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Old November 25th, 2011, 03:42 PM   #46
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Re: Twist at tripod head

I gather that Richard's aim for this exercise is to be able to pan two cameras at once but with tilt control on one camera (using a longer focal length) only.

I am a little vague as to what the plan is for the “loaner” Vision Blue, maybe all will be revealed in due course.

The set-up shown in my previous post is possible because there is easy access to a sizeable platform between pan and tilt units to which a second camera can be attached. It would be very easy to modify a design like the Miller LP (below) to do something similar. I have bought a couple of these for about $60 each at a local flea market. Despite being about 40 years old the one shown works very well and internally there are very few signs of wear. I have modified the mounting platform to facilitate camera attachment and initial balance.

In this head the tilt unit is attached to the pan drum by three internal bolts (1/4” Whit). If a suitable plate was fitted between the base of the tilt unit and the pan drum it would provide an attachment point for a second camera. It would be a simple and reversible modification.

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Old November 25th, 2011, 05:43 PM   #47
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Alastair you are exactly right on the two camera setup.

As to the loaner I think Chris's aim to to be able to show me what "quality" is without the cost of purchase. Since I know nothing about equipment that will give me an idea of the direction I want to go in my purchase of equipment. I don't want to spend that kind of money but would if I think it is that good. I have 3 years left of high school with our kids so I know I can get good use out of anything I purchase as I am filming football, basketball, volleyball, and anything other thing the kids get into.

As to the Miller head something like that would be so easy to modify, build a plate, get 3 longer bolts, and I am in business. The main question would be would this head be too much for small camcorders? How smooth would the pan/tilt be with little weight. Since football is the only thing I film with two cameras maybe a setup like this would work great and still not cost much. My issue is that I am so in the dark as to what might work and what won't work.

If you are doing the machining on the two items you have shown in this thread then you are quite the master.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 08:28 PM   #48
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Hi Richard,

I can’t remember the weight rating of the LP (light professional) heads, but I think it was around 20 pounds. However this style of head has no counter springs so it will tip forward or backwards as the case might be if the camera’s C. of G. is not exactly over the tilt axis. I do not know how Miller estimated weight ratings in those days but the LP has no bearings as such and the silicone fluid, although very good at damping, is not regarded as a good lubricant. I suspect the rating was more related to the surface area of the fluid film than anything else. Weight ratings of current tripod heads have to take into account the weight of the camera and the height of its C.of G. above the tilt axis.

I have previously posted pictures of two homemade heads (thanks for the compliments re machining) that do not require balance springs as the aim is to align the camera’s C.of G. with the tilt axis. When set up correctly the camera can be left in any position and stay there. It makes for a bulky head but as they can be mounted with the pan unit uppermost, use very close to the ground is possible. I am currently working on a new system that makes low level work much easier. I can effect fluid damped pans and tilts with a “tripod/ tripod head” combination that stands at about 3” high. Very slow pans are possible thus permitting the use of longer focal lengths.

I have modified my LP so that I can move the camera backwards or forwards to suit the choice of lens etc and the tilt angle that I am working on. I do not have to tilt the camera very far before I have to counter the the effect of the shift in centre of gravity. In practice I rarely perform extensive tilts so this behaviour is not of great concern. A lighter and lower camera would reduce this effect. However despite this limitation it is capable of smooth movements as one would expect, after all it was an industry standard in its day, at least in this country. I would think it would satisfy your current needs.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 08:44 PM   #49
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Interesting mod Alistair. That is the same style of fluid head I have been using, very controllable and very predictable.

For very past pans, the friction even when backed right off will move the tripod over or force the ball mount over unless you brace to the camera or lens with second hand. This is not always the best for lightweight plastic camera body/tripod base structures like small Sonys which tend to tear away. Another older black Miller design has an extra free pan stage with a release thumbscrew. In real world it is difficult to go after when you are tracking a moving object. I inevitably fly ahead of the shot when the friction is released, so no real advantage. The tilt on this head has two thumbscrews for friction plus the wheel. I never did really work out what did what except that the wheel seemed to lock it. Smoothest and most controllable of them all though.

My solution has been to use a second pan/tilt handle in the spare mount which is found on the older Millers and to face it forward into a convenient seesaw arrangement. It also can become a handy rest for the wrist of the lens control hand.

Last edited by Bob Hart; November 25th, 2011 at 08:53 PM. Reason: error
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Old November 25th, 2011, 09:52 PM   #50
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Interesting head, and eminately modifiable as already said.

However, my concerns would be:

Maddeningly, the photo does not show the clamp knob.

The reason that is important is that those sticks look like you'd need a small team of native bearers to transport the support system alone, so a new, lightweight set of sticks would be a must unless you're trying out for the Olympic Weight Lifting Team.

Hence, needing to know the format and dimensions of the clamp knob & cup to determine compatability.

Also, is that a 75 or 100 mm bowl/ ball?

The absence of a CB system of any sort is also a worry. Shooting an entire football game, hanging on to the pan bar like grim death, is going to be a major issue.

Dialling in drag is just as bad, as then you're trying to get it to move when it doesn't want to for the duration, and you're back to the Olympics team again.

As for the VB loaner, yep, it's all about getting to test drive something without having to risk the budget buying it first and finding out it's not for you, you need a baseline to determine any decision.

Unfortunately, I can't think of one modern fluid head that is easily modifiable to suport both a tilting and a non tilting cam at the same time, as that Miller is.

However, the Miller's downsides may make it unusable as well.

As for a COG head, I can't think of a current production model that allows for that scenario either, so it's a bit of a stalemate at the moment.

I'll wait for the VB trial and take it from there, and I'm sure Richard "has a plan" up his sleeve.


CS
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Old November 25th, 2011, 10:51 PM   #51
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Hi Bob,

When I bought this tripod and head it was fitted with the Miller “slip/pan” unit. This is essentially a second pan unit mounted on top of the first but with much less drag. It could be locked off so that all drag was provided by the main pan unit or unlocked for rapid pans. As it was not working I removed it which is how I know about its insides. This slip/pan stage had been fitted with a large rubber washer that looked as though it had swollen over the years to the the extent that rotation was impossible.

If rapid pans are important to you, have you thought of using a lower viscosity fluid? I use G.E.’s Viscasil 600,000 because it was available as a free sample as well as being a good choice. It seems to be similar to that used in the LP. There are many other grades available. As the happy relationship between drag and torque breaks down at high shear gradients you could also try providing more clearance between drum and cylinder to obtain more control at fast pan rates. The large head (with the EX3) I showed earlier has continuously variable drag control. The drag variation is achieved by the ability to vary the thickness of the fluid layer.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 10:55 PM   #52
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Re: Twist at tripod head

I think my new plan is to come up with a mounting system and get Alastair to build it, better than anything I could ever do.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 11:23 PM   #53
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Wait untill you try a whip pan with the Vinten head, Richard, you're in for a bit of a suprise.

I don't know how they do it, but no matter what drag level is set, it will whip like there's nothing holding it.

Scary, but true.

Another reason I wanted you to try the VB.

As for Alastair building whatever, I couldn't agree more, he's obviously a master at what he does, er, did, er, whatever.

Those photo's of the stuff he's produced are just totally gob smacking.

Any ETA on the gear?


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Old November 26th, 2011, 01:57 AM   #54
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Re: Twist at tripod head

No ETA but I have been told I will be notified when it ships. I am also next in line so I expect soon. Basketball season has started so I will see what the set can do on pans. Football may or may not end later today in the third round of playoffs as teams from our area never tend to make it any further.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 09:24 AM   #55
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Re: Twist at tripod head

The drag resistance is something I have become used to. A half-hour out in the sun with the pan and tilt friction backed right off and exercising the fluid for a few mnutes once warmed up helps a lot.

It also forces me to choose a better position for things like take-offs. It is more pleasing image-wise to be closer to head-on than oblique to the movement, let the aircraft do the work and fly out of the shot overhead instead of trying to take in everything.

The Vintens are good. I have an old busted Vinten 22 on 150mm bowl on genione sticks, which I should get round to fixing one day. Unfortunately, the alloy will not TIG weld. It was tried by a gun aviation welder who joins just about every metal known to man.

Give him some toothpicks and some sheets of threeply and he will weld those too ( just kidding ). Also unfortunately, it is the same controls and fittings on Vintens which get wrecked. Fortunately, I can use the SHAN TM700 on the head for supporting a heavy camera better than the traditional Vinten plate could. The diecast knob carriers can be remade on a metal lathe with a bit of trouble.

The friction and counterbalance system is good. BTW, are those actually early model Mini-Cooper valve springs inside there?
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Old November 26th, 2011, 09:33 AM   #56
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Chris.


The tilt lock clamp knob is that half-thumbscrew head sticking out on the right. With the two pan/tilt handle mount points, you can have the tilt lock control on the right or like Vinten 22, on the left. The mechanism is the same, simple clamp on hard stainless disk except that with the Vinten 22 it is inside the casework. On the old Millers, it is external.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 04:32 PM   #57
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Hi Chris and Richard,

Thanks to all the excitement you have generated about the Vinten Blue I went along to the local agent only to find they did not stock them despite listing the full range on their web-site. I did get to play briefly with a hire Vinten and my EX3 with 300 mm lens fitted. They were not sure about the model (it was not a current model) but it was a size up from the Blue. It had the best movement I have seen in a counter balanced system - all the others have left me cold. However they will only get me one if I am sure I want to buy it.

For your information the bowl size of the Miller LP is 4”. A 3/8’’ Whit stud attaches the claw ball to the base of the head and extends downwards to the clamp knob. I could supply a picture of the knob and cup but I guess it very similar to other manufacturers who use the same system.

The Miller legs are bulky and hefty but they were manageable for previous generations and I would expect that Richard’s kids could help. I am still using mine and I am definitely not “trying out for the Olympic weight lifting team”.

I am guessing that the sporting events Richard is interested in are all played on level playing fields and that he he will be seeking a viewpoint with a slight height advantage. Therefore I am also guessing that there will not be a great deal of tilting involved but a lot of panning.

As far as “hanging on to the tripod handle like grim death for a full game” is concerned one could use the lack of a CB system to advantage. The camera platform modification shown permits 7” of EX3 travel. Being a left hander I prefer to position the tripod handle on the left side of the head and have it pointing forward. If I then then set the camera’s C. of G. behind the tilt axis it tries to tilt upwards. I can use this overbalance to support the weight of my hand and fore-arm.

I assume a whip pan is panning as fast as possible with the intention of redirecting the camera from one point of interest to somewhere else, such as when a ball is kicked from one side of the playing field to the other. They might be fun to do and require great skill but are not necessarily something that an audience would enjoy. With the proposed system whereby both cameras share the same pan platform both cameras will whip pan at the same time, admittedly the effect will not be so objectionable in the camera with the wider view. If these concerns have any merit it maybe worth going back to Richard’s initial scheme but replacing the velcro belt or timing belt with an adaptation of the rubber band trick. Perhaps by using a timing belt system that has a couple of extension springs built in. This would be set up so that the timing belt sections engage with the pan units on each head and the springs would join the ends of the belt sections. In this scenario a rapid pan of one head would result in an extension of one connecting spring causing the second head to rotate at a rate depending on drag setting and spring tension etc. That is the whip pan on the "slave" head would be less noticeable than in the "control" head. The idea would require the use of two heads capable of of withstanding some lateral load.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 08:57 PM   #58
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
Hi Chris and Richard,

I went along to the local agent only to find they did not stock them
That seems to be the way it is with the VB's. Simply put, Vinten cannot build/ supply them as fast as they run out of dealers doors, so they have to order them in.


Quote:
However they will only get me one if I am sure I want to buy it.

Full marks to them then, any system like that is a very hefty investment and an even more expensive mistake if you get it wrong.

If you. or anyone reading this, wish to test drive any model of Vinten or Sachtler, not just the VB, fire a mail to:

Vinten Peter.Harman@VitecGroup.com

Sachtler Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com

giving them as much detail of your kit and requirements as you can, and they WILL arrange it.

Both are passionate about their jobs, their respective equipment, customer service and are EXCELLENT ambassadors for their respective companies.

I just wish other support manufacturers were as accomodating.

(No, I don't get paid for this, BTW! But I do deal with both on a regular basis.)

Quote:
I could supply a picture of the knob and cup but I guess it (is) very similar to other manufacturers who use the same system.

Well, I wouldn't be so sure. I know both Vinten and Libec's chunky 3 lobed clamp knobs and large cups have issues with some other makes/ models of tripod due to differences in the reciever design. I have learnt the hard way never to assume it will work as imagined.


Quote:
I assume a whip pan is panning as fast as possible with the intention of redirecting the camera from one point of interest to somewhere else, such as when a ball is kicked from one side of the playing field to the other.

Er, not exactly, in fact one of the surest ways to guarantee the viewers throw up their lunch.

I won't go into too much detail here, but for fast action sports/ close quarter effects it is an absolutely mezmerising technique, though it can only be used if the object of ones attention is first coming more or less straight at you, then passes withing feet or yards of you (and the camera) before heading off in the other direction, all at very high speed.

In the right hands it truly is spellbinding, as the background is completely lost by keeping the target centred in the frame and as large as you can make it with the zoom lens to hand.

In the wrong/ untrained hands it is a dead cert upchuck inducer.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Something that may have been lost in the welter of posts in this thread, is that Richards support system will be multi tasked, and not soley used in the the twin camera mode.

As such we're either looking at your suggestion Alastair, with the Miller for twin cam operation OR a (something) that can be modified to perform both twin cam and single cam but giving full cb and all the bells and whistles one would expect of a modern fluid head/ tripod system.

I'll wait and see how Richard gets on with the VB and take it from there, there's plenty more fish in the sea in the event it isn't suitable, in whole or in part.

I must admit this thread does seem to have taken on a life of it's own, amazing.


CS
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Old November 26th, 2011, 09:24 PM   #59
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Re: Twist at tripod head

Alastair, you have too much faith in kids as tonight I carried 2 tripods, backpack with 3 cameras and accessories, my bastard dual head mount, and my stadium seat all by myself up to the top of the stands for the playoff game. I was lucky I could get it all in one trip.

As you discuss most of my use of the head is for panning. Football doesn't require many fast pans but basketball is a different story, same with volleyball. Whip pans are something I doubt I would ever do much but having a head that does very smooth pans would be a blessing. It is interesting that you were so impressed with the Vinten quality compared to others you have tried.

As I learn and think about what I do want it would be nice to have one system that I can use for everything. For most everything I film the Vinten Blue would be overkill and more than I need to carry anywhere but it might make up for it in the quality of the end product. I see no need to buy really high end equipment for filming school sports but it might make my life so much easier for the next 3 years that I have kids in high school and that is definitely worth something.

Once I have the legs and head set then my next purchase will be a better camera than the Sony's that I am currently using. I am very happy with the results but I want something that has a longer lens for the tight shots since I am filming from the top of the stands most all of the time. My current cameras are close to their maximum zoom right now on the bigger stadiums.

So far the discussions on this forum have been more than helpful in making me understand the basics of good equipment rather than going out and buying something that kinda works but doesn't really do what I need. I believe I am on the right track to make a few really good purchases rather than several bad ones and in the end that will save me money and a lot of headaches.

And even better once we figure out which sticks and head to buy I have several more issues to add for this same project. More screwy ideas to figure out.
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