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Old July 22nd, 2008, 10:41 AM   #1
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What's the best tripod for $200 and under?

I need a tripod for my church, it will be holding a DVX100. Nothing fancy, it will be used for a medium shot of the Pastor. Probably minimum panning, zoomed in from kinda far away. I'm not too familiar with tripods in this price range, I myself use a Miller.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 11:26 PM   #2
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Well, i might get smacked for even suggesting a sub $200 tripod, but I just received my sub 200 tripod and was actually pleasantly surprised as to how well it performed. I won a Ford Sync video contest recently, so I had some amazon cash to spend. It doesn't leave a ton of room for adjustment, but it does have a ball level, smooth pan, and a decent tilt. With some cheaper tripods I have dealt with, there are little flat spots in a pan, and this was smooth all the way around. As far as the legs, they support a good amount of weight, which I was looking for since I will be using it for a crane and I don't want to mess up a high end tripod with the crane's weight. Leg locks are a little cheap in comparison, but once locked, they aren't going anywhere.

I have used a range of tripods form the high-end Libec, to Bogen, to the really high end rentals, and I would say for what you are asking for in church, this tripod should do.

Its a Tiffen Davis and Sanford 7518 and I picked it up on amazon this last week. There are mixed reviews like many other lower end tripods. I didn't have the plate issue like one guy complains about, I think the plate is fine! The company sounds like if you have any faults in the pan, they replace it based on reviews I have read.
http://www.amazon.com/Tiffen-Sanford...7478133&sr=8-1

Hope this helps,
Luke
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Old July 31st, 2008, 03:33 AM   #3
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you can get a WEIFENG EI-717 for as low as 150$

Last edited by Giroud Francois; July 31st, 2008 at 05:54 PM.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 01:26 PM   #4
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I would recommend this combo: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ripod_Leg.html
(legs)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...rToReadReviews
(head)

After owning 3 of these combos myself (although I've since upgraded the heads to Bogen 503's) I recommended this combo for my church. It has worked out really well for them and you get a lotta bang for your buck. The Slik 700DX legs allow you to elevate the camera nice and high (70" plus the additional height provided by the tripod head and camera). Unless you have the luxury of setting the tripod on an elevated surface (like a table or console), you'll need a tall tripod to shoot over the heads of the congregation when it's standing up. These legs are also very lightweight (yet still quite sturdy) and collapse down very easily.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 05:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Diffenderfer View Post
I need a tripod for my church, it will be holding a DVX100. Nothing fancy, it will be used for a medium shot of the Pastor. Probably minimum panning, zoomed in from kinda far away. I'm not too familiar with tripods in this price range, I myself use a Miller.
The Matthews M25 is pretty good for $170. 3" of travel on the quick release plate so you can slide the unit forward or backward on the head to get it balanced so it isn't tipping forward / backward.

I have both a Libec and a Matthews. The problem you will have with both is the panning motion is not smooth if you are zoomed all the way in. I use GL2s and for a high school graduation at a large auditorium, there was substantial jitter when zoomed in and attempting to pan slowly.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 05:27 PM   #6
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I have the Matthews and I actually think itīs a piece of garbage. The mechanism to open and close the legs is just painful to handle. The legs get stuck if you try to slide them back. The sliding plate on the head gets stuck all the time. It feels flimsy and plasticy and I really wish I would have opted for the Libec.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 06:01 PM   #7
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I tried the Matthews recently to to some full zoom (XHA1) very slow pans expecting poorish results but was pleasantly surprised. I understand what Matthais is saying about the stiff clips on the leg adjustments but have earned to live with them; similarly I can use the q/r plate without jamming it. I've tried more expensive tripods which seemed more solidly built but didn't work as well as the Matthews.

Obviously there are much better tripods, but I find the Matthews good value at this price point. You make not agree but I would recommend having a shot of one knowing it has its limitations.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 10:15 PM   #8
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Bogen / Manfrotto's 701RC2 head is another option. Just need to get an inexpensive set of sticks.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 04:59 PM   #9
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How about this one:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...gs_Black_.html

It's a bit more than $200 but worth it.

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Old August 5th, 2008, 06:21 PM   #10
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Just a reality check...

For a product to sell at retail for $200 with all the overhead, transportation, marketing, mark-up, flooring charges, labor, etc built in - it's probably going to have maybe a tenth of that in the cost of it's actual parts and manufacturing.

So you're $200 tripod is likely made out of $20 bucks worth of stuff and direct machining costs.

Pretty hard to make a really precision anything for that kind of dough.

FWIW.
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Old September 6th, 2008, 04:59 PM   #11
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If you can find it, a Sony VCT-870RM can be had for around $125 with the LANC built into the handle. I just finished comparing this tripod on my XH-A1 to a brand new Bogen 503HDV, which for all it's professional look, adjustability, and the nice 75mm ball, the simple Sony spanked it pretty badly in pan and tilt comparisons. The Sony is more fragile than the Bogen, and sticks aren't as rigid, but all things considered the Sony's presence on tape was superior.

I'm sending the Bogen back.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 04:03 PM   #12
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Hey guys. Thought I'd try asking my question in this thread. I need to find a tripod setup for $100 or less that's as good as it can be for the money. It will be used by college students for making short films. The Sony VCT870 has some good reviews, but it's no longer available.

Any suggestions?
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Old September 10th, 2008, 04:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Shealy View Post
If you can find it, a Sony VCT-870RM can be had for around $125 with the LANC built into the handle. I just finished comparing this tripod on my XH-A1 to a brand new Bogen 503HDV, which for all it's professional look, adjustability, and the nice 75mm ball, the simple Sony spanked it pretty badly in pan and tilt comparisons. The Sony is more fragile than the Bogen, and sticks aren't as rigid, but all things considered the Sony's presence on tape was superior.

I'm sending the Bogen back.
Wow, this is good news. I bought the Sony VCT-870RM in Spring of 2007 for my HC1 and have had a good experience with it so far. The little lever thing broke recently, so I've just been putting a little muscle into grabbing the stump and pulling it hard to have it let go of my camera.

I'm planning on getting an XH-A1 in the next few days and I was dreading having to get a new tripod too. Good to know I still have some use for my VCT-870RM. I now need to think about what kind of tripod I'm going to get for my HC1 to use for the shoots I take both my cameras too.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #14
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I can't vouch for the source (review didn't look too good for these folks), but somebody still carries it:

Sony VCT-870RM Tripod with Remote Controller - $115.00

The biggest issues with the 870 are:
- it doesn't go very high without using the center post extension (extension can compromise panning or tilting).
- the tripod isn't as rigid as a pro model, so you can't bump it.
- there can be a slight "rebound" at the end of a pan
The movement is very smooth, however. Most of my work is putting together clips, so I make sure I pan further than I need and edit out the rebound, if needed. If you keep tension on the head after the pan you're fine. If you release you hands, you may get slight movement. It's very light and compact. Easy to grab and go with the XH-A1 or HC3.

If you're looking to have true professional results for continuous shoots with pans and tilts, get the wallet out and plunk down $2,000 on a Sachtler.

Last edited by Roger Shealy; September 11th, 2008 at 07:46 PM.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 07:20 PM   #15
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I recommend the Libec line, though I have not tried their lower priced tripods. Just don't get something that is too light!

-JS
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