Review: Matthews M25 + Canon HV20 at DVinfo.net

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Old October 23rd, 2007, 07:13 PM   #1
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Review: Matthews M25 + Canon HV20

I didn't want to own another tripod - I have a perfectly fine Gitzo Studex, and a superb RRS BH-40 ball head / PLC-1 pan combo - all I needed was a smooth tilt device.... Instead, I found the Matthews M25:

Legs:
- 3 sections, w/ mid spreader
- 3 lb. 15 oz.; 55" high
- central part is metal, most all else is plastic or aluminum

Head:
- 3 lb. 10 oz.; total height 60 1/2"
- most everything inc. ball assembly is metal
- geared sliding plate is 4 3/8"
- fixed pan & tilt drag; tilt is spring loaded
- handle on left or right side

Camera: Canon HV20 (1 lb. 6 oz., or 2 lb. w/ WA lens)

- Fit/finish is xlnt - no markings on country of origin
- Legs are very lightweight, and at full extension give the impression of being flimsy. However, because of the spreader and the convertible rubber or spiked feet, had minimal flex. Hanging a weight from the ball handle might give it more stability.
- Leveling ball works as expected. Includes readable bubble level.
- Pans and tilts are smooth w/ no slack. However, there is some memory creep at the end of travel, and is noticeable at full telephoto. Locking the pan position at the end of a pan still results in slight memory creep.
- Tilt is spring loaded, returning to level. When tilted up or down, it will creep back up slightly, even if locked down. The steeper the angle, the stronger the spring return, and the stronger the lockdown needed. More camera weight is needed, and it would help if the locking lever was larger, for leverage. Because the HV20 is so lightweight, the sliding plate has no effect on balancing. I think the head is better suited with a heavier camera.
- Matthews rates this outfit for a 15 lb. load; Zotz says 8 lbs. which I think is more realistic due to the lightweight legs.

Because the HV20 is so lightweight, the sliding plate has no effect in balancing, and there is no way to adjust or remove the spring tension. The head would be happier with a 5+ lb. camera - mounting a 6 lb. weight on it allowed me to tilt the head and have it stay without lockdown.

Conclusion: At this price point (I paid $155 + shipping from Zotz), my opinion is that the M25 is much undervalued. The legs' ratio of weight-to-stability reflects thoughtful design and the use of appropriate materials. The head's capacity is overkill in relation to the legs. The head or the legs alone would be worth the price, _if_ their advantages and shortcomings fit your needs.

At some point, I will disassemble the head and see if removing the spring is feasible.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 05:13 AM   #2
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Nice review Tsu.
I'm thinking of getting the M25 for my PD-170.
As I live up here in the cold of Norway, I need a tripod that doesn't react too much on the temperature I need to use it in. Do you know how it handles cold temperatures?

Petter Suul
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:18 PM   #3
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Petter -

I have no idea about it's performance in cold Norway. I spoke with a Matthews rep, and found that the legs are actually the same as the Libec TH-M20, and the head is a new design from Matthews. It's made in Taiwan.

The "fluid" is very dense, like chewing gum, or peanut butter just taken out of the fridge. This might be fine for a 6 lb. camera, but for a 2 lb. HV20, I'm tempted to take it apart and replace this "fluid" with something less dense such as lithium grease.

I've put the head in the fridge (32 deg. F) and will post my findings. And No, the legs won't fit in my fridge too.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 05:37 PM   #4
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sometime later that day...

OK Petter

It turns out that my fridge is colder than it should be (28 deg. F.), but after 5 hours, the pan and tilt work fine, although somewhat stiffer. At that temperature, I'd be more concerned about whether your camera will function reliably.

So now I know that if I ever need to do a photo shoot inside my refrigerator, I'll be OK.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:30 PM   #5
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Actually a Normal winter in Norway last from november'ish(depending on where you live) to mid March/april, and around 28 deg. F is well over the average many cities experience for some of the months.

So doing news? You might have to take you camera out from the comfy varm office into say 0 deg. F....some cases even colder, humid og snowing as hell.

But I'm one of those....who enjoy working outside in conditions which for some might be equal to hell. It's all about clothing...and a proper tripod/head...

I have no experience with matthews, but with libec and sachtler. Libec's are good economic systems, but i love my sachtler:)

From what I've read the Manfrotto 501/503 head and maybe Cartoni should work in these conditions, but no experience with them.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 08:59 AM   #6
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Thanks Tsu, just what i needed to know.
And it's always good to know your fridge is a potential location.
Can't wait to see some fluid pans across the peas and ice cream.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 03:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petter Suul View Post
Can't wait to see some fluid pans across the peas and ice cream.
pease and ice cream, nice!
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Old October 11th, 2008, 01:34 AM   #8
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Does ot have a leveling head aka clawball ?

I know the Libec TH-M20 which is similar to this has a leveling head aka clawball ? Does this have one too, or do we need to adjust leg heights to make it work ?
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Old October 14th, 2008, 02:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anmol Mishra View Post
I know the Libec TH-M20 which is similar to this has a leveling head aka clawball ? Does this have one too, or do we need to adjust leg heights to make it work ?
M25 has a 65mm ball for leveling.

FWIW, I removed the springs for the tilt tension and it now works fine using an HV30.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 06:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsu Terao View Post
M25 has a 65mm ball for leveling.

FWIW, I removed the springs for the tilt tension and it now works fine using an HV30.
how difficult was it? I would like to add a spring to mine to keep my JVC HD110 with DTE and IDX batteries in line. I'm still surprised at how well the M25 does with my rig, though it was never mean to hold 14 lbs of gear.
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