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Old November 16th, 2008, 05:20 PM   #1
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What makes a tripod a video tripod?

This may sound rudimentary, but having read a lot of posts suggesting one brand or another, I'm not sure I understand the difference between video and still photo sticks.

Many of the tripods folks suggest look identical to still photo tripods, with the exception that some have center spreaders. What is the difference?

I understand weight capacities and such but are there other features I'm not understanding? Are the attachment points (bowls) specific to video heads?

Can I use my existing Gitzo 'fiber legs (rated for 20 lbs) with something like a Sachtler FSB 6?

Thank you
Bob Kerner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 16th, 2008, 08:20 PM   #2
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Primarily it's how the tripod and its head control movement. All video tripods should have a fluid head - not a necessary item for a good photo tripod. Combined with higher weight capacities, video support systems (tripod + head + spreader) allow for smooth panning and tilting while a motion camera rolls footage. That being said, there are better and lesser quality tripods that offer these features, so that's primarily what all the arguing tends to be about. There are also different classes within each manufacturer's product lines.

A good tripod will last you years longer than a good camera - I've used the same set of sticks for 10 years and counting.

Spreaders are typically a matter of preference, although mid-level spreaders offer more flexibility in more situations, and base-level spreaders generally offer faster setups.

I doubt many pro videographers use Gitzo equipment - I don't think they have a full video product line.
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Old November 17th, 2008, 01:37 AM   #3
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Gitzo make great legs, the 4 and 5 series aluminium and the 1540CF ones are about as sturdy and resistant to flexing as any HD Sachtlers and the like. They also have a 3 position leg spread lock so you can do without a spreader. No reason whatsoever why you shouldn't use them even for a big head an d long lenses. I used to them for years, shooting wildlife on Super 16 and Digibeta with lenses upto Canon 150-600. I put Sachtler Video 18 and 20s on mine. Benefit for wildlife work is that they are so compact, and the fact that the legs lock at different angles.
For video work you do need a bowl really, as the head has to be levelled or when you pan the horizon all goes skew-whiff, and a bowl is by far the quickest way of doing it. Traditionally you had a choice of 100mm or 150mm bowls, but now I gather there are 75 and even 50mm bowls. This is the reason I stopped using Gitzo, because I started using beefier 150mm bowl heads and the Gitzo top wasn't broad enough to accept a 150mm bowl.
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