's "Speed Lock" label... don't you still have to unlock each leg individually to adjust height? Or maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that's what it appears to me. If so, I'm not sure where they get the "Speed" in Speed Lock, that's pretty much the way all tripods operate. If however, that means you can lock and unlock all legs at once with one motion of one control... then yes that's exactly what I'm definitely looking for. I'm too spoiled with the Oconnors to give that up.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 3:16:33 am

On speed lock you set the height of each leg individually but both stages are controlled with one release.

On the hot pod, you adjust the initial spread of all three legs with one control. Then you use the booming action to adjust the height. It quite fast but you really need to demo it first as some people I know have hated it.

Emre Tufekci
http://www.productionpit.com



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Todd Terry
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 3:58:45 am

Ah, ok, I see... the Hot-Pod is sorta like a tripod with a built-in bazooka, looks like. I might like that, might not... hard to say.

On the downsides, it's a bit pricey. It's also heavy, I'm not sure I'd be lightening the load... I'll have to weigh one of my Oconnors. It might turn out that I'm wanting something that doesn't exist (wouldn't be the first time).

It's one I'd definitely want to give a good test drive before committing to buy.

Thanks for the good info.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Suszko
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 4:35:21 pm

Love our Sachtler sticks here, the built-in elevator column is very handy and gets you a nice stable 6+ feet up over crowds or obstrusctions. My daily driver used to be an O'Connor, with the choice of all three or any one individual leg being droppable, with one hand. And I liked the cable-based spreader, which enables all kinds of crazy leg positions as well as using the tripod down low like a hi-hat. But ever since one of our shooters lost a fingertip, that set of legs hardly ever goes out any more. I think it was operator error, trying to move and collapse the sticks with the weight of the camera still on them, but the legs worked like a little guillotine on his fingertip. Anyhow, I loved how I could hold my camera in one hand, and deploy the blood-thirsty O'Connor with the other, and not have to put the camera down in the dirt or wet to use two hands on those sticks to deploy them. OTOH, that cable based spreader was never as steady as a metal one, and you had no elevator column; to make the most height, you just drew the legs in closer, trading stability for height, not always good...

From the O'Connor, we worked with Vintens for a while, but these had nothing but problems. Heads were okay, the sticks were a beast and needed repairs for popped glue joints on the carbon tubing several times. The mid-length tubing based spreaders never worked right, the floor-height rubber ones were a little better.

The Sachtler Video 15 plus is what we adopted after watching other ENG crews using them. Carbon fiber, light for the size, able to handle a full-sized shoulder-mount type camera. I love this tripod. That great elevator column I already mentioned got me great shots over the top of fences and people's heads more than once. It is almost a one-hand-deployabe thing, but not really, is the only bummer for me. A friction collar on the central post must be manipulated while you kind of encourage the tripod legs to spread with your boot or usually your other hand; you kind of have to shake the thing out and pogo it up and down as the legs deploy, and the legs only deploy or retract within a narrow angle range, inside of outside of that range, they lock at whatever length they were at. WHich is fast, but not precice. To adjust a single leg you have to do this dance again, which is possible to do with the camera mounted, but I'd rather not. You get used to how this works and deployment or take-down only takes about seven seconds after you're practiced, but it is a two-hand process to do it that fast, and you have to put the camera down somewhere, as it is a little heavy and awkward to trap between your legs...

I would not let this little inconvenience stop anyone from getting the Sactler, it is a very good set of sticks for all the carping I've done. I would take them over a Vinten in a heartbeat; Vinten's horrible designs for spreaders and leg locks has forever soured me on their brand.



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Todd Terry
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 4, 2010 at 5:06:07 pm

Thanks for the observations, Mark.

Sounds like you were working with the same exact Oconnor 35A legs that we use... with the ring at the top where you can drop or raise all three legs at once, and the funky cable-spreader. We've never lost a finger (or any other body parts) with either of our sets of those... but I'll certainly be on the lookout now. The first time I saw them I thought "What kind of crazy science project is this?"... but the spreader works quite well and yes you can get into some neat oddball positions. My sticks are rarely used off a spider dolly anyway, so it's not a huge factor.

I'm beginning to think that there is no other set that will let you instantly raise and lower the whole rig so effortlessly (and with one hand, with camera in place)... so we might just stick with the Oconnors that we have. I can't give that feature up. I didn't realize how much I relied on that until I had to live without it. Plus, I guess they really are fairly darn lightweight... and we regularly put 100lb+ worth of camera/head/jib/weights on it with no worries. Maybe I'm looking for a solution that's in search of a problem, and we should just stay happy with what we have.

Height's really not an issue... I can't remember the last time I was wishing I had more tripod height than the sticks will regularly go. If we do need more, it's usually quite a bit more, enough to warrant throwing the jib on, or popping the head on top of an A-frame ladder. I find I'm directing more as a "low shooter" these days, the camera more often finding itself on a high-hat than it does high on a crane. I'm sure my mood will swing back the other way from these Welles-ian angles eventually.

Thanks to all for the tips/observations/suggestions.



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Peter Ralph
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:10:54 am

I use a Vinten Vision 3 with an XLH1. It does not have the 3-at-a-time adjustment - but it is a smooooooooooooth unit.


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Todd Terry
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:22:03 am

Checked it out, since I use an XLH1 too... looks like a decent set, but even though I don't have the weight of the stock zoom (I don't use it), unfortunately my camera is saddled with a P+S Technik converter, matte box, follow focus, A/B battery, and some darn heavy prime lenses. It clocks in at a little bit over 21 pounds, about twice too much for the Vinten (specs rate it for 11 pounds).

Oh well...



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Peter Ralph
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:41:07 am

Where did you get that weight figure Todd? The Vinten specs rate the Vison 3 up to 10kg (22lb).

OK - the Vision 3 is discontinued - the 3AS is the new model. But it seems that whereas the V3 used interchangeable springs to take it from 4-22lbs, the V3AS is "infinitely adjustable" up to 11lb.

Bummer.


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Todd Terry
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:13:02 am

Got the specs from B&H, but yes, I misread them... sort of. The head is rated for that much, but the sticks I saw it suggested to be paired with were rated for only 11 pounds.

Moot point, I think... they list the Vision 3 as "discontinued" and no longer available.

I completely forgot a had (still have actually) a Vinten from years ago, it looked exactly like that, although I'm sure it was an earlier model (I don't remember exactly, was there a "Vision 2"?... I think that was it). Maybe you got lucky with yours and I got a lemon (I do know a couple of people who like them)... but that particular set of ours was pretty poor. I loved the spider dolly made for it (great design), but the head and sticks were pretty junky. The leg locks were always failing, several plastic parts got broken easily (and we baby our gear for the most part), the head tilt brake stopped working as did the pan dampening, and the head developed a horrible squeak when tilting that we could not track down nor fix. On the upside, the light on the bubble level still works, and the battery was never changed even once. We eventually turned it into a studio monitor stand. Maybe their quality has gotten better... hopefully so. Glad yours worked out a lot better.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Peter Ralph
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:25:31 pm

Build quality is not "commercial grade" for sure - from what I've seen the same goes for the Sachtlers & the Millers in that price range. But as with the XLH1 - you sacrifice build quality whenever you push the price/performance ratio.


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Richard Herd
Re: Tripod Shopping
on Jan 5, 2010 at 8:01:17 pm

I love my Miller DS 10 with carbon fiber tripod. I bought it 5 years ago, thinking I'd upgrade, but nope. I literally carry it everywhere--no problem. Even works well with a 35mm adapter.


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