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Old April 22nd, 2009, 03:16 AM   #1
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Please Advise..

Hi all.. we are a church that just finished a 3000 seat auditorium and are now the currently largest HD facility in Orange County (CA). We are in the need of solid tripod heads that volunteers can use effectivly for smooth panning at a long focal length. The main shot we are getting is a tight - head to waist shot of the minister.

What is the best set up for our needs? We are currently using 4 Canon XHG1's. And have a small budget.

We have been looking at VZ Zero Gravity heads & sticks with 100mm bowl
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 03:48 AM   #2
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I had to smile - I mentioned I use a Vinten Cygnet http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/tripod-st...g-gliders.html and find the pat pending tag on the varizoom interesting, as unless there is anything really different about this product, the concept isn't exactly new. that said, as I'm familiar with the operation of post heads, here are a few comments about how they perform with long lenses. Balance with a long lens poking out the front is often difficult on a conventional head, because even when you have a good one at sub $5000 it's the topple over as the camera weight moves out of the happy area that causes problems. A post head, with the CoG at the place the camera tilts means that you can let go and it stays where put. I was interested by the claims in the web site about drag not being needed. Mine certainly has drag adjustment on pan and tilt, and does need using sometimes. If I'm working at the zoom end of the range and not tilting or panning very much, as I guess may be the case here, then drag can be off or minimal, and you can hold steady really easily, with fingertip pressure working to do any reframing. Letting go of the pan bar, and then trying to find it again without looking needs care - at these no drag settings, just touching the pan bar can be enough for a jolt. With practice smooth and steady results are pretty well guaranteed. The only snag with a post head system is when you need to pan or tilt over a range that means you physically have to move. Sport is a good example. The car/bike/horse comes into shot almost fully left and moves through 180 degrees. Unless you can walk round clear of the legs, then you have to step back, view the viewfinder from a distance and pan and tilt with the arms outstretched. With the post head almost friction and pressure-less, keeping the things in shot is rather difficult. Once you limit pan range, things are great - but I was shooting some fighters the other day at a vantage point about half a mile from the runway, and they appear over from the left and land almost 180 degrees round. I have to admit to ruining more shots than I saved. A post head on a pedestal is really nice - you can have it set with two pan bars and without taking your hands off you can pan/tilt/track and even raise the column with just hand pressure.

Bad news is that some things are tricky. Access to the side of the camera is poor, on one of mine, I can't fit a decent hairy cover to the on board mic because it fouls the post joint. They are heavy and a bit awkward to carry, but I still love what I have. Looking at the ads, I see many similarities - but I'd advise that you try one before buying, as the guys who crew for me don't always like the feel. It's just different, that's all.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 04:12 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.. so what you're saying is you like the general set up of the ZG but it is not as easy to pan as other heads.. and you've ruined more shots than you would have using a standard fluid head? Am I hearing this correctly? :)

Panning is a major deal.. as our pastor moves back and forth and sometimes up and down a couple of stairs on the platform. This last week he was jumping in the air (good luck on that one pastor) The kicker is we are just starting out so we don't know if its really a hardware issue or a user practice issue that we should be concerned about.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 06:38 AM   #4
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Not quite - what I mean is that with heavy or odd size payloads and the best kit can not behave quite the way you expect. So a really good head of any type, that is correctly setup will work well as long as the cameraman doesn't have to stretch. My example was when I was in an awkward position. My own technique is to get comfy for the end of the shot, so you kind of release the stretch. This is what causes poor framing. In your case, the angle the lens has to pass through won't be huge, and as long as this is within the arc the cameraman can be relaxed in, all is well.

What I find with post heads - and obviously I can't comment on this 'new' one, is that sometimes the pressure required is so low that it's very easy to overshoot without practice. I sometimes find that when zoomed right in, working at a distance, I can get a smoother pan by rotating the post with my left hand, rather than the right hand on the pan bar which has such a light feel. dialing in extra drag restores a 'traditional' feel, but the super smooth benefit of post heads then isn't there. In one venue I used to shoot in, there was a great camera position in the roof, but little space for legs, so I made up a plate that had a clamp so I could use the head with the post upside down, hanging from a lighting pipe.

So it needs more care to use, but the results, once mastered, are better. If your Pastor moves about, even quickly, post heads could help - but the camera people just need to practice a little and find settings that suit them individually. The fact that the cameras are quite light doesn't really help. Sometimes you just need the weight and inertia of a large lump to give a bit of stability. Get a demo of the ones you are considering, of any type and see if your people like them - and can give solid pictures.

Just to make it clear - my pictures are rock solid, even zoomed in - the wobble that messed up the aircraft pictures was the fact that balanced on one leg, with arm fully extended isn't good, as I wobble, and an almost zero effort head follows the wobble in my arm almost exactly. Steady hand = steady pictures, and the perfect balance = less arm ache for long shoots.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 03:52 PM   #5
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Hi Michael............

Still trying to reconcile "3000 seat auditorium", "largest HD facility in Orange County", "4 X XH G1's" and "small budget" in the same post.

As I mentioned in the same thread Paul highlighted, low drag heads such as the one you mentioned have their limitations (funnily enough, so does everything else).

I suppose the place to start is that "small budget" comment.

Theres not much point me putting forward a NASA solution if all you have is a Girl Guides budget.

The one thing I can say is that, in my experience, shooting HD at long focal lengths does not sit well with low drag settings (again, as I mentioned in that thread).

When I know what you can afford, I'll see if I can come up with an appropriate solution.


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Old April 22nd, 2009, 07:07 PM   #6
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ok, like how much should we estimate.. this won't be small budget forever.

But for now small budget means as inexpensive as possible.. which is why the G1's for Genlock and HD-SDI out are by far the lest expensive camera we could find to perform this. Our HD switcher on the other hand I think cost $50K.. still that's relatively inexpensive.. There will come a time when we will want the real deal.. we just don't know when.. all of our money currently went to the building project. When I mentioned about being the largest HD facility I was referring to our super 35 Panavision screen and 1080p projectors.. so on some things we are very much high-end, and on other we are just moving forward.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 04:17 AM   #7
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OK, well, as DVinfo appears to be having ........

a cardiac arrest, and thus precludes me from gettin the info myself........

Go have a look at my post in the "Tripods, Heads and Sticks" section with regard to my recent Vinten review.

There you will find the latest USA price list .pdf for their systems.

Count on the best PosiLock tripod you can afford and either a Vision 3 or a Vision 3 AS (unless they do, indeed, announce a Vision 1/ 2 AS, which would be much closer to the mark for a G1).

[I'm awaiting Vintens answer as I type]

There's what you need to be spending.

Sachtler? Miller? Conner? Same sort of figures.

Maybe you don't remember this, but there was a saying in the IT business in the 60' & 70's:

"Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM"

(Which beautiflly missed the point that they were by far the most expensive and by far the least efficient systems available - go figure).

My point?

None of the companies mentioned above sells junk (well, Vintens Pro Touch range possibly excepted - but Vitec made them do it).

You want a pro result, buy pro gear, simple as that.

Cheaper?

Of course.

You can kit the lot out for $1000 or even less.

Check out the bottom end of B&H's line up of "ultra cheap" video stuff, Velbon springs to mind.

Total rubbish (IMHO), but you get what you pay for.

As I said, without a figure, I'm guessing.


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