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Old July 22nd, 2012, 11:36 AM   #1
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Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi all,
I just bought an EX-3 for filming wildlife & will use it a lot with 35mm lens'. So far i am really loving the camera, but with the crop factor of the small sensor on these lens' my tripod is showing signs of not being up to snuff. Currently i am using a Miller DS10 head on the solo CF sticks. With my (currently) longest lens of 300mm (1620mm) i am struggling to get useable shots when slow panning, especially when i am having to focus at the same time. It is very close, & maybe with a bit more practice i could get it better, but i don't think i will ultimately achieve the results i am after with this setup. Ultimately i would like to use lens' up to 400mm so the tripod will need to be even better.
My question is, is anyone out there using a 75mm ball head tripod with long lens' & getting good results? Would a new head like the Miller Compass 20, or the Sachtler FSB-8, or Vinten Vision Blue 5, all 75mm ball heads get me the results i am after? If necessary, i guess i will need to step up to a 100mm system, it's just that i'm trying to avoid spending too much if it's at all possible.
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Bryce
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 12:17 PM   #2
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Bryce,
I use the Ex3 with a Nikon 400mm 3.5 and 600mm 5.6 with some of the heads you mentioned and I too, found it difficult to get smooth pans. Even some 100mm heads were not as smooth as it'd like. Then I purchased a used Sachtler 18II and it was like night and day. Following high-speed ferrys on a river a half mile away (filling the frame) and able to track as smooth as glass,

So, in my opinion, it's not just the ball size, but the amount of balancing and counter balance the head will allow to compensate for the lens weight and then, of course, the actual fluid dampening the head will provide.

A tripod is one of the most important investments you can make, as a good one will last way longer than any camera purchase.
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 12:29 PM   #3
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Chuck,
Thanks for the response. Great advice. I am hoping that i can get away with using my Solo CF sticks, but they are only 75mm & i think in reality i will need to step up to a 100mm head. That is unless someone here can say for sure that a certain 75mm head will do what i need it to do.

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Bryce
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 12:59 PM   #4
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

The Solo sticks are great lightweight legs and remarkably stable for a single tube leg. But single tube legs don't have as much resistance to twisting as most broader twin leg designs. For long lens work the bigger and heavier the tripod the better generally.

Do you have a reinforcing base plate for your EX3? The standard base plate of the EX3 is not the strongest or most stable of designs. A good reinforcing plate like the ones produced by DM accessories is essential to get the best stability out of an EX3 in my opinion. It can make quite a difference to a long shot.
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 01:23 PM   #5
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

There are good and bad 75mm bowl supports - I've always worked on the principle it's the tripod and the head - and the bowl itself is not the weak point. After all, you can get reducers for 100mm bowls so you can use 75mm fitted heads, and once tightened, have very little, if any, impact on the performance. A rubbish head fitted to a 100mm bowl will still be a rubbish head.
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 01:34 PM   #6
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Alistair,
Thanks for the response. Yes i have the DM plate you speak of & i can certainly see how it would make a big difference. Yes the solo legs are very flexible in their design & i love the way the go so low. I generally only use them with the first stage out, so i have the thickest part of the legs extended. When the lower leg section is fully extended, there is a noticeable amount of wind-up, but normally i only need to extend the lower sections if i am on very steep terrain & have one or two of them extended to get the tripod closer to level.

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Bryce
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 02:01 PM   #7
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Paul,
Yes i totally agree. The heads i mentioned are from what i have researched, all very good heads. I am sure there are others, but that was just three that stood out. What i am very curious to know though, is would any of these heads get me the results i am after with a 300 or even 400mm lens? If they don't, then i am wondering what i need to step up to, to get those results. Others have mentioned the Miller Arrow 25 being a very good setup for the money. Are there any others that would work at a reasonable price if the original 75mm heads i mentioned won't?

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Old July 22nd, 2012, 06:12 PM   #8
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Bryce,
Of the systems mentioned the only one I have even briefly tested is the Vision Blue (15 minutes with the Vision Blue Tripod sticks & heads) and it was very difficult to pan with a 300 mm lens on an EX3.
I have found it useful to consider the pan handle itself as it is the handle that transmits vibrations from the user to the rest of the set-up. Using a rubber band to drag the handle can reduce the transmitted vibrations. I prefer to extend the handle with a suitable extension spring. An advantage of a spring or rubber band is that drag can be reduced. Less drag means less applied torque and therefore less wind up of the legs.
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 06:31 PM   #9
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Alastair,
Great point. I was also thinking about trying to find a rubber balloon or something that i could roll onto the end of the pan handle in the fashion of well, you know what i mean. I was thinking i might then be able to pan & tilt without transmitting too much vibration like you mentioned. Haven't tried yet, but maybe i should. The other thing is the amount of movement transmitted from my left hand where i am adjusting focus. I have a follow focus that i used on my old camera that i will need to get some lens gears for, but was thinking that may also reduce the amount of vibration??
Does anyone have any thoughts on the Vinten Vision 11 & 12 heads? There are a couple going on Ebay at the moment, not sure though if this is the right tripod system.

Regards,
Bryce
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 07:45 PM   #10
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Bryce,
Movements caused by focussing are a problem, especially when something interesting or exciting is happening. I have made a simple motorized focusing system for my Panasonic TM 900 and it works very well with this camera’s blue focus assist. It consists of 1 AA cell, a 3 position switch, pulley and “O” ring drive, and a small geared motor, total cost ~ $20. The control switch and battery are attached to the end of a flexible lead. However my f4 300 mm Nikon lens and EX3 is a different problem. I have used it for small birds and at a range around 10 m to change focus by a few cms requires a miniscule movement of the lens barrel. I will need a different approach and I am considering a system where the motor runs only briefly with every press of the switch. I will be able to adjust both the running time and the running speed and therefore the amount of lens barrel rotation i.e. a sort adjustable stepping motor. The plan is to set the size of the steps to suit the occasion.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 12:48 AM   #11
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi Alastair,
Ok, so it sounds like i'm not the only one with this problem atleast! Have you tried a whip on a follow focus? I might try that as well, since i should get better separation than just the standard follow focus.
Ultimately, the more i think about it the more i am thinking i will have to invest in a more substantial tripod system. That is of course unless someone here can suggest something else.

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Bryce
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 01:53 AM   #12
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

You must consider that 300mm on an EX3 is a very long focal length. When I shoot air shows we use fujinon HJ40x10 lenses giving us 400mm focal lengths (on a 2/3" camera). To get stable shots we have to go up to a O'Connor 2575 with a Mitchell base and some Ronford Baker or Vinten flat top legs. The lens and camera are supported in a cradle that helps ensure that the lens can't flex relative to the camera. Long lens work is very unforgiving and you can't skimp on the tripod.

The Vinten 10 head is a nice head. They normally last for years but an older head may need re-greasing and a service for best results. It is moderately heavy which is good when you doing long lens work. If you can find a Vinten 100 it is a similar size to the 10 but has a more sophisticated and smoother drag system.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 04:24 AM   #13
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Hi
If you buy a Sachtler you will have a tripod for lifetime. A 18 head will do the great pans but probably you will get along with a FSB4 head too - I am considering one for my dslr.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 11:30 AM   #14
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Thank you to everyone for all the feedback on this subject. I have just weighed the camera with some of the lens' i have, & with the 200mm F4 for instance the weight is 9 1/2 pounds. With the 300mm it is 10 pounds. So the whole rig is quite light. Looking at the specs for the Vision 100 head for example, it looks like the camera will be a bit light to be able to balance it properly. Are there any other heads anyone would recommend that would balance the camera better with such a low weight? I see that the Sachtler 18 mentioned earlier by Chuck has a payload rating from 4 pounds all the way up to 40. Or the Miller Compass 25 which has a payload range of 8.8 pounds to just under 31 pounds. Would a head like either of these be the best option? Realistically, i would like to get the best head for the least amount of money possible. That may mean buying 2nd hand & i don't mind that. In the end i just want to make sure that what ever i invest in, will do the job.
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Bryce
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Old July 25th, 2012, 11:13 AM   #15
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Re: Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?

Ok, well i'm thinking more & more that i need to look at a 100mm ball head tripod. There are a few that i have in mind but would like feedback on any that people here have used.
First is a Vinten vision 10 that is second hand. I have attached a couple of photos of that one. Would this be any good? Also i am looking for a Sachtler 18 second hand. Sounds like if i can pick one of these up second hand i would be getting myself a really good head. I am also still not ruling out something like the Miller Compass 25. Does anyone have any experience with that head & long lens'? There is also a Cartoni system here:
Cartoni F132 FocusHD ENG CF 2 System F132 B&H Photo Video
that may or may not be any good. The price is certainly right, but there's not much in the way of reviews on it. Certainly the weight alone makes it attractive for hiking with!

Thanks in advance,
Bryce
Attached Thumbnails
Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?-vinten-vision-10-head.jpg   Can i get away with a 75mm ball tripod?-vinten-vision-10-head-2.jpg  

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