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Old September 3rd, 2009, 07:31 PM   #1
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Miller Compass head on Solo sticks.

I was looking to update to a Miller DS10 on the Solo sticks. But at the Miller HQ here I saw the new Compass head demonstrated, very impressive.

So I've ordered a Compass 15 head on the Solo sticks, be here next week.

Cheers.
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File Type: pdf D7881-1 OPM Compass 20 Fluid Head.pdf (816.4 KB, 632 views)
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Old September 14th, 2009, 01:38 PM   #2
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Thats great. Could you post a little review of your miller compass 15 when it arrives. I'm curious as to how good it is. On paper, its amazing. What I was looking for. And the sales guy had many points of goodness to this kit. I was soooo close to pre ordering, that Miller sales rep was good. But it was out of my price range in the end.
But I found an amazing deal on a Vinten 3 kit. I'm loving it.
Still want to hear more about the Miller Compass, I think its gonna be popular.

Cheers,
Dave
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Old September 15th, 2009, 07:26 AM   #3
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Hi David, it's here. I was expecting to get what I paid for and first impressions are I have. I had to buy it through a Miller agent here and this was the first one they'd seen. Everyone came out to inspect it, including a couple of visiting tripod gurus, so before I actually got my hands on it I got an appraisal first hand.

Everybody is impressed. My Canon XH-A1 is the lightest specified weight for the Compass 15 and as Miller put great importance on cam balance, we balanced it in the shop and tried it. The new counterbalance system works as advertised fully functional in all tilt positions.

We set the tilt/pan fluid drags to positions 1 (of 5) which gave a very smooth start/pan/stop action to the cams movement.

If you change camera models you'd have to through the whole set up routine each time, but as I'm using only one, I just click the drag controls from zero after I load the A1.

In fact both positions 5 seemed way too much to me, but I'm told, with the heaviest camera it can match those settings, especially after some regular use.
I'm used to a pan handle with extensions so I'll have to get used to this shorter one. No one else seemed concerned.

The cam quick release is easier and the locks are a newer/better design than the DS10.

The illuminated bubble level is handy especially with the auto shut-off after 10secs. I found the on switch needed very heavy finger pressure to activate it. Keep your nails short, it'll wear in I was advised :)

I bought the Solo carbon fibre legs for their low/high features and greater torsional strength. There's not much weight difference from the aluminium version. The soft bag is a new design with appropriate padding, but I'm looking at making a stronger aluminium reinforced case for plane travel.

This Compass 15 is advertised as dust proof and moisture resistant (a big plus for me) and cost over half the A1s price, so I expect it to outlast my next 2 cameras.

I go by feel and like everyone I guess, I have to have complete confidence with the gear I use and I'm happy with my new rig, now to run it in.

BTW Miller told me they are continuing with their DS5/10/20 series.

Cheers.

PS glad your Vinten rocks!!!
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Old September 15th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #4
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I just hope the Compass works out better than the DS10 and DS20 heads. Just about everyone of them we own has failed and in short order. Pan drag adjustment was almost non existant even when new and it went downhill from there.
The Compass has been in the works for years, I've played with a few of the prototypes and was not impressed. I hope they've finally got them sorted as we've had several on order since Miller first announced them. The Solo legs on the other hand are great, never a problem with them. If the Compass heads don't hold up I might go back to my original plan of a Satchler head on Solo legs now the AUD is looking healthier.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 08:18 AM   #5
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According to Miller support, this new Compass head took 2 years to develop.

Well, been out with the Compass a few times and the first thing noticed was the smooth panning, especially the diagonals. Still getting used to the shorter pan handle but it's great to have the gradual take offs and no backlash.

Cheers.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 05:18 PM   #6
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We got the first of our Compass 15 a couple of days ago. Agree with Allen, nice bit of kit, much, much better than the DS heads. I feel the pan drag settings could be lighter but maybe the head needs to be run in.
My one concern is these heads are pretty expensive at the current exchange rate compared to buying a Sachtler from the USA.
If the short pan handle is a concern Miller or their dealer should have been able to arrange for a longer / entendable handle as part of the deal. If anyone in Sydney needs some assistance please feel free to drop me a PM. I'm only a brisk walk from Miller HQ and work for a Miller dealer.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 09:12 PM   #7
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Hi Allan, thanks for that quick review glad your happy with it. I still think its a great kit, but happy with what i've got for now. When I'm ready for new kit, I'll go for this probably.
I'd like to see the review from Phil Bloom when he does it.

Cheers,
Dave
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 10:35 PM   #8
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Yep David, the reviews will be interesting. I'll bet they say both Compass 15 drag controls are bordering on stiff as you click through to position 5, it's currently too much. But Miller and my techs have said they'll settle in, tad faster with a heavier camera.

Unless you've tried a counterbalance arrangement like this you don't realise how important balancing the cam really is, along with the confidence it gives you.

Adding an external mic and changing to my heavier batteries alters it. I'm now busy with a black marker pen, unsettles the clients, wastes time and looks stoopid rebalancing on location.

Bob, this head is so smooth the short handle is becoming easier to get to grips with, the more use the better it becomes. Earlier I did look at one with an extension, but I worked out it'd be a pain packing the rig away.

The smooth Compass pans really shine when you spread the Solo legs and lower the camera to near ground level. Don't let the clients see them before you perfect it, my experience is they'll drive you beserk .. phone calls at night that kinda thing :(

Millers GM told me, when travelling a distance, for safety against knocks you should unlock both drag controls but you can leave the counterbalance set.

I'm making an aluminium protective case for air travel, post some pix when I get through.

We looked at importing a Sachtler head, but the freight and tax came near the Compass. Guarantee, service, returns etc all come into it and Millers HQ is just a 3 wood away.

Cheers.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 03:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
I'm making an aluminium protective case for air travel, post some pix when I get through.
I've made many tripod travel cases from PVC drain pipe. Sure they get broken when the luggage handlers drop them but it's always the screw on end caps and they're easily replaced. Seeing as how you're close to Miller HQ try Plumbers Co-op in Artarmon for parts, way cheaper than Bunnings and more to choose from.
Miller have uber nice flight cases that do not break and do not dint. Darn expensive though. One thing we like about the PVC pipe is it doesn't say "Steal Me" :)
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:10 PM   #10
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Bob, Miller doesn't seem to be in the cheaper case stakes, somewhat apologetic about it. I looked at building a PVC Compass case from the same Plumbers place ....

A carry case for the RODE Blimp.

That Artarmon PVC crowd is the cheapest around, but they won't sell the 360mm dia. pipe in set lengths so it costs $355 for enough to make 3 1/2 cases. The end caps cost bigger bucks to, so I'd need to build 3 and maybe sell 2 to make it all worthwhile.

That's currently in the too hard basket, alternative is this aluminium case which will take a few hard knocks without cracking up.

Cheers.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #11
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I think the Miller cases are made from polyethylene which is why they're so tough and expensive.

Your tripod should fit snuggly inside 150mm pipe which is way cheaper than the next size up. If you want a length of 150mm drop me a PM, got a piece kicking around you can have for nix.
If you want aluminium try Aluminium Engineering Ambula in Brookvale (9939 6319). They've made boxes for me very cheaply and they love a challenge. Even if you want to fabricate it yourself they cut sheet to size. They do a bit of work for the local film and TV industry so they understand our needs.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 06:57 PM   #12
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I looked at the posted brochure. Is anyone else bothered by designs that put the camera plate lock on one side and the camera plate release on the other?

My old SD tripods (Bogen) had that arrangement which meant you unlocked the plate while holding the camera with one hand and then you need to switch hands on a loose camera to get to the release button. I know there is a latch to keep the camera from leaving the tripod, but it just seems like that design creates a CHANCE for a disaster since I could see a larger camera tipping a tripod if you were not paying attention and the camera slid. It happened to me once, the tripod did not tip but it scared the crap out of me. And that was when I was using a "cheap" little SD camera.

If both the lock and the release are on one side (like the Schatler FSB) you just grab the camera with one hand, unlock and release with the other hand and lift the camera off.

I try to eliminate as many possibilities for problems as I can...
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Old September 25th, 2009, 07:25 PM   #13
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Hi Kevin, never bothers me. I always level the cam and lock the pan and tilt before I unlock the plate. Standard safety routine taught by the pros (not me yet).. and the guys who've dropped a camera over. (thankfully not me either)

Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; September 25th, 2009 at 09:08 PM. Reason: added .. 'me and the plate'
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Old September 25th, 2009, 07:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant View Post
I think the Miller cases are made from polyethylene which is why they're so tough and expensive.

Your tripod should fit snuggly inside 150mm pipe which is way cheaper than the next size up. If you want a length of 150mm drop me a PM, got a piece kicking around you can have for nix.
If you want aluminium try Aluminium Engineering Ambula in Brookvale (9939 6319). They've made boxes for me very cheaply and they love a challenge. Even if you want to fabricate it yourself they cut sheet to size. They do a bit of work for the local film and TV industry so they understand our needs.
Morning Bob and thanks very much, I've already started to cut metal for this case. Thanks anyway, I'll keep their number, I think they made our Nagra 4S case many years ago.

They did make a nice job of it, I've still got it.

Cheers.
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 07:17 PM   #15
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Miller Compass 20

Wow, what can l say about the Miller Compass 20, other than "amazing". what a fantastic product and l certainly applaud the the people behind this product. I have had and used many tripods over the years, wow, l feel old now, it is almost 25 years now...lol this tripod, for the money, is a stunning piece of machinery, the counter balance works like a treat and with my rR matt-box etc, probably heading towards 7 kilos, with a few other attachments, well it balances beautifully and looks so good and solid, ok, thats the geek side coming out of me, seriously though, l could not recommend this product more and with the same system as the arrow heads, what more could you ask for, it is an absolute pleasure to use and look forward to creating some stunning work for the future...cheers, Michael..!
Oh, for the record, l don't work for or have no association with Miller, other than using the product...lol
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