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Old March 28th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #1
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Fluid or not?

I am looking at B&H for a video tripod with a fluid head on it and I am finding ones priced from 150.00 on up to past $600.00. my question is: If a tripod claiming to be fluid is $150.00 and others all the way up to 600.00 claim to be fluid, what is all the extra money for in the more expensive models? Are they more fluid? I would hope that if B&H when they call something fluid, that is what you get and its either smooth or it is not. Can anyone help on this. I think $150.00 is a decent price but I don't want to end up with herky jerky footage on a so called FLUID head tripod just because I'm won't spend $600.00. the camcorder will be a Panasonic GS400. thanks. here it is.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=223630&is=REG
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Old March 28th, 2005, 06:05 PM   #2
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I've been into video for about five years... and into photography for around 15 years. I had family members who thought I'd lost my mind when I bought a $225 tripod/head 10 years ago. Well that was the best $225 I'd ever spent. It was a manfrotto 3021 and a grip-head. I sold that tripod and grip head for around $175 on ebay 2 years ago. $50 for eight years of fantastic service? I'd call that a bargain.

Don't get a $150 tripod. With tripods, like anything else, you get what you pay for... whether you want to admit it or not. The cheaper pods have plastic in the places that better pods have cast aluminum.

If you get something like a 3021pro... and then put on a 701rc2 head... you'll NEVER regret it. You may one day want something better... but you'll always find value in a good pod.

If it were me, I'd actually go with one of the mdeve pods with the built-in leveller... Of course a pod like this will be putting you a little under the $300 mark.

If you get into a store and play around with the pods for an hour or so nobody will ever have to assure you that it's worth it to get a better pod again.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 09:29 PM   #3
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Fluid drag is where two plates are put very close to each other (but not touching) and a viscous fluid is placed between the two plates. With one plate stationary and the other plate rotating, a drag is created by the shearing action of the fluid. This drag increases as the distance between the two plates decreases and/or the viscosity of the fluid increases. This form of drag is "non-contact" because there is a fluid between the rotating and non-rotating parts.

It's not hard to make a fluid head, but it is hard to make the fluid drag adjustable up to a very high level. This is where the more expensive heads come in. To get to a very high level of fluid drag and still keep it a true fluid head, manufacturers use a variety of patented, complicated, precise, and therefore, expensive mechanisms. Usually it's some form of moving multidisc stator discs in and out from the rotor disc.

Anyhow, to answer your question, the most likely difference between a low-end true fluid head and high-end true fluid head is the amount and type of drag adjustability and also any counterbalance mechanisms. The low-end head probably won't have a very high maximum drag, which is handy in really slow movements.

Also, be aware some heads only have a single fluid drag setting and then a "friction drag boost" (such as the Miller DS-5 and DS-10). When you activate that "boost" you are just adding frictional drag.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:02 PM   #4
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Wow, that was well written Tim... very effective explanation.

I should have added in my reply that I use a pod that was over $1K... ($1300 at B&H)... so I know a thing or two about better pods... and I think spending cash on a better pod is timeless. If I could have I'd have spent more.

Pods don't become obsolete like other gear. That's the point I was trying to make. If you get something like I suggested, which is cheap for what you get... you'll always have a good convenient pod... even when you're ready for something better... and if you stick with video you'll find there's ALWAYS reasons to upgrade.

With the pod I have now... I STILL wish I'd spent more for the next set of legs up. At least the head, I love... I'm 100% satisfied with it... and it twern't cheap.
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Old April 11th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #5
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you guys are right. I think I'm going to spend the extra money and only buy a tri-pod once and I mean once. I'll get one built to handle the larger cameras (even though I only will have GS400 at first) so when I become a little more ambitious with a XL2 (yes!!!) I will already have a tripod to handle it.
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Old April 15th, 2005, 10:09 AM   #6
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OK, I'm just about to buy a decent tripod for the first time - up until now we've been hiring pods with our cameras, but I'm about to invest in an HDV camera for lower end shoots - obviously I'm going to try out a range of stuff, but the Miller DS-10 was a tripod recommended to me by the place I'm buying my camera from for this unit - do you guys think that's a bit low-end?

What would you recommend at a reasonably affordable price range (i.e. not going too far over the price of the DS-10 or similar)?

Cheers!
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Old April 17th, 2005, 06:20 PM   #7
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I don't own a DS-10 but I've tried it once and from what I know about it (single fluid module with friction boost), I personally would go for something different. But the next level is a good $600 more than a DS-10 kit. This next level include the Vinten Vision 3, Satchler DV6 and Cartoni Focus.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 02:55 PM   #8
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I love Sachtler and O'Connor for large cameras, but for MiniDV and smaller cameras, I love my Vinten Vision 3.

Be sure that the head you get doesn't overpower the smaller camera, sometimes the heads have trouble with the lighter weights.

Definitely spend the money on a good tripod. Find one that you can grow into and will grow with you. The Vinten will be good for a lot of low budget stuff I do, even with an Arri SR3 on there, it should be fine.
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 09:03 AM   #9
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OK, cheers guys - looks like a fair bit of trying out and a good amount of financial head-scratching to be done!!!

Sounds like the Vinton Vision 3 is looking to be the front-runner - I'll have to work out when/how I can afford it or something similar... BTW, has it got a 75mm or 100mm ball?
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 06:30 PM   #10
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75mm ball on the Vision3. You can always get a 100mm bowl tripod with a larger weight capacity and get a 100>75 bowl adapter for about $30. This way you'll have a sturdy tripod and then when you move up to bigger equipment, rent, or buy a larger head w/ a 100mm ball.
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 06:48 PM   #11
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I have a Sachtler DV4 (NOT the DV4II. . .it wasn't out at the time I got mine, apparently), it's pretty sweet. It's not that heavy, is rated for 11-ish pounds, and, uh. . .yeah. I think there' s a similar model with a mid level spreader, but I have a ground spreader. Served me well much, it has. It was around a grand.
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 09:15 AM   #12
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Thanks a million guys - I'll let you know what I decided on when I've been and had a play in the toy store for grown-ups!!
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