Will the real fluid head technology please stand up? at DVinfo.net

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Old August 29th, 2004, 08:36 PM   #1
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Location: Vallejo, California
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Will the real fluid head technology please stand up?

I wrote this to the Miller tripod company hoping for some clarification:

Hello,

I have two old old Miller tripod heads (one was perhaps called a Master and the other is a Super8 )that are in great shape and work very well. They have all the qualities that I am looking for in a new head.

My main use is for a Sony PD-150 and Sony DSR-300. While I can identify a Miller head to accommodate these cameras, I have a question about the technology used in the heads:

When the specification refers to a plate-oriented pan system, I immediately think of two plates with some fluid between them. Typical of a Bogen 501 head for example. When I read your literature on your heads, the technical specs indicate that your system is also 2 plates with a fluid between them. This makes me concerned that a new head might not perform as satisfactorily as my existing unit.

Do you have a tutorial available on the general technology used in the Miller heads so I can understand the terminology?

Thanks,
Mike Rehmus

ByVideo

(The following response from Miller included drawings)

Mike,

Our current drag system employs multiple (6-10) clutch plates, coated in a high performance lubricant and captured in a module referred to as a clutch pack (schematic enclosed of clutch pack).

In our DS5, 10 and 20 heads we utilise one clutch pack in the pan and and one in the tilt body. This is the same technology we use in our larger format heads where we provide up to 4 clutch packs in the pan and in the tilt with the ability to select a combination of these clutch packs to vary the drag.

This drag system is entirely different and far more sophisticated than the 501 model you mentioned. Our heads also incorporate precision ball bearings on the pan and tilt shafts and all mating surfaces are precision machined. (see the schematic enclosed of our DS20 head).

Our DS20 head would be the model we would encourage you to consider as it also provides 2 selections of payload through the use of counter balance springs. Position 1 at 10lbs suits a PD150 with accessories such as lens adaptors, on camera light, radio microphone transmitter, larger battery etc. Position 2 provides 20lbs capacity to accommodate your DSR300. You should also check out our new SoloDV carbon fiber tripod.

Our products come with a 3 year warranty reinforcing our confidence and commitment in the product. We have many PD150 owners and others with similar cameras using our product, and the feedback we get is excellent especially in regard to longevity, particularly when they have acquired our product after using a less sophisticated alternative.

Hope you continue to be a Miller user and that this information assists you in making your decision.

Kind regards,

Bruce Kemmis
Design & Engineering Manager
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Old August 30th, 2004, 06:37 AM   #2
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That's an interesting post... and it really says some good things about Miller that they addressed your questions.

I've sent emails to Audio Technica about mics and I've never even got a reply! (Who knows how many of their mics I've sold!)

As far as the "real fluid head technology"... at this point I don't know if it matters. I say go with the smoothest head you can afford. I spent plenty on mine and it's a "lubricated friction" head, and I knew that going in.

The funny thing is MOST heads, even high-dollar ones, are lubricated friction... not true fluid heads. For whatever reason a lot of those buyers don't want to admit that though.

In my opinion the only true fluid head has it's motion controlled by fluid cartridges within the head... the pace of the motion is dampened by hydraulic fluid transferrence between 2 cells via a valving system. Since there's no friction, and no surface contacts of any kind... the motion is guaranteed to be "fluid motion" which will never change over the course of ownership.
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Old August 30th, 2004, 12:17 PM   #3
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I completely agree, Matt about what makes a fluid head well, fluid. That's why I wrote Miller in the first place.

I just bought a used OConnor 515 head. I do believe it is a true fluid head, at least for the Pan control. I'll write them too and see what they say. But the drag and lock knobs are not real near the pan-control element at the base of the head. Furthermore, the pan drag is a continuous and gear-reduced control whereas the tilt drag is a stepped control and located nearly on-axis to the tilt pivot.

The OConnor will do a real whip-pan which is something my Miller's have difficulty accomplishing.

I'll send the Miller drawings to anyone who is interested.
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