Libec LS55 vs LibeC LS38 at

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Old July 6th, 2008, 01:47 PM   #1
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Libec LS55 vs LibeC LS38

i own a canon xh A1 and was reading about the great reviews from the LS38. does anybody has experience with the both? the 38 and the 55? was wondering if the 55 had the same quality head with the 'no drift back'
any recommodations here?

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Old July 9th, 2008, 07:59 PM   #2
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Terwingen... I have neither of those but did a ton of research and agonizing before I ordered a Cartoni Focus. What I remember is that the two heads are different. The 55 has a drag adjustment where the 38 has none. However, the 55 would handle a larger load but gave no information in the literature about balancing the camera. Without balance adjustments the 55 might have been unwieldy with a camera as relatively light as the A1. I was tempted by the 55, but not enough.

I have a Libec TH-M20 (if I remember the model correctly) and like it a lot for the price. The legs are very stiff and have never noticed any wind up. The head, on the other hand is a lump. A talented lump, but a lump nonetheless. Both the 38 and 55 should be much better. By the accounts I've read and my own experience I would not be afraid of either the 38 or 55. If you can buy one from a place where you can return it without much bother you could go fer it and use it for a bit to see if it suits your needs.

Hope that helps.

Can't report on the Cartoni as it won't arrive until tomorrow.
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Old July 19th, 2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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I have the Libec 38 and it is as good as reputed. Probably the best deal for the money. The 55 is a bit heavier and as noted has the adjustable drag. It would be better, I think. I went for the 38 because I was trying to keep weight down. At first I bought the Libec 22 because I wanted something small and light for this camera. It was pretty good and very smooth, but had that bounceback which the 38 does not. You can control the bounceback by pushing the tilt or pan lock at the end of a move, so it wasn't a horrible thing. However, after using the 22 awhile I found I really wanted more height, so I sold it and got the 38 which suits this camera fine and goes up high enough for my purposes.

A client of mine has the Cartoni Focus which I've been using recently when using their gear. It is very nice, has adjustable drag, etc. In fact, it feels almost like the Gitzo 38. The only negative thing is if you want to lock the pan at the end of a move, it doesn't lock smoothly like the Libecs. When you squeeze it down, it moves to the right just a little. That would make doing certain types of shots difficult. For example, I did a title background shot one time that was a long slow pan, and then at the end of the pan I locked the pan and let the camera roll for another minute or so. This little jump on the Cartoni would mess that up. It could be there's something wrong with this particular head, but it's something you might want to check when you get it. Other than that, it's great.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 03:15 PM   #4
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Bill. Libec 38 vs a Cartoni focus with a heavier rig?


Just ran across your post here. I've been reading good stuff for the Libec 38/55 and Cartoni Focus as well. I'm looking for a new tripod, the Libec 38/55 or the Cartoni Focus and of course none seem to available in northern california to actually look at and try out.

I'm running with a JVC HD110, IDX battery system, + Focus Enhancements DTE drive hanging off the back with Senheizer ME66 and fuzzy off the front along with zoom control off the back handle. It's probably close to 11 lbs, but it's weight is farther from the center than most other cameras, so the low weight is probably fairly deceving. I'm also planning on getting 35mm adapter and swapping lenses a lot (Nikkor 35mm 80-200 and 300 with rails for example for nature shots). So I was thinking of the Cartoni as being better suited to adjust for different weights and lengths. Or is this over thinking a problem, and with yours does it not matter as much as I think it does?

Another feature I like dropping the drag down to nearly nothing. If the camera is balanced and there isn't much wind I shouldn't need a lot of drag. However how draggy is the Libec 38? Can you do whip pans, or does the tripod want lift off?

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Old July 7th, 2009, 01:59 AM   #5
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Having taken possession of a Libec 38 two days ago, I'd say it's not good for whip-pans. Not that I have much experience of whip-pans (except on an ordinary Manfrotto tripod - where I'm left feeling I need a head where I can set the stop point in advance), and none of other proper video heads to compare with.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 03:49 AM   #6
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Blimey, where do I start?.................

This is a bit like single handedly sorting Afghanistan!

OK, if none of you has the bread for a better rig then I'm preaching to the desert, so go about your business.

Whip pans?

With the low cost heads under discussion, a "whip pan" is an exercise in total frustration, as you're fighting the inherrant "glueiness" of the head, plus whatever God aweful drag you've had to apply to keep the bloody thing under control in the first place.

Don't even discuss it for anything under a kilo ($1000).


Every one of the heads under discussion has a fixed counterbalnce setting, which is about as much use as an ash tray on a bicycle, quite frankly.

You'd be better off knocking up something in your garage!

Let's start with Terwingen:

You go with a 55 for an A1 and you'll spend most of your time hanging onto the pan bar for dear life as it tries to bring the camera back to level, less you've got 10 kilo's of extras added to it.

Driftback - can't answer but at this price point wouldn't take my chances.


With the dosh you've dropped on that camera system, the fact you're contemplating short changing the support system is, er, suprising (tho' not that unusual).

OK, first thing:

If you don't get a head that can adjust to the weight/ COG of the camera system on it, you're gonna be in a world of pain.

Whatever you do it's gonna want to either resort to horizontal or droop one way or another, with a fixed counterbalance there is nothing else you can do.

You have a rather warped view of the physics involved here.

Balance: the camera can be perfectly balanced WHEN IT'S LEVEL. Push it off level and it can no longer be perfectly balanced, fact of life.

This is where COUNTERBALANCE comes in - the ability to resist the effect of gravity on the extra mass being imposed on the head whilst the head/ camera is tilted.

Decent heads have a mechanism that allows you to vary the amount of counterbalance to resist this inevitable wish to tilt.

This mechanism perfectly (sometimes) balances the load and allows the camera to be placed in any position with ZERO drag or ZERO lock applied, and remain there, permanently.

There are few heads that allow this. The Sachtlers have a stab at it, but it's stepped so has gaps.

The new Vinten AS series has it nailed but currently won't go as low as a bare Canon A1 (I know, I reviewed it):

Vinten Vision 3 AS Tripod (1 of 4) DV Info Net

As for "whip pans", they do it great, but a "whip pan" is only as good as the tripod under the head, a $200 piece of junk will wind up and lashback so bad you could have a $20,000 head on it and it would still lashback.

I do appologise if this all sounds a bit dismisive, but I had to face these problems big time when I went HD, and had no choice but to get it right first time, 'cos there wasn't going to be a second chance.

The difference in my video is beyond belief, I kid you not.

Hasn't done my back any favours but the video is great!

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Old July 7th, 2009, 05:01 AM   #7
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I've found your advice, comments and criticisms about equipment extremely useful, and if you're sounding dismissive of something, then there is usually good reason.

I've just had a (very) extended coffee break, playing around with my new Libec 38 and trying to film magpies in the garden - a reasonably demanding test.

Firstly, how wonderful it is to be able to pan and tilt smoothly and easily - but then, I can only compare it with a Manfrotto 701 head on a 50mm Manfrotto levelling column.

Balance - At first, I seemed to be fighting to keep the camera from returning to a mid position after tilting it - but after a while I realised that only happened when I was using extreme tilts. Within a certain (reasonably large) range, the camera stayed put when I released the handle.

Driftback - no problem, it didn't happen. Except on those vertical pans where I went out of the above-mentioned range.

Whip-pans? not something I'm interested in, but try to reframe in a hurry on something else 90degrees away, and you really feel that drag.

One unexpected bonus (in as much as it was something I hadn't thought about) is that my Beebob lanc controller actually fits on the handle in a way that I can use it - that wasn't possible on my old Manfrotto.

My only complaint, so far, is the weight and bulk of the tripod - I'm only a small person! If anyone knows where I can get some short sticks to take a 75mm bowl, please let me know. Something that folds to 18 inches, and extends to twice that. Otherwise, I'm still looking at a high hat which has less flexibility (though I haven't actually seen one is use yet to know for sure).
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Old July 7th, 2009, 06:41 AM   #8
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I had the LS-37 (the predecessor to the LS-38). It was pretty good - but the lack of adjustable drag made me unhappy. I wanted a higher drag for telephoto work, something the Libec didn't give.

The LS-38 comes with pretty hefty legs, doesn't it? To me, that would be good - but I'm 6' tall and pretty well built. There's a range of Libec legs if you want something lower cost, you could maybe sell the LS38 legs and do a swap. But lighter means less stiff, which can affect performance... it's a dilemma. A good carry strap would help, but I couldn't get one for my Libec (beware the generic Manfrotto ones, they didn't work for me).

Being realistic, Annie - I don't think you'd have much fun with the Sachtler or Vinten type tripod kits or legs. All I can say is that I'm glad I do weightlifting and exercise daily, otherwise I would be suffering badly, and that's the Carbon Fibre version of the tripod too! I actually got bruises on my shoulders on the Giant's Causeway shoot for UWOL.

Sounds to me that you might want to try some of the single tube legs that fold up really small (check out Phil Bloom's Miller DS20 review - there are other brands). You would clearly compromise some rigidity of the legs for portability, but it may be more fun if you're off for a day's hiking with the camera.

I also had the problem with the tilt with my camera on the Libec - the counterbalance spring is rated for 5-8kg I think, my camera was barely 2kg, and I found tilts difficult to control.

This can be mitigated with a Manfrotto sliding plate (MN357, I think) that permits you to place your camera much further forward or back than normal, but it only works up to a certain point - i.e. it will help you with forward tilts or backwards tilts, not both at the same time! It's around 35 for the MN357.

To validate what Chris says about the "posh" tripods - the first thing I did with my Sachtler was to max up the drag, stick the camera at 20x zoom and almost perfectly follow a Jackdaw hopping along the wall outside my house. The difference is incredible... but very expensive. Painfully so.

It's all very well for us to say "get a Sachtler" or "get a Vinten". That seems to be the answer to anything on here when someone has a problem - spend 1500+ to fix it!
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Old July 7th, 2009, 08:38 AM   #9
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I've got some old but big Vinten Heads, a Vinten post head (the one I use all the time), a Libec 55 head on Libec legs, and a couple of Manfrottos (a broken 503 and a 501).

If I need to mount lots of weight and have something that will stay where it is put, no matter what angle, then the big Vintens, though old, are by far the best. The Cygnet post mount will hold my full size cameras in perfect balance with infinitly variable drag on pan and tilt and full centre of gravity adjustment.

The Libec is used when I need something quick and something that doesn't need to be 'tweaked'. Stick a too light camera on it, and with drag set on highest, you can tilt down, let go of the pan handle and watch it slowly rise to just below horizontal. In fact, it does it so smoothly, it can be useful. With a weightier camera, then it is always too much or too little. It's much better, however, than the manfrottos, and the clones in Vinten and other badged versions.

Many spend time trying to stick tortion into legs and checking for bounce back and stuff like that, but for me it's a case of all the unwanted attributes being missing. With a good head you can do smooth movements at extreme angles. What I mean is when you are perhaps doing sport, or in my case, dance - when the camera is close in. Most shots are perhaps within a 45 degree either side of centre arc. These shots always go wrong when the camera angle needs to be more severe, because action happens over the full 180 degrees. I want a head that lets me view the image in the viewfinder when I'm stretched fully right, so I can frame action fully left, then track the object all the way across, using just finger tips on the pan bar, ending up with the camera pointing fully right. This involves the pan speeding up and slowing down - and on a cheaper head doing this is pretty difficult - especially if a little tilt is required at the same time, as the pan nears the end, it slows down and then eventually stops, and when I take the pressure off, I need it to simply stop. Fluid style drag often introduces an artificial friction and excess pressure, and it's this that sometimes give the illusion of bounce back. It does bounce back, but it does it because you were having to push too hard.

If the choice was a Libec over a Manfrotto, this is a no brainer. However, the adjustable drag settings on the 55 are not really that useful, as one is far, far too high, the other kind of ok for me. Maybe the cheaper one, without the cleverness has the same basic solid engineering - if so, then it could be the one. Hopefully somebody will be able to say.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #10
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Mike - Ah yes, the joys of being a human male of at least normal size (between 5'8" and 6'). The world just isn't built around us short females. Maybe because of a lot of it is designed by men! lol

I don't think there is a problem with the tilt on my Libec, I was just discovering, and being pleased at, just how much tilt there was before it started to level itself.

Life is a balance of compromises, so I wasn't expecting to get everything in one tripod. So far, I'm still thinking the Libec38 is great. But it isn't for travelling, so I've just started a thread on the search for short sticks - proper video legs rather than single tube ones - that close down to 18inches/50cm.

Maybe they don't exist, but - as they say - if you don't reach for the moon, you've no chance of getting there.
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Old July 11th, 2009, 02:20 AM   #11
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just got libec ls 55 and I'm very happy with it so far. almost went with the 38, glad Igot the 55 for future exandability like getting a bigger cam. for its price and it's a great deal.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 08:45 AM   #12
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John, thinking of ordering a libec 55 this week instead of a Sachtler FSB-8, Questions: how varried or free/gummy are the variable drag settings and what sort of weight is your gear, as well as it's counterbalance? Tilting down past 30' does it sink or level out with your weight and length of gear?

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Old January 9th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #13
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Re: Libec LS55 vs LibeC LS38

I have just received a Libec LS55, I haven't set it up yet - I will be using it with a 4kg camera (JVC HM700), and added extras (DOF adapter, 35mm lens, follow focus) - I must admit, I hope the performance of the tripod is better than the feel of it - it actually feels like a toy tripod - the plastic feels extremely cheap, it doesn't instil much confidence to be honest. (the bag is cheap rubbish too)
I know you get what you pay for, but I just didn't have the dosh to buy a Vinten - anyone had much experience with a Libec (this tripod has the same legs for the LS38)? The limited reviews out there were mainly positive. I hope I am pleasantly surprised when I first use it.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 06:21 AM   #14
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Re: Libec LS55 vs LibeC LS38

Hi Keith,
Love to know your opinion as I'm considering the LS38 or LS55. Is the drag worth it on the LS55? Anyone with an opinion on durability on either?

I shoot a lot of wildlife, hiking with an XF300 & CF Manfrotto legs. Been using the H22 as it's the lightest in the range, but it's just packed up after 18 months of good use, mostly with a 7D & 100-400mm lens.

Understand there is a 3 year warranty, so contacted Libec USA.
Here is their reply:
Will you contact Doug when you return the office this week?

Be interesting to see how this pans out.

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Old January 10th, 2012, 03:50 PM   #15
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Re: Libec LS55 vs LibeC LS38


Hey there! Yes, Libec does offer a 3yr warranty and Chuy at Libec is exceptional at handling customer support issues. I always recommend Libec product not just because I believe it is a great product line at a competitive price, but also due to their customer support is hands down some of the best in this industry!

You mention you are shooting with the Canon XF300 and using the Libec H22 head, I would advise you to upgrade to the LS38 system and if you have the budget, then the RS250 system. With your hiking, the LS38 is extremely rugged and manufactured to take a beating! However, the RS Series offers 2-step on the drags and continuous conterbalance.

Contact me toll free 866-827-3489 if you would like to discuss further!

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