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Old March 19th, 2013, 02:37 PM   #1
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Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

I do one-man concert shoots, and set up tripods with pan-tilt heads. The problem is that the inexpensive pan-tilt heads are plastic junk, but the good ones are huge and overbuilt for my purposes. I'm using a Canon HF-S100 which is barely over a pound, so a pan-tilt head intended for a ten pound camera is massive overkill for me, and a lot more bulk and weight than I wish to carry. The Roscor looks like it was designed in the 1980s, with a 5 pin DIN connector. Servocity has a line of pan-tilt heads that look very high quality, but look far too ungainly and fiddly for my needs, with exposed gears:

MPT1100-SS Pan & Tilt System

...and look to be over-priced compared to the rest of their line.

Here's the thing. I don't care about smooth movement. I'm not putting any pans or tilts on screen. I shoot with five cameras and just need to move the camera to a position that I will cut to.

After talking with a tech at ServoCity, he steered me towards their DDT540 Tilt system:

DDT540 Direct Drive Tilt

...coupled with their DDP155 Pan system:

DDP155 Base Pan

...and a couple of their HS-5485HB Servos:

HS-5485HB Servo

...and their 2 Servo Precision Joystick:

2 Servo Joystick

The problem with the last, and indeed all their stuff except for their top end stuff, has joysticks that are spring loaded to return to center. Which does not work for my purposes. He told me that some folks remove the springs and hack them to stay in one place, but most of the methods used don't work particularly well.

I could probably justify buying their higher end system, but again, exposed gears look like a very bad idea when carrying equipment from one venue to another. I suppose they are a very good deal compared to a lot of equipment intended for the "Video Professional", but I'm working in a pretty low-end world and need to save money and reduce bulk wherever I can.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 04:04 PM   #2
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

If smooth pans and tilts are not required in your shot, then I would suggest the Bescor pan and tilt
Bescor MP-1B Motorized Pan Head with 90-645 Battery and MP-1B

These are cheap, fast to set up, and unlike the servocity units, stay where you aim them. They are the best bang for the buck if you don't need smoothness. They are NOT, however, silent.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 04:22 PM   #3
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

I mistakenly called them a "Roscor" in my original post. They look very clunky, and the cable looks like a pain to extend with a DIN connector.

Silent is not an issue, as I'm shooting rock concerts, and it rarely will get quiet enough to hear the motion of anything less noisy than a steam train.

What appeals about the ServoCity stuff is that they are fast. From the page about the Bescor unit that you linked, the specs say:

Pan Speed:
70 Seconds with AC Power (PS-260)
85 Seconds with Battery Power (AA x 4, Bescor 90-645 Battery)

That is too slow for my purposes. I need to move the pan-tilt camera quickly.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 07:10 PM   #4
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

I am looking at the MPT1100 system and I think it looks like the best option for the price. Other systems at B&H are $2000+ as you probably already know.

They look pretty responsive, open loop and are an all-in-one kit. I agree about the exposed gears but you could probably make a housing prety cheap. At least cheaper than a $2,000 unit.

Not much help here but I am probably going for the Servo City product if I get one. The Bescor P/T is actually a nice little unit but it is pretty slow along with some lag on the gears, so some starts are a little jumpy.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 07:29 PM   #5
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
I am looking at the MPT1100 system and I think it looks like the best option for the price. Other systems at B&H are $2000+ as you probably already know.

They look pretty responsive, open loop and are an all-in-one kit. I agree about the exposed gears but you could probably make a housing prety cheap. At least cheaper than a $2,000 unit.
If I was going to mount something on the end of a jib, I think it would work perfectly. But I'm not in the part of the market that wants or needs jibs. (Well, they want but are not willing to pay for it.)

As I continue looking at the DDT-540H tilt cradle, I get the impression that I could build a nice, flat box to hold the pan servo instead of getting their round pan base - like a Bud box. As I mentioned in another post, I fit all the equipment to do a five camera shoot into a backpack, and a pan-tilt system that can fold down flat will find a place in my kit much more easily.

Quote:
Not much help here but I am probably going for the Servo City product if I get one. The Bescor P/T is actually a nice little unit but it is pretty slow along with some lag on the gears, so some starts are a little jumpy.
Don't know if anyone watched the YouTube video on the ServoCity tilt unit, but it looks like it can go through it's full range of motion in a second or so.

What I really wish I had was a circuit to control these servos with a security camera controller. I can get one for less than $100 that can control 16 cameras using a 2 wire protocol.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 06:25 AM   #6
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

Myself and a colleague own a mast for doing elevated stills photography, and it uses the Bescor motorised head. We've found the unit fine for lightweight cameras like the Nikon D7000 (but not Nikon D3 etc as they are too heavy). The issue we've experienced is that it doesn't tilt downwards far enough for our needs, so we have fitted a small Manfrotto head on top of it to enable the camera to point down at a steeper angle.

We haven't had a problem with the control lead coming out of the unit as the DIN plug fits quite tightly.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 10:30 AM   #7
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris DeVoe View Post
Don't know if anyone watched the YouTube video on the ServoCity tilt unit, but it looks like it can go through it's full range of motion in a second or so..
Going through a full range of motion is one thing, but going through a full range with controllable, variable speed is another. In the past, I've tried Servocity's older pan/tilt heads and found that they were extremely noisy. The problem I find with these cheaper pan/tilt heads are the jerky starts and stops (in addition to the noisy motors.) I've never tried the PT1100 though. What I've been looking for (but could never find so far) is a head that is as smooth as the one I have now, but at a lower size and cost. I did find one small head that is outstanding, but it's a Polecam that costs around $8K for just the head and controller alone.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 07:18 PM   #8
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
Going through a full range of motion is one thing, but going through a full range with controllable, variable speed is another. In the past, I've tried Servocity's older pan/tilt heads and found that they were extremely noisy. The problem I find with these cheaper pan/tilt heads are the jerky starts and stops (in addition to the noisy motors.) I've never tried the PT1100 though. What I've been looking for (but could never find so far) is a head that is as smooth as the one I have now, but at a lower size and cost. I did find one small head that is outstanding, but it's a Polecam that costs around $8K for just the head and controller alone.
As I said above, I'm not concerned in the slightest about smoothness, as I won't use any remote camera movement on-screen - I have my main tripods for smooth motion; I'm just getting a shot while I'm recording another one. And noise is not an issue as I'm recording rock concerts.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 09:04 PM   #9
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Re: Pan-Tilt head for 1 lb camera?

Oops! You're perfectly correct, I'm wrong. I couldn't keep a straight train of thought. Sorry.
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