View Full Version : Midrange tripod
July 20th, 2002, 12:13 AM
Okay, I know variations of this question have been posted throughout the forum, but I don't remember seeing one concerning a higher budget. So, if a fellow had between $700-1000 to spend on a tripod for and XL1s, what you guys recommend?
July 21st, 2002, 02:45 AM
Check out Manfrotto and Miller. I have their links posted at www.dvfreak.com
July 21st, 2002, 03:15 AM
July 24th, 2002, 08:33 PM
I just bought a Sachtler online for $950 from B&H Photo and it was worth the wait!
July 25th, 2002, 03:46 AM
A sachtler? The whole thing? Not just the bubble level or a piece of a spreader?
July 25th, 2002, 05:38 AM
It's the Sachtler DV-4 system, includes a ground spreader, too. They are trying to compete with Bogen on the lower end of pro tripods. Which is kind of funny because Bogen is trying to get into the mid level range of pro tripods. It has a 10 lbs. weight limit so it should be fine for the XL1, but anything bigger at yo may have problems. Sachtler has a good reputation. Sachtler and Vinten are generally considered the two best overall. ZGC carries Sachtler and has some info on it http://www.zgc.com/html/tripods.html
July 25th, 2002, 05:41 AM
The whole thing! It's one of their "systems"--DV4. A true fluid head with 75mm half ball, a two-stage tripod, and a ground spreader.
Frictionless Leak Proof Fluid Damping
Frictionless leak proof fluid damping with one level of drag, for perfect pictures while panning, without jerks and vibrations.
Identical across both horizontal and vertical planes, and allows complete disengagement of drag for fast panning.
• Quick Release
Touch & Go Quick Release / Automatic Locking System, for quick set up without having to bother to screwing the camera to head and then having to unscrew it again. Also features a safety lock lever that prevents inadvertent disengagement of the camera latch.
• Sliding Balance Plate
Sliding camera mount and plate with a 2.4-inch sliding range, makes a fast balancing system for the camera and ensures perfect balance across the horizontal plane.
• Dynamic Counterbalancing System
One Step dynamic counterbalancing system, compensates for torques as the camera tilts, preventing the camera from inadvertently tipping, and ensuring that it is positioned securely at any tilt angle. And can be can be activated and deactivated individually.
• Safe at any temperature, operates without any frictions from -40°F to +140°F
• Vibrationless vertical / horizontal brakes
• Built-in bubble for horizontal leveling
• Dural aluminum construction with 16mm (0.63") tube diameter
• 75mm / 3" bowl base
• Double extension design
• Maximum height of 62.2-inch (not including head)
• Quick clamping system, locks tripod legs in seconds
No case, but their's is too expensive anyway. I already had a very nice soft padded case by Tundra from B&H for $50.00.
The Sachtler is well worth every cent! Quality equipment increases production value as well as your creativity.
July 25th, 2002, 05:55 AM
By the way, the XL1s, with lens and battery, weighs in just under six and half pounds, so the DV-4 is the perfect system!
July 25th, 2002, 06:03 AM
The weight is going to vary according to your camera config. My camera, with MA-200, dual batteries, mic pre-amp, shotgun mic etc. is close to 10 lbs.
July 25th, 2002, 06:08 AM
That's why I specified the components. Mine differs from job to job.
July 25th, 2002, 11:22 AM
Sounds pretty cool. What's with this one level of drag business? Nothing in my above mentioned price range with adjustable drag?
July 25th, 2002, 11:42 AM
The variable levels of drag are what, I think, begins to push the price up on these heads. The DV-4 has a "0" setting and a "1" setting. The "0" is a very nice "middle of the road" setting suitable for standard shooting. The "1" is no drag and suitable for whip pans and the like--following fast action. Both are smooth as silk!
There are other systems with variable drag, but the price is higher. I was about to buy the Bogen/Manfrotto before I saw that Sachtler had drastically lowered their prices. If I recall, it was in the $1,200 ballpark. And, at the risk of sounding like a status symbol hound, the bottom line is it's a Sachtler.
I've worked with Sachtler when renting, and I've owned Bogen equipment. There is no comparison.
July 25th, 2002, 11:50 AM
Hmm. I worked with a fairly nice sachtler head (rental) on the last gig I did, and I had some trouble with it. Probably because I don't know what the hell I'm doing.
I don't remember the model number, but the head had a dial, with seven levels of tilt and pan drag.
It was pretty nice, but I swear I was hard pressed to tell the difference from one level of drag to the next. Also, watching the footage, when I did really wide pans (more than 90 degrees from start to stop, there was a kind of jerkiness to them. That was probably my technique . . .though when I used my superbly crappy bogen and did those types of pans they weren't to shabby. . .
July 25th, 2002, 11:59 AM
That's the problem with rental equipment--it's only as good as the last guy who used it. Too, if the rental house doesn't maintain the equipment properly, it gets abused and worn down very quickly. The rentals I've used were from a place I trust--they take great care to maintain their equipment. They charge a little more, but it's worth it. Nothing like renting a truck full of equipment that breaks down as soon as you reach your location!
Too, keep in mind I was only sharing my opinion based on my limited experience.
(When I used to shoot film, I used Miller heads and tripods. I've only had the Sachtler a week, but it's worked VERY fine thus far.)
I'll stick my neck out and say if you were to buy one new, I don't think you would be disappointed.
July 25th, 2002, 12:08 PM
Rental equipment, especially tripods get the crap beat out of them. Along time ago I bought a used O'Conner rental. It had a few funny quirks, pans weren't perfect, didn't balance quit right, so I sent it in for repair. The cost to rebuild the head was almost what I paid for it, $1600. It sure opened my eyes and I've never bought rental equipment since. My point is, rental equipment isn't always the best way to judge the suitability or performence of a piece of equipment.
I've always used Sachtlers until just recently. I believe they are the best tripods for the money. I currently use a Vinten. Why not Sachtler? Black tripods are murder in Florida. They get so hot you can almost leave your skin on them if you're not carefull.
July 25th, 2002, 12:13 PM
You're right Jeff! Here in Florida I've left a few pounds of flesh on a tripod here and there. I've often wondered why they don't make more camera equipment white, to reflect the heat. The only thing I can come with is they use black to reduce light reflection.
July 25th, 2002, 12:19 PM
I do a lot of outdoor, wildlife work and thats why I sold my Sachtler and bought the Vinten, they are light grey. I miss my Sachtler, for the money, they are the best in my book.
July 25th, 2002, 12:47 PM
I forgot to mention, with the advent of burnt hands, I have resorted to carrying a white towel in my tripod case (it's wrapped in it actually). When in the sun and not shooting, I drape the towel over the camera and tripod to keep the sun and heat away from both. My hands sure do appreciate it.
July 25th, 2002, 01:43 PM
Good tip about the black. Ours was grey. Perhaps you're right. . .when I was doing those pans, I tried to apply a consistent amount or pressure to the pan arm, letting the fluid drag be my resistance. When I looked at it on a TV, the pan would be smooth, then speed up for like half a second, then back to smooth, etc. It was very consistent, though. . .every so many seconds my speed would change like clockwork. Maybe it was my weight shifting? Any tips for wider than 90 degree pans? I did a 180 and it sucked.
July 25th, 2002, 01:51 PM
You're right, anything beyond 90 degrees is very difficult, at least it is for me if I'm glued to the view finder tripping over the tripod legs. When time permits, I usually rehearse pans and tilts and adjust my stance accordingly--still nothing is guaranteed.
I guess if one had a monitor and watched it while panning, it wouldn't be such an issue. Like my barber says, "Cutting hair would be a breeze if ears were removable." ;o)
July 25th, 2002, 02:48 PM
Yeah, I have a camera mountable monitor, but it goes with the camera! In other words, when it gets beyond a certain point, I can't look into it, either.
But at least I know it's not just me. Does anyone know a place in Houston that stocks a lot of tripods that I could try? I won't buy from them, because of my overwhelming love for Chris Hurd (I'll buy from ZGC), so I need a place that won't harass me too much. I know of Industrial Audio & Video, and Visual Interactive Dynamics. I'd rather not rent a tripod either. I'd just like to try some out with my camera in a showroom or something.
July 25th, 2002, 05:09 PM
The only place that I know of is the Camer supply place on Richmond. There is also the Camera Co-Op on Shepard and Richmond. Your best bet is to go to ZGC or "gasp" --- don't read this Chris --- B&H. Those are about the only places that I would go.
Ah! I just thought of another Houston place that will have tripods. Try TexCam of Houston (http://www.texcam.com/). They should be able to meet your needs.
July 25th, 2002, 09:26 PM
My 2-cents. Vintens, Sachtlers and O'Connors are excellent tripods/heads. But they've really earned their reputations enduring more abuse, and supporting much heavier loads, than most amatuer and semi-pro videographers would ever subject their gear to.
I spent several months searching for a good tripod for field use (I have a separate rig for indoor/studio work) and empathize with anyone else on such a mission. Ultimately I selected a Miller DS-10 system with a mid-level spreader (ground spreaders are an unnecessary pain). In brief, the DS-10 offered the best combination of weight, head quality, and general design for my XL1s. (It was actually designed specifically with the XL1 in mind, according to Miller.) It even comes with a nicely designed carrying case and features a shoulder strap on both the case and the tripod. So, for you XL1/1s shooters I heartily recommend looking at the DS-10. Miller has even recently lowered its price...of course AFTER I bought mine.
July 25th, 2002, 09:28 PM
Thanks for the advice fellers. And this DS10 . . .what's its current price?
July 25th, 2002, 09:51 PM
O'Connors are the best!
July 25th, 2002, 11:14 PM
Josh: The DS-10 will currently run about US$1,100, down from US$1,600.
Frank: No contest that O'Connors certainly have a stellar reputation for both performance and service. But spending US$3,200-US$10,000 for systems designed to support 18-65lbs would be absurd overkill for the class of cameras that most of us work with. The right tool for the right job.
July 26th, 2002, 03:51 PM
That DV-4 Sachtler is listed at $850 or so in my B&H catalogue, and there's a miller listed at a similar price. . .which means I can probably get a better price from ZGC.
July 26th, 2002, 07:25 PM
Yeah I know---costly! But sometimes you can find great deals on e-bay. Anyways, that's why I suggest Manfrottos and Millers---and to buy them in Canada. Cheap!
July 26th, 2002, 08:00 PM
Canada eh? Perhaps that's something to think aboot.
July 26th, 2002, 11:30 PM
For some reason the Manfrottos (Bogens) are cheaper here. And The Australian made Millers are even cheaper, like about 40%, when compared with what they go for in the USA. Just check my site for connections:
(I hope I'm not out of line here, Chris.)
July 26th, 2002, 11:52 PM
Yeah, I've heard good things about those Millers.
August 17th, 2002, 03:58 AM
To Mr. Good Dog: I just received my sachtler dv-4, and had a query for you. I'm finding that even with the "1" setting (the higher level of drag), I'm still not getting as much resistance as I'd like with my XL1s. Any tips on ways to add resistance (besides locking the tilt and pan)?
August 17th, 2002, 06:39 AM
No, unfortunately I wouldn't have any suggestions. I certainly wouldn't suggest using the pan/tilt locks as brakes. That might do more damage than good (like riding the brakes in your car).
This serves as a perfect example of the difference among camera operators. You would like a bit more drag at that setting, while I would like a tad less. Neither is right or wrong--just different. If we lived in a perfect world, where money was no object, I would have gone for the head with variable drag adjustment. I should've been born rich, instead of being so darn good-looking!
Using the head, like the 16x lens on the XL1, was simply a matter of adjustment for me. Over time, I've found that I am far more flexible than any equipment. Hence, it's easier for me to adjust than the equipment. I honestly think the more you use it the better you'll feel about it. Then again, I could be wrong!
The other option would be return it and get one of the other suggested systems. Sorry I haven't been more help.
August 17th, 2002, 11:45 AM
That's okay. I doubt another system would be any bettwer in that respect in the same price range. I just feel like I have to hold back in order not to make the moves too fast.
August 17th, 2002, 12:20 PM
I think it will take a little getting used to. This is a guess, but I'm thinking your still used to your old tripod, which you had everything tighten way down. Now your style is a little heavy handed and the Sachtler seems too light. To help getting used to it, try adjusting the pan so you only have to use your index finger to move it. This will help lighten your feel for the tripod.
August 17th, 2002, 01:15 PM
Thank you sir. Another thing I'm not used to is the counterbalance--it always wants to return to its center position when tilted up or down. Can't switch it off either. At least now I know that if
I can't deal with it, it's me and not the tripod.
August 17th, 2002, 01:39 PM
Well, that's not right. It should stay put if you tilt down or up. Do you have the camera centered, so that it's not front or back heavy? The camera should stay put. The other possibility is, the camera is too light. Of course there's the outside chance the head isn't adjusted right. Keep trying to adjust the head, weight, balance and see what you get. Worse case call where you bought it on Monday and talk to someone familar with your model and see what they say.
August 17th, 2002, 01:55 PM
Mine does the same thing, as has every one I've ever used--returns to level. If it didn't do that, it would defeat the purpose, would it not? It was designed that way to prevent accidents--keeps the whole shebang from falling over when the operator absent-mindely let's go (more often than not on a tilt down).
August 17th, 2002, 02:03 PM
I figured. I was wondering (Good Dog) if you had two pan arms or just one.
August 17th, 2002, 02:05 PM
Good question Jay, your more the expert on this tripod than I. All I can say is that the larger Sachtler, O'Connor and Vinten tripods I have used stay put. Meaning, where ever I leave the tripod head it stays, up, down, you name it. I would find that centering unacceptable. In my field work I point my tripod down to shot flowers or maybe a nest on the ground. I want the tripod to stay exactly as I positioned it. Even if I walk away, maybe to adjust a reflector. My current Vinten acts this way. No springing back. I wonder how Ken's Miller works.
August 17th, 2002, 02:25 PM
When you lock it down, it doesn't spring back. When you have it unlocked, it does. That's all I meant. I'm not used to the counterbalance, so I found it worth remarking on.
August 17th, 2002, 02:47 PM
Well, that's what I'm saying, I don't use the lock and it stays put. I have it adjusted so it does not spring back. I don't have to fight the counter balance.
August 17th, 2002, 02:50 PM
On the DV8 and higher models there is a dial that allows you to adjust the counter balance. With heavy cameras you want this counter balance so when you tilt down or up the camera doesn't slam the pivoting weight to the maximum tilt range. Very important for camera moves. Since my camera weighs around 17 pounds I use the 3-5 setting.
I find the standard XL1 to be very light on the DV8 and I suspect it's the same with the DV4, even at the lightest counter balance setting.
I like the millers, but I LOVE the Sachtler because of the pan and tilt settings. Sometimes you want more drag and then other times you want to whip pan. I dial in different settings all the time. It's the best, especially if you've just had a huge cup of coffee.
August 17th, 2002, 04:23 PM
Jeff, the head can be "locked" in the down (or up) position for situations like the one you mentioned. Too, (although I've not tried it) one might be able to adjust the the camera to the front or rear of center so that it doesn't (can't) "center" itself.
As one who has taught film production, all too often I have seen those less than conscientious students raise the legs high, tilt the camera forward (as far as it will go), let go and walk away to adjust a light or reflector or whatever. Then someone (usually me) had to make a suicide dive in order to save the camera from crashing to the ground. Invariably, they had broken two "prime directives:"
1. Always set the tripod with one of the legs under and forward of the lens.
2. Never let go of the camera or the pan/tilt handle until you are certain the camera is secure, i.e., it won't fall or tip over.
It would go in one ear and out the other.
This was back in the days of "film" when the camera was either a CP16 or an Arri BL, the latter being particularly heavy.
August 17th, 2002, 11:45 PM
I did that with a SVHS camera in my first field camera class. Freaked my teacher out a good one. You can also adjust it while locked--the lock isn't strong enough to prevent movement if you apply a little force. As for counterbalance--correct me if I'm wrong Good Dog, but you can't adjust it at all on this particular system, can you?
August 18th, 2002, 02:21 PM
You can "adjust" it only to a point. First, you can adjust the plate by moving the screws to the forward or rearward holes (this would "move" the center of gravity of the camera), depending on where they are originally. Second, once the plate is on the camera and both are mounted on the head, you can slide the camera so far forward or aft that the weight negates the self-center mechanism, causing the entire camera with head to lean forward or backward.
August 18th, 2002, 11:48 PM
Is there a certain way you've found to work best?
August 19th, 2002, 05:38 AM
I'm using the self-leveling option. At the risk of sounding critical, and alluding to an earlier post, I've decided to learn how to work with the equipment, rather than trying to make it do something it wasn't designed to do. More often than not, there is a learning curve on my part, but that should be expected.
By-the-way, I only have one pan arm. The only time I've ever used two was on pedestal mounted camera in the studio.
August 19th, 2002, 11:44 AM
Okay. I've heard having two pan arms is a good thing. . .just wanted some other opinions.
August 19th, 2002, 11:52 AM
I've only used them in the studio, also. I think they would be a little awkward in the field.