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Old August 3rd, 2014, 11:59 AM   #1
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Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

I continue my quest for the ultimate Subway kit. The goal being able to carry everything myself sans even a taxi.

The kit now looks like
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Lens may be Panasonic f2.8 12-35mm, Nikon Metabones Speedbooster, Nikon f1.8 50mm, Nikon f2.8 35mm. I may add Sigma f1.8 18-35 instead of a couple of of the above lenses.
Lights are Two DigitalJuice 128s. 1 Litepanels Sola ENG, 1 Airbox inflatable soft box.

Tripod is Sachtler legs with FSB6 head which is too heavy.
Surprisingly while I normally wouldn't consider Velbon "professional" I had a chance to use a Velbon DV-7000 and found it quite passible (keeping in mind I'm not doing much panning during these shoots).
Velbon DV-7000 Tripod with 2-Way Fluid Head DV7000 B&H Photo

Also on my list may be an Edelkron Slider Pro Medium
edelkrone 24" SliderPLUS V2 Medium 80507 B&H Photo Video
but I may need to stick with my heavy legs for that.
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Old August 3rd, 2014, 02:23 PM   #2
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Have you looked at Libec legs? I'm happy with mine. Actually I've had good luck with a Ries wooden tripod I found 2nd hand - normally use it for 8 x 10 inch stills, but it does better than "just sort of OK" with my BMCC and a Manfrotto head. Both the above might be overkill for a BMPCC though.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I have in a pinch put the BMCC and a small Manfrotto head on a light weight Giotto's tripod that packs down to 16" or so. Not ideal but it all fits in a carry-on roller bag when I fly.
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Old August 3rd, 2014, 02:34 PM   #3
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

One of my main clients has me do a lot of work at hospitals and universities where they love to place parking as far an humanly possible from wherever you actually need to go. To that end over the last ~5 years, I've developed a highly portable kit that I've wound up using on a few flight jobs as well. General rundown:

Pelican 1514 case: (can also fit easily in a medium Tamrac backpack I own, I prefer the rolling 1514 for pavement jobs)
- GH2 body
- 14-140, 12-35, PL25/1.4, Tokina 11-16+SpeedBooster, Micro-Nikkor 55
- Rode VMP, Sennheiser EW100-G2 wireless lav
- CamAdapter microscope adapter kit OR Marantz PM660 audio recorder OR Lowel Pro-Light OR 2x Lowel V-light
- 2x Z96 LEDs w/ NP770 batteries OR Lowel Pro-Light w/ barn doors; small Gorillapod; Superclamp w/ flex arm
- batteries, diopter lenses, VND, +4 ND, pens, chargers, card reader, SD card case, audio cables, earbuds, etc

Manfrotto 'MBAG90P' tripod bag
- Manfrotto 755XB legs w/ 701 head
- Kessler Pocket Dolly, 2' OR Lowel RIFA 55
- 2x mini light stands; 2x white umbrellas for Lowel lights
- inline dimmer, Pro-light/RIFA power cords, 12' stinger, cheater plug & triple tap, 10' XLR cable

If no lighting is necessary, I've got an ultra-small kit that fits into a UTG messenger bag with a padded insert and just sling the tripod... but let's face it, light is always necessary.

I've also worked with a MeFoto Globetrotter tripod with the Manfrotto 701 head which worked surprisingly well and was much more compact than the 755 legs... no ballhead, though.
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Old August 3rd, 2014, 07:05 PM   #4
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

The MeFoto is exactly the same as the Giotto's I mentioned above - exact same thing. Much better than you might think for the price/weight.
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Old August 3rd, 2014, 11:41 PM   #5
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Libec TH-650DV weighs 7lbs.
Libec TH-650DV Head/Tripod with Brace, Pan Handle & TH-650DV


Giottos BL1150N also weighs in a 7lbs.
Giottos 3-Section Video Tripod w/Leveling Ball BL1150N B&H Photo


MeFOTO Globe Trotter at 4.6lbs (headless of course).
MeFOTO GlobeTrotter Travel Tripod Kit (Black) A2350Q2K B&H Photo


Monfrotto 701HDV head seems to be going away.
Seems 755XB has 500 as "equivalent." Head 2lbs and legs at 5.5lbs for a total of 7.5lbs
Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Head & 755XB Tripod MVH500AH,755XBK

All these significantly lighter than my Sachlter carbon fiber with FSB6 head at just over 11lbs.

BTW I also have Rode VideoMicPro as well as Sennheiser EW100 ENG G3 with Lav and handheld base. Using a Beyer Dynamic MT88.

Other lights are Lowell Pro, Lowell Omni, Riffa 66 with conversion kit so I can switch it to flo as needed. Also two Totas with umbrellas.
All this means time to use the car though and, sometimes, an assistant as well for me but that breaks the Single Person Crew rule in my case.

Other stuff that may come with me is a cheap Impact boom which can hang my 6x8 portable green screen or hair light or mic.

So my goal is have just camera bag, tripod bag, lights bag and be able to carry it up/down a couple flights of stairs on a subway. That's why I'm looking to shave off as much poundage as possible.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 12:14 PM   #6
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

That's why I use an "oversized" camera bag and tripod bag for their respective tripod and camera... I can then ditch the light bag, even on interview setups. The RIFA55 and 2 stands fit in the tripod bag alongside the smallish tripod, and a pro light for rim or background goes into the camera case. One soft key, one backlight, and maybe spring-clamp a small collapsible reflector/bounce to a chair (forgot to mention that bit in the kit, because it takes almost no space) for fill. Bang: 3 lights, no extra case.

At the risk of horn-tooting, here's a mess of samples with almost that exact gear, almost all o-solo-me-o:
Interview Reel (2013) | McBob.TV
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Old August 6th, 2014, 02:42 PM   #7
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Hmm, you can fit all that in this (newer version)
MBAG90PN
Manfrotto MBAG90PN Padded Tripod Bag MB MBAG90PN B&H Photo Video

7.1 x 9.06 x 33.5" (18 x 23 x 85.1cm)

I believe this is what my Sachtler sits in
Sachtler DV 75 S Padded Bag 9108 B&H Photo Video

36.2 x 8.3 x 7.1" (92.0 x 21.0 x 18.0 cm)

So I might be able to squeeze into that. It's almost worth starting a thread on Packing for the Single Person Crew.

Nice interviews. It looks as if you might be using a background light on a couple of them. Wouldn't that mean bringing one more light?
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Old August 7th, 2014, 03:53 PM   #8
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Thanks Craig... as to the '3rd light'... yes; sometimes another Pro-Light or one of the Z96 LED's (both very small), or often just another light at the location (gooseneck desk lamps, recessed lights if they work, other lamps, windows gelled or otherwise, etc)

One note on the RIFA and how it packs well with an umbrella... that little cardboard tube meant to roll up the diffuser for the RIFA? Ditch it and use a folded up umbrella instead. Also make sure to roll up any diffusion or CTB/O gels with the RIFA diffuser.
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Old August 8th, 2014, 06:06 PM   #9
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

I recently purchased these 2 items:

Varavon 103HD Fluid Video Head VASC-103HD B&H Photo Video

Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber GT1542T B&H

The head was a mistake. No drag control on the pan at all and its one "setting" provides virtually no resistance.

The legs are great even if I'm not so sure I'd load them up to rated capacity. Very light, folds up incredibly short (I wanted something I could put in a backpack. Also with a centre column for quickly changing the height). I've used it with a GH3, cage, juiced link and DP4 with viewfinder.

Upon opening up the box I was initially concerned at how thin the legs were, but I haven't found flex to be an issue. Not cheap. Now I'm on the hunt for the right head.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 03:06 PM   #10
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Kevin, are you packing an egg crate for the Rifa as well? I assume so to control spill.

Jase, what I'm finding is that heads with both tilt and pan drag control tend to be on the heavier side.

Manfrotto 502HD is about 4 lbs for example.
Manfrotto 502HD Pro Video Head with 75mm Half-Ball MVH502A B&H
Benero S6 is closing in on 6 lbs
Benro S8 Pro Video Head with Flat Base S8 B&H Photo Video
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Old August 10th, 2014, 10:02 AM   #11
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Yes, the 30 degree variety
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Old August 11th, 2014, 02:10 AM   #12
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Craig, I've had my eye on both of those Manfrottos. I've got a much older 501. Certainly better than the varavon but I can't say I really like it. Any idea how it would compare to the ones you reference?

I did try the Benro S6 which only has fixed pan drag but returned it, as I should have with the Varavon. Its probably fair to say the S8 would be better given the variable drag.

I also have a Rifa but with a 40 degree egg crate on it. Nice light although I haven't used it in a while as its in pieces. Its the older version and I took it apart to put in the CFL upgrade but then changed my mind as it seemed fussing around with CFLs would defeat the whole portability benefit of that light.

BTW, if you haven't tried it, the Sigma f1.8, 18-35 is a nice lens. Heavy and big mind you. I've used it on both my GH3 and pocket camera. And if you do go that route and don't already have an adapter I think its worth getting a decent one. The first one I got, fotodiox I think it was but not sure, would fit on the pocket cam but not the Gh3. Maybe just bad luck but ended up with a metabones, not the speedbooster, just the straight adapter.
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Old August 11th, 2014, 12:02 PM   #13
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Manforotto heads would probably be too heavy for what I'm looking for unfortunately. My Sachtler with FSB6 head is my "heavy artillery."

The Dracast 17A has piqued my interest at 6.4 lbs
Dracast DVT - 17A Video Tripod with Fluid Head DVT-17A B&H Photo

It seems to have pan and tilt controls adjusting the "resistance." Perhaps they've found an inexpensive way to have some sort of drag control. I've seen their gear at trade shows and the build quality does seem good at low prices no less.

I have the CFL mode for my Rifa 66. Of course that would make it impossible to cart as a one person crew via subway. That and my Flolight 4 tubes will remain in my shoot studio, I suspect.

A transportable tungsten Rifa 66 seems possible but I really want to get away from baking the talent especially in some of the smaller offices I face and I'm not inclined to get a Rifa 44 or 55.

Sigma f1.8 18-35 is absolutely on my shopping list. Off topic but I'm facing another quandary as a result. I have Metabones Nikon SpeedBooster for BMPCC (and well as previously purchased MFT version). I'm thinking of getting the Canon SpeedBooster though given I may move to the BMP4K given I can still remain smallish with that.

Last edited by Craig Seeman; August 11th, 2014 at 02:35 PM.
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Old August 12th, 2014, 09:51 AM   #14
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

Dracast does look interesting. If you do get it, I'd be curious to hear what you think. Of late I've spent a little too much money returning things to B&H, so I doubt I'd spring for that without a good recommendation.

I also went the LED route after dismantling my rifa, one of which is a 128 but not from Digital Juice. Seems that model comes in a variety of rebrands but I do wonder, if in fact, they're all the same. A shoot that I was on some months ago, someone had brought in a version that cost considerably more than what I had got from LA ColorPro, yet seemed somewhat greener.

I've also got an air box. It may look a little goofy but brilliant concept and works well. The other next thing for me is a somewhat longer but fast zoom .
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Old August 12th, 2014, 11:45 AM   #15
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Re: Subway Kit and the Tripod Quandary

The B&H risk on the Dracast 17A is that it's a special order supposedly with no return. They carry the 17 which seems to be the same head but with much heavier legs. I remember looking at Dracast tripods at a trade show some time back and was impressed with the build quality at surprisingly low prices. I can buy from Dracast directly but their prices are higher than B&H. I don't like buying hardware like tripods where "feel" really matters, online.

Also looking for a longer fast zoom for indoor use. This all part of the BMPCC Speedbooster quandary for me. As an "SPC" having fewer but more versatile lenses is important. If the reason for using a zoom over primes is going handheld I'm back to looking at Canon Speedboster which supports image stabilized zooms.

At f2.8 Nikon mount
Tamron has 28-75mm
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) AF09NII-700 B&H

Sigma 24-70mm
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Autofocus Lens for Nikon 571306

But the concern is whether they go soft when the aperture is open all the way. You can certainly get faster primes. I suspect the Sigma f1.8 18-35mm has people spoiled as that covers 20, 28, 35mm fast primes.

If only Sigma had an f1.8 35-100mm.
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