During NAB, April 18 – 23, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vinten will be announcing their new Vision “x” AS range of video pan & tilt heads. The Vision “x” AS range comprises the Vision 3 AS, 5 AS, 8 AS and 10 AS heads, respectively. All Vision “x” AS heads incorporate Vintens new “Perfect Balance” counterbalance system, giving continuously variable counterbalance across their individual ranges, from a low end of 4.4 pounds (2 kilos) for the V 3 AS up to 32 pounds (14.5 kilos) at the top end of the V 10 AS heads range (C.O.G. = 5 inches / 125 mm).
Another major innovation is the new “side load” slide plate mounting mechanism.
Here is the story of my time with the Vinten Vision 3 AS “Perfect Balance” Video Pan/ Tilt Head… when the e–mail arrived from Peter Harman, Product Manager at Vinten, asking if I would like to test drive a pre production version of the new Vision 3 AS, I damn near fell off my chair. What an offer (not to say privilege). Needless to say, the answer was seriously in the affirmative. A couple of minor hiccups later and the head was here (that reminds me, must tackle Peter about that $150 GST charge on the import!).
Comparing the new Vision 3 AS to my existing V3 is a bit like comparing apples to bananas; there simply is no similarity other than they are, most definitely, pan/ tilt heads. The colour scheme is now black, which at least matches just about every other piece of video gear I’ve got, with signage now blue and black on chrome. The V3 AS is significantly taller, and a bit wider and deeper than the V3, though, much to my amazement, this bulking up hasn’t resulted in one ounce of extra weight. This has been achieved, in part, by replacing a section of the head casting under the top plate with a plastic shroud to hide the spring and counterbalance mechanism.
A welcome change has seen the tilt drag control moved from the RHS, forward of the pan bar (with the control wheel facing forward and thus practically invisible) to the LHS facing backward, which makes for easy access and a clear view, though in use I discovered the “drag level” window always seemed to be obscured by the LHS pan bar rosette when I needed to see it (note: RHS / right hand side and LHS / left hand side are from the rear of the head, where you’d be standing when using it).
The pan drag and pan lock controls are about the only things that have not been changed.
The tilt lock has been moved forward and given a 90-degree clockwise spin. This does mean that when unlocked the pan lock is horizontal with the tilt lock vertical, vice versa when locked. At first this seemed quite counter intuitive but I did get used to it after a while. I gather the reason was to keep the tilt lock lever contained within the body outline to help reduce lever breakage.
The battery for the illuminated levelling bubble is lower front centre with a nice chrome Vinten badge on the front of the battery carrier. The button cell has a rated life in excess of 25,000 hours, which is just as well as changing it is somewhat fraught. I’ve had the carrier out four times now and have bent the internal leaf springs INSIDE the head compartment twice trying to re–insert it… hmm.
Now for the biggies!
On the RHS lower there is now an 8-lobed horizontal control wheel to operate the “perfect balance” function. I’ll talk (a lot) more about that in a moment.
Last but not least, the side load slide plate. This is nothing short of awesome. Angle the camera RHS down and engage the wedged edge of the slide plate in the similarly wedged rail on the head, drop the camera back down to horizontal and snap, it’s locked in the rails.
This is such a monumental improvement over the V3, I’d consider getting the V3 AS for this feature alone. My main gripe with the V3 was trying to line up the slide plate to get a clean load first time, every time. An absolute sod if you were doing a lot of run n’gun set-up/ knockdowns.
Another huge improvement is that the plate lock knob, to lock the position of the plate, has been moved from the RHS, forward of the pan bar and a bugger of a place to get at, to the LHS centre where access is a breeze. All’s not quite sweetness and light though, the screw knob to perform the lock function is extremely easy to undo (nice) but there is nothing to prevent it being unscrewed completely from the head. I can foresee Vinten being kept busy sending out replacement knobs.
To unload the camera, simply back off the plate lock knob a half turn or so and push the head plate release lever forward. Lift the camera and it’s out. I cannot stress how much of an improvement this system is over its predecessor.