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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old December 16th, 2008, 07:28 AM   #1
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Which fluid head tripod should I buy for the XH A1?

I want to get a reasonably priced fluid head tripod for my XH A1.

I notice people are very keen on the Libec LS38, which apparently has great performance for its price, and was thinking of buying one but then realised the LS 38 tripod only goes up to 62.5" in height. Given that a cast member could be up to 6'3", or thereabouts, you can't get their over the shoulder shots with this size tripod. The XH A1 is also too light for the LS38.

Lots of other tripods I've looked at are similar heights. I'm trying to find a reasonably priced fluid head tripod for my XH A1 that will allow me to do OTS shots and shots at eye level without standing the tripod on top of a crate or something.

I'm currently using:
Manfrotto 055XB tripod - goes up to about 6'3" in height!
Manfrotto 700RC2 semi-fluid tripod head

The Manfrotto tripod is poor in terms of stability, but it has great height - although the higher you raise the stem the less stable it gets. And the head has bad rewind effects at the end of pans. I need something considerably better. Anyone have any ideas?
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Last edited by Stuart Graham; December 16th, 2008 at 11:26 AM. Reason: Added extra info
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Old December 16th, 2008, 05:40 PM   #2
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The XHA1 isn't too light for the Libec 38. If the camera was any heavier, you'd need the next step up. When a manufacturer says a tripod's capability is, for instance, 18 pounds, that means it will support 18 pounds. It doesn't mean you will be happy using an 18 pound camera on it and in most cases cannot do so successfully. Divide by two is a good rule when selecting a head.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 10:34 PM   #3
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I have the 055 with a 501 head, and it works pretty decently. Not a premium setup, but nice and lightweight, it gets the job done.
It may lack ultimate stability, but it has the advantage of portability--you won't kill yourself carrying it to your location. That's a big one for me, especially when shooting sports.

Also try looking at the Bogen 475B. It'll go up to 74" in height. I also use this with the 501 head, which seems fine with the XHA1. I have a lot of experience with these and can recommend both without reservation, if the goal is getting over people's heads. Much sturdier than the 055, it features a geared center column, center spreader, is adustable 9 ways from Sunday, and it MUCH more stable. Its weight is not as friendly though, if you must be constantly transporting it.

A third choice is the Bogen 028B. I believe it goes up to 85" or thereabouts. Much lighter than the 475B. I have only seen it advertised, never actually used it, but it looks intriguing.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 01:15 AM   #4
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Hi Stuart..............

What's "reasonably priced"?

You mention it a couple of times in your post.

If you have a budget, state it, and I'll see what I can suggest.

High, you can have.

High and stable for HD, no can do, no such thing IMPO, no matter what your budget.

You do mention in your post that your existing setup isn't too flash at higher settings, can't imagine why.

You want stable - OR - high?

Can't have both.

Then again, my "stable" probably isn't the same as yours.

Again, IMPO, you won't find a tripod capable of adequate HD camera support that reaches higher than about 65", if you do, let me know, half of the planet would like one.

Oh, BTW, it still has to come in under 12 pounds weight (soaking wet with all attachments bar the head) to make it usable, that is kind of a killer.

Let me know, I'll see what I can suggest.


CS
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Old December 17th, 2008, 06:58 AM   #5
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Thanks for your input everyone :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
What's "reasonably priced"?
CS
I was thinking no more than $2000 (1000).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
High and stable for HD, no can do, no such thing IMPO, no matter what your budget.
CS
Nooooo :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
You do mention in your post that your existing setup isn't too flash at higher settings, can't imagine why.
CS
We found that the extended stem does decrease stability making the panning a bit ropey. Couple that with the rewind effect of the head and our panning is at best okay, at worst poor. Also the legs do tend to move sometimes. I should probably get a spreader for it at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
You want stable - OR - high? Can't have both.
CS
I want stability for my panning shots, height and smooth panning without rewind effects - a tall order I know. How do people get OTS and eye level shots in the professional film industry? I suppose they use enormously expensive supports?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Again, IMPO, you won't find a tripod capable of adequate HD camera support that reaches higher than about 65", if you do, let me know, half of the planet would like one.
CS
Is there a way to extend the height of a tripod such as the Libec 38?

Steve: The Bogen 475B looks quite good, I'll see if I can find a review of it.

Bill: the Libec web site (Libeceurope.com - Product Line Up) says the LS38 is for cameras between 4 and 8kg. If it's less than 4kg will there be a problem with balance?
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Old December 17th, 2008, 07:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuart Graham View Post
I want stability for my panning shots, height and smooth panning without rewind effects - a tall order I know.
I hope this might help. I started shooting with my XH on a lower end Libec tripod (about US$400). The panning/tilting was rubbish but was immensely stiff. No "rewind" as you call it.

Last summer I upgraded to a Cartoni Focus which I love for much smoother pans/tilts. However, it will bounce badly if I'm not careful. I haven't done any testing on this, but I think the problem is with the head, not the legs because the legs are beefier than the Libec. I've also noticed that when I release the pan handle when I finish a pan that the camera rebounds both horizontally and vertically. By that I mean that the captured image rotates back to straight up and down from a very slight deflection. And no, I don't have an inordinate amount of drag set.

Any chance you can rent any of the likely suspect tripods you're interested in? Hands-on time with a prospective major purchase is always a good thing for me.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #7
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The tripod I will be buying is the Miller DS20 #1514 (Miller DS20 Solo DV Carbon Fiber System) which you can see here:

Miller DS5, DS10, DS20 Tripod Systems, Miller DS5, DS10, DS20 Tripod Systems, ENG, MiniDV , 75mm adjustable, DS10, DS20, DS5

I've been put off by the Manfrottos!

Chris
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Old December 17th, 2008, 10:59 AM   #8
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I wonder how long it will take for this to be merged with the other XH/Tripod superthread. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuart Graham View Post
I was thinking no more than $2000
I spent an afternoon trying out various tripod heads with my XH A1 in various weight configurations: Manfrotto 501, 503HDV, Libec 38, Cartoni Focus, and Vinten Vision 3. If you have a pro video shop nearby, I highly recommend that you do the same.

I liked the performance of the Vision 3 the best. At full telephoto (650mm equiv) it was smooth as butter. I disliked the price and spring-based counterbalance system.

The 501 was not usable for me at 20-degree tilt and even 200mm equiv, unless tilt was locked off.

The 503HDV, with three counterbalance settings, was only able to balance some weight configurations and tilt angles. At full telephoto the results are not very smooth, but at 200mm it's OK.

The Libec 38 was very smooth, but I could not get the counter balance right at full telephoto and 20 degrees of tilt in either direction. Adding weight or some one else may be able to do it.

I ended up buying the Cartoni Focus. I found it was very easy to get the balance just right for any weight configuration, due to the continuously variable counterbalance. At full telephoto and with the right sticks underneath, it's absolutely smooth as butter. I use it with up to 35 degrees of tilt in both directions with no problem. I dislike all the plastic, it needs to be babied or it will break.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 02:26 PM   #9
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I have a Miller DS10 Solo and love it! It is fantastic for super low angles, easy to height adjust and the head is super smooth.

The quality and build of Miller tripods are fantastic...
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Old December 18th, 2008, 03:21 AM   #10
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That's a cool tripod, but how high can it go? The OP wanted to do a lot of over-the-shoulder shots of talent 6'3". The only ones that I have seen in my admittedly limited searching, capable of reaching over 70" are Bogens....are other manufacturers making any that compete at that height? Anything similar to a Bogen 475B? I ask, as I too am looking at a new tripod that will allow shooting at that height.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 07:57 AM   #11
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Gitzo makes some that will.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 01:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuart Graham View Post
I'm trying to find a reasonably priced fluid head tripod for my XH A1 that will allow me to do OTS shots and shots at eye level without standing the tripod on top of a crate or something.
unless the camera operator is from the land of the giants, they are going to have to stand on a crate to get the shot. So why not get a proper tripod and put it on the crate as well?

Or a nice jib.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #13
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I have this tripod. It is is very high and it is very stable. And, it is very light. It is much more stable than any of the others I have seen (Libec, Sachtler, Miller, etc.). The sticks are the Gitzo GT-3540XLS:
Gitzo | GT-3540XLS Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod | GT3540XLS

The max height is 6 feet 6 inches, with the head on top of that. (The spread is fairly wide at this height, but the tripod is amazingly stable.)

You can put any head on this you want. The top plat is interchangeable to flat, a 75mm bowl and a 100mm bowl. The tripod comes with the flat plate, and if you want to use a bowl tripod, you need to buy one of these (75mm or 100mm):
Gitzo | G1422 75mm Bowl Interface Adapter | G1422 | B&H Photo
Gitzo | GS5320V75 75mm Bowl Adapter | GS5320V75 | B&H Photo Video


I use the Gitzo 1380 head on the tripod (with a 75mm bowl adapter). It is a very good head. The Sacthler heads are very nice also (possibly the newer one, though it is not economical to buy without the legs, because of how they have it priced.).

If you want tall, stable, light and very versatile, I don't think anything beats the Gitzo GT-3540XLS.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 06:36 PM   #14
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Maybe Over Kill but I Love Them (Miller Solo 3-Stage)

So some have told me my sticks are over kill, especially if you are shooting with a fairly stock camera. My A Camera has rails, handles, shoulder system, dual wireless audio, shotgun, you name it so the sticks become more justified.

But even stock I enjoy using the 1505 Miller Solo 3-Stage Carbon Fiber 100mm Bowl Sticks with a Cartoni F100 Head. The package will run you somewhere around $1700-$1800, plus another $200 for a good bag, like the Kata one. Best part is that it's light, folds small, can be backpacked easily (even comes with the strap) and can extend to 73.6" with the sticks alone. Also the sticks break out and down to high hat height of 8" from the ground. Also it has a 66lbs weight max.

I run and gun a lot and somtimes have to carry all my gear on foot for hours at a time, especially when doing outdoors stuff and nature related stuff. All my partners use the same sticks with their own preference of heads.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 10:58 AM   #15
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Even More Questions...

Thanks for your help everyone!

Tripp Woelfel: Good idea, I will look into renting or testing the tripods in a shop when I've worked out which ones to try.

Benjamin Steeples: I like the look of the Miller tripods. When it comes to camera support I don't think there's any such thing as overkill. Do you get smooth panning and tilting with the Cartoni F100 Head? Does it suffer any rewind effects at the end of a pan movement?

Jack Walker: I just want stability, good height and smooth panning, weight is not important. I notice the Gitzo tripods are all very light, might this be a problem if I want stability as the tripod may move slightly during panning? Can you get spreaders for these types of tripods?

David Jones: Unfortunately I don't think the crate is a practical option in terms of portability/stability. I had no problem reaching my camera controls for OTS shots, but I am about 6 feet tall. We have a monitor as well for checking composition etc which helps. Can't really afford a jib arm, and it would be tricky to do panning shots on one.

Steve Wolla: Hope we find a suitable tripod. I'm sure there must be the right head and tripod combo out there somewhere.

I am compiling a spreadsheet with all your comments and the specs for each tripod and head to help me decide which tripods are suitable. I'll post it on here when I'm finished.

Now it's silly question time...

What do the terms ENG and EFP mean when applied to video equipment?

Are there any major advantages to the tripods which have two legs per stage? That is, three sets of two parallel legs rather than three single legs. For instance the Miller product range has the Solo and the HD series of tripods, the latter having two legs per leg if you see what I mean.
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