Vinten 5AS in the Arctic at

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Old March 26th, 2010, 01:04 PM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Bracknell, Berkshire, UK
Posts: 4,957
Vinten 5AS in the Arctic

I recently took delivery of a new tripod to replace my now somewhat elderly Vinten 5 tripod. My original Vinten 5 was purchased way back in 1991 (gulp!!) and has served me extremely well for almost 20 years. Now in terms of a business investment itís hard to beat something that lasts that long. To be honest tripods have not really changed much over the years. New lighter materials are available now such as carbon fiber legs, but the basic technology is still the same. So knowing how well Vinten heads are made I decided to stick with them. I put my tripods through hell shooting in everything from desert dust storms to sub zero arctic conditions. Iíve had them in rivers and lakes as well as the sea (not recommended) and used them to shoot hurricanes and tornadoes. For anything to last 20 years given that kind of abuse it has to be good.

Anyway, what about the new Vision 5AS? Well it arrived in a nice blue Vinten bag and upon unpacking I could see that it was once again substantially made. The 5AS is a mid weight tripod suited to cameras such as a fully loaded EX3 or a PMW-350. It has a very easy to set counterbalance system that stops the camera from wanting to tip back or forwards as you tilt, this is essential in any pro tripod IMHO. Pan and Tilt drag adjustment is made by geared wheels that are easy to rotate with the tension being indicated as a number in an easy to view window. This is an improvement over my original Vision 5 which just had a big knob.

One of the other things thatís new is the way the tripod plate attaches to the head. In my old head the plate slides into the top of the head, this is OK, but can be a bit fiddly at times to get it lined up. The new Vinten AS heads have a side loading system where the plate slots in to one side of the head and then latches into place as you drop it level. This is very easy to use and I really like this. On thing to note is that the 5AS uses a 75mm bowl, my original Vision 5 is 100mm. I have not found this to be an issue and you can get simple adapter rings to use the 75mm head on 100mm tripod legs.

Talking of legs, I have a set of Vintens excellent Fibertec legs. Sadly these are no longer made as they were too difficult to produce at a sensible price. I will continue to use these legs, but I also got a set of 2 stage alloy legs with the 5AS system, this gives me 2 tripods for multi-camera shoots. The alloy legs are surprisingly light, yet sturdy and stable, in part thanks to Vintens clever spread-lok mid level spreader. My experience of tubular carbon fiber legs has been mixed. Yes they are a little lighter, but they tend to be more fragile and can fracture if abused. Alloy legs tend to bend if abused, if your careful bent legs can be straightened while fractured CF legs are scrap. The leg locks use simple 1/4 turn latches providing a positive and secure action, one nice touch is that the leg locks are attached to the tops of each extending section so there is never the need to bend down to the ground to extend the lower leg sections.

The Pan and Tilt action is silky smooth and the tripod is stable and steady. On a recent shoot in Norway I had the tripod outside in temperatures approaching -20c without any issues. The 5AS is everything I have come to expect from a Vinten tripod, solidly built and well engineered. I hope this one last as long as my old one!
Alister Chapman, Film-Maker/Stormchaser My XDCAM site and blog.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 09:26 PM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,646
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Hi Alister............

Good to have my views confirmed yet again...............

Feature: Vinten FiberTec Tripod (1 of 5) at

Vinten Vision 3 AS Tripod (1 of 4) at

As you can probably see, I'm quite a fan of Vinten myself!

Glad to hear you're happy with the 5 AS, I love my 3 AS and haven't heard a bad word about either.

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Old March 27th, 2010, 12:03 AM   #3
Inner Circle
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
I finally got all the pieces together on my employer's system, including a Vinten 3AS. It's solid and sweet. Diagonal pans are no problem - well, except for my limited practice and skill.

One note about the side-load mechanism. Make sure that it is open 100% before you try to re-mount your camera. If it's in a half open position when you insert the plate, it doesn't close properly and can look like it's in place. I remember that Chris experienced this in his review, and that's the solution - make sure the latch is fully open visually or by feel.

Another tip: make sure that the top of the head and bottom of the camera have no protrusions or bumps. I put the two 3/8" screws and the 1/4" guide pin assembly in the compartment, but it forced the rubber lid to stick up a bit. This made it difficult to get the plate in at times.

By having everything flat and making sure that the latch is fully open when you remove the plate, the side-load mechanism is quick, easy, solid, and reliable.

But the real joy is the continuous spring design. With my full-boat assembly (monitor, recorder, follow focus) the stock spring does the trick. I've now got the lighter spring as well, which should work for quick, camera-only, setups. Haven't tried it yet though.

If the 5AS is as nice for mid-sized cams as the 3AS is for light ones, it's a heck of a head!
Jon Fairhurst
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