Travel Tripod for a tiny camcorder at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Tripod Sticks & Heads


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old January 7th, 2009, 05:01 PM   #1
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 2,070
Travel Tripod for a tiny camcorder

Hi all:

I know what kind of tripods I like when using large camcorders. I am clueless about tiny, small and light tripods though.

I will be shooting a documentary all over France this Spring. My main goal is to travel as small and lightly as possible. I will be using one of the new Canon Vixia HD camcorders. I need professional results though, I don't want to buy a piece of crap $59.00 tripod. OTOH, I need small, light, but with a halfway decent head. Camcorder weight will be under 3lbs even with larger battery and possibly a Bracket 1 and wireless receiver attached.

Don't want to spend a fortune either but don't want to get a no-name POS. The main criteria is that the tripod be 24" or less when folded. Don't need much height but 48" unfolded would be nice. Is there such a thing as a quality tiny light tripod?

Hit me with your best shot,

Dan
Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 7th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Hi Dan.............

What support gear do you have available at the moment Dan?

I mean specifically heads.

To be more precise, do you have a head available that would do the job if there were smaller/ lighter sticks under it?

Guess I need to determine the precise nature of "fortune" as well.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 7th, 2009, 05:39 PM   #3
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 4,449
The smallest tripod I've used was a Libec 22, but I don't think it gets quite down to 24". Probably 3 or 4" more than that. Gitzo makes a small carbon fiber system but I think it's single stage and doesn't fold down any shorter than the Libec. There is a lighter weight Libec, the 20, but I don't know anything about it. I would want to stick with a real fluid head if at all possible. There's also a Slick/Daiwa (something like that) that's around $500 that is fairly light and allegedly decent, but I haven't seen it in person. Gitzo has always seemed the best thing available in the lightweight department. The Libec 22 specs say it's good for uup to 8.something pounds, but a Canon XH A1 is just over the top for it, I found. Like all the cheap ones under the Libec 38, it has the dreaded bounceback at the end of a pan, but it's controllable with care.

This Bogen system seems to be within your specs: http://www.bogenimagingstore.us/serv...n-Fiber/Detail But it's another one I know nothing about. You'd have to give up ball leveling. I did a little research on small systems when I was into small and light for some shooting. I ended up with the Libec 22 but later got the 38.
Bill Pryor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 7th, 2009, 10:47 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Whilst waiting for comeback...........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
Is there such a thing as a quality tiny light tripod?
Now, this one I can answer with no further input.

When it comes to HD, the answer is a zero hesitation, categorical "NO".

Which is a bit of a bugger really.

Unfortunately, the resolution of your Vixia is exactly the same as any other HD cam, no matter what it's size and weight.

Ergo, all the things you buy and use a "grown up" tripod to guard against - wind up, backlash, receiver warp, sticky pans and tilts, shakes, rattles and rolls etc etc, show up just as bad on your matchbox as they do on a F900 HDCam or a XHA1, to name but two.

As soon as you start cutting down that "grown up" tripod and head to "apparently" match your matchbox camera, you end up throwing away the very things you need to prevent the above mentioned list of video horrors.

Of course, one of the things driving this is that these matchboxes retail for under a grand in many cases.

Now, who in their right mind (apart from the few enlightened ones) is going to whack one of those sub - G matchboxes on a 3 grand set of sticks and head?

Not a lot, and that's for sure.

Think of it this way:

Would you (or anyone) whack a Panaflex or any 35mm or even a 70m film camera on a Libec 22?

Of course not, it would be squashed flat, and if it wasn't, the footage would look worse than hand held.

Now, shrink that Panaflex, 35 or 70 mm camera to matchbox size, but keep the original resolution.

Gonna try it on a Libec 22?

Don't think so.

[Before the "bovver boys" decide to give me a right kicking, I'm not saying HD video has got to 70 mm levels, or even 35 mm - yet!]

Bottom line - it is no longer anything to do with size or weight (within limits, of course).

It's resolution, pure and simple.

So, what gives?

You go HD with a dinky cam, and your average tripod system looks exceedingly average, to put it mildly (I think I'm being overly complementary actually).

You want it to look like pro HD?

Average support ain't gonna cut it.

Of course, I do feel like a complete twat when I've got my HV20 perched atop my FiberTecs and VV3 head.

Well, I mean, it looks totally, utterly rediculous.

A sub G camera sat on a 5 G support system.

Can't tell the video from my A1 on the same sticks tho' (operator error excluded, of course).

Fear not, Dan, I don't think I'll try selling you on anything like I'm using.

I'm pretty sure (er, I think) we can find sommat a tad less pricey.

Still need an answer to my first post however.


CS

PS:

I claim no personal emnity towards Libec in general or the LS 22 in particular.

I could have used the usual suspects but have decided to give Manfrotto the day off.
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 7th, 2009, 11:08 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 2,070
Hi Chris:

I presently own a Panasonic DVX100A, HVX200 and HPX170. For tripods, I have my "travel" piece of junk, a Bogen 501 head on a Bogen MdVe tripod and I have my "real" tripod, A Sachtler DV6-SB on the Miller Solo DV legs. I used to own the Sachtler Video 20 when I owned my BVWD600. I cannot see lugging the Bogen all around France, it has fairly beefy legs and with the 501 head, it actually weighs quite a bit (and the 501 head is a POS anyway, but I refuse to check my $3,000.00 Sachtler when I fly and it's too large for carry-on).

I did lug the Bogen all over Scotland for a few weeks and along with the backpack, HVX200 camera, laptop, hard drives, batteries, wireless mic system, it was too much. I think I weighed it all before I left and the loaded backpack and tripod in the case, all together weighed about 40lbs with everything. Cannot do that again. I used to actually haul less weight overall when I had the Betacam. The batteries lasted longer, just grabbed the camera and sticks, which were heavy, but didn't have to lug the laptop to dump cards, six batteries to shoot all day, etc.

On an $800. 00 camcorder, I am not going to buy a $500.00 tripod. While I totally agree with what you say about all of the downsides of cheap tripods, I think I may end up just buying something really small and light and not doing many moves, cheap tripods work great for lockoffs ;-). I really would prefer to not even take a tripod but as you know, it is pretty difficult to get smooth hand held shots with a one pound tiny handful of camera. My main aim with the tripod is to buy something very small and light, which I know will equate to not very smooth moves. I was hoping to stay around $200.00.

Perhaps the combo of one of those little "wrap around a light post or tree" Joby tripods for tiny cameras and a small Cine Saddle, that might even be better? We will be covering a lot of country and places, in and out of cars and trains and I will be shooting in a huge variety of conditions. Just not sure of how to best stabilize the camera to at least some decent moves without dragging around the Sachtler (which I am definitely not doing).

Your advice is great. Seems like there is a missing link as these tiny camcorders are used for more and more professional projects where crappy moves are not really welcomed.

Thanks,

Dan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Now, this one I can answer with no further input.

When it comes to HD, the answer is a zero hesitation, categorical "NO".

Which is a bit of a bugger really.

Unfortunately, the resolution of your Vixia is exactly the same as any other HD cam, no matter what it's size and weight.

Ergo, all the things you buy and use a "grown up" tripod to guard against - wind up, backlash, receiver warp, sticky pans and tilts, shakes, rattles and rolls etc etc, show up just as bad on your matchbox as they do on a F900 HDCam or a XHA1, to name but two.

As soon as you start cutting down that "grown up" tripod and head to "apparently" match your matchbox camera, you end up throwing away the very things you need to prevent the above mentioned list of video horrors.

Of course, one of the things driving this is that these matchboxes retail for under a grand in many cases.

Now, who in their right mind (apart from the few enlightened ones) is going to whack one of those sub - G matchboxes on a 3 grand set of sticks and head?

Not a lot, and that's for sure.

Think of it this way:

Would you (or anyone) whack a Panaflex or any 35mm or even a 70m film camera on a Libec 22?

Of course not, it would be squashed flat, and if it wasn't, the footage would look worse than hand held.

Now, shrink that Panaflex, 35 or 70 mm camera to matchbox size, but keep the original resolution.

Gonna try it on a Libec 22?

Don't think so.

[Before the "bovver boys" decide to give me a right kicking, I'm not saying HD video has got to 70 mm levels, or even 35 mm - yet!]

Bottom line - it is no longer anything to do with size or weight (within limits, of course).

It's resolution, pure and simple.

So, what gives?

You go HD with a dinky cam, and your average tripod system looks exceedingly average, to put it mildly (I think I'm being overly complementary actually).

You want it to look like pro HD?

Average support ain't gonna cut it.

Of course, I do feel like a complete twat when I've got my HV20 perched atop my FiberTecs and VV3 head.

Well, I mean, it looks totally, utterly rediculous.

A sub G camera sat on a 5 G support system.

Can't tell the video from my A1 on the same sticks tho' (operator error excluded, of course).

Fear not, Dan, I don't think I'll try selling you on anything like I'm using.

I'm pretty sure (er, I think) we can find sommat a tad less pricey.

Still need an answer to my first post however.


CS

PS:

I claim no personal emnity towards Libec in general or the LS 22 in particular.

I could have used the usual suspects but have decided to give Manfrotto the day off.
Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 12:04 AM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Geesh............

Think quoting the whole damn thing was OTT.

OK, lets come down to earth a bit then.

Now, I had other ideas, but when you mentioned $200 I binned that straight away.

[I had, BTW, figured you were used to some pretty heavy duty support fire power, so thought the figure might have been considerably higher.]

This little snippet caught my eye the other day:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-hvr-...se-camera.html

Can't vouch for any of the comments in the first post but he seems happy with what he has for a smaller camera.

After that, it all sort of goes to custard, frankly.

I think any of "the names" are out, purely on cost.

I think Dan, if I may, I'll give this some thought overnight to see if any revelations strike me

(hopefully it won't be that damn toolbox from the last Shuttle mission that was to be Scott's fate).

Just to rub it in (I'm thinking you're in the UK, your moniker doesn't let on) it's too hot here to cook tonight (30 degrees C) so we're off out for a pub meal.

Turn up yer central heating, I see it's a tad cool up that way.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 12:39 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Taking a different approach, what about a monopod? Bogen has one with a fluid cartridge base that seems to get well reviewed. Not sure of the dimensions, probably too long, but maybe...

Chris really hits the nail on the head, albeit in a roundabout way, someone pass the spackle <wink>. These little cams have very high resolution, but they MUST be stabilized commensurately. This leaves one heckuva problem for shooting with a pocket rocket.

I realized it the first time I shot an HC1, great image quality (for its time), but dang, you couldn't move without causing visual havoc! I've spent a fair amount of time since trying to find a solution... with mixed results. I'm beginning to feel that for really stable "handheld", you've got to have a shoulder support that dwarfs the camera! And your tripod needs to be just about the same as if you're shooting a "big" camera...

FWIW, here's some of my "solutions"

I use a cobbled up camera bracket rig that is similar in concept to the fig rig, but small and foldable, and it's fairly good for pseudo-steadicam moving shots, not good for static shots - one discovers how wobbly their body is while standing "still" pretty rapidly...

The smallest and most portable solution might be the small Sunpak monopod that has a belt clip so you can use it sort of like a Steady Stick, I've used it at a couple airshows and weddings, and it's not bad, currently I'm fiddling with connecting it to a shoulder support for 3 point support, but have yet to shoot live to see if I'm finally happy with the results.

If you can go with locked off shots, there are solutions like the gorillapod and the ultrapod that you might want in your bag anyway - small and effective, I've got both types in my grab and go kit...

It's somewhat going to depend on what sorts of shots you're hoping to capture and under what conditions. You may even find that you can't use a tripod in many areas in Europe from some of the postings I've seen... might want to research that a bit as well.
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 10:41 AM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 2,070
Thanks for the advice, both of you. One other tool will be the addition of a Schneider .06 WA adapter, this should somewhat help with at least some of the handheld. Are there any small shoulder bracket types of rigs that either of you recommend? I have used the DV Rig Pros with HVX200s for a TV pilot but that is obviously overkill for this shoot.

I do own a Bogen monopod, that is a possibility, although the one I bought does not have a head of any kind, just a mounting screw.

Thanks for the ideas.

Dan
Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 01:38 PM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
I searched for this a while back and the choices are limited, but there are some reasonable options.

On the more expensive end, I bought a Gitzo Traveler tripod:
Gitzo | GT-1550T Traveler 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod with | GT1550T

The Traveler comes in two sizes, 4-section and 5-section, the latter going a bit taller. There is nothing I saw that is comparable for quality, small size, and light weight. This tripod is perfect as a carry along SLR tripod, so its not a wasted purchase after the original video trip its bought for. Varying prices can be found by doing a web search.

For a head I put on the Gitzo 2180 fluid head:
Gitzo | G2180 Series 1 Fluid Head | G2180 | B&H Photo Video

This is very small, but with practice gives good results. It takes a the same plate as full-size Gitzo 1380 head and some Bogen heads, so this small Gitzo head fits nicely into a little system (i.e. I have a larger Gitzo tripod with the 1380 head, and plates for 3 video cameras and 2 DSLRs).

This tripod can mount a head with either a 1/4" or 3/8" threaded mounting hole.

(This tripod and head, as well as the other options I will list below, all need to be seen in person. I think you are in L.A. and the large local camera store at its Fairfax store, has all of them on the top floor in the pro department, and at competitive pricing.)

In the pro realm, the next best choice is a Gitzo GT3531LSV Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs with 75mm Bowl Adapter:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...6X_Carbon.html
Series 3 Flat Plate:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...LAT_PLATE.html
Series 3 100mm bowl:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...INTERFACE.html

You can also get a Series 2 or Series 3 Gitzo with a flat plate out of the box (suitable for mounting the small Bogen heads).

I have this tripod (but the taller one, which I had to buy the bowl adapter separate for) and use it with a Gitzo 1380 head. However, the lightest head with a 75mm bowl that I have seen (and own) is the Cartoni Action Pro. This head works very well with light cameras.

This tripod series is great because the bowl can be changed out to 100mm or to a flat plate, letting you use any head you want. (The legs come with one type, and the others are purchasable for a reasonable price.)

I don't think any legs beat the Gitzos, but Bogen does have some nice lightweight options. The best for lightweight is a carbon fiber tripod that comes with a small fluid head, about the same weight as the Gitzo 2180. I don't know the number, but the store I mentioned has this setup upstairs in the pro department. It is about half the price of the Gitzo.

The small Bogen fluid head can also be put on either of the Gitzo tripods I mention above.

If you are considering a monopod, the best thing out their for lightweight and ease of use is this Bogen 561B:
Bogen / Manfrotto | 561B Fluid Video Monopod | 561B | B&H Photo

A favorite of mine for lightweight mobility is the CineSaddle:
cinekinetic
I have the smaller one in the upper left corner that I bought a number of years ago when I had the "high-end" PD150.

These are relatively expensive, but there are other bean bag options. The trouble with a lot of bean bags is they are not ultra lightweight like the Cinesaddle. Beanbags work well with small cameras in moving vehicles since they take a lot of the shock out.

I think you would be happy with a set of Gitzo legs (go see the different sizes and weights) and a small Bogen fluid head.

(Gitzo legs are not cheap, but they are worth the price in my opinion. They are exceptinally stable, and they are lightweight and versatile.)
Jack Walker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 05:31 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Wow....................

I think Jack just swept the board with that lot.

Don't think I can add much, he seems to have the lighter systems pretty well wrapped up.

Monopod:

If you already have one, it'll probably have the usual dual 1/4": 3/8" sleeved mount screw. This will take just about any of the heads from the really light still camera tripods.

I use the pan/ tilt/ flip head from an aged and decrepit Velbon still system (only because it was already in my possesion). The pan/ flip is useless for video and thus wasted weight but the tilt function is invaluable.

I've found that the HV20 or XH A1 mounted on the closed monopod allows for vastly steadier hand held shots.

If you don't have an appropriate head to hand, Manfrotto & probably Gitzo have a huge selection of still heads, many with quick releases, one of which should do the business.

Can't do a lot in the tripod department. Everything I've thought of is too big, too heavy, too expensive or all three together.

There is one option if you were prepared to use your Sachtler head, but it's still too expensive, and that's the Manfrotto 350 MVB.

It's a 2 stage, twin dual tube construction and one of their better offerings.

The basic 350 is well over $400 new, but may be had S/H.

The next hurdle is it's way too long when folded for transport.

The neat bit of the 350 is that it's really a tripod kit. Manfrotto don't sell it as such, but it is, nevertheless.

Judicous use of an Allen key allows it to be dismantled into it's component pieces very easily.

From there you can go two ways:

1. Put the original tubes aside and source replacement high tensile alloy tubes to build a tripod any height you want - not hard to do, especially if you do, indeed, live in LA or any other large US city.

2. Use the original tubes and some carefull application of a tube cutter to cut the tripod down to any finished size you want. Re - assemble and voila, you're down to your 24" finished height.

Being only two stage means the full height won't be more than about 44", which could be too low, but at that height with the shortened tubes it is amazingly rigid.

Manfrotto did actually do this themselves until last year, when they withdrew the 350 SHMVB to rationalise the product line.

That gets you as close to a true pro setup that fits your travel requirements that I can think of.

Reckon that with all the other great suggestions here from the guys, you gotta be able to get pretty well a perfect system.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 06:06 PM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
I use the pan/ tilt/ flip head from an aged and decrepit Velbon still system (only because it was already in my possesion). The pan/ flip is useless for video and thus wasted weight but the tilt function is invaluable.
I have a Velbon VideMate that is over 25 years old and it still works very well. (The head is better than many Bogens.)

The Velbons are aluminum, so not quite as light as CF, but the mid-range Velbon made for small cameras may be perfect. I have found the Velbon heads work better than the price would indicate and better than you would expect. Fry's usually has a couple to look at. (The one I have is bigger and heavier than the ones sold now as it was from the era of the VHS home camcorder. I worked at NBC then and bought an RCA camcorder at a discount through the company store.)
Jack Walker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 06:08 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 2,070
Thanks so much for the advice Jack and Chris. I will check out all of your suggestions.

Dan
Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 8th, 2009, 06:14 PM   #13
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
My personal choice would be the Gitzo 90th Anniversary Edition Titanium Traveler tripod for only $2499.95:
Gitzo | GT90TT 90th Anniversary Limited Editi | GT90TT | B&H

It comes with a beautiful leather case.

And it is featured on the homepage of the Gitzo site:
Gitzo SA | le choix des professionels
Click the photo link in the middle of the page for a beautiful picture of the tripod folded, laying leisurely near the top of its leather case, map of the world underneath.
Jack Walker is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Tripod Sticks & Heads

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:04 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network