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Old May 2nd, 2010, 10:30 AM   #1
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Tripod and Fluid Head suggestions required

I come from a wildlife stills background. I have been missing out on filming some rare scenes that I come across from time to time. With the new Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, I finally can shoot stills as well as video. At present, I use a Gitzo GT3530LS and Wimberly V2 head.

With my Mark IV and Canon EF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens, the Gitzo and Wimberly V2 head works great for stills. However, video is an entirely different ball game. The footage is jerky to say the least.

The Mark IV camera weighs in at about 1.18 kg and the EF 400mm f2.8 lens weighs at 5.3kgs. Add a 1.4x converter or 2x converter. To start with I am also going to mount the Sennheiser MKH 416 microphone on the camera. So it comes around around 8 kgs max.

Please let me know,:
1. Which fluid head to buy?
2. If I can buy a fluid head and use it with my existing Gitzo GT3530LS tripod. If not, then which tripod.

I haven't decided on a budget yet. Will decide after hearing from you all. Look forward to your suggestions.

Cheers,
Sabyasachi
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 03:48 PM   #2
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Hi Sabyasachi.............

Hmm, that Gitzo doesn't give you an awefull lot of room for manouver when it comes to a new video head.

It's probably a magic platform for stills, but HD video? Don't think so somehow.

[Single strut spreaderless simply can't be made rigid enough to prevent it from winding up then winding down at the start and end of a pan, believe me, it shows in the end video].

Added to that, that flat top leaves it restricted to flat bottomed heads, think Manfrotto 501/ 503 HDV and I ain't going there for HD.

My suggestion would be to abandon ship entirely and go for a new Vinten Vision 3 AS or a Sachtler FSB6/8 with their respective 75 mm or 100 mm (the 100 mm's are stronger) bowl tripods, both systems have a range of tripods (1 or 2 stage, Alu or CF) which you can tailor to the thickness of your wallet.

My preference would be the Vinten, as it's "Perfect Balance" system is miles ahead (IMHO) of the stepped counterbalance system of the Sachtler, but it's horses for courses and personal preference really.

Check 'em out on - line and if you manage to survive the resultant cardiac arrest when you see the price, you're good to go.


CS
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 07:04 PM   #3
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The Sachtler FSB 8 is a minimum for that amount of weight (~17lbs/8kgs). Furthermore, with such a long lens, stability is key. I highly suggest finding a local shop to try various heads. In US prices, I wouldn't consider anything under $2,000.

(I use the FSB 6 with a Sony EX1 and wish I had spent more money on either the FSB 8 or whatever the next step up is)
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 02:01 AM   #4
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Hi Chris and Steve,

Since I had paid slightly more than 1500 USD for the Gitzo and Wimberly V2 combo, I certainly don't expect similar costs. I am aware that I have to pay more for the tripod and Fluid head.

I checked the prices in B&H and the prices at the high end definitely gave me a mild heart attack. I am certainly not ready to spend 8-10 K USD for tripod and fluid head. I have just spend about 2.5 k usd on audio. And still have another 3k to spend on parabolic microphone. These spendings are going to make me bankrupt. :-(

Vinten 3AS seems to only capable of 11lbs that is about 5.5 kgs. So it wont suit my requirements. Vinten Vision 5AS (23.1lbs), 8AS (27.6lbs) and 10AS (32lbs) seems ok as far as weight is concerned. However the prices range from 1849 to 3849 USD. Not sure which one would be fine for me. I seems I have to spend 5-6k USD on the tripod and head alone. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a shop having these products in India. So can't try it for myself. So trying to tap the collective wisdom here.

Cheers,
Sabyasachi
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:12 AM   #5
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Ah...................

Well, at face value, your comments re the Vinten head have some merit, however...................

What many (er, most) people miss is that the weight figures for the Vinten heads are based on a COG (centre of gravity) of 125 mm above the head plate.

Now, that's the CENTRE of gravity, not even the top of the equipment.

The COG's of the new HD DSLR's, especially with that Howitzer of glass stuck low down on the front, is miniscule, 75 mm, if that.

Ergo, despite the poundage your rig will be carrying, with it's COG somewhere around a gnats kneecap, it isn't that simple.

You will also come unstuck with the same thing with the Sachtler.

I'm not prepared to swear on it, as there are too many imponderables, but if you need anything gruntier than a V 5 AS I would be staggered, and I am pretty sure that the V 3 AS would suffice.

If anyone out there has an identical or similar rig, please chime in now, 'cos I don't know of any way to be absolutely positive without trying it.

Come in Peter Harman (product manager at Vinten UK) - you catching this? Need some help here.

In the meantime Saby (if I may, bugger of a name to spell) if you know anyone who has or has access to a pro head with proper counterbalance controls, ask to take it for a test run and see what happens - I am convinced you will be suprised how little counterbalance is required, considering the total mass of the rig.

Coming from a stills background, this entire idea of counterbalance will be completely foreign and is not readilly understood, even by some videographers with a few years under their belts, but it is vital to get it right.

If you need any info on what and why, do say, ignorance is allowed, it's stupid I can't stand.

(BTW, if any of this doesn't make any sense, I appologise, I've just returned from having three wisdom teeth removed and it didn't go at all well. Average doesn't even begin to describe the aftermath.)

I'm hoping we'll get some more input from owners of similar rigs to yours as I've never actually had hands on with one, especially with that canon stuck on the front.

Regards,


CS
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 03:50 PM   #6
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OK, back to it................

Having had overnight to think about this, I can now see a way to go forward.

Seeing as how this is a DSLR rig it should be easier than a standard camcorder, just a tad long winded, but I do think it's necessary to get this absolutely right.

OK, get the rig off the tripod/ head and remove any plate attached to the base.

Attach any and all components that will be attached when the rig is working, ie full operating configuration.

Place on a table and put a chock of some sort under the wide end of the lens so that the centre beam axis is horizontal (if necessary).

Take a ruler/ tape measure and measure from the table top to the centre of the front element of the lens in cm. Make a note of this figure.

Take the same measurement for the approximate centre (top to bottom) of the camera body.

[EDIT: If your camera body has a top mounted pentaprism for the EVF and is thus top heavy, measure from the camera base to the top of the prism housing in cm, divide by 2 and add 2 cm to reflect the higher COG].

Assuming the mic is horizontal, measure from the table top to the centre line of it and write it down.

Do the same for anything else bolted on.

So, now we have our COG's.

At this point you could rely on published figures but for the sake of accuracy I'd dismantle everything and weigh each individual item to the nearest 10 grams, what we're after is a figure for each item like 2.35 kg.

Now, multiply each items COG (in centimetres, ie: 2.3 cm) by it's respective mass in kg.

Add them all together and you have the full operating COG/ mass index for the rig.

OK, now for the heads. Look up, say, the Vison 3 AS' COG/ mass statistics.

Multiply the lowest weight the head is capable of supporting (in kg) by 12.5 (the quoted COG for Vinten heads in cm). Do the same for the highest figure given.

You now have the operating COG/ mass index range which the head is capable of counterbalancing.

If the figure obtained above for your rig falls within this range, you're good to go.

If it doesn't, you need to go up or down market.

I think you'll be suprised at the result of that little exercise.

As you know, stats never lie!


CS

PS:

Ok, just plugging some figures into this equation, the Vision 3 AS is rated @ 2 kg to 5 kg at a COG of 12.5, this gives a counterbalance range of 25 kg/cm to 62.5 kg/ cm.

Your rig weighs in @ 8kg roughly. Assuming that the centre line of the lens is approximately 5.5 cm from the camera base (my Nikon D80 is only 4 cm), if that lens centre line is pretty close to correct, (and ignoring the mic for the moment) we get a COG/ mass index for the rig of 44kg/ cm, give or take some small change. This places the camera well within the counterbalance figure for the Vision 3 AS.

We still need to do the full Monty measure and weigh in I outlined above, but I think it will sneak in under the top bar for a 3 AS.

Some light reading:http://www.vinten.com/system/files/f...Balance_08.pdf

Last edited by Chris Soucy; May 3rd, 2010 at 06:37 PM. Reason: ++Update
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 08:15 PM   #7
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Nope.......................

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabyasachi Patra View Post
I seems I have to spend 5-6k USD on the tripod and head alone.
Assuming I am correct and the Vision 3 AS will do the job, you could get a complete system for considerably less.

For instance:

3821-3 2 Stage 100 mm bowl ALU tripod $849.95

3781-3 Spreadlock mid level spreader $684.99

4043-001 Vision 3 AS pan tilt head $974.95 or Vision 5 AS head $1849.95

3358-3 Vinten soft padded carry case $249.95

Stepper 100 - 75 mm stepper ring - Vinten $64.95

Total $2824.79 (Current B&H prices) $3699.79 (5AS)

There is a distributor for Vinten in India:

Vinten | Dealer/Distributor Finder | www.vinten.com

It might be worth having a chat with them and find out what the landed in India prices would be.



CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; May 3rd, 2010 at 09:28 PM.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:50 PM   #8
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Hi Chris,
You have been very helpful. As I have mentioned earlier, I have been photographing for the last 18 years, but am a complete novice as far as filming is concerned. I have been wanting to do that, however the difficulty in carrying different equipment never appealed to me. With the new video mode in the Canon 1D Mark IV, I have started venturing into filming. Obviously, I am new to fluid heads. Since I find people unable to balance their camera and lens on the Gitzo, I think people would be definitely having issues with a fluid head.

I consider wildlife photography and filming to be a lifelong learning. So I never have the hesitation in admitting lack of knowledge in any area. I have seen a few videos about setting up a fluid head, however nothing like trying it on hand. I hope it won't be a major issue in learning how to balance a fluid head.

I will do the measurements as suggested. Thanks for pointing out that there is a dealer of Vinten in New Delhi, India. I will call them up to find out if they have stock. If so, I will carry my equipment and check it in the shop. I think that will give me sufficient confidence.

If the tripod and fluid head can be obtained within 3k USD, then it would be really nice. I hope that I can extract sufficient juice from all these investments.

Thanks for all help. It is highly appreciated.

Cheers,
Sabyasachi
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