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Old January 19th, 2018, 07:56 AM   #1
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Which Tripod?

Quick question: I'm wondering exactly why some tripods out there are much more expensive than others. For example, I use the Manfrotto 701HDV head on a relatively basic tripod which is perfectly fine for my XF100/300.

But the 504HD and 546BK tripod for example, costs around 3 times what my current tripod does. Can someone explain the difference? Is it just a matter of more stability, or does it allow more precise slower movements such as panning at a high zoom? I ask because one thing I noticed is that I cannot do really smooth pans at higher zooms.

Any advice appreciated.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 10:28 AM   #2
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Re: Which Tripod?

Those tripods and heads aren't expensive, in the grand scheme of things.

A lot of the price of the head and sticks comes down to weight capacity, build quality, adjustability, and extra features.

The $159 701 head has a capacity of 11 lbs, a non-adjustable counterbalance spring, and non-adjustable drag.

The $300 504 head has a 16.5 lbs capacity, a 4-step adjustable counterbalance, and adjustable pan and tilt drag.

The $10,450 Sachtler 9+9 head supports up to 121 lbs, has an 18-step counterbalance spring, 10-step pan and tilt drag, and a sliding top plate for balance adjustment.

The $12,690 OConnor 2575D head supports up to 90 lbs, less than the 9+9, but it adds continuously variable counterbalance, and continuously variable pan and tilt drag. It also has a better mounting plate and quick release than any of the previously mentioned heads.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 11:14 AM   #3
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Re: Which Tripod?

If you are thinking of upgrading to either of those Manfrottos my advice is to spend the money elsewhere. I own the 504 and it is rubbish. I have a Sachtler FSB8 and it is much more expensive but there is simply no comparison. Find a dealer that has high end heads on show and one pan of a head of that quality will explain the difference to you. It was a revelation to me.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 11:34 AM   #4
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Re: Which Tripod?

So, without any high-end camera shops near me, can you briefly explain why the Sachtler is so much better? What practical differences could it make if I was using my ENT camera on it for say documentary or wedding purposes?
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Old January 19th, 2018, 12:39 PM   #5
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Re: Which Tripod?

Hi, Lewis...............

For more information on this subject than you'll probably ever want to know, go to the bottom of the page, any DVinfo page, and type into that Google search box "Chris Soucy Review" - leave the default "DVinfo" ticked.

You'll find page after page of the stuff. Any questions, just ask.


CS
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Old January 19th, 2018, 01:16 PM   #6
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Re: Which Tripod?

Like you surmised you’ll pay more for higher weight capacity and for the smoothness. So first you need to get a tripod that is designed to support the total weight of your camera with attached accessories. If your camera either too heavy or too light for a tripod head it won’t work right.

Then it comes down to price and what you’re filming. Filming events from a distance, zoomed in, and panning, is the most demanding type of work any lack of smoothness in a head will become apparent.

I consider Manfrotto a medium priced prosumer tripod which yields ok results for most applications. To get anything better you’ll have to pay a lot more +$1,000 the likes of Miller, Vinten, Sachtler. Whether you see value in these high end heads often comes down to the type of work you do and how much money you have.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 01:26 PM   #7
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Re: Which Tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Hi, Lewis...............

For more information on this subject than you'll probably ever want to know, go to the bottom of the page, any DVinfo page, and type into that Google search box "Chris Soucy Review" - leave the default "DVinfo" ticked.

You'll find page after page of the stuff. Any questions, just ask.


CS

Do what Chris suggests. Honestly, we all start with a tripod and are not satisfied...then the sensible people read up on it, thoroughly. Then, if they are wise, they buy a good one. Then you never hear from them again (on the forums) asking about tripods ;-)
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Old January 19th, 2018, 02:10 PM   #8
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Re: Which Tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Baldwin View Post
If you are thinking of upgrading to either of those Manfrottos my advice is to spend the money elsewhere. I own the 504 and it is rubbish. I have a Sachtler FSB8 and it is much more expensive but there is simply no comparison. Find a dealer that has high end heads on show and one pan of a head of that quality will explain the difference to you. It was a revelation to me.
Couldn't agree more - I've been supplied 502 head and 542ART legs. The head is ok, until you try a Sachtler, then every time I use the 502, it feels clumsy and jerky. But those b****y legs! That stupid b****y "squid"! Rather than easing the task of setting and putting away your tripod, instead Manfrotto have created the videography equivalent of those lethal deckchairs that we used to have to risk our fingers with...

I'm on my second "squid" (ie the mid level spreader which is supposed to allow you to lock the legs when you have a less than ideal placement) but will not be surprised when it falls apart, too...

Dave
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Old January 19th, 2018, 05:16 PM   #9
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Re: Which Tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lewis Raymond View Post
So, without any high-end camera shops near me, can you briefly explain why the Sachtler is so much better? What practical differences could it make if I was using my ENT camera on it for say documentary or wedding purposes?
It balances my FS5 and accessories properly and when I tilt or pan it stops where I stop it without backlash or bounce. It's a joy to use but in truth the cost of the Sachtler is financially about where you want to start looking assuming you have similar weight requirements.

It is difficult to understand if you have never had the opportunity to play with a decent head. I had exactly the same question as you. I went to London from the Midlands to a CVP workshop about something else but the first thing I did when I got there was go and pan all the heads that were on demo with various cameras and had a eureka moment!

If you can get on a train to a dealer in Edinburgh or something to play with some decent heads it will be money well spent.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 05:24 PM   #10
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Re: Which Tripod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
Like you surmised you’ll pay more for higher weight capacity and for the smoothness.
And durability. My 15-year old (or so) Vinten is still smoother than new Manfrottos. And while I don't store my tripod & head in salt water, I don't baby it either.

Also, I really sense the smoothness at the start and stop of a pan or tilt. Not stiction (or whatever the term is), just fluid-head smoothness.

Be careful about just going by brand names these days, though. Since Vinten, Sachtler, O'Conner, Gitzo, and Manfrotto are all now owned by the Vitec Group, there's a bit of crossover at the lower end that means some tripod systems with high-end names have lower-end performance.

For example, the Sachtler Ace series. Not terrible, but IMO not up to the standards of higher-end Sachtler heads like the Cine and Video heads, and even the FSB (though I'm less familiar with those). But some consider the Ace systems a good step up from most Manfrotto heads and good enough for some real work. I'll let others who've used Ace systems talk about that.

So a more-expensive system gives you better performance on day one and much better performance on day 3650.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 06:00 PM   #11
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Re: Which Tripod?

Big names can let you down. I bought a manfrotto tripod a long time ago. It isn’t the best but has never degraded over time. On the other hand I got a Sachtler and I had one thing after another go wrong with it. Leg issues and even the head panning adjustment stopped working. The head smoothness has always been great but what an expensive headache. Even to this day I can’t trust the leg locking mechanism.
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Old January 21st, 2018, 09:16 PM   #12
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Re: Which Tripod?

Read Chris Soucy's three review articles. You will learn the differences between the various levels of quality available in the tripods on the market and determine what level of comfort will fit your budget.
Chris (and many others on this forum) are very generous with their knowledge and experience. When I realized the photographic tripod I had and was using for my XF-A1 was not a good choice, I read Chris' reviews and then asked him additional questions. Based on the reviews and Chris' feedback, i purchased the then new Vinten Blue. I have never looked back. I have since upgraded my camera to a XF-300. I do both indoor and outdoor video and am very satisfied.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 08:38 AM   #13
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Re: Which Tripod?

Thanks folks. My budget at this time isn't good enough for the FSB8 so I'll stick with my 701 at the moment but you've made me think twice about the 504. I'll probably just wait it out until budget allows for the FSB8. Until then, I'll try and arrange a visit to try one out. Thanks again.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 10:44 AM   #14
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Re: Which Tripod?

I think the manfrotto 502 or 504 would be a significant step up from what you have.
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Old April 9th, 2018, 02:07 PM   #15
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Re: Which Tripod?

So, last month I went ahead and purchased the Sachtler Flowtech 75 with the Sachtler FSB 6 head for my Canon XF300. First off these sticks are FANTASTIC!! So easy to extend and close. The first thing I did was to remove the mid-level spreader as you really don't need it because the locking system is so damn good. Although the FSB 4 would have easily supported my Canon XF300, I chose the FSB 6 because there may be a time when I have to upgrade my video equipment and want to make sure the head can support the camcorder (possibly to a Canon C200), shotgun/wireless receiver and other stuff. Also, I have read several articles that recommended getting a system that will handle twice the weight of your basic equipment. As I said, I have taken it into the field and really tried setting it up under different conditions like river banks, steps, and other uneven terrain. It works like a dream. You never have to bend over to set the releases, their all right there on top of the legs! The FSB 6 is soooo smooth. Like nothing I have ever used before. Heavy? Yes, it's heavy (legs, head and camcorder weigh in at about 18 pounds), but I don't intend to take it backpacking. I bought it as a tripod system from B&H. Cost more then I would have ever thought I would spend on a tripod system but, it will probably be the last tripod I will ever have to buy. I can really see the difference in the steadiness of my pans even when at full telephoto. And, it comes with a beautiful carrying case. Trust me, just try it, you won't be disappointed. Bob
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