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Old October 15th, 2011, 01:31 AM   #1
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Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

Greetings! I am trying to decide which tripod system will be best for me and I've hit that point of 'analysis to paralysis'. I need a shove in one direction or another. Right now, the camcorder I plan on using will probably be a Sony HXR-NX5U that weighs ~5lbs 11oz with a mic and battery. Like everything in life, the weight will probably increase with time and more peripherals, however, I don't want to 'overkill' my needs. My short list of heads with sticks is as follows:

1. Vinten Vision Blue Tripod system (a Chris Soucy fave) ~2.1 - 5kg (4.6 - 11lb max capacity)

2. Vinten V3AS -CP2F CF Pozi-Loc sticks (also a Chris S. Fave) ~1.8 - 4.1kg (4-9lb max capacity)

3. Sachtler FSB 4 with CF Sticks ~0 - 4kg (8.8lb max capacity)

4. Sachtler FSB 6 with CF Sticks ~1 - 6kg (2.2 - 13.2lb max capacity)

Note: The ranges are those listed by the manufacturer.


While the upper range is important, it's the lower number I'm most concerned with when considering a 'small form factor camcorder'. I don't want to find out the hard way my camcorder is too light for the Head and sticks, while at the same time I want the capacity for a little growth. Just based on the above, my initial choice would be the Sachtler FSB 6 and CF sticks.

I'd like to hear back from folks who've got some 'real world' experience. Also, this list is not etched in stone by any stretch of the imagination, so if you have alternate choices let's hear it.

Thanks in advance,

Jim
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Old October 15th, 2011, 03:13 AM   #2
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

They are all fine tripod systems, James. I bet if you got any of them, you would be delighted. Maybe just consider the FSB-6 over the FSB-4 if you have any worries about adding one or two more accessories.

I have experience with both the Vinten Poziloc legs and Sachtler CF legs. The weight saving isn't that much with the CF legs, to be honest. I remember being alarmed at how heavy my Sachtler system was when I first got it. Weight is important for stability though. The CF Speedlocks were good for set-up/knock down times, but they were a bit "twisty" for me, and you could notice some drift back when panning at the long end of your lens.

The Vinten Poziloc legs are built like a brick outhouse/dunny/outdoor toilet. A few lbs heavier than the Sachtler CFs, but they are as solid as rock.

As to heads, I can only compare the Vinten VB with the previous generation of Sachtler heads (DV6 SB in my case). The Vinten has ZERO drift back in its fluid, and to me the Vinten "feel" is much, much better than the Sachtler. I can pull off shots now that I could only have dreamed of, even with my expensive Sachtler system, the drag is just perfect.

As I said, overall you wouldn't be disappointed by any of those systems, so the wiggle room in the decision comes down to a lot of personal preference and gut feelings from wonks like me and Chris!
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Old October 15th, 2011, 04:54 AM   #3
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

There are many many many threads on DVInfo that weigh these tripods. I have the FSB 4 as a B-cam tripod and I'm happy with it. An FSB-6 will serve you well for your current and next camera assuming you move upward. The Sachtler stuff will retains it's value and could well be passed onto the next generation. haha

When all things are equal, I look at ergonomics. They are an important factor for me and could be a way to distinguish which is better for you. Setup and take down of the legs may be a frequent irritation for you.

Personally, I prefer side mount heads rather than slide in heads. The advantage (for me), is that with a side mount, you get the majority of the weight of your camera rig onto the tripod in one lift and drop the remaining side into the locked position. In that instant, your camera is locked ... no knob tightening is required. With a slide-in mount, you're holding all the weight of your camera rig as you finesse the plate into the slide. and then tighten it into place. Removing the camera has similar issues. YMMV.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #4
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

Gentleman, thank you for your timely and thoughtful responses.

Mike...I agree with you about the presumed 'weight savings' of CF tripods. In a former incarnation I did a little 'stills' photog work. A Gitzo G1325 Mk. 2 CF tripod with a Rollie 6000i and a 300mm chunk of Schott glass attached, humping that sucker up and down the 'hills' of Gatlinburg, TN was no easy feat, and I was a much younger man, back then. Heh, heh! Thank you for your insight.

Les...yes, I have discovered the 'search' function, it has been a major contributor to my schizophrene. Heh, heh! Everytime I leave my latest 'search', I'm convinced I know which direction I'm going to take, and then I do another 'search'. Oy Gevalt! Based upon the research I've completed, 'side-mounted' heads are a desireable feature, but with all the 'marketing-ese' I'm not able to tell which Fluid Heads are side-mount. Can you help break the code?
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Old October 15th, 2011, 05:27 PM   #5
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

I have the Cartoni Focus and Sachtler FSB 4. Both are side mount types and I think it''s consistent throughout the other current models (not necessarily older ones) but I can't say for sure about all the Cartoni. I also have a Manfrotto 701 and it is not side mounted.

Yeah, CF legs are necessarily lighter. I think the value for legs is in the material's quality of being stiffer per pound than aluminum.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 06:45 PM   #6
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

Les...if I understand correctly, all FSB 4's and Cartoni Focus are side-mounts?

J.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 07:09 PM   #7
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

Well, you're making me wonder if they changed the load mechanism before changing to the FSB model name or within the model. You best contact Barbara Jaumann at vitecgroup.com. She often posts around here.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 08:07 PM   #8
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

That's................

Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com (Sachtler Product Manager)


CS
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Old October 15th, 2011, 10:51 PM   #9
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

Thanks Les & Chris!

Chris...thank you very much for your excellent reviews of tripods. As I type this I have a copy of your Vinten Vision Blue review sitting on my desk, which I plan on re-reading tonight.

Regards,

J.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 11:09 PM   #10
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

James...............

Given your CV in the intro up the page, I take that as a very high honour indeed, thank you.

It (reviewing camera supports) might seem about as gripping as having a 2 hour discussion on 6 inch nails, but it's such a desperately overlooked part of the entire package required for decent vidography I just sort of fell into what was a completely vacant field (sort of:"In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King" sort of thing).

Glad it, er, they, are of some use.

Good luck with the new venture, hope your back is in good shape for lugging all that gear you'll acumulate around!


CS

PS: Nobody was actually blind, the manufacturers simply refused to turn the lights on, by allowing independent, non - paid for reviews of any of their gear. That I have changed (for now).
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Old October 16th, 2011, 12:57 PM   #11
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

Chris...thank you for the kind words.

I received a PM from Barbara, both the FSB 4 and FSB 6 are 'side-load' heads. If I understood her correctly, the FSB 6 capacity (~8.2kg or 18lbs max) is more than needed for the 'NX5' and the FSB 4 is okay (~3.66kg or 8lbs max), but not a lot of room for growth. I have responded and asked if I misunderstood.

Totally off topic: Does anyone besides me get a "geek rush" about the veiled reference to "I, Robot" with the 'NX5'? Heh, heh!

If you think tripod reviews are a bit on the boring-side, try digesting Alan Roberts, "Colormetric and Resolution Requirements of Cameras" for a little late-night pillow fare. Heh, heh! I've read several on specific cameras I've been looking at and decided at this point I don't necessarily need BBC 'broadcast quality' video. Although, the Sony HXR-NX5U, with a peripheral recording device will allow me to capture 4:2:2 or for that matter 4:4:4 at 50Mb/s or higher data transfer.

Sorry for taking up so much bandwidth.

Best regards,

J.
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Old October 17th, 2011, 11:20 PM   #12
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Re: Small Form Factor camcorder Tripod System

I have small confession to make. The "I, Robot" reference I made to regarding the Sony HXR-NX5U, is incorrect. One of the DVi contributors pointed out that in "I, Robot", the new robots were "NS5" series not 'NX5s'. To complete my humiliation, I used "CyberDyne" as the company creating the 'NS5s', it was noted that 'CyberDyne' was the company in "Terminator". Wait...there's a knock at my door, it's the 'geek police' there here to take my geek card from me, nooooo.....

Signing off. Treat your loved ones and yourselves well.

J.
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