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Old August 24th, 2003, 11:17 AM   #1
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Miller Solo DV Tripods

These are relatively new tripods sporting DS-5, 10, and 20 Miller heads marketed for one-man crews. Anyone try them out yet? Check out Miller's press release here.
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Old August 24th, 2003, 11:22 AM   #2
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Does anyone have any pricing info? Rumor or otherwise?
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Old August 24th, 2003, 11:34 AM   #3
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Saw the DS-10 version going for $1299.95 US over at B&H Photo. B&H's site is having problems for me now though, I'd have to double check...
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Old August 25th, 2003, 12:48 PM   #4
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I'm unclear as to why these "Solo" configurations are being marketed as particularly good for 1-man crews. Perhaps because of the lighter carbon fiber legs? I have a DS-10 and can say that it's an excellent head and relatively lightweight (compared to my Sachtler head). I can also say that my Miller aluminum legs are hardly burdonsome and feature a shoulder strap and mid-level spreader, making set-up/tear-down/carry a pretty pain-free process.
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Old August 25th, 2003, 10:52 PM   #5
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I know what you mean, perhaps a clever marketing strategy and that's it. Checked the specifications on Miller's website and the alluminum tripod that comes with the basic DS-10 package (828), the lightweight 75mm 440 tripod, weighs the same as the Solo DV 1501 tripods: 5.5 lbs.

The Payload capacity of the Solo is 44lbs however, versus 33lbs on the other. And the Solo is a 2 stage tripod. Of course, this depends on which 'other' tripod you have in the Miller line.

Do you have a 2 stage one from Miller, Ken? Which one did you get? Would you recommend Miller for a DVX-100? The other combination I was considering was the Bogen 525MVB legs with a 503 head. The DVX-100 will be outfitted with matte box, rods, sun shade, and so forth so the extra weight should be considered. I don't want to spend more than $1000.

Primary application is for shooting DV films and shorts I've written (no event videography) so portability is a secondary concern because we have to account for setups.
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Old August 25th, 2003, 11:06 PM   #6
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"Do you have a 2 stage one from Miller, Ken? Which one did you get?"
I have the "828" package shown in your link, Chris.

"Would you recommend Miller for a DVX-100?"
I've never used a DVX100, but I imagine that is has very similar load characteristics as my GL2. I normally use my DS-10 rig with my GL2 and it's an excellent combination. The GL2's just a mite light for the DS-10's counterbalance, but not so much so that the drag cannot easily be adjusted to compensate.
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Old August 29th, 2003, 10:23 AM   #7
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Thanks, Ken. Do you think the Miller tripod itself is too light for reliable work out in the field?
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Old August 29th, 2003, 11:31 AM   #8
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Absolutely not. It should be pretty well-suited for the DVX100. If anything, you might consider going for the DS5 head (See Miller packages. The DS10 seems designed with the basic XL1s rig in mind, and just a tiny mite over-capacitied for my GL2. In hindsight, if I had known I would be using the Miller for only my GL2 I might have gone for the DS5.
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Old August 31st, 2003, 06:14 AM   #9
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The DS-10 should be just about right then, since I intend to shoot primarily with a Cavision matte box and rods. Thanks for your insight, Ken.
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Old August 31st, 2003, 10:28 AM   #10
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I just went from a manfrotto setup with a 501 fluid head to a ds-5 and the difference is so large i don't know how i ever used the manfrotto, i couldn't rec. a tripod more highly.

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Old September 5th, 2003, 07:20 AM   #11
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Hey Ken, Zac, I was able to test a DS-10 on a single stage tripod.

I can see why a 2 stage one would be preferable in terms of transport, since it can collapse to a smaller length. The 2 stage can also go higher but this package is several hundred more.

Some questions I hope you guys or anyone else could answer:

How easily should I be able to pan or tilt? This is my first time with a higher-end tripod (at least in comparision with my Libec MH20) and I notice the movement is a lot more stiff - very smooth but deliberate, it refuses to swing too easily in any direction, which I assume is a good thing?

When would the drag come into use?

What does the counterbalance do exactly? I know it is to account for heavier payloads, correct?

The tripod camera plate is quite long - any recommendations on where to attach the camcorder along its length?

I'm only able to use the tripod for a bit before it goes, hence all the questions. I think I'm gonna purchase a Miller for sure...

Thanks for the help in advance though!
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Old September 5th, 2003, 09:03 PM   #12
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Chris - The counterbalance comes into effect when you tilt the camera. If you tilt the camera forward, the load weight will shift forward as well. That could potentially topple the tripod, and smash goes the expensive camera. :)

The counterbalance, through the use of springs, keeps the weight load centered, so all 3 sticks stay firmly planted on the ground with the weight evenly distributed.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 10:12 PM   #13
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Christopher,
Andrew covered the basics of the counterbalance pretty well. This is a spring-loaded mechanism that provides enough counterforce to make tilts smoother while simultaneously helping to maintain a relatively level attitude.

Two stage legs do collapse to a somewhat shorter length. But before making a selection consider that 2-stage legs also generally take a bit more futzing to set up, particularly if you usually work at higher lens levels.

"Drag" refers to friction applied to the pan / tilt mechanisms and is separate from counterbalance. Being able to closely control drag is important for being able to perform, and repeat, pan/tilt motions accurately with a given payload. Your report of stiff pans/tilts suggests that you may have drag set too high.

Positioning the camera on the plate, and the plate on the head, is a matter of balance. You'll have to experiment for yourself. With a small, light camera like a GL2's, PD150's, DVX100's it just won't be a big deal. It's a more significant consideration for heavier cameras with eccentric centers of gravity.
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Old September 7th, 2003, 10:43 AM   #14
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Thanks again for the insight and definitions, Andrew, Ken.

If I turn the drag all the way on, there is a slight jerk right when I start, presumably because I'm moving against the added friction now, but otherwise it's smooth thereafter (plus with the drag test, I'm doing it without a camcorder - need to correct this in another session).

I'm getting a better understanding and appreciation of this tripod and head. Right now, I like it with the drag off since I don't think I have enough of a load to warrant it? I was able to test the tripod with no drag, and with the camcorder and mattebox loaded.

With mattebox and camcorder, I think I'm close to 5 -6 lbs. I'll have to weigh it all to make sure.
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Old September 7th, 2003, 12:34 PM   #15
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Okay, I'm not sure what to make of the so called "multi-step" drag system feature of the Miller DS-10.

It doesn't seem to really work unless I turn the drag knob over to its tightest setting, which at that point I can't turn the knob any further anyway. If I don't do this, then the movement of the tripod, both pan and tilt, seem the same.

Is yours like this? Should I be able to get more of a "drag" response from the tripod head if I move the drag knob even a small notch? Or do you have to really turn the drag knob until it stops before you get a difference?
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