Need a good tripod for my A1 - specs inside at DVinfo.net

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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 May 25th, 2007, 09:15 AM   #1
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Need a good tripod for my A1 - specs inside

There is a wide variety of info about tripods on here, that I know, but the hours and hours I have read about them, its become a jumbled mess in my head, and I can`t remember 1 from the next. Info overload. So instead I will put out there what I am looking for in as much detail as possible and take suggestions and info from that to try and make a decision. Here`s what I need out of a tripod.

True fluid head is a must (no stiction issues acceptable)
Highly durable (lots of hiking/backpacking involved)
High height range (as low as humanly possible to the ground - as high as possible)
Individual leg movement (lots of forest filming)
built in bubbles levels (one on legs, on on head)
holds up to 12 or so pounds give or take a pound
$1000 limit total

I`m not sure about the 75 mm or 100mm bowl...i still don`t fully understand that, I guess what ever is more universal, incase down the road I get/borrow a jib/crane etc.

Thank you guys. I wouldn`t know most of the stuff I know without this forum, this place is priceless.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 09:24 AM   #2
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Seems to me like the Gitzo is ideal for your requirements, and they have several models. I have a 1338 system, which I use for a much heavier camera, but you can get the same head and carbon fiber legs with looser spring for 12 pounds. This one goes to 22. It's price is around $1500, but I don't think you're going to find much to fit your requirements for less than that.

For the XH A1 I bought a cheap Libec 22 because I wanted small and light. Libec has one or two that are more expensive and they might get close to what you want. There are no stiction issues, but unless you get a really good head like the Gitzo or better, you're going to have to live with the bounceback issue. With a real fluid head, you can pan the camera, let go at the end of your pan and the head will stay perfectly steady where you stop. With the cheaper ones, at the end of your pan it may want to shift backward just a bit. It's easy to control but you have to have a steady hand. Basically, the cheaper the head, the less user friendly it is.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #3
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So libec 22 is the set of legs, or a whole tripod? I`ll be trying to research through out the day. Also the Gitzo mentioned, what does the spring do exactly? I wasn`t aware they were spring based (I`ve only ever used cheapo-matics with my consumer cam
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Old May 25th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #4
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The Libec 22 is the whole set. The next one up is something like the 38, I don't recall the exact numbers. The spring on the Gitzo has to do with tensioning, nothing to do with the fluid head movement.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 10:55 AM   #5
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I went for the Manfrotto 055MF3 and the 701rc2. Of course the head would not be up your needs but you should look at the legs, they are strong, versatile and light , like you I wanted legs that could travel and allow me to use a better head when needed.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 11:13 AM   #6
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Is it just me or is it amazing the price of these tripods... ?

I know a bunch of people who have all to do with getting a 250 rebate on a 3400 dollar camera. But then to spend upwards of 1500-3000 for a tripod is amazing. I mean i know there is a differnce but just can't belive how a tripod could cost half if not more than half the price of an advanced state of the art HD Camera.

We have quality corporate set up's here but when working/reviewing the budgets dont nearly spend that much in tripods and they still do the trick very nicley.

Am i missing something..?
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Old May 25th, 2007, 01:41 PM   #7
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Hi guys...........

Here's a thread where I posted my two cents worth a few days ago.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=93081

(I preface the following with "IMHO") -

Something not usually appreciated is just how complicated a decent tripod/ head system really is. They have to be rediculously light for the job they're asked to do, as rigid as possible without adding to that weight and all are fighting against the bain of any tripod design - the teepee geometry and it's inherant weakness to rotational forces about that top join/ head interface.

Add to that the sheer battering they take in the course of their working lives and you have a minor marvel of engineering (sometimes).

As with anything, you get what you pay for (atbe) and remember, a decent tripod/ head system will outlive not only your camera but possibly you as well!

If you want to prove this, go somewhere where you can actually handle a top of the range Satchler/ Miller etc system (don't look at the price, just ask to see the best) then compare that relative Rolls Royce to whatever it is YOU can afford.

So, now we've come back to reality, here's a few pointers:

1. Get the best you can afford (or better) - your camera is only as good as the suport under it, poor support, poor pictures.

2. All things being equal, a 100 mm bowl system has more grunt in the headstock than a 75mm system, plus it offers a better platform if you decide to go down the jib/ boom route later. It's also heavier (of course).

3. The higher you go, the less inherant stability you have - which is why the Empire State sways up to 8 feet at the top in a good wind (or is it more?) You want less flex, it has to be stiffer. You want stiffer? ATBE it has to be heavier. You need heavy? Don't plan on backpacking it too far without a team of native bearers.

4. The head is an integral part of the support system - a crappy head on a great tripod is sacrilage (so is the other way round). The system is only as good as the weakest link. That "balance spring" is a serious issue. There's really only two ways to get the camera balanced on the head, and the head under control - a sliding plate which moves the centre of gravity to the centre line of the head axis when the head is level (sometimes) and a balance spring to off- set the natural tendency of the head/ camera package to topple forwards or backwards when it's centre of gravity falls outside this line. Too light a spring and it will just keep going when you release the pan handle (not good), too powerful a spring and it will "spring" back ditto (even worse).

When chooseing a head, look for either a balance spring rateing as close as possible to your cameras weight (good) OR "hot swappable" springs of various ratings that encompass your cameras weight (good) AND/OR "dialled in" variable spring ratings that allow you to get it spot on (better). From this you should have worked out that a head with a fixed spring rate of 16 lbs (Like the Manfrotto 516 - I think) isn't going to be perfect for your 5 lb A1.

The new Manfrotto 503HDV has, I believe, dialled in variable spring ratings but I cannot recall what range it covers. Having not seen any reviews of that head I cannot say whether Manfrotto has addressed some of the more annoying issues of the original 503 or not. From memory, the only other Manfrotto head that offers pretty well completely variable spring rates AND true fluid axis buffering is the 519, and at $800 plus it's starting to get up there in price (tho' if you think that's expensive check out the top of the range Millers/ Satchlers etc).

Bottom line - a tripod/ head system is the ultimate compromise. Too heavy and you can't lift it but it could support a house. Too light and it's dead easy to move and handle but does the Empire State thing at any height. Poor design/ engineering (cheap) and the head just won't cut the mustard.

One thing I can vouch for - a support system that is so - so for SD 4:3 will show up some rather nasty suprises in HD 16:9 at 20 X zoom. Throw in a bit of breeze and the footage is almost unwatchable. My Manfrotto 500 sticks and 503 head are at this very moment about to get retired to second string to make way for a Manfrotto 528XB with 519 head, and I truly wish I had 10 times the budget to go a lot higher than that.

Cheers


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Old May 25th, 2007, 08:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Morane View Post
I went for the Manfrotto 055MF3 and the 701rc2. Of course the head would not be up your needs but you should look at the legs, they are strong, versatile and light , like you I wanted legs that could travel and allow me to use a better head when needed.
I also went with the 701RC2 but went with the larger 755 legs. LOVE the package. Sturdy, light weight, and really gets the job done well.

I don't think he'd like the 701 head either, but I guess that's why they make the 500 series. Although, he may not like packing in those heads...they are quite beefy. Too big for me! Always a trade-off.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 11:46 PM   #9
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I got a Manfrotto #3221 "Wilderness" with a 501 head. Package cost $370, and is pretty decent for travel. However I do want a more substantial unit for demanding studio work.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 04:24 AM   #10
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I was at a friend's house last week. He had just bought an XH A1 and I was giving him a quick overview of the features. (Maybe it's time to start an XH A1 club in Fairbanks;-) He was very curious about tripods since he had just picked up a Manfrotto tripod. With his Century Optics telephoto lens mounted on my A1, my Libec displayed a fair amount of bounce back. However, the Manfrotto faired much worse, it had so much stiction. He was actually relieved because he thought his hands were just to shakey to ever get a good pan!

He returned the Manfrotto the next day and is looking for another tripod that will work with the telephoto lens and be light enough to carry into the wilderness.

Regardless of what brand you buy, test it out first with an XH A1 or similar camera. Even if you can't afford $6K for a Sachtler, look at them for their engineering of the pan/tilt head. Then compare it to something in your price range.

Go to the web site sponsors. They are service oriented companies with excellent prices. Tell them you saw their ad on dvinfo.net, too.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 04:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Quattrini View Post
True fluid head is a must (no stiction issues acceptable)
Highly durable (lots of hiking/backpacking involved)
High height range (as low as humanly possible to the ground - as high as possible)
Individual leg movement (lots of forest filming)
built in bubbles levels (one on legs, on on head)
holds up to 12 or so pounds give or take a pound
$1000 limit total
A thousand dollar option would be the Miller Solo sticks ($650) and the Libec H38 Head ($350). For your application legs without a spreader are probably best - therefore the Miller legs. They go very low and very high and are light. Normally I would say it is odd to pay more for the legs than the head but check out the Libec review on dvuser.co.uk (I do not know the head myself, I am afraid).

Otherwise considers the Miller Solo DV10 package for about 1300 or, even better, Miller or Gitzo sticks and a Vinten Vision 3 - but that's more like 1600.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 10:06 AM   #12
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Will those legs be stable in windy situations? Is it the legs or the head that is supposed to prevent camera movement. I`ve only used cheapo tripods and they shake in the breeze like a scared bunny.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 10:29 AM   #13
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Depends on the wind. If it's strong enough and you're using a long focal length, you can get shaking with any tripod. My work camera is a DSR500, and I use an O'Connor 50 with it. I've had shakes on a long lens shot in high wind even with that. Best thing to do then is have a person or two stand on the windward side, very close to the camera.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #14
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when really windy, use a sandbag to weight the tripod.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #15
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That keeps the tripod from blowing over but won't do anything for the wind vibrating the camera. Even with a good head locked down, you'll get wind problems in a good strong wind. Most people don't shoot in wind like that very often, but it happens.
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