Can you recommend a good tripod head to use with the HPX500 at DVinfo.net

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Old July 10th, 2007, 09:46 PM   #1
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Can you recommend a good tripod head to use with the HPX500

I have the HPX500 and Canon 20x HD Lens. I love the camera. I have a Bogen 503 head and to me I need something a little more heavy duty. What do you recommend?

Darrin
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Old July 10th, 2007, 11:16 PM   #2
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check out the 516 head...

I work with someone who has a DVCPRO tape-only cam (don't know the model, but it's at least 8 years old), andt between cam, a homemade adapter for 2-batteries, and a homemade adapter for 2 dual-antenna wireless receivers, with a shotgun mic, the cam HAS to weigh about 20 lbs - maybe more. He has no problem with all that weight on the 516 head.
It's a bit pricey, and a bit heavy, (when I just lug equipment for him, I swear the tripod, head and dolly weigh as much as the cam), but if you have lots of weight (and the sticks to hold it), check it out.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 05:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Darrin Altman View Post
I have the HPX500 and Canon 20x HD Lens. I love the camera. I have a Bogen 503 head and to me I need something a little more heavy duty. What do you recommend?

Darrin
Oh my gosh Darrin,

I wouldn't even attempt that, your camera will break that head and fall off of it. I would highly recommend a Sachtler or Panther head. The best heads in that weight range aren't cheap, plan on about $5,000.00 to $7,000.00 to do it right.

I used to have a Sachtler Video 18, it was the best tripod head I have ever used. I am currently using a Sachtler Video 6SB paired with the Miller Solo DV carbon legs with the HVX-200. I am very happy with the setup, it is superb.

Best,

Dan
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Old July 11th, 2007, 05:50 PM   #4
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Get a Sachtler!

Welcome to the world of professional video. You're playing with the big boys now! I would also go with Sachtler. My second choice would be Vinten. A good camera deserves a good, solid, professional tripod. Period. Not having one doesn't make any sense at all, it's something like buying a Lamborghini but driving it around on golf cart tires!

Here are 2 tests for a tripod:
1. Shoot figure 8's. 45 degrees up, 45 degrees down. If you perform smooth figure 8's without any jerks or snags, your tripod is good.

2. While you're tilted up 45 degrees, let go of the handle. Then tilt down, and let go of the handle. What happens? On a properly balanced tripod, nothing will happen, the camera should remain exactly where it is pointed. On an improperly balanced one, the camera will tilt up or down.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #5
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Thanks for advice. Now Im worried. What about my tripod? I have several but the best one is: Manfrotto 525MVB 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod with Ground Spreader

Should I look to replace this also?
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Old July 11th, 2007, 11:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for advice. Now Im worried. What about my tripod? I have several but the best one is: Manfrotto 525MVB 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod with Ground Spreader

Should I look to replace this also?
Hi Darrin:

I would not worry nearly as much about the legs as the head. Not familiar with that exact model, is it a 100mm basket? If it is, try it with a real head. Basically the job of legs are to provide a firm, non-twist foundation for the camera and tripod head, if they can do that, they are fine. If they flex, squeak or are not tall or short enough, you need new ones. Personally, I prefer the spreaderless design of the Miller Solo DV for my little HVX but for you, the Miller Solo VJ carbon legs with a Video 18 or Video 20 would be a dream setup. But if you don't want to yet spend the money, you could try your Bogen legs. If the Bogen legs only have a 75mm basket, you need a new set of legs with the 100mm basket. All of the bigger Sachtler heads for a camera like yours are 100mm.

Even the stock Sachtler legs aren't terrible, although I like the tall and short adjustable Millers better. I don't like the Miller heads but man, they make the best legs.

Dan
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Old July 12th, 2007, 12:36 AM   #7
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Hi Darrin:

I would not worry nearly as much about the legs as the head. Not familiar with that exact model, is it a 100mm basket? If it is, try it with a real head. Basically the job of legs are to provide a firm, non-twist foundation for the camera and tripod head, if they can do that, they are fine. If they flex, squeak or are not tall or short enough, you need new ones. Personally, I prefer the spreaderless design of the Miller Solo DV for my little HVX but for you, the Miller Solo VJ carbon legs with a Video 18 or Video 20 would be a dream setup. But if you don't want to yet spend the money, you could try your Bogen legs. If the Bogen legs only have a 75mm basket, you need a new set of legs with the 100mm basket. All of the bigger Sachtler heads for a camera like yours are 100mm.

Even the stock Sachtler legs aren't terrible, although I like the tall and short adjustable Millers better. I don't like the Miller heads but man, they make the best legs.

Dan
My legs have only a 75mm basket. I cant take any chances with my 22k camera package. I just ordered what your describe as the dream setup. Thank you for your advice and especially for taking the time to give me such a good explanation.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 12:38 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the input. I am sure glad I asked before I had a problem. The battery I have for the HPX500 weighs more than my HVX200 so I should have known I need a better tripod setup.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 08:19 AM   #9
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Another little-known but high quality video head you should consider is Diawa; yep the same company most know for fishing reels makes video head and related equipment. I've been using large pro-Bogen heads for years such as the 526 but recently came across the Diawa lineup and was amazed at both the build quality and smoothness, which I'd put on par with any Sachtler, Miller, O'Connor etc.

I'd recommend either the Diawa 11, 15 or 56 models; considering their capabilities you can't beat their quality-for-the-dollar value and, they are glass smooth and the controls/setup is better than what my trusted Bogen and Miller have.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 03:47 PM   #10
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Daiwa

I just took a look at the specs of the Daiwa 11 and 15 and I must say I was pleasantly surprised that it had an infinitely adjustable counterbalance. The Daiwa's I saw at NAB didn't have cameras on them so I couldn't test the "feel" for them. However, the pans and tilts were smooth, as expected with all professional video tripods. The 15 head was going for more than $3K at B&H and I would love to try it out next to my Sachtler. My only question is this...if it's that good, why isn't anyone else using it? Or are they but I didn't know?
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Old July 12th, 2007, 04:28 PM   #11
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Daiwa

Hi Warren:

One of my old clients had a Daiwa head, I used it a couple of times and was not impressed at all.

These new ones look better but it's the same thing over and over in production. Why buy something unproven that nobody uses when the stuff that a lot people use like Sachtler has been proven as the best over and over?

The one I had never used before that impressed me a lot was the Panther line. I tried them out at Abel when I was buying my latest Sachtler. The Panthers are really nice, very well built but the same or even a bit more money than Sachtler. They also didn't really have a "lower-mid" range head like the DV-6SB I bought, they pretty much had a small and lightweight camera model for about $2,000.00, then the next one up in the line jumped to like $5,000.00 or $6,000.00.

I also like the O'Connors but they are too pricey too for a small camera like the HVX. If I owned an HPX, I would have bought what I suggested to Darrin. The O'Connors are built really well but seem a bit too heavy for EFP type of usage, they are more for film type of usage with bigger crews where you aren't lugging everything yourself like I usually have to.

All the best,

Dan
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Old July 12th, 2007, 05:25 PM   #12
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All the heads mentioned are great, and of course, very expensive. I've discovered a better solution - buy really good, but older heads from the big manufacturers second hand.

Buying a head that maybe cost thousands when new 10 years before is a really sound investment. Being in the UK, I am always looking out for old Vinten products - especially their pantograph style large ones - really well engineered, able to hold the weight of old studio cameras, so even nicer for lighter weight cameras. Using these is streets ahead of anything the budget heads can do - and to a degree, even the popular Sachtlers, Vinten and similar products designed for cameras of the type being talked about here can't quite match their performance. Some of these heads are heavier than the cameras!

I've also managed to get some of their post heads - these are brilliant if you do things like airshows, or any other subject where you have to tilt to severe angles - these can tilt up, and if you adjust the position of the pan handles, can go all the way around - so almost 360 degrees tilt and pan too! They are also useful for mounting on the bottom of the job arm, letting the camera drop down.

You can't compare the vinten/manfrotto 501 and 503 type heads - for bigger cameras, they really are not up to it, and with a 20X lens, can overbalance really nastily.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 10:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
Oh my gosh Darrin,

I wouldn't even attempt that, your camera will break that head and fall off of it. I would highly recommend a Sachtler or Panther head. The best heads in that weight range aren't cheap, plan on about $5,000.00 to $7,000.00 to do it right.

I used to have a Sachtler Video 18, it was the best tripod head I have ever used. I am currently using a Sachtler Video 6SB paired with the Miller Solo DV carbon legs with the HVX-200. I am very happy with the setup, it is superb.

Best,

Dan
Any other comparable legs that you might suggest? I am thinking about just renting some until I can find the Miller 1505s that you suggest. They seem to be out of stock everywhere. I have several jobs next week so I dont have much time to wait around. The Satchler head will be here tomorrow.

Thanx
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Old July 13th, 2007, 08:47 PM   #14
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Update: The Miller legs are on backorder everywhere. Luckily I have a great supplier near me (VMI in Los Alamitos). I ordered the Miller legs and VMI lent me some Oconnels to use until the Miller comes in at no charge.

The Satchler 18 head is very nice, what a difference between what I have been using. Small shoot tomorrow and another on Sunday. Cant wait to test it all out.

Thanks for the help.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #15
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If cost is a real concern, then I would say the Bogen 516 with some heavy legs.

I use these with my DVC-200 camera and find them fine for $750, head & legs.

They need to be balanced a bit, but I can get the footage as smooth as I need it.
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