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Old August 3rd, 2002, 07:50 AM   #1
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Tripod Suggestions?

I want to get a fluid head tripod but I have NO idea which one to get. This would be used for hobby use on my GL2. i'd like to keep it under $200. Light weight would also be good.

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Old August 3rd, 2002, 09:35 AM   #2
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I've been looking at the Libec M20 over at zotz (one of the sponsers) but have no experience with one...
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Old August 4th, 2002, 03:14 AM   #3
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I don't think you're going to find something good (for your GL2) for under or about $200 (US). If you do, though, do let us know.
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Old August 4th, 2002, 06:27 AM   #4
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I suggest you go to WalMart, and buy the heaviest tripod they have for $60.00. You won't be happy with it, it will suck. However, I spent almost $300.00 on a Bogen tripod and head, only to find that they don't make any quality tripods for under $500-$1,000. I would have still been miserable, but saved $200.

I am somewhat happy with the legs, but the head is garbage.
It may be pesimisstic, but I hope it helps.
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Old August 4th, 2002, 08:40 AM   #5
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Libec TH-M20

<<<-- Originally posted by mark_reidy : I've been looking at the Libec M20 over at zotz... -->>>

At $200, the Libec TH-M20 is probably THE only tripod worthy of carrying it's pricetag.

I had previously purchased a Bogen "fluid" head at around $60 and planned to match it with a set of $150-ish legs. Bogen's available selection in THAT price range is just downright depressing. The Bogen 3021 had round leg shafts (seems prone to torsional twisting), no center spreader (looks like I'd be adjusting it forever), and the ends of the feet was just a rubber cap. I've seen more features in the cheap Velbon/Slik junk than what Bogen was offering. Even my previous, no-name $45 complete tripod (head/legs -- gave me a decade of use) had more leg features.

When I came across the Libec TH-M20 (aka Bescor TH-650 and Matthews TH-M20C), it was easy to see I got a good deal. Lots of thoughtful features:

The quick-release mounting plate is easily double the size of most other plates in this range. The spring-loaded cam lock will stay open in place when the plate is removed and will automatically lock in once the plate is returned.

The head offers some progressive counter-resistance. This isn't ANYWHERE NEAR as sophisticated as the balanced counterweight springs of a $2500 Vinten or Sachtler, but then I've never seen this feature offered by Bogen at -this- pricetag. At the very least, this unadjustable resistance is good enough to ensure a loaded XL-1 on a fully loosened head doesn't flop forward violently and damage itself.

The TH-M20 is my first experience with a claw-ball leveling head, but after trying it out, I'm an instant convert. I won't miss the days of having to adjust and readjust leg lengths to level a geared-column style head. The Libec's head can be visualized as a hemisphere bottom that rests inside a matching "bowl" socket... this allows the head to pivot in virtually any fore/aft/left/right angle before a knob at the bottom is used to lock it down. A bubble-indicator makes it easy to tell when the head is level even if the legs are on an uneven surface. All the traditional lockable tilt/pan features are there. The "fluidness" of the head works reasonably well again for a device in this price range.

The upper two segments of the legs are the twin-tube variety. They might be thin, but I'll take this anyday over a single rounded Bogen tube.

The rubber feet twists away to reveal a metal spike and lastly, there's a center leg spreader for quick setup convenience.

One more tiny feature... the three legs come together to form a stub that can be locked with a clip. This prevents the legs from flying apart during transport.

As I said, all nice features for anything in the $200 range and worthy of the infrequent DV hobbyist.

Now that carries this, I plan to order a 2nd one so that my cameras don't have to fight over who gets to go on the GOOD tripod.

Brian over at Zotz also indicates they carry additional quick-release plates for this tripod.
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Old August 4th, 2002, 10:17 AM   #6
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Thanks very much for the comprehensive review!

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Old August 4th, 2002, 10:28 AM   #7
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Thanks for the heads up on that jewel! I wish I had heard of them before I bought my Bogen. I had originally looked at the Slik models you metioned, but after listening to too many people crow over Bogen, I changed my mind. It was only after the purchase, that I find out the "Good" Bogens start at over $500. Anything else is junk.

Well, if they can't make a good product for less than that, I'm not going to belive that their pricier models will be any better. I will never buy Bogen again. I will however, look seriously at Libec and Slik.
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Old August 4th, 2002, 06:45 PM   #8
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Capt Quirk,

I have a Manfrotto (Bogan) #136 video head and Manfrotto #075 legs (black). This would cost you under $400 US if you buy it in Canada. I assure you, it is not "junk." The legs alone weigh 9.9 pounds, with a built-in type of lockable spreader; and the head is both solid and fluid, quite nice for a small hand-held cam.
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Old August 6th, 2002, 07:21 AM   #9
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Hey Guys!

Thanks for all the great advice! I am going to definatley check out the Libec! Carter, could you do me a favor and check this link out

ANd let me know if you think that the Libec is still better and why? I plan to put an XL1 on top of it.

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Old August 9th, 2002, 01:42 PM   #10
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Libec M20 owner, great tripod

I recently purchased a libec M20 from along with my GL2 and am thoroughly pleased with its performance. I cannot offer any more useful information than was offered above, but I can guarantee you that it is an excellent tripod to use in conjunction with a GL2. zotz also has great customer service and I wouldn't consider buying anywhere else.

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Old August 21st, 2002, 12:19 AM   #11
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I guess I'll throw my 2 cents in. I recently purchased a GL2, primarily for interviews. Naturally, eliminating camera shake while making adjustments and while zooming and reframing were important priorities. However, the budget is not unlimited. I already had a set of Bogen sticks, a Manfrotto 055 actually (Canada: different distributor). I've had them for 20 yrs for still photography and they've been great, considering their light weight. They are the equivalent of the current Bogen 3221. They are three section legs, no spreader. The legs can be set to three different splay angles with a lever at the top of each. The center column is smooth with a clamp setting, and in two sections so it can be shortened or reversed (excellent makeshift copy stand). It will take most Manfrotto/Bogen heads. But, I thought, maybe too light for video. Based on reviews, etc., though, I decided to put my money first in a solid Manfrotto head, the 501 (3433), and caugh up for sturdier legs later if necessary, instead of copping for the Libec M20. I got the 501 for $130 from B&H, and it is a very nice piece of equipment. Very smooth, adjustable, with good locks and no backlash. Absolutely great mounting plate that slides on the head, allowing you to balance the camera as you like. I recommend it thoroughly. The surprise was that the legs work great with it. For low level (subject in easy chair, camera at subject chest) it is very solid, and the splay options allow for a wider footprint where practical. At standing extension, it also seems fine, so far. No torquing or lateral instability. I really think it is a viable option for a relatively inexpensive set up that can be easily carried. If I really need more later, I can go for the Bogen double leg model (I forget the number) which is less flexible in some respects, but rock solid. But the 501/3221 combo really does work. As I said before, my legs are more than 20 yrs old and have been used a lot. This stuff is definitely not junk, and its interchangeability is a real asset.

Linc Kesler
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Old August 21st, 2002, 07:23 AM   #12
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I mentioned the Libec M20 in another newsgroup and got nothing back but good responses. For the $200 pricetag, I don't think it can be beat.
Nathan Gifford
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Old August 21st, 2002, 04:52 PM   #13
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I'm happy with the Libec also

I also bought my Libec M20 from zotz and am happy with it. During pans it works great but it has a slight snap back during tilts, by cranking in a bit of tilt friction the snap-back can be removed so it's not a huge deal. The Libec also arrives with a nice oversized, padded, soft, carrying case that is also large enough to store my monopod and head phones.
For $200 the Libec is great.

Regards, John.
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Old August 21st, 2002, 06:06 PM   #14
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I also have been using an M20, that quite frankly has seen much better days after years of constant abuse. Problem is the plate on the head broke so I attached a bogen sliding quick release on it in place of the old one. Hell even if it aint broke, I recommend doing this, as it allows for much easier attachment, plus you can shift it to compensate for a front or back heavy camera arrangement.

At any rate, it gets my vote for a solid, inexpensive tripod.

Just my 2 nickels.
Casey Visco
Glidecam Industries, Inc.

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Old August 22nd, 2002, 06:25 AM   #15
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Anyone have any experience with a Manfrotto 510? I just checked out out at the l,ocal Manfrotto dealers, and it looked a good mid-level tripod.
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