Bogen Manfrotto 501 or 503 head? at DVinfo.net

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Old November 28th, 2004, 01:19 AM   #1
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Bogen Manfrotto 501 or 503 head?

Ok, I know you "get what you pay for" and I know the really expensive heads do some pretty cool stuff BUT will I notice a big difference between the 501 and 503 heads? I'm getting a couple GL2's and they're pretty light. I had a 501 head and I liked it, so I was just wondering if maybe I'd see if anyone could tell me what the next best video head is like.

I was just checking out the description at B&H and it looks like it's just a 501 head for heavier camcorders... oh and it has a spirit level.

I guess let me rephrase the question. What cheap tripod head would you recommend for someone with a GL2?
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Old November 28th, 2004, 04:14 AM   #2
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As far as I can see in the cheap but good quality pods Manfrotto seems to be the best choice. I use a 501 with the 351 legs (don't know the Bogen equivilant references) and find it a good sturdy and well made pod, by far the best I 've seen for the money.

I had a look at the 503 in a store the other day and as far as I can see the only major difference over the 501 is the spring loading, preventing your camera from tipping backwards if you don't lock it off. With hindsight I'd have gone for this as the camera slowly tipping can be a pain if you're not careful. that apart I don't think you'd notice huge difference.

Otherwise check out the other stuff on the Manfrotto.com site it gives good descriptions.

I've used tripods from the Vinten range for larger TV cameras but to be honest can't see how they justify the extra cost for a smaller DV cam.

Cheers

Gareth
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Old November 28th, 2004, 09:55 AM   #3
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Tony, Consider.

You are going to put your GL on your TP with a head that uses springs. You will than add or subtract, season to season, shoot to shoot, attachments, covers, etc., to your set up. You will be changing springs more often than you would like. As the cam's evolve, they will probably get heavier, as more goodies are added on to the system.

A professional video head does not use springs. I would personally opinion, that any Bogen head below the 505, is just an overly hyped still head. And I don't think the 505 is all that much better.

Remember. You are going to live with that TP/head combo that you decide on, probably for a number of years. Buy the best you can afford.

Good luck with your purchase.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 10:58 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info Gareth.

Robert, I don't understand what you're saying. You're saying that tripods that use springs are over hyped and so are Bogen heads below the 505, but so is the 505? What are you suggesting?

I didn't look at the 505, so maybe I'll check that out. I'm leaning towards the 501 at the moment.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 11:22 AM   #5
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I was just checking out the 505 head at B&H and I guess it lets you do "whip pan" movement which sounds cool.

Can anyone tell me if there's a $500 difference in performance between the 501 and 505 heads? I'm curious and I'm interested in anything that can give me better looking footage.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 01:51 PM   #6
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Tony,
The 501 is not a proper fluid head, whereas the 503 is.
It's not perfect - you'd be hard-pressed to get a really smooth takeoff and stop on the long end of a zoom - especially the XL2 or XM1 (20:1) but for the money, it's fine generally.

Robin
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Old November 28th, 2004, 07:23 PM   #7
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Tony.

I will repeat my personel opinion as in my previous post: Any of the Bogen heads below the 505, are far more suitable to still or causual vidieo. They are not, in my humble opinion, worth the money, if you are serious about your shooting.

I use the Bogen/Manfrotto 516 head, on a ARTS fiber tripod. In the past @3 years, I have never had a problem. And I load down that combo with about 6 lbs. of goodies, on top of my XL-1s. More poundage in the winter time.

A good head doesn't need interchangeable springs. It supports your equipment directly. I make the choice of a head by how much carrying capacity it has. I know what my cam and accessories weight. I buy accordingly.

The 501 and 503 are not capable of the rigors of hard and fast shooting. By the very nature of the fact that they must have interchangeable springs, to my mind, makes a statement of fragility.

If, on the other hand, you are going to be studio bound for all that you plan to do, and, have no intention of location shoots, I guess that they might be passable.

I have no axes to grind about this subject. Just some past experience with equipment, over quite some several decades, that just was not able to deliver.

Robin: I thought the 503 was listed as a "fluid like" head? Not a true fluid head. Please, would you, or some other knowledgeable individual, correct me.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 08:25 PM   #8
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I'm pretty sure the 501 doesn't have interchangeable springs. I had one and I never saw anything in the manual about that. A fully loaded GL2 with a big battery, wide angle lens, microphone, and sun shade would probably weigh between 3.5 and 4 pounds. So, given this information, perhaps someone could recommend the right head.

Vintens seem to be the most popular recommendation on the board, but I'd like something with comparible performance just quite a bit cheaper.

Now, I'm considering the 505 or the Sachtler DV-2II. I think I'm going to go for the 505. It comes with 5 springs so it can adapt to new equiptment. Also, since the Bogen brand isn't very exotic, I get the impression that their products are more of a bargain than other brands.
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Old November 29th, 2004, 03:02 AM   #9
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Tony,
I quote from the UK distibutors of Manfrotto:

"... the Vinten Pro 5 is the same as the Manfrotto 501 not 503. The 503 has a fluid pan and tilt tension control unlike the Pro 5 / 501 which works on a Teflon friction basis. Both heads are fluid heads and can handle the same payload. Additionally the 503 has an inbuilt counterbalance spring as well as a telescopic pan bar. Ideally suited to the PD170/DVX100a style/size of camera... "

I included the Vinten comparison since I earlier believed that the 503 was the same as the Pro 5 ;-)

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Old November 29th, 2004, 01:39 PM   #10
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Hi Tony,

I've owned a couple 501 heads for a few years and just received a new 503 a few weeks ago. I did a ton of research before deciding to buy the 503, much of it from discussions here. That said, here's is my two cents worth on the 501 vs. the 503:

There are three main differences between the heads:

1) The 503 has a fixed, non-interchangable, counterbalance spring (set for ~5.5lbs). This helps especially when you've got a wide-angle lense or other heavy accessories attached. The 501 has no counterbalance spring.

2) The 503 comes with a telescoping pan arm. This is real handy when shooting with the tripod up high (like a 3046/3246 can do) or further out. The 501 is fixed length.

3) And last but not least, the often mentioned "the 503 is smoother than the 501". I often wondered what people meant by this since they couldn't really put their finger on it. It definitely is true and for me it means I can make very subtle movements to adjust framing at full telephoto and my PD170 won't jerk. Best put the 503 compared to the 501 is stictionless.

I was slightly alarmed when I first got my 503 because there was a good amount of 'rebound' in the pan the first time I used it. It had a tendency to want to return towards the position it was turned from. Like a counterbalance spring only in the pan! I adjusted the resistance back and forth to no avail and finally I tightened it up high enough to make it stop. The resistance was high enough the tripod was tipping when I panned the camera. Obviously not working so I dialed it back down and low and behold the problem disappeared. Now it works great! I know there is much better to be had out there for 3 times the price with Sachtler, Miller, etc. , but for the money this head can't be beat!

John

Now if only B&H would get my 522 out the door it'll get even better :)
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Old November 29th, 2004, 04:31 PM   #11
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Thanks John that was the most helpful post yet. Maybe I'll start with a 503 and then try out an 505.
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Old December 10th, 2004, 01:18 PM   #12
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Seems that when head xxxx is "replaced" with head yyy that xxxx does not necessarily = yyy

That being said, how does the Manfrotto 116mk3/Bogen 3066 ("replaced with the 516") compare with the Manfrotto 503/Bogen 3460?

Seems like the 3066 is about 50% more expensive than the 503, but the 516 is DOUBLE what the 3066 costs.

I am thinking about either the 503/3460 or the 3066 head.

Thanks,

Alex F
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