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Old March 23rd, 2009, 12:38 PM   #1
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A good Video/Photo Tripod?

Hi,

I am new to DSLR with video capabilities, and would like to know if anyone has a recommendation for a good tripod that can work well for taking video, smooth pans, and also do a decent job of taking stills?

I have a budget of 400 - 500 bucks. I don't want to reinvent the wheel, and certainly don't have a budget for trial and error.

Anyone have a suggestion?

Thanks,

Rick Casillas
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 01:06 PM   #2
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The Manfrotto 501 head has always been a popular choice for video in this range. B&H probably has some deals in that price range for head and sticks.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 02:19 PM   #3
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I've played with the 501 in a couple of stores, and I'm not impressed. The 503 felt much more competent.

Others to consider in the under $200 range are...
Davis & Sanford - Provista 75 legs and FM18 fluid head
Matthews M25

I haven't touched either the Davis & Sanford or the Matthews systems. On paper, I'd choose the Davis & Sanford. It uses a 75mm ball mount, so it makes it easy to upgrade. (It looks like the Miller also uses a ball, but I don't know the size.) The D&S weighs 10 lbs vs. 7 lbs, so it's probably sturdier. (We're not shopping for low weight carbon fiber in this price range.) It also extends (very) slightly higher and lower. The company is part of Tiffen, so you've got somebody to call, if there are problems.

That said, I've never felt either head. For all I know, they both have gravel in the fluid. It's all about being sturdy and smooth.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 02:55 PM   #4
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What didn't you like about the 501? wonder because I have the 501 and haven't used anything else... And if i wanted to upgrade wanted to know what things i should be looking for.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 04:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
I've played with the 501 in a couple of stores, and I'm not impressed. The 503 felt much more competent.

Others to consider in the under $200 range are...
Davis & Sanford - Provista 75 legs and FM18 fluid head
Matthews M25

I haven't touched either the Davis & Sanford or the Matthews systems. On paper, I'd choose the Davis & Sanford. It uses a 75mm ball mount, so it makes it easy to upgrade. (It looks like the Miller also uses a ball, but I don't know the size.) The D&S weighs 10 lbs vs. 7 lbs, so it's probably sturdier. (We're not shopping for low weight carbon fiber in this price range.) It also extends (very) slightly higher and lower. The company is part of Tiffen, so you've got somebody to call, if there are problems.

That said, I've never felt either head. For all I know, they both have gravel in the fluid. It's all about being sturdy and smooth.
Thanks Jon. I am going to look into the D&S. I did forget to mention that pan smoothness is very important to me.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 05:20 PM   #6
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What didn't you like about the 501? wonder because I have the 501 and haven't used anything else... And if i wanted to upgrade wanted to know what things i should be looking for.
I tried 501s and 503s at two different stores on the same day. The 501 didn't feel nearly as smooth as the 503 in either case, and seemed a bit lightweight.

Looking at the specs, the 501 uses teflon friction for pan and tilt drag adjustments. That might be why it felt rough.

One thing to try when auditioning tripods is a diagonal pan/lift. A couple years ago I rented a Cartoni HiDV tripod system with an HVX200. The shot called for pan/lift from a stream next to us on the right to the bridge above us to the left. No matter how we adjusted it, the camera moved in a stair step motion - left, up, left, up, left, up. We kept the shot, but it pains me every time I see it. And that tripod system cost about $1,400 at the time.

So, look for smooth motion in general, smooth starts and stops, and try a diagonal move. If you can do a diagonal with your intended camera, you've got yourself a nice head.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 08:46 PM   #7
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On a budget don't forget to check out the Libec LS38, I much prefer it to the cheaper Manfrottos as the head is a lot better. Otherwise maybe the Gitzo LVL tripods if you want a more convention photo tripod that also does video. If you can spend a bit more the Miller DS20 solo Carbon fibre is the bees knees.

Also there is the new range of E-image tripods on ebay from China that seem like good value but I can't vouch for the build quality personally.

Dan
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 10:54 PM   #8
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I've played with the 501 in a couple of stores, and I'm not impressed. The 503 felt much more competent.
I agree with you... but the 503 doesn't fall in his price range with a decent set of sticks attached. Honestly I don't care much for either of them (and I've owned both), but the 501 can be had under $400.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 11:19 PM   #9
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I agree with you... but the 503 doesn't fall in his price range with a decent set of sticks attached.
True. That's why I mentioned the Davis & Sanford system and Matthews M25 above. I mainly mentioned the 503 because its from the same company as the 501, and because I was able to do two A/B comparisons in one day.

I'd love to get my hands on the Davis & Sanford and Matthews systems, side by side. Tripods and running shoes are all about feel. It's tough to buy them based on online reviews.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 01:14 AM   #10
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Video is far more demanding on a tripod than still shooting. Still photographers only need the support to be stable for 1/500th of a second (generally). Video needs a smooth and stable support all the time, even while panning/tilting. So I suggest buying the best video tripod you can get and let stills come along for the ride.

I tried quite a few sub-$600 heads and tripods before I settled on the 503HDV+351MVB for my XH-A1 (and 5D2 now). I think it's the best cheap tripod system around. If you can get it balanced right (it only has three counterbalance settings) for your lens and accessories, then it is very smooth up to about medium telephoto (200mm). I haven't tried it on the 5D2 with longer focal lengths (over 200), but I know from using the XH-A1 that after 200mm it starts to show flaws such as sticktion, bounce back, etc.

The Cartoni Focus ($1200), on the other hand, is buttery smooth at with my XH-A1 at 650mm (equiv.). Though I doubt it would perform as well with a heavy lens. Unfortunately, I don't (yet) have one of the heavy Canon Supers.

HTH.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 10:05 PM   #11
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I have a Mathews M25 and I bought it originally for use with several small HDV camcorders. The M25 is very well-built for the price, but it's also nothing special. Mathews does make good stuff though. You have to go several notches up the price ladder to get a real improvement in smoothness. Don't believe the hype about inexpensive tripods. There are no bargains. It's like everything else, if you need quality, you will pay for it.

I bought M25 from:

Matthews M25 Tripod with Carry Case at DVcreators.net

The page also has a link to a review on the M25. If you talk to Todd at dvcreators, he will tell you what he thinks about any product that he sells. He's a small specialty video operation and it quite candid about the capabilities of the items that he sells. Of course, you can also get the M25 at B&H.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 03:29 AM   #12
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So far I am pleased with the Libec LS22 though I haven't used it with the Canon. I got the Bogen adapter so it can use the long Bogen mounting plate to allow better balance and to keep compatibility with my 503 head and monopod. I consider the LS22 a significant upgrade from the 503 and the whole package with sticks and zoom controller was $400.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 04:25 AM   #13
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Yes, Libec are really worth a look. I know quite a few people who changed to Libec from Manfrotto. Manfrotto have some nice tripods like the 535 with 503 but they are more expensive. There have been a few Libecs on the classifieds lately for good prices http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/private-c...ually-new.html

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Old March 25th, 2009, 09:21 AM   #14
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Yes, Libec are really worth a look. I know quite a few people who changed to Libec from Manfrotto.
I find most people getting into video start with Manfrotto as it is the most widely distributed and cheapest "pro" tripod... then someone at some point loans them a "real" tripod, and they never go back. I loves my Vinten Vision 10, cost a small fortune, but oh so good. Overkill for the 5D2, but if you've got it, flaunt it.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 06:06 PM   #15
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I've got a questions for those with the Matthews M25 tripod. I bought a couple weeks back and when I received it I noticed that it was very difficult to pan. It was like the lock was on even when it wasn't. I sent it back to Matthews for a replacement and they said thats just the way they are. The tilt worked fine but the pan was way too tight. Anyone else experience this?
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