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-   -   I Need Tripod Tips (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/tripod-sticks-heads/490345-i-need-tripod-tips.html)

Kevin Lewis January 18th, 2011 04:29 PM

I Need Tripod Tips
I just purchased a Manfrotto tripod, the legs are model 546bk with a 501hdv head. My old tripop had a center colum which allowed you to rise or lower just the head which made things very easy when it came to having to constantly adjust when on a shoot. The new one does not have the center colum and all height adujstments take place with the legs. Can any one offer any tips on how to quickly adjust the height in a fast moving enviroment when theres no center colum involved. Thanks.

Simon Wood January 18th, 2011 04:40 PM

I've only used tripods with a rising center column for use with stills cameras.

The manfrotto tripod you have should have a fluid head which will allow you to find the level (the horizon) much quicker. Generally you would be using much the same height for your work (sitting or standing subjects) so unless you are running around on really uneven ground it would be unlikely that you would be changing height too much. What I do is grab the vertical handle right under the head, and then release the legs allowing them to fall to the ground one by one while taking the weight, and then locking the legs.

If things are really moving fast then the camera is on my shoulder.

Allan Black January 18th, 2011 04:52 PM

Here's how I do it. Spend some time and get your comfortable camera working height on your tripod established. Do this on a dead flat surface, make sure each leg is even length, then mark each leg with a temporary marker. You might have 2 or 3 camera heights you like to work with.

Shoot with these camera/tripod heights for a while to confirm them, then use a permanent marker. Of course you'll have to then adjust the legs on uneven ground, but it's a good start. Keep refering to the bubble level, and once you're happy try a 180 degree pan to check the horizons level.

Also to balance your camera on the tripod, stick a thin strip of white tape on the lower left side of the cam.

Work out the exact balanced point of the camera on the tripod and mark its centre position on the tape. You might have 2 or 3 marks depending on the weight of each accessory .. like a heavy WA lens convertor on the front.

This all makes for fast setups without guesswork. Hope this helps.


Chris Soucy January 18th, 2011 07:14 PM

Hi, Kevin...........
The 546B's are pretty good sticks, but in common with just about every other video tripod ever made with 3 sections, it has 6 leg locks and a further 3 twist locks on the spreader and then, of course, there's the head levelling.

This does not make for quick anything, to be honest, no matter what you do.

If things are moving that fast and you really must keep changing the shooting height, you'd probably get a lot more milage out of something like this:

Manfrotto Fluid Video Monopod with Head - Fluid

which reduces the component count substantially.

Keep the tripod for something a tad less hectic.

One more trick up it's sleeve is that it will take the 501PL plate from the 501 head allowing effortless and quick transfer from one to the other.

An alternative if you don't mind shelling out some pretty serious dosh, is the Sachtler Soom system:


which really is designed to give you the best of both a tripod and monopod combined, but as I said, it's exxy.

If even that isn't fast enough for you, the next step up in "instant" height change is something like a SteadyCam, but now you're talking big bickies.

It's horses for courses, tripods were never meant to be instantly infinately variable, the Soom excepted.


Kevin Lewis January 18th, 2011 10:32 PM

Thanks for the input eveyone. Chrsi thanks for the suggestions. I should have done more research prior to my purchase. I only purchased it about 3 weeks ago. I'm thinking about replaceing it with this one which is comparbale in price:

Any thoughts on this? Will the 501HDV fit on this?

Chris Soucy January 18th, 2011 11:52 PM

The 501 will fit on that, and within about 2 days (HD) or month (SD) you'll be wishing you could throw it off a pier with it attached to your legs!

That's a stills rig, and has nowhere near the rigidity required for HD video shooting (you didn't say) and would be a trial even for SD, long term.

This is one of the reasons why the Sachtler Soom system is so bloody expensive - it has to be rock solid (or as near as can be done with a centre column) to take account of HD shooting.

I think you really need to seriously evaluate what, exactly, you're shooting, under what conditions and give the required support more thought, taking into account your budget.

A hint as to what you shoot, with what and where, would be a help.


Kevin Lewis January 19th, 2011 03:47 PM

Chris you may be right. I think what I am going to do is try to get used to the 546bk legs that I just purchased. It may be that i'm just used to having that center colum which puts me in a postion where I dont have to worry about the legs being even when going vertical, I simply raise the center colum. Even with the one I have, I guess the legs dont need to be exactly even as long as the head is showing level correct? This weekend I plan on doing lots of shooting just to get used to the new sticks. I shoot HD exclusivly using hte XHA1 which I belive is what you shoot with correct?

Don Bloom January 19th, 2011 04:03 PM

There is another choice. It is a Manfrotto set of legs #028B which has a center column and with the lower legs it will get sky high. I've had 2 sets for many many years (back when it was known as Bogen and the number was 3046/3246-same legs but 3246 was black). Here's what I did. I opened the crank caseing, removeed the gear and handle mechanism, covered the hole and use the knob to lock the column.

Very quick to adjust, like the great O'Connor HotPod. Of course the O'Connor is the choice of almost every news shooter I have ever known but they aren't around anymore and when you DO find one it ain't cheap but you get a gold standard of tripods.

I've run 28 pound rigs on the set up so it can be done with the proper head. I had a 526 or 529 head (don't remember the exact model any more) but also used a 516 head on it for lighter rigs, in the area of 18 to 20 pounds.

I think the legs are about $230 USD but I might be wrong. They are almost always available on the big auction site that starts with E.

Chris is right. The Soom might be the way to go it depends on (wait for it....) your budget.

Good luck with your choice.

Kevin Lewis January 19th, 2011 04:57 PM


The link that I referenced in my ealier post, is the tripod that replaced the 3246. It has great reviews and seems like a good tripod. Im still thinking about getting it, but I wont sell the sticks I just purchased until I have a chance to test it.

Don Bloom January 19th, 2011 05:41 PM

Hey Kevin, so you did. :-) I didn't have my glasses on when I read it. Sorry 'bout that.

I've been very happy with the 3246/028B legs for many years and the AHA moment came when the center column gear locked up on me one time. I removed the gear and handle and viola! A revalation! Quick release up and down and unless I've got that puppy all the way up, it's stable enough for most work that I do.

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