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How to fine tune tripod height?

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Olivier Prudhomme
How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 16, 2018 at 3:27:17 pm

I am struggling when shooting interviews to have the lense perfectly at my talent’s eye level. It is very hard to fine tune the height of the tripod. My rig is heavy so going up or down a couple inches is super difficult on my own because of course i have to be on my knees, supporting the weight of the rig while moving the legs up and down

IS there something i am doing wrong?
Thanks

Los Angeles - TV Promo Editor - FCP - AVID


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Blaise Douros
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 17, 2018 at 4:26:57 pm

Move the camera back and shoot a longer focal length, and it will matter a lot less. If you're on a 50mm lens, it's pretty noticeable, but on an 85mm or 100mm, that few inches won't make too much difference.


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Olivier Prudhomme
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 17, 2018 at 5:17:26 pm

thx for the tip

Los Angeles - TV Promo Editor - FCP - AVID


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Todd Terry
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 18, 2018 at 8:32:00 pm

A lot of times people struggle with setting tripod height and it would go a lot easier if they would just take the camera off the tripod first. So, if you are adjusting while the camera is mounted, remove it and things will go a lot easier.

You might also consider changing tripods... some adjust height a lot easier than others.

I still use very old Oconnor sticks, because as far as I know only two tripods ever (Oconnor 35A and 35L sticks) allow you to easily adjust all three legs at once, quickly and with just one lock/unlock motion, just turning a ring a little bit with one thumb.... Here's me with one of our trusty ancient Oconnors.....


Unfortunately I know of no "modern" sticks that do this that easily. I don't know why manufacturers/designers don't do this great unlock-all feature anymore, because it's just the greatest thing since sliced cheese. The brand-new Sachtler legs will almost do it, as you can unlock/lock all three legs from the top... but you still have to do them individually, not like the Oconnor.

T2

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



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Blaise Douros
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:10:29 pm

Dang Todd, that is NICE. Probably best suited to studio, though, right? I tend to shoot outdoors a lot on non-level terrain, which probably necessitates individual leg adjustment.


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Rick Wise
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:30:58 pm

With practice, you will get good at such adjustments. Looks like you need to drop an inch? Lower just one leg about that much, Then a second, and finally the third. With a heavy rig, do NOT try to do all 3 at the same time. Do them one at a time. Check the bubble to make sure all are even. Usually you can adjust just one leg to level things out if you are not on the bubble.

Or, as Todd suggests, remove the camera first to lighten the load.

Practice, practice, practice.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Olivier Prudhomme
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:36:45 pm

yeah that's what i've been doing...
Removing the camera.... maybe... but with all the gear/cables hooked up....

Los Angeles - TV Promo Editor - FCP - AVID


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Todd Terry
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 19, 2018 at 5:01:18 am

[Blaise Douros] "Probably best suited to studio, though, right?"

Hey Blaise, actually no... these are my primary location sticks. It just looks like a big rig in that little video because it's on a fairly robust spider dolly that we use only on stage (big camera on it, too). The sticks themselves are very maneuverable and lightweight... you could pick them up with one finger. Well, you can pick the sticks up like that... unfortunately weight-wise I'm pretty partial to my vintage Oconnor 50D heads, which are pretty heavy (and are overkill for my cameras these days, but I love them). But the sticks themselves are lightweight.

Oconnor made two models, 35A and 35L... similar, except one was aluminum and one was carbon fiber. I have two sets of the aluminum ones. You can adjust all three legs at once, as shown... but you don't have to. You can adjust individual legs from the top, too, each has a little release lever... so they are fine for even extraordinarily un-level surfaces, stairs, etc. The sticks have a built-in cable spreader which is a bit of an over-engineered science project... but it's really pretty clever and cool. You can release it and the legs will spread all the way out bringing the head all the way down to the ground level... I can actually get lower-than-highhat shots with it.

These sticks still crop up on eBay now and then.... I actually bought one of my sets for only about 800 bucks. If you ever see either 35A or 35L sticks available for less than $2K, snag them. Or even a fair bit more than that.

I still can't for the life of me can't figure out why any other manufacturers (or Oconnor) don't do this all-legs-at-once feature anymore. I rely on it sooo much. On the rare occasions that I have to use other sticks (which is usually only if we are on remote locations and rent gear), I spend half the day instinctively trying to do the all-at-once adjustment... and the other half of the day cursing the fact that I can't. It's easy to get spoiled being able to do that.

T2

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



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Blaise Douros
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 19, 2018 at 5:06:24 pm

eBay alert set. Now how do I delete this thread to keep more people from reading it? :)


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Todd Terry
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 19, 2018 at 5:24:40 pm

Ha!... we'll Blaise if you want to go on the lookout for these, here's an eBay trick...

I learned this because I used to search often for Oconnor gear...

The real name of the company is "Oconnor." But years ago (back when these sticks were made) they spelled it "O'connor," with the apostrophe that they later dropped. Additionally, some people just completely misspell it altogether, substituting an "e" for the last "o."

Ergo, I've seen eBay listings for Oconnor, O'connor, Oconner, and O'conner. I've often done four separate eBay searches with sometimes wildly different results for each spelling. That's how I got my backup sticks for only 800 bucks, as I recall the name was misspelled so the listing hadn't gotten many views.

The aluminum tripods (which are the ones I have) are the 35A sticks, the carbon fiber ones were the 35L.

Mine work like new but they look like they've been dragged behind a train, a few decades' worth of shoots now. I once thought of disassembling them and repainting the parts or having them powder coated... but quickly learned the removable-nuts-and-bolts-to-rivets ratio was very low.... they were put together with scads of rivets that would have to be drilled out and then replaced. So...um, no. I'll live with the beat-up look.

I love Oconnor stuff. A lot of their gear tends to be super expensive, but worth every penny.

T2

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



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ryan elder
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 21, 2018 at 1:43:29 am

I'm not sure what tripod I have since it was given to me used, out of the package and all, but it has a neck on it that goes up and down within the legs, so if the eye level is not quite right, I can easily raise the neck up and down, and it's a lot easier than having to readjust the legs often.

Perhaps a tripod like that would be a good choice, but I don't know the name of that kind.


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Craig Alan
Re: How to fine tune tripod height?
on Sep 23, 2018 at 3:59:21 pm

Don't know how heavy your rig is. I step on a apple box, then grab the top handle, then loosen all 3 legs, then pull up on handle as you watch the bubble on tripod, then tighten the legs then fine tuning whatever leg will get the bubble in the center more or less does the trick. have no idea why the default isn't to loosen all three legs at once with the ability to mod a single leg. Even better would be a Crank-O-Vator like tripod that once you are level you could crank it to any height. But I agree with other posts, if you remove the camera package you can get the tripod head at the height you want easier. Also mark your different heights that you use often. a lot easier to adjust if you know what what height you need. You do have some give or take using subtle tilts. Also if you have help you can pull the handle up with two hands and have your helper tighten the three legs while you hold position. Look at a monitor off camera to see the height that works.

Imacs (i7), Canon 5D Mark IV, Panasonic ENG HPX250P, Canon C300, FCP X, teach video production in L.A., Cool Light Productions, Producing series of multimedia Portraits of creative women in the production arts.


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