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Old June 21st, 2010, 01:13 PM   #1
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sticks/fluid head for handycams

Handycams (e.g. Canon Vixia HF S200) continue to get better, and lighter. Most weigh under 500g (1 lb).

Are there any sticks / fluid heads designed for such lightweight cameras? That actually work that is -- give smooth controllable motion?

Everything I've found has been geared for much heavier video cameras. To use a handycam on one you have to adjust all the tension out, and it's often still too much. This results in jerky starts, and panning and tilting typically respond differently. Very difficult to control.

Since this is an ongoing trend in video -- smaller, lighter, better -- I would think that some company would be making equipment to support and work well with these smaller cameras. That I haven't found such a tripod / fluid head probably means that I just don't know where to look.

So... where do I look to find a tripod and/or fluid head designed to work with cameras under 500g?
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Old June 21st, 2010, 01:40 PM   #2
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Smaller Cameras

I have the HF10, and I just bought the Manfrotto 701HDV and it works perfectly. I also bought the Manfrotto 055XB legs, so when I buy a more advanced camera I only have to upgrade my head.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 02:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Frink View Post
I have the HF10, and I just bought the Manfrotto 701HDV and it works perfectly. I also bought the Manfrotto 055XB legs, so when I buy a more advanced camera I only have to upgrade my head.
That's more or less what I have, and I'm not happy with it. Even the 701 head with the least tension possible is insufficient for smooth pans. It has a load capacity of 4 kg which is more than 10x what my handycam weighs (340g (12 oz)). I'm looking for something that's built to support maybe 1 kg. And silky smooth. With some form of a quick release of course.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 04:47 PM   #4
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Hmm I can't help you there. Have you tried the rubber band trick for your starts and stops and pans?
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Old June 21st, 2010, 07:35 PM   #5
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Hi............

Well, untill something else more purpose designed hits the streets, the best I can suggest is a second hand Vinten Vision 3 used with the counterbalance spring removed.

(I have one and use it in this mode for my HV20 dinky cam, works a treat)

The slightest bit of tilt drag (#4) will suffice to keep the camera from drooping and, of course, it's the "real deal" when it comes to smooth.

The slide plate needs to be pushed almost all the way forward to counterbalance the pan arm, but no harm in that.

Quick release included, no extra charge (not that I really need one, if I want to use my Canon XH A1 I simply remove the V 3 and replace it with my V 3 AS and attached camera).

With a bit of trial and error it may actually be possible to source a spring that will do the necessary for such light cameras, tho' it could be more hassle than it's worth (it certainly has been for me).


CS

PS: In case anyone's wondering, the slide plates on the original V 3 and the new V 3 AS are not identical, so rather than go through all the buggering around of changeing slide plates, it's easier to simply change heads for the different cameras.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; June 22nd, 2010 at 01:11 AM. Reason: Instructive Addition
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 03:10 AM   #6
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Depending on budget, you should consider a Sachtler FSB-2. These are rated for 0-2kg without modifying them, removing springs etc. Prices around $800 - considerably cheaper than the Vintens so beloved by my right honourable friend from New Zealand. (Rightfully so, as Vinten are very, very good.)

As far as I am aware, the FSB-2 is pretty much the only pro level tripod that is suitable for these cameras. Yes,it's $800, but the Vinten is twice that at least when new, and with those Poziloc legs is a beast of a machine.

Try an FSB-2 if you can get to a store. You'll love it. I recommend it over the Vinten because it is (a) purpose designed for small cameras (b) cheaper! and (c) easier to carry around.

Downsides - well, if you see yourself upgrading to a larger camera in future, and adding support rails, matte box etc., then you need to sell your tripod and get a new one. But buying a super expensive tripod now may be folly, as anything capable of supporting larger cameras is unlikely to be suitable for tinycams.

Even with the FSB-2, you are paying the same for your tripod as you paid for your camera! But while cameras continue to reduce in price due to the continuous improvement and reduction in cost of electronics, good mechanical engineering is still expensive.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 09:03 AM   #7
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Mike,

I looked at Sachtler. Looked at the whole line. I have no idea how I missed the FSB-2. That's exactly what I am looking for! Thanks.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 10:22 AM   #8
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No worries Bruce. The FSB-2 was probably hiding at the end of the line.

I would be interested to hear what the FSB-2 is like if you ever try it out. I have an older DV6-SB which is overkill for my lightweight Panasonic, but I love it too much to sell it right now. FSB-2 and FSB-4 heads both feature a "zero" minimum counterbalance setting.

The FSB-2 is supposed to have the same engineering as the bigger models, for buttery smooth pans and tilts, with no compromises other than payload and counterbalance.
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