WOW Just got my Bogen 501 Head today at DVinfo.net

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Old September 5th, 2003, 05:16 PM   #1
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WOW Just got my Bogen 501 Head today

This baby is NICE and extremely sturdy. I can't believe how smooth the tilt is. I'm so glad I got this one over the 3063. I was thinking I could even use it as a weapon. Someone steals my cam, I can run after them holding just the fluid head by the handle like a ball and chain. Well I guess what I'm saying is, yes it is well-built and strong as steel.

On my last post there were some users saying that the tilt is "jerky" but I'm not getting the jerkiness from this one. Maybe that is after it's used a lot? Gosh I hope not. Mine is so smooth that I can't even force it to jerk. Maybe I have it too tight.

Bogen makes some nice stuff that's for sure. Just wanted to share my excitement. Anyone out there looking for a new head, check this one out. I got this brand new off a good ebay guy for like $135. Usually they go for $175 - $200 new.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 05:33 PM   #2
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Hi Mark,

I've used this head for both the JVC DV500 and the Panasonic DVX100. I've generally been very pleased with it. I didn't see your other thread, but I have also recently noticed that there is small 'jerk' whenever beginning a tilt (not sure if it's been there all along, if it is a new condition or an artifact of using the lighter DVX100.)

It is very smooth thereafter, but I cannot seem to get it to enter the tilt smoothly without hitting this bump first. I had chalked it up the difference between a $200 head and a $1000 one.

Are you able to perform a very slow tilt without a 'bump' before the move actually begins? If so it's good to hear that yours is behaving properly, maybe there is a repair to be had.

Best,
Clayton
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Old September 5th, 2003, 05:44 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm one of the guys that complained about the 501 jerk on tilt. It's at the beginning of the movement, of course, with the camera mounted. If I tighten up the tilt tension screw, the jerk is more pronounced. If I loosen, there is less jerk (or bump, as Clayton wrote), but the camera tilts way too easily during pans.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 06:01 PM   #4
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Clayton,

I tried it again and I felt a tiny bit of "play" when starting a tilt, I went all the way down, then while going back up there was a very small play. I could feel it in the handle, so I was like "that is weird" so I grabbed the top part of the handle and the grip on the bottom and bingo! The bottom Alan screws on the handle wasn't fully tighten down. Mine came with the rubber handle attached to that aluminum center piece. So the only thing I could think is to make sure the Allen screws are tight.

I don't get any play at all or bumps now. See if that fixes yours and let me know. If you bought it used, maybe a tripod was knocked over? or the head was dropped perhaps? If not then maybe a send in for warranty or let Bogen know about it.

P.S. I'm using a DVX100
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Old September 5th, 2003, 06:35 PM   #5
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The lubricant is pretty stiff and evenly distributed in a new tripod. In a few weeks or months (depending on usage) your new head will loosen up. Then the stutters will develop. It's inevitable with friction heads.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 08:45 PM   #6
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I also have the 501 and mine has the tilt bump too. It's very hard to start a tilt move smoothly because the stiction in that axis is really high (even at the lowest drag setting). You have to push on it quite a bit before it gets moving and then once it does the running friction is a lot lower so you wind up with a jerk or a bump.

One work around for the tilt bump that I do is to start a pan move first (if it's a combined pan/tilt move). If done right you can start the tilt just a hair after starting the pan and it still looks like a diagonal move. It seems like having the head in motion first helps mask out the tilt bump.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 10:02 PM   #7
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Well... from what you guys are saying I guess I am bound to run into this problem. I suppose the 522 is the same way.

So what is the solution? Buy a better head? If so which one? Do we need to spend $1000 for smooth tilts?

I guess I'll just need to start clips after the bump in post. But so far so good. Very strange for such a large beefy head.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 11:18 PM   #8
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If you think your head is okay there's no point in changing it just yet. Mine was one of the early ones so maybe they've tweaked the design since.

I'm really picky when it comes to camera moves so for me the solution would be a better head (Sachter, Miller, etc.). I happen to like the step drag modules of the Sachtler but the smallest head that has more than 1 step is the DV6 and that one has a counterbalance that's too strong for a DVX100 sized camera. So my other choice would be the Miller DS-10 but I haven't been able to test one in person.

The big difference you'll see between the 501 and a high end head like a Sachtler is when trying to start pan/tilt moves at medium telephoto and when trying to maintain a constant pan or tilt speed when doing very slow movements over a long time.
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Old September 6th, 2003, 10:10 AM   #9
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Hey, you guys are all raining on Mark's parade ;-) I got a 501 around 2 years ago and I had the same reaction. It was so much better than my cheap Bogen head, it was a huge improvement and really helped my work.

Just a few days ago I got a Miller DS-5 however. I'm still pretty content with the 501 for wide angle shots, but at full telephoto it's too jerky. Have only used the Miller for one shoot so far, but it's a huge improvement as well. But then again, I paid $800 for this tripod and head while the 501/3221 combination was around $300. So as usual, you get what you pay for.

But don't let any of this get you down Mark. Enjoy your 501, I'm sure it will serve you well for some time to come. Like me, you may be ready to move up a notch in a year or two. In the meantime, the 501 will open up some new creative avenues for you, especially if you're used to a cheap head.

I'm keeping my 501/3221 for my second camera. And I also appreciate the fact that it's smaller and lighter, with a nice soft carrying case. When I hike out into the wilds on a shoot I will probably still take it instead of the Miller, especially if I'm just doing static lock-down shots.
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Old September 6th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #10
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I have the 501, and don't care much for it, as it is not very fluid. But you have found that out yourself. Because the head sticks a bit, it causes my legs to sometimes twist or move. So I always have one hand clamped tight to the tripod just to keep the camera move level, and hope it comes out smoother than it feels.
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Old September 8th, 2003, 07:01 AM   #11
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Mark, or any one else who has a Bogen head tripod, could you tell me how responsive the drag systems are on the Bogen 501/503 series?

Seems like Bogen emphasizes their drag control systems on their website whereas other companies, like Miller, mention it only briefly. This seems especially true of the higher end Bogens. A quick check on equivalent tripods from Sachtler show they only have a 2-step drag setup, and I found through first-hand experience that the Miller DS-10 was about the same.

Is drag control not that important for the likes of Miller and Sachtler?

Also, which of the Bogens are true fluid heads?
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Old September 8th, 2003, 07:35 AM   #12
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None of the Bogens are true fluid heads. Vinten and Sachtler have the best drag controls. Vinten uses a continuously variable drag system, probably the best in the industry. Sachtler, on their higher end models, use more drag controls. My last Sachtler had 7 or 8 drag settings. Very nice control but still not up to the control Vinten offers.
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Old September 8th, 2003, 06:53 PM   #13
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I can't speak for certain on Satchler, but the Vinton's are not true fluid heads either. They are LF (lubricated friction) provided by the "contact of dissimilar surfaces"... Now I'm certain that a Vinton is on a far higher plain then the Bogen/Gitzo, but a lot of people think that's 'cause they're true fluid, but they aren't.

You'd be surprised just how FEW heads are true fluid heads. There are MULTI-thousand dollar heads sold under the most honored names that use the same technology as our "cheapy" heads... of course you still, more or less, get what you pay for.

I say try 'em and get the one in your price range that you like best. If you let yourself go nuts you'll see it's just like anything. You can spend as much as you want... and then some.

If it were me I'd get a little front heavy action going on... just slightly... so that the cam's desire to tilt will dampen the initial "bump"... then again I may just be an idiot.
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