Student affordable, not-too-fancy, XH-A1 tripod? at DVinfo.net

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Old April 14th, 2008, 07:28 PM   #1
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Student affordable, not-too-fancy, XH-A1 tripod?

Forgive me if this has been covered, but I've searched the forum quite a bit and haven't been able to find exactly the information I'm looking for. I apologize in advance that this is so long: If you have the time to read my whole post I'd appreciate it; I don't have expansive needs in the least, but what I'm looking for MUST do what I need it to... I can't keep blowing money on cheaper tripods which "sound like" they might do the job I need.


I'm an amateur-filmmaker who occasionally does freelance/event videography to pay for my hobby of more creative projects. I've ALWAYS had a hard time finding a tripod to suit my needs, and after purchasing an XH-A1 last year, am still in search of something that can handle it, but not put me into excessive debt. :P Since I know it will still be a sizable investment for me, I wanted to get some info on specifics, so I don't end up with yet another "decent" tripod that ultimately causes me issues in the end. --And considering it's such a wide market, and I assume I'm looking for something relatively "[semi]pro-grade," I can't resort to general review sites or even Amazon for personal recommendations like I can do with most of my other sound, camera, media and light equipment.

My main concern is fluid panning and tilting--essentially something that can bear the weight of the XH-A1, and give me the freedom to control it without it jumping/sputtering for pans or tilting down fractions of a centimeter after taking my hand off the lever. I want my control of the tripod to control the camera--not the camera controlling the tripod with me trying to compensate for it with the fewest shakes and jerks as I'm lucky enough to pull off.

I wouldn't need any sort of dolly capabilities as I'd be using it exclusively for stationary shooting. Filming a wedding ceremony or school play can such a struggle with my current tripods--I essentially end up bearing almost all the weight of the camera myself since tightening the tripod after tilts and pans can end up wobbling around way more than I prefer.

My second concern is pricing: I have seen tripods online that appear either perfect for me, or even more than I require. However, in all cases they seem to be way more expensive than I would like to pay. I assume that's because almost all of what I'm looking for is marketed toward true professionals who require such tripods, or at least can PAY for them since it's a necessary business expense. I wouldn't mind paying a few hundred dollars for something "fluid" as I described above--but only if I knew it was what I needed and going to be a worthwhile investment. However, I found tripods from 1-10 grand, and at this point in my career, I'd rather just hold the camera myself, or try to edit out jumpiness in post if I'm going to have to pay that much!

I don't really have a set price range, but I assume what I want will cost me at least $200? Right now, I couldn't justify anything more than $400. I have other expenses and things I've needed to buy for that kind of price. I'm not sure what could "make" a tripod so expensive aside from simply the consumers who are capable of paying, and since I'm not really that kind of consumer, I'm hoping I'm not out of luck for a rig that simply needs to support and pan a camera.

I really would love to hear personal recommendations. I know there must be SOMETHING out there that's affordable for someone like me. It's just harder to come across, it seems. And not knowing HOW a tripod will function just from the looks of it online, I've pretty much given up buying "blind."
I know it's an expensive hobby, but I'm certain I don't need a $1500 tripod to do what I want to do--nor would I even need what a pro wedding-videographer could probably afford. It seems silly to me that I bought an amazing $3000 camera and wouldn't be able to pay less than 1/6 of that just to hold it steady. There must be SOME tripod out there that just simply WORKS for the XH-A1, and isn't going to cost me an arm and a leg! ... right?!?

Thanks!

(I never went to film school or took film classes, so forgive me if my terminology hasn't quite hit the mark it should. I greatly appreciate any advice, and for now, thank you to everyone who made it this far in my thread! :) )
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Old April 14th, 2008, 07:36 PM   #2
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Unfortunately I believe that a decent tripod just costs money. I have used $300 manfrotto's and they are fine for still shots but just don't cut the mustard fo doing smooth pans etc. A friend of mine let me use his Miller DS10 and it just makes such a difference.
I know it hurts to have to spend more money but it will be worth it, the fustration that a cheap tripod causes... just save a little longer.

My 5c worth.

Jon
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Old April 14th, 2008, 07:37 PM   #3
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welcome

you have a lot to learn grasshopper : )

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=84267

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Old April 14th, 2008, 08:03 PM   #4
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We've been using this one, has worked fine for smooth pans and tilts...it's a little heavy, but the carbon fiber version is 2-3 times the cost

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...#goto_itemInfo

see the B+H user review.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 08:13 PM   #5
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I was worried about that, Jonathan :/

I truly am shocked if there's not a more "affordable" tripod on the market out there. It's a little frustrating too to think that I'd be paying for more than just "a tripod." (I'd certainly be even more shocked if a $1000 tripod could actually justify a $1000 price tag aside from just an expensive professional markup.) I don't mind expensive things when it seems justified, but it seems hard to justify the super-expensive ones...

I mean, I spent $350 on an iPod, which I'm sure has a considerable markup beyond manufacturing & development cost. But, it does hold a month's worth of my music, play videos, battery charge for 12 hours, can double as an external HD, etc. Granted it's a bit of a luxury item, it has made my music/video life immensely convenient and simple. But the idea of some steel poles, screws, and rubber costs $500+ seems in comparison like I'm royally getting ripped off. --And obviously, no disrespect for tripod-enthusiasts, as even I know it's more than just "steel poles," but I almost wish I had some very simple engineering background to build one myself---
Which makes me think, what about simply buying a fluid head and tilt lever and attaching it to another tripod? Sound like it could save me some money? I have some rather sturdy photo tripod bodies that I'm sure I could attach one to...

James--I'll look into that one... it's awesome to see something I could afford AND justify the expense. I'll check out the reviews... As long as it sounds like the camera isn't too much for it, I guess it's just what I want... Any cons in terms of its basic operation?

I appreciate all the advice! I'm certainly one to invest more money for the "better quality" products. I hate regretting later that I was "too cheap" and wish I'd paid slightly higher for something better... But you guys must see where I'm coming from about these super-expensive tripods super confusing me?

Lastly, as for the last similar post to mine (although far less "wordy" :) ) I do apologize for missing that. I dunno if I just overlooked it, or being over 2 years old it just came more pages late in the search than I progressed too. Either way, thanks to you all for the info!
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Old April 14th, 2008, 08:26 PM   #6
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Quote...."Which makes me think, what about simply buying a fluid head and tilt lever and attaching it to another tripod?"

That's what I did.

I had (what I think) was a good Manfrotto tripod for my Canon EOS still camera which I rarely use so I simply removed the old head and fitted a fluid head.

The head I got was the Manfrotto 128RC which in hindsight is way too basic and a bit on the light side for the A1... but I get by with it.

Makes sense, if you've got a solid tripod base, to spend all the dollars on a quality fluid head. They seem to be standard mount fittings.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 08:41 PM   #7
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Thanks-- I'm glad that sounds like it could work... I spent $130 on a photo tripod a few years ago, (as I didn't know what I was doing and thought it would handle my video needs) and it's wonderfully well built--it can support the camera with ease, it just doesn't have the fluidity that can handle my XH-A1. It didn't even work well on my GL2 as I realized later that it was built for still photography. :/

Could anyone else recommend any good fluid heads?
I was looking at the Manfrotto 501HDV... Seems like a price I could afford, and reading about it sounds like it works well with the XH-A1.
I know nothing about tripod manufacturers though, so I don't even know what I "should be" searching for. I'd rather shop around before I settle on one... Any other brands you guys trust?

Also, a good place to buy them? --B&H always seems like the best bet, but I'm always open for any tips or checking Ebay. Thanks so much everyone, you've really helped me greatly so far.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 08:57 PM   #8
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I use a Libec 38 with the XH A1. It seems to be the cheapest one that doesn't have the bounceback issue all the cheap ones have. I think it was close to $600. It's adequate for the camera, I think, but not close to a $1500 Gitzo.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 09:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Miller View Post
Could anyone else recommend any good fluid heads? I was looking at the Manfrotto 501HDV... Seems like a price I could afford, and reading about it sounds like it works well with the XH-A1.
I know nothing about tripod manufacturers though, so I don't even know what I "should be" searching for. I'd rather shop around before I settle on one... Any other brands you guys trust?

Also, a good place to buy them? --B&H always seems like the best bet, but I'm always open for any tips or checking Ebay. Thanks so much everyone, you've really helped me greatly so far.
Let your own priorities make the decision. Decide what you can spend, decide what features are important to you, and get the best sticks you can afford. It's that simple.

Unless you're a gamblin' man or a super-savvy deal-finder, stick with trusted sponsors like B&H and you won't go wrong.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 09:41 PM   #10
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501hdv- slight bounce

"I was looking at the Manfrotto 501HDV... Seems like a price I could afford, and reading about it sounds like it works well with the XH-A1."

Samuel,

I have the 501hdv with my XHA1, and although very smooth, I have noticed some bounce on the end of pans. It is exaggerated with shotgun and wireless mics mounted up.

I wish I had bit the bullet with my initial purchase and went with something that could grow with the rest of my wish list :(....

Mike W.

Last edited by Mike Watkins; April 14th, 2008 at 09:44 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old April 14th, 2008, 10:25 PM   #11
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I use the Libec LS-22DV. I paid about 30,000yen ($300) for it in Japan, but I think it is more expensive in the US. It is just barely adequate for the A1 but is probably the cheapest and most portable tripod that you'd find acceptable. I bought it mostly because I do a lot of walking and hiking and couldn't bear to carry anything heavier than a A1 + 22DV + DSLR + lenses & accessories.

I recommend using some sandbags at the base of the legs because the legs will twist or even lift up off the ground when doing a fast pan. It is steady and has fluid enough panning and tilting when shooting from wide to medium telephoto. It isn't so great when zoomed in fully at 20x, but to get anything significantly better than the 22DV would cost a lot more. In that case I'd recommend the Libec LS-38DV or the even sturdier LS-55DV which are suitable for a A1 + 35mm lens adapter w/rails + long telephoto lens.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 10:58 PM   #12
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I also have a Libec 38 with the recommendation of this site. I am extremely happy with it. I am taking a film class and the teacher choose it to demo in front of the class. He liked it.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 01:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James R. Leong View Post
We've been using this one, has worked fine for smooth pans and tilts...it's a little heavy, but the carbon fiber version is 2-3 times the cost

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...#goto_itemInfo

see the B+H user review.
I have a Video Velbon I bought in the 80s. It still works good. At one point for a stage show I was going to upgrade to a Bogen (about 1999) and none of the Bogen fluid heads the right size for a PD150 were as good as the Velbon that had cost me about $100.

Curiously, I had bought the tripod for a VHS RCA camcorder, which turned out to be just about right for a PD150.

I don't know which current Velbon would match up to it, but perhaps the one suggested in the link above would.

My opinion is that the Velbon is cheap enough and good enough to do a good job now, and later can serve as a second tripod. Otherwise, I think it's necessary to jump up to at least the Libec suggested above. I haven't tried the newes Bogens, but recently someone called me with a 503 Bogen (I'm not sure if this is the old or new version) and asked me how to get smooth starts and stops. Their solution ended up to be the new Sachtler FSB-6:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...arch&Q=*&bhs=t

I currently have a Gitzo 1380 and a Cartoni Alpha (precursor to the Focus). Both work very will, but the heads are a thousand dollars or so.

From my experience and suggestions in this thread here is my list:
1. Heavy Duty Velbon Video
2. Libec LS-38
3. Sachtler FSB-6 with Carbon Fiber Legs

There are also others, but the point of my post was to get you to look into the Velbon for now and learn which of the pro tripods would best suit you when you discovered your needs from shooting.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 05:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Watkins View Post
I have the 501hdv with my XHA1, and although very smooth, I have noticed some bounce on the end of pans. It is exaggerated with shotgun and wireless mics mounted up.

I wish I had bit the bullet with my initial purchase and went with something that could grow with the rest of my wish list :(....

Mike W.
I have used 501 and 503 heads with XH-A1 and while they do hold the camera steady, starting and stopping smooth slow pans is not possible. Unfortunatelly it seems you need to spend 3-5 X more for a really good head alone. Tripod itself is of less concern, really.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #15
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I've used 501 and 503 heads on my A1 also and I'm not getting the smoothness HD requires. The 501 head worked fine for my PD150. Or maybe I'm just losing steadiness...
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