Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6? at DVinfo.net

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Old January 29th, 2012, 05:14 PM   #1
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Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Hey guys! You guys were totally right about the 501HDV since the first time I popped by this forum early April/May last year. I've encountered my own share of the 501HDV problems on various paid shoots and now am ready to upgrade.

What was cool about my purchase of the 501HDV was that the seller included what he thought was completely spoilt and discontinued Manfrotto 540ART CF legs (100mm) with their speedy setup for free. I went to a local repair shop and repaired it for free such that it go to chest level well, and "above my head" with caution (one of the bottom legs can't really hold). I am short (165cm) so "chest level" has worked adequately for me.

Anyway, back to the main topic, I use DSLRs mainly, with the lightest being ~1.5 or 1.8kg (5D2 + 35 1.4L), and the heaviest being 4.5 to 5kg (5D2, 70-200 2.8 IS, rails, matte box, FF, LCDVF/Monitor). This year I will regularly rent the Panasonic AC160 or Canon XF300 for certain productions too, and they're about 3kg.

All of this falls in line with 3 heads and their respective legs: Vinten Vision Blue, Sachtler Cine DSLR, Sachtler FSB-6. I've omitted the Sachtler Ace because even though I'm an amateur kid, I still want to buy once and cry once, especially since I am being paid for my work.

From what I can tell, the Vinten VB head has almost a cult following here on the forums, with links to reviews from Tom Guilmette and the like. Continuous counter balance and drag. Is this really what I want / should have for a DSLR setup with multiple lenses, compared to stepped?

And comparing the bearings of the Sachtlers and Vinten VB... which ones are better?

And lastly, the legs. I know Pozi-lock Vintens are all the rage, but are Sachtler's tripod legs bad or not up to the Vinten's standard? I can't shell out for the speedlock system because my budget as a kid doesn't allow me to go there, so we're talking about basic 2MD systems.

My other concern is that I still want to keep the 501HDV for slider use. What can I do about plate compatibility should I get the Vinten VB? I do work as a photographer as well, so I'm thinking that I can put Really Right Stuff / Kirk clamps on the different video plates and only use the arca-swiss photo plate for transferring cameras between slider and sticks. The clamp should increase my weight a little more so a barebones naked camera can approach the 2kg needed for minimal balancing.

The Cine DSLR and Vinten VB are exceptionally close in price (diff of about a hundred), which is why I have to ask you pros about which would be a better system for me. I shoot short films and cover events such as stage concerts, and appreciate a lighter system. But above all, I want to buy the best I can afford so I don't have to upgrade again. I do not see myself rigging up anything more than 5kg.

Any help here would be great!
Zexun
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Old January 29th, 2012, 05:43 PM   #2
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Hi, Zexun...................

If you do a bit of trawling here in the Forum you'll find me (and many, many others) banging on on this subject ad nauseum, so it's all been said and done before, soooooo.............

May I suggest you fire off mails to:

Peter.Harman@VitecGroup.com and Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com

asking them if they can arrange test drives of your selected systems.

They are the Product managers for Vinten and Sachtler respectively, and should be able to sort you with test rigs in fairly short order (tho' the VB is especially hard to get hold of as it's selling faster than they can make them).

That should really give you your answer.

Do be aware that you're in a different league with this stuff, so any similarity between them and the Manfrotto is purely coincidental.

Good luck and keep us posted on progress.


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 29th, 2012 at 08:29 PM. Reason: Credit where it's due!
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Old January 30th, 2012, 04:23 AM   #3
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Zexun,

Regarding the interchangability of plates, this isn't a consideration that should stop you choosing a tripod. Neither Sachtler or Vinten are directly compatible with Manfrotto plates.

Just use an MN577 or similar adapter on top of your new tripod and you can keep using the same Manfrotto plates on all your cameras.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 05:37 AM   #4
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Thank you both for the replies!

I think I've decided to go with the Vinten Vision Blue system - their legs seem a lot better, and should I go with a manfrotto or kirk (photo) adapter for plate compatibility, I will always be able to hit the minimum counterbalance weight.

Just emailed Peter, and a local retailer told me that they have stock for it. Will probably check it out tomorrow! :)

Btw, anyone know if I can get a mid level spreader at the moment, and maybe at a later date, purchase a floor spreader to use sandbags?

Last edited by Zexun Tan; January 30th, 2012 at 05:38 AM. Reason: Updated question on spreaders
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:04 AM   #5
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

The Vinten floor level spreader should be available separately, it's a standard Vinten Poziloc tripod:

Vinten | Floor Spreaders | www.vinten.com

Check with Peter for the exact model, or maybe Chris will know!
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:51 AM   #6
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Sweet. Thank you Mike! If it's a standard poziloc tripod and the sets differ only by spreaders, it means that floor and mid level spreaders can be attached and taken out when necessary yea?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 07:14 AM   #7
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Yup, that's the idea. The mid-level spreader can unclip quite easily. For the floor spreader, you remove the rubber "boots" on the tripod and strap the feet into the floor-level spreader instead.

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of floor-based spreaders for my work, so I can't confirm exactly how the Vinten one fits, I am going from a memory that is 4 years old from a previous Vinten tripod!

In theory, you could even fit one of the super-expensive (and really, really good) Spread-Loc mid spreaders which are quicker for set-up than the Vinten Vision Blue's mid spreader, but that's more expensive. I find the stock mid-level spreader to be OK for my use.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 08:06 AM   #8
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Beckett View Post
Zexun,

Regarding the interchangability of plates, this isn't a consideration that should stop you choosing a tripod. Neither Sachtler or Vinten are directly compatible with Manfrotto plates.

Just use an MN577 or similar adapter on top of your new tripod and you can keep using the same Manfrotto plates on all your cameras.
Mike, that's not true.

I use manfrotto 501pl plates with my Sachtler FSB6 head without any adapter.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Zoran,

Thanks for the correction. I wasn't aware of that, that's filed away for future reference!
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Old January 30th, 2012, 02:15 PM   #10
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

The Vinten sticks all use the same pattern feet as the Manfrotto's, with some very minor differences.

Ergo, anything that will fit a Manfrotto (foot) will fit the Vinten, and vice versa, so if you already have a Manfrotto GLS you're good to go with the Vinten sticks.

If you don't have a GLS and can envisage prolonged use on a surface where one would be a better choice than the MLS (not too much comes to mind except floors of one sort or another) consider a dolly instead.

They have the major advantages of being easier to sandbag, and if portability is required, simply release the wheel locks and ......push! No lifting required!

Magic for "shoot & scoot" shooting at parties, disco's etc.

However, for most "real world" work, the MLS is the work horse of choice.

The one that comes with the VB is, from memory, about half a kilo lighter than the Spreadlock and probably $300 lighter in the wallet too. It works just fine.


CS
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Old January 31st, 2012, 12:28 AM   #11
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

What a disappointment! I just tested two Vinten vision blue heads at the main local store ad they all had friction sticking problems on panning even at the lowest drag arrows setting. And it was noisy like the plates were scraping against each other! I really wished I could buy it but it seems like I'll never have it.

Maybe the cine dslr has to do.
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Old January 31st, 2012, 01:27 AM   #12
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Hi, Zexun...........

Sorry you had a less than splendid experience, but a couple of points to consider.

1. All Vinten heads are designed to have a considerable amount of both pan and tilt drag, even at zero setting of the respective dials, that's just the way they're made.

Coming from almost anything else and having a brief play is going to seem totally "you what?", but I can assure you, in the long run (give it a week or two) you won't even notice, and it will steady both your pans and tilts amazingly.

This IS a deliberate design feature and NOT a fault.

2. This one has me a bit worried. Grinding plates is NOT what Vinten do.

I have mailed Peter at Vinten and informed him of this last one, I'll let him answer this, as I simply cannot.

I do, however, wonder whether someone has got hold of some "reject" Vinten heads and is flogging them as the "real deal" when they were destined for the tip, OR even trying to sell complete replica "knock offs" that aren't Vinten in the slightest. It does make me wonder just what sticks were under those heads you did try - were they really Vinten as well?


This has me totally flumoxed, I have to say.


CS
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Old January 31st, 2012, 01:48 AM   #13
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Just to check, one thing...............

Zexun, you DID have the Clamp Knob properly tightened, didn't you?

I only ask, as the only rational explanation I can come up with, if it was REAL Vinten kit, was the clamp knob not being done up correctly. allowing the entire head, half ball and all, to revolve about the tripod receiver.

The sound wouldn't have been pleasant, but would have been down to "Operator Error" if so.

Gotta check, and I'd do the same whether it was Sachtler, Manfrotto, Gitzo or anything else, 'cos this IS NOT how they make their gear.


CS
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Old January 31st, 2012, 03:02 AM   #14
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Hi Zexun, can you tell me where you tested these heads please and I will have our sales manager go check them out. Iím assuming they were in Singapore?

Iím extremely surprised that they felt this way. Our quality management systems are extremely rigorous and nothing like this would ever get passed the final checks. Even a beaten up head will feel good, so Iím surprised to say the least.

Fact is, if the heads are in a public store demo area, itís likely that a few people will have operated the heads with the brakes on and this will damage the head if itís done repeatedly. Secondly, the head needs to be tested with a camera attached as (1) youíll never get a true feel of the balanced head and therefore unable to assess its performance correctly and (2) for the head to perform to specification, the pan bearing needs to be loaded by having the camera attached. Unloaded, the bearing may rumble giving the impression that itís faulty Ė it isnít at all.

Were these heads loaded with a Camera Zexun? If so, what was it please?
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Old January 31st, 2012, 03:17 AM   #15
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Re: Upgrading from 501HDV: Vinten VB or Sachtler DSLR/FSB-6?

Hello Chris,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
1. All Vinten heads are designed to have a considerable amount of both pan and tilt drag, even at zero setting of the respective dials, that's just the way they're made.

Coming from almost anything else and having a brief play is going to seem totally "you what?", but I can assure you, in the long run (give it a week or two) you won't even notice, and it will steady both your pans and tilts amazingly.

This IS a deliberate design feature and NOT a fault.
This makes sense, as I don't really use drag-free anyway, but there are times when I would like to do a straight up whip pan and I'm afraid that the drag might interfere i.e. have a lot of backlash and then torquing the entire tripod legs.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
2. This one has me a bit worried. Grinding plates is NOT what Vinten do.

I have mailed Peter at Vinten and informed him of this last one, I'll let him answer this, as I simply cannot.

I do, however, wonder whether someone has got hold of some "reject" Vinten heads and is flogging them as the "real deal" when they were destined for the tip, OR even trying to sell complete replica "knock offs" that aren't Vinten in the slightest. It does make me wonder just what sticks were under those heads you did try - were they really Vinten as well?


This has me totally flumoxed, I have to say.
Yes, I specifically asked to have a look at their mid and ground level spreader systems. They took it out of new boxes (with tape) and the distinct vinten blue bag was seen. Legs were firm and well made with vinten brand on them. I can only assume that is the pozilock system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Just to check, one thing...............

Zexun, you DID have the Clamp Knob properly tightened, didn't you?
Yeap, that's the first thing I checked. The manager or person helping me noticed the issue as well (physical uneven sticking). We both clamped down the bowl normally, tested, clamped down hard, retested, and it was still there. I took out the head and panned the head while gripping the half bowl and could feel the uneven resistance.

I just got back home from the store (My previous response was written on the road) and tried my 501HDV, and I can confirm that my 501HDV pans quieter and smoother. Very odd indeed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Harman View Post
Hi Zexun, can you tell me where you tested these heads please and I will have our sales manager go check them out. I’m assuming they were in Singapore?
I tested them at Expandore, known as one of Singapore's most reliable video stores. I believe the person helping me who noticed the issue as well was Winston if I'm not wrong.


Hello Peter,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Harman View Post
Fact is, if the heads are in a public store demo area, it’s likely that a few people will have operated the heads with the brakes on and this will damage the head if it’s done repeatedly. Secondly, the head needs to be tested with a camera attached as (1) you’ll never get a true feel of the balanced head and therefore unable to assess its performance correctly and (2) for the head to perform to specification, the pan bearing needs to be loaded by having the camera attached. Unloaded, the bearing may rumble giving the impression that it’s faulty – it isn’t at all.

Were these heads loaded with a Camera Zexun? If so, what was it please?

They were new tripod systems fresh out of cardboard boxes taken from the store, and fresh from the blue bag like I said earlier.

What was used on the head was the following 3 setups:

1) 5D2, Nikon 55mm 2.8 macro, rode videomic pro, rails. Roughly 2.5kg with high center of balance.
2) 5D2, 70-200 2.8L IS, videomic pro. Roughly 2.5kg, low center of balance.
3) same as #2 but with rails, about 3.5kg, high center of balance.

Audible noises and rough sticking could be heard/felt with or without anything attached. I tested a Miller Compass 12 they had there as well, and there wasn't any issue.


Honestly, just a few minutes before I found the issues, I thought I had hit the jackpot with the Vinten VB. Counterbalancing was easier than I thought, and a lot more precise with the Perfect Balance. Tilting up and down at 200mm with the drag set at 8 was like a dream come true. Then I panned. Yup.

I've got a wedding job in 10 days and I'm lost on what I should do now.

Edit: By the way, I really appreciate both your input, Chris and Peter. Great assistance indeed!
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