View Full Version : Tripod head from one company, legs from another?
November 15th, 2011, 11:59 PM
Ok, just picked up my first "pro" camera (Sony fs100). Time to pick up a good fluid head tripod. This will be my first real tripod system, and I want something that will last for many year.
Having said all that, my question is this. Is it normal to buy a tripod head that is one manufacturer, and the legs be of another? My budget was originally around $1500 give or take a couple. I started looking into the vinten 3AS, but the complete package (head, single stage legs, mid level splitter and case, is about $2400), which is a bit over my budget. So would it be unheard of to get a head, like the 3AS, and put it on a lesser pair of legs?
Any advice would be great,
November 16th, 2011, 04:54 AM
Hmmm... I would never put a greater head on lesser legs. The other way round is acceptable.
$1500 should get you a Sachtler, Vinten or Miller system capable of handling the FS100 and accessories. Sachtler FSB systems are fantastic performers and value, and should be considered seriously.
Mix 'n' match of heads and legs in theory should work, i.e. they're all 75mm balls/bowls, but there are some differences in exact dimensions and knobs (the twisty thing underneath the bowl that you tighten the head with, dunno what the exact name is). I know there is some incompatibility between Vinten and other brands, for example.
As an example, allegedly, the Vinten Vision Blue head can be mounted on Miller Solo legs. I have mounted a Manfrotto half bowl on my Vinten legs (never did a 501HDV have such excellent legs).
- it's possible, in theory
- sometimes it may not match
- it may be best to buy from one manufacturer
- keep your receipt if you do mix 'n' match, just in case!
November 16th, 2011, 08:27 AM
I'd rather have a better head than legs, if I had to make the choice. You can more easily "hide" the effects of wobbly legs than a sticky head. I have an O'Connor 1030 on Sachtler lightweight legs, which are prone to "winding" (they are essentially documentary style legs, designed for mobility rather than stability) but I've made do for 10 years with them and not had the photography suffer, whereas I would have been constantly frustrated with a lesser head. If I have to make a fast move where the legs will start to influence the head, I just back off the pan fluid.
Other than disagreeing on this matter, Mike's advice is extremely sound--tiedowns (that's the word you were going after, Mike!) are often incompatible.
November 16th, 2011, 08:57 AM
I was thinking at the much lower end, where a Vinten 3AS head would be pretty unhappy on a $150 set of Manfrotto cheapies. But you are of course perfectly correct!
November 16th, 2011, 09:01 AM
I'm thinking, for the moment, I'll just get the vision blue kit. Since the legs are the same on both the blue and 3AS kits, then down the road I'll pick up the 3AS head. Right now it's just the camera, but eventually it will be the camera plus rails, plus matte box plus.......
November 16th, 2011, 12:19 PM
It is a good choice (one of several, I should add - other tripod manufacturers are available!).
I think the 3AS system may have a "beefier" mid-level spreader than the Vision Blue, but like anything in this sort of tripod, you can buy these as accessories later. It's all good. You should have no problems selling the VB head if you decide to up-size.
As long as the VB's upper weight limit is acceptable to you (approx 11lbs), with your camera, mic, lens etc., then it should be perfect.
November 16th, 2011, 01:00 PM
According to the Vinten website (and the email I recieved from Peter), the Vision blue is prefect for the fs100, "unacessorized". Which is how it currently is. As soon as I add all the extras, they recomend moving to the 3AS. I figured once I upgraded to the 3AS, I could keep the Vision Blue and use on a slider, that I would eventually be getting. Also, when I travel, I can put the Blue head back on, and keep my camera stripped down.
November 16th, 2011, 06:23 PM
Better late than never, so here goes.
I was going to say you might trim a bit off the price off a 3AS system by specifying the V4032 - 0001 mid spreader instead of the 3781 - 3 SpreadLock, saving $426.65 HOWEVER a bit of sleuthing on the B&H site threw up some startling figures.
If you add up the cost of the sticks, spreader, case and feet of the VB system as components, you get $1422.70 WITHOUT THE VB HEAD!
The head on it's own is $697.00, taking the total price as components to a whopping $2,119.70!
THE entire VB mls system as a set @ B&H is $ 1124.00, a saving of $995.70 over the component price.
A 3AS head @ B&H is $1037.30, which is only $41.60 more than you've just saved by buying the VB system complete - heck, the VB (including the VB head) has basically paid for that 3AS head!
The moral of this story is that buying a support system as components is one heck of an expensive way of going about things.
You are correct, the 3AS mls systems @ B&H are all specified with the 3781 - 3 SpreadLock spreader, instead of the VB's 4032 - 0001 spreader.
I have both and, quite frankly, given the whopping difference in their prices - $684.95 vs. $258.30 and weights - nearly a kilo for the 3781 vs half or less for the VB unit, I'd vote for the VB unit every time, with comensurate weight savings on both back and wallet.
November 17th, 2011, 07:16 AM
Getting a system of both legs and head is much more cost effective than separately. However if you pick up a deal on one or the other on eBay or used sections of B&H and Adorama, the equation can change.
Manfrotto makes some tiedowns that solve some of the classic incompatibilities between legs. In my experience, it's the tiedown (not the head) that makes for incompatibilities. Anyway, I bought one of those Manfrotto tiedowns and sent to to the dealer where I bought my Cartoni head and they re-threaded it to match so now I have a great head on my favorite legs.
One feature to look at on the Sachtler FSB and Cartoni heads that VB lacks is the side mount design of the quick release plate mechanism. The side mount on the Sachtler and Cartoni lets you put the camera down on the head on the far side then drop the the near side for it to snap into place. THe release and everything on the side mount is on the side of the head facing you. Removing the head is just the reverse. With one hand on the camera, you release and lift.
The VB design is a slide in where you hold the weight of the camera while lining up the plate and head then slide it in. I haven't seen the VB but other Vinten and Manfrotto slide-in heads I've used have a twist lock on the opposite side of the head and then a push lock safety on the near side. Once I had a side mount, I despise the slide in design. YMMV.