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Old March 23rd, 2011, 10:35 AM   #1
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Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Hi I just purchased this camera as I'm new to videography and would now like to purchase a tripod. This head looks satisfactory although it seems its probably not that great for HD work. But since I would just like to learn the craft at this stage it seems to be a good compromise.

My question is on attaching the camera to he head. On the base of the camera is one screw hole. The manual says that is shouldn't be screwed in any more that .2 inches which is less than a quarter of an inch!. This seems awfully flimsy to me. Especially, when tilting the camera or when moving it around on the tripod I would be constantly afraid that it would fall off. Am I missing something here?

Thanks in advance.

gary
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 11:08 AM   #2
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

the 504 head comes with a mounting plate that you attach to the camera then the mounting plate slides into the head and is locked down.
Don't worry, I've used the same plate on the 501, 503 heads in the past with 18 to 22 pound rigs and it's held up quite well. Doesn't pan or tilt as well as other heads but it hold togethor and does in fact pan and tilt just not as smooth. I would have to say after having used the 504 for a short time that it is quite a bit better than the 501 or 503 and should present no problem for you. There are of course other heads out there that are far better but for the money, it (the 504) is a decent head that should give you good use for a long time.
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 03:59 PM   #3
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Badgley View Post
Am I missing something here?
No, actually, you're not.

The 1/4" - 20 single screw fixing has been a staple of the image capturing industry since practically the American Civil War (I jest not).

Whilst it's continued use for stills and standard definition video could just about be justified on price grounds, it's hangover into the HD realm is simply astonishing and totally unjustifyable on any grounds.

Having a $1000 plus tripod/ head setup connected to a $X0000 HD/ Super HD/ Ultr HD camcorder by one 10 cent screw is just plain criminal.

However, for the moment and untill someone, somewhere, comes to their senses and produces a replacement, that's what we're all stuck with.

So, I can assure you, you're camera will not fall off such an arrangement, nor can you screw the screw in too far as they're all designed not to.

The camera may wobble a bit in a breeze, but that's about it.

On the subject of heads and sticks, if you haven't already pulled the pin on your new support system, may I make a suggestion?

If at all possible, give the 504HD a wide berth, especially if you're new to this game.

It's counterbalance system is so Neanderthal as to be something of a disgrace, and you will, in all likelyhood, keep looking at the appaling video results and wondering "what am I doing wrong"?.

The answer is you won't have developed the Tarzan muscles required to keep the head under control as it tries to launch you into space orbit or dive towards the centre of the Earth.

This behaviour can be brought under control with lashings of tilt drag, which, unfortunately, require using yet another set of equally well developed muscles to get it to tilt at all.

There are other issues which will have to wait till my review of the 504HD/ 546B setup is released here on DVinfo very shortly.

(I will just quickly add that the 546B sticks are excellent, second only to the Vinten Vision Blue Posi - Loc's, just a shame about their less than brilliantly designed mid level spreader).

In about the same price bracket but infinately better IMHO, the Libec RS - 250 serves up a much better head, with infinately varible counterbalance, though only 2 step drag all 'round.

It's pan/ tilt bearings are second only to the Sachtler FSB 6 and better even than the Vision Blue, which are a country mile better than the Manfrotto.

It's only downside is what I consider to be yet another badly designed mid level spreader, which doesn't reflect the best of the much lighter build sticks. To make myself crystal clear on that, the sticks, for their weight range, are excellent, and pretty well as good as you're ever going to get at that build weight.

However, in order to get the best of them, the spreader needs to let the legs go out to a larger angle than the current offering does, so they cannot deliver the best they could do.

That said, at full extend they're not bad.

The biggest plus in that package is the infinately variable counterbalance, which is worth it's weight in gold.

In order to surpass the RS - 250, you need to step up to the Vinten Vision Blue, which is considerably more expensive, but one heck of a lot better than either of the others mentioned here.

However, it's horses for courses, and if wallet issues preclude the Vinten, go Libec.

You'll find my reviews of both the Vinten and Libec in the Articles section of DVinfo (button at the top of every page).


CS
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Old March 24th, 2011, 04:06 AM   #4
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

I was originally thinking of getting the 504HD to use with my new Canon XF305. But what does everyone think about the 519 Pro? B&H has it for $599 ($247 off). The 504HD costs $353 at B&H so I'm wondering if anyone has used both and if so, how different are they??

Rich
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Old March 24th, 2011, 04:51 AM   #5
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Now, lets see.............

XF305, hmm, a cool $7,500 smackers at B&H.

Hmm, the support system from hell, "Manfrotto anything".

Yep, a marriage made in heaven.

Go for it my friend.

If everything I've written in these threads haven't given you the smarts to dig yourself out of your greed grave, so be it.

Go for it, don't blame me or DVinfo, you have been suitably warned, what else can we do?

You don't want to hear, so be it.

And I'm NOT saying it again, I've already done it about a thousand times, this time, take the hit.


CS

Enjoy.
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Old March 24th, 2011, 05:03 AM   #6
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Hi Chris,

I appreciate your extremely passionate response - seriously, I do. I have always used Manfrotto heads, my latest one the 503. Very pleased with it for the most part, with the exception of the small teeth. I have used it constantly for the past 5 years. I am getting my XF305 for $6K canadian with full warranty - so I'm very pleased with that.

That being said, keeping price as a concern, what head (non-Manfrotto) would you recommend knowing it would need to support a load of 15-20lbs?
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Old March 24th, 2011, 06:10 AM   #7
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Nothing at all wrong with 503 heads I have been using them for years, currently with EX1s. They do the job, and do it well. Amazing value. I do believe the new 504 is a little better, but hey, if it works !!!!
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Old March 24th, 2011, 10:02 AM   #8
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Here's 44 reviews of the 504HD head. One was bad. I had already purchased the 504Head when the bad review came in. Looks like it will serve my purpose well as I'm shooting in SD. I've got my fingers crossed. But makes me wonder how so many reviews are favourable, unless they are all fake!

Manfrotto 504HD Head w/546B 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod System Reviews | Buzzillions.com
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Old March 24th, 2011, 01:08 PM   #9
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Yeah, B&H has really good reviews too. And you need to be verified in order to review on B&H. Like Colin, I've been using the 503 for years with no issues other than the one mentioned in my prev post. I'm just wondering why Chris Soucy is so adamantly against Manfrotto (perhaps he can let us know).

Anyone use the 519 Pro? For some reason, it's "regular" price is $845US, while the 504HD is only $350. Wonder why the huge price gap?

I'm basically looking for a great head that will carry a decent amount of weight. Doesn't even need to be Manfrotto, but I would like to stay within the $600 range if possible.

Gary: how heavy are your payloads ?
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Old March 24th, 2011, 01:17 PM   #10
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Payload 10 lbs.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 12:04 AM   #11
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Gents,

When I got the chance to review the 504HD & 546B system, I was really hoping against hope, that this time, just once, they had managed to produce a similar blinder to that which Vinten produced with their Vision Blue.

Let's just put this all in context however:

I started my video career using a Manfrotto 503 head on a set of 520B sticks, parked under my Canon XL1s, for about 4 years.

It worked great, never a whimper from me about any part of it, though I always noticed it didn't quite do what I thought I was telling it to do, but I lived with it, money was tight and that was that.

Then came the change to HD with a Canon XH A1.

Within 30 seconds of reviewing my first HD footage, I realised, to my utter horror, that every single flaw of the Manfrotto kit was writ large on that 46" screen and was so embarassing as to actually make me cringe.

A minor breeze would push it sideways, pullback after a pan was eye watering, touch the camera whilst shooting? You must be joking!

Counterbalance? What the heck was that? Why does my footage crawl up the scene as soon as I let go the pan bar unless I've got the drag set to infinity and made the systems drawbacks even more obvious?

In short, it simply had to go.

But where?

Thus started one seems to have been a one man crusade to remedy the appallingly slack attitude of support manufacturers when describing their support systems.

How much wind up?

How much receiver warp?

How much pullback?

How rigid is it?

Ever seen any figures for those?

Nope, you won't, till CH gets the new database up here on DVinfo, 'cos I've got 'em.

Now, back to my problem.

I eventually decided to go for a Vinten Vision 3 head to see if that solved my problem.

Nope, the sticks still waved around like wheat in a gale, wound up and let go so bad at the end of a pan as to make the last 2 seconds of any pan unusable.

OK, new sticks, but what?

Nobody out there is saying squat about how rigid their sticks are, because they don't have to and it's one nice big cosy club.

Finally decided to go for broke and stumped for a set of Vinten FiberTecs, which, for the uninitiated, are the camera support equivalent of a 4 ton block of reinforced concrete with a head on top, all weighing in at about 9 kilos.

Heavy by a Vision Blus standards? Oh, yeah.

Manfrotto - your kidding.

Libec - don't make me laugh.

Sachtler 75 CF's - joke time.

Pounds the lot of them, yes, even the VB, straight into the ground.

So, FF a bit and I've now got a Vinten 3 AS parked on these babies and have, to all intents and purposes, the camera support from heaven.

So, now I get a chance to review other systems, all costing far less than the system I shoot with, but hopefully I bear that in mind.

So, I do bear it in mind, but I am also very aware about how many people read what I write and how it can effect their purchasing decisions BUT, so many of the people reading what I write have access to probably some poxy stills tripod 25 years old and can't even imagine what I'm talking about when it comes to decent video camera support.

FF again.

OH, one BIG THING to bear in mind here: I DO NOT get paid by the manufacturers, suppliers or DVinfo for my reviews, thus, I cannot be bought. I DO NOT rely on any of the previous mentioned for a living and can thus say exactly what I think without fear of being "struck off", 'cos that's simply not possible.

Thus, I am probably one of the few out there that can tell it like it is AND have a background with kit far superior to that I'm writing about.

The 504HD was found seriously wanting, compared to any other head I've ever used, heck, in some respects it's worse than the 503 I used to use, and that's saying something.

Read the other reviews you'll find around the net by all means, but ask yourself one question: What do these people know and what are they getting out of it?

Most people buying a 504HD cold are probably newbies who still haven't figured out which way to point the camera (just a guess, that's where I started) but are now parking this stuff under HD cameras which are so unforgiving, it will give them serious pain in very short order.

If I get frustrated here, it's the sheer unadulterated (and totally delusional) belief that a 7.5K (or even a $600) HD camera can satisfactorily sit on a sub $1 k support system and produce epic footage, straight out of the box.

It can't, won't and never will.


CS

PS: Chris H, will you have this post leather bound and give it a print run of, say, 50,000? We can hand 'em out at B&H to see if we can educate the masses.

I jest.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 05:55 AM   #12
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Watch it folks, Soucy's skipped his medication again!

At the end of the day, if someone is happy with a $300 tripod for their $10,000 camera, then happy days. As long as the user is satisfied with the performance they are getting.

People like me & Chris just try to advise. Just want to point out issues, and have others avoid the (expensive0 mistakes we have made.

If people don't care about drift back, balance etc., then that's fine. Read the rave reviews at B&H for $200 tripods, they must do something for someone.

I hate my 501HDV head - I only use it when I need to travel light. I find the ergonomics bad, the drift-back dreadful, the pans not smooth at all, and the tension adjustment poor. But if I go to B&H, the 501HDV gets rave reviews. So clearly I'm just wrong!
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Old March 25th, 2011, 06:10 AM   #13
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Hey Mike,

I do value everyone's opinions on this board. It's just that I know absolutely nothing about tripods/heads other than what I've used up until now.

Not sure if I mentioned earlier, but I shoot events - mainly weddings. I need a "very good" tripod and head to go with my new camera. My budget is ~$1000 for both. I assume this can get me something along the good-to-very-good price point, but I could be wrong?

Let's just put it this way, I'm used to the 503 head/555b leveling column (freakin' amazing BTW - I love it!!) and 055CL (these sticks were excellent before I moved to my heavier Z7U).

Rich.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 07:04 AM   #14
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Hi Richard,

It's all about getting the right tool for the job. I'm not sure about the exchange rates, but I think the Vision Blue is around US$1100. Sachtler FSB-6 can be had for around the $1200 mark. You'd need to check the weight of your rig against the specs of both, to make sure that your camera is well within their payload ranges.

Really, you'd probably be well-happy with the Vision Blue (or Vision 3AS if your cam is too heavy), or the 504HD or equivalent Sachtler systems. All of them are very capable of being used in your situation.

If you can try before you buy, then all the better. If not - try to get a dealer who will let you return and replace the tripod with another model if you are unhappy. Maybe try contacting Vinten, they have been known to send out "loaners" for people to try before purchase.

I chose the Vinten because of their perfect balance, their reputation for low or no drift-back, and rugged construction. Others will choose Sachtler (easier to transport), or Manfrotto (a bit cheaper) - all valid reasons.

I have a tripod similar to yours, coupled with the 501HDV head. It is good for what it does, and you have to work with the limitations (i.e. don't expect good pans and full telephoto!). Comparing it to my (former) Sachtler or Vinten, it is night and day.

I'm going round in circles here I think, but my summary is:
- Vinten, Sachtler, new Manfrotto, Libec RS- series, Miller - these are all good brands, and different people make different choices for their own reasons.
- All of them are a huge leap from your old Manfrotto
- Work out what you can afford, and which of them is within your budget
- Work out your requirements (light and portable, or ultra-stable)
- Try before you buy!
- Ask if you can exchange the tripod if you don't like it

And yes, we can help. But we can't decide. :-)
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Old March 25th, 2011, 02:34 PM   #15
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Re: Canon XL2 to Manfrotto 504HD

Thanks alot for the help Chris and Mike. Looks like my new 504HD will be going back. There's a good review online of the Libec RS 250 by Nigel Cooper. He explains in the review how the counter balance system is supposed to work. I had no idea. So, if the 504HD can't properly counter balance then that's a deal breaker.

Thanks again for your time.

Much appreciated.

Gary
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