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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:02 PM   #1
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Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Greetings.

Last week I received a demo of the Sachtler FSB 4 with the Carbon fiber legs from Barbara at Vitec. (Thank you Barbara and Mara-Lynne).

So here are my initial impressions.

The Petrol case, if it were larger, I could see living in it! The bottom of the case has an diagram where the head of the tripod should be placed. They added a bit more padding and protection for that.

The whole unit is really well built. The three red quick release leg locks were especially nice and now I don't think I can live with out that type of set up system. The mid-level spreader is always attached. There was a little sheet that shows how to attach/detach the spreader but I couldn't figure that out. I read through instructions for set up and mounted a Canon HV 30 on the base plate for my first test to see how the FSB head handled light weight. I was immediately appreciateive that the base plate is made with "stops" that prevent an unlocked camera from sliding off the the head, or I would have lost the camera! There were a few heart stopping moments there.

Set up, the tripod is very rigid and I really had to try to get the thing to "twist". Rock solid. The mounting plate snaps in and I can see that that method of mounting would be prefereable to a slide-in plate system.

With the HV 30, the best (and probably only) correct set up is to have the counter balance set to 0, vertical set to 1 and pan to 1.

At first I thought that there might be settings "in between" the numbers to get a more accurate set up, but that was not the case.

My main concern would be the fact that you have to set all settings at 1, 2, 3, and so on. No 1-1//2, 2-1/2. At some point you need to compromise which setting is the closest.

I noticed that during initial set up with the lighter camera on the base plate, during the initial balancing the camera projects out from the tripod a bit, probably due to it's light weight. This was not the case when I mounted a heavier camera to the system. At some point the 8# US limit might be an issue, but with camera getting smaller and lighter every year, maybe not.

Really fine piece of equipment. I don't want to return it....

Jonathan
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Old March 27th, 2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Thank you, Jonathan. Really nice write up.

May I enquire whether the sticks are the 75 CF Speedlocks with the 2:1:1 leg tube configuration?

Oh, and the zoom range on your heaviest camera?


CS
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Old March 28th, 2012, 11:06 AM   #3
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Hi Chris.

According to the packing slip it is part number 0375 System FSB 4 SL MCK. I'm assuming that is Speed lock. The leg configuration is tat the fist stage consists of a double leg, and if fully extended, a single leg retracts from the double. If that makes any sense.

I have to check the zoom range of the HV30. I believe it is 6.1mm-61mm. Another thing that I noticed last night is that there is a slight bounce back when panning at full telephoto. This was the case at any setting. I'm thinking that the camera is just to light. The bounce back can be controlled to an extent by keeping a very light pressure on the pan bar at the end of a pan, but not a perfect solution.

I wish that I could have a had a Canon xf100 or xf300 on hand to see how they worked on the tripod.

Sadly, I have to bring everything to UPS today.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 11:07 AM   #4
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Oh and thanks to who ever corrected the spelling of Sachtler in my heading of the original post!
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Old March 28th, 2012, 12:34 PM   #5
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

I'm using the fsb6 with cf75 speedlock legs with my xf300 and it's fantastic. Easily balances with camera, monitor, and wireless audio receivers. Second everything in the write up you did. Great piece of gear. The only thing that could be improved is the handle attachment. Seems like I really have to crank mine to get it sturdy.

I also added a Manfrotto receiver to the head as all my other support gear uses their plates.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 12:39 PM   #6
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Jonathan,

While there is some disquiet about those Sachtler CF75 sticks from some quarters (*waves to Chris*), I have to stand up for them and say they are a fine peice of equipment and it's very difficult to be unhappy about them if you own them.

Single-tube construction may increase the tendency for a small amount of twist-back at the end of pans when you are at high zoom levels, but this may not be a problem, particularly with smaller cameras, and when you're not spending your life at 1000mm of zoom.

They are without doubt a thing of beauty, most people could suffer them gladly!
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Old March 28th, 2012, 11:00 PM   #7
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Guys, you're spoiling my fun here.........

I was going to get Jonathatn to perform the "Hell on Ballbearings" test on those sticks and then tell me they were rock solid, seems he's done it already and they aren't.

"Hell on Ballbearings"?

Whack the biggest lensed camera you have on the sticks, zoom it out to maximum focal length, wind up the drag on both pan and tilt to maximum, roll video.

Pan left, let go the pan bar. Ditto pan right.

Tilt down, let go the pan bar. Ditto tilt up.

Do a top left to bottom right slide. Let go the pan bar. Ditto bottom left to top right.

Watch resultant video on a 46" Full HD screen and tell me they're rock solid.

Be honest, it doesn't look all that flash, certainly not when using a Canon XH A1, as I did.

They're great sticks for what they were designed for, brilliant design, light, fast and amazing engineering, but come on, HD rigid they ain't (IMHO)

The terrific FSB heads can make up for a lot, but not that much.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Bottom line, if you're new to this game,don't get suckerd by the great looks, engineering and cheap price, not when you're diving into the HD pool anyway.

Sachtler makes infinitely better sticks, they just cost a packet, there's the rub.

The old saying about "buying cheap and rueing the day" applies here.


CS
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Old March 29th, 2012, 10:01 AM   #8
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Chris.

Let's talk about this a little.

First, is it the legs or the head or both that are causing the bounce back thing? My gut tells me it is the head.

Is this something that would be remedied by a heavier camera on the Sachlter?

I didn't do the tilt up-down test as I thought this only happened on pans.

Are there systems out there that don't have bounce back? Which ones and how much more $$$$ are we talking.

I didn't have to look at the video on a gigantic screen HDTV to see this happen. It was clearly visible on the EVF.

I could see this as being a real problem if you are out filming wild life at full telephoto and want a pan that does a dead stop. Maybe this is not even possible due to equipment/physics. So I guess short of cutting the shot in post before the pan reaches a stop....

Your comments and others always appreciated!

Jonathan
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Old March 29th, 2012, 10:56 AM   #9
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

I have the same sticks with a DV6SB head. My main setup consists of an EX3, Chrosziel MB, FF, big Switronix 96wh battery, nanoFlash, VariZoom VZ Pro-EX controller on the handle, and a TV Logic VFM-o56wp monitor with small battery. Overall this setup is pushing the limits of the system and would be much happier with a DV8 head and 100mm sticks. I can get it balanced so that there is no bounce back with tilts but it pans there is a detectable mount. I'm running the horizontal drag at 4, sometimes 3 for fast moving events.

I believe it is in the sticks. As mentioned elsewhere, if you hold the pan bar still for a slight moment at the end of your pan you do not get the bounce back. That's because it is giving the sticks a chance to unwind. I have not had a chance to use the FSB heads so I can't say how those are but I do love the feel of my DV6SB head. I have used Vinten, Sachtler, and O'Connor heads. For me the O'connor was the superior of the three. Then I liked the feel of the Sachtler better than the Vinten but both are really top notch it depends on which feel you like better. The lower priced Vinten sticks are better in my opinion. But I did have a chance to try an EX3 setup on a set of Da-100ENG HD Sachtler sticks. Those are amazing. Absolutely solid. I'm now looking to get a set of those and use the 100mm adapter with my head.

-Garrett
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Old March 30th, 2012, 10:47 AM   #10
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

To all...I've got the Sachtler FSB 8 and model number 4588 (75CF) sticks. The FSB 8 head is a great fluid head. The legs however, can get a little 'twisty' if you've got a lot of 'drag' set on the head. With that said, I knew this going-in because Chris Soucy has spoken about it in several threads, and I believe is in-process of doing a comparison review.

I also have an old (12-15 years old) Gitzo 1325 Mk II CF tripod with a 75mm bowl attachment I've used it in the past with my 2-1/4" stills camera. It weighs just a couple of ounces more, but is rock solid. The diameter of the legs is larger and I think the Carbon-Fiber stock is a bit thicker.

The 'advantage' of using the 4588 sticks is their lightweight and ease of set-up. For that, you pay a price in rigidity. You can't fool 'Mother Physics' and you can't have it both ways.

JMHO, YMMV.

J.
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Old March 30th, 2012, 01:33 PM   #11
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Just a short note...my Gitzo 1325 is approximately 6" (15.2cm) taller than my Sachtler. Hmmm. It never dawned on me to check the height. It actually makes the Gitzo a little more attractive.

Regardless, it's an option I have in my arsenal.

Regards,

J.
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Old March 31st, 2012, 12:09 AM   #12
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Appologies for the tardy response, I'm in "write bloody review" mode due to NAB timelines, which sort of trumps everything else, even dinner, sometimes.

Those 2:1:1 sticks are where the problem lies, not their fault, it's just plain old physics at work.

As I have said on numerous occasions, for what they were designed for, short focal length, quick set and breakdown, run'n gun and get the hell out of there, they're amazing.

If that's pretty well all that they are being used for, fine.

The problem lies in the fact that "most" people won't have that as their prime activity and will be asking them (the sticks) to do something, not only out of their comfort zone, but utterly impossible, given their design.

Whack a Canon XH A1 or any similar long focal length zoom camera on them and you're entire shooting method has to change, due to that windup and it's release, which you either do whilst shooting (even if you are aware of what is going on) or in post which simply becomes a pain as every clip needs to be edited to get the inevitable drift back removed.

The secret of the Vinten VB's success (sorry, not beating their drum, just kicking Sachtlers) is that from the get go, they used a set of their standard ENG sticks, which make the 75 CF's look like a 5 stone weakling on the beach with the "big" boys.

Buyers didn't have to make the decision, will I go for light, cheap and wind upable or spend the huge amount extra for something a bit more robust that can do just about anything, even if it is heavier (if they knew, somehow, that was exactly what they were deciding).

With the 75 CF's it's "buyer beware", because it's way too easy to see that big comforting "S" on the sticks and think they're the be all and end all. They aren't.

If Sachtler were to market the FSB 4, FSB 6 and Cine heads with one of their comparable sets of sticks to the Vintens, as a complete system, for a price that came withing a bulls roar of the VB's, they'd be on to a sure fire winner.

Using the 75 CF's as a cheap "come on" just doesn't sit right to my mind, as first time buyers will walk into the trap every time.

If you know, you know, if you don't, you're screwed.

Am I waging a one man war against Sachtler?

Nope, absolutely not, they make some of the best camera support gear available on the market.

I am waging a one man war against inadequate transparency and performance detail in product labeling, so that prospective buyers can make an informed decision about potential purchases.

The 75 CF's wind up badly, I've tested them and they were even worse than the Libec RT - 30B's in the RS 250 system, though the Libecs would have beaten them by a country mile with a decent spreader.

I don't have a problem with that, as long as people know what they're buying.

Leaving it to individual "perceptions" about performance is simply bound to produce some very unhappy people, as everybody's perceptions are different and not quantifiable.

To answer one of your questions specifically: there is no such thing as a tripod system that doesn't exhibit "pull back" or "wind up", it's a question of "how much" and is it tolerable to you.

Sachtler do some sticks you'd be hard pressed to wind up with a 10 foot lever, problem is they cost an arm and a couple of legs.

My suggestion?

See what pops out of the woodwork at NAB (14 April), then give Vinten a whirl (get in now, the queue is going to be horrendous).

Can't say any more, it may be up your alley, maybe not, but try it if your need is not immediate.

Who knows, maybe Sachtler will suprise us all as well.

Back to that review, er, reviews.


CS
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Old April 1st, 2012, 01:34 PM   #13
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Chris,

Thanks for your input as usual. So if one were to mount an fsb4,5,6,et al, on a concrete block, there wouldn't be the bounce back? My guess would have been the head design causes this but I certainly trust your and others judgement.

If that' that's the case, I' m now wondering if it would make sense to look at things ala carte i.e. Sachtler head, your brand here for a more solid set of sticks, decent case/sleeping bag.

Are there sticks out there that are comparable to the weight of something like the 75CF legs, or is that where the problem lies, they just are not "heavy duty" enough to prevent this. If that's the case then it's back to something like the 75CF sticks since my geriatric back can't tolerate schlepping much more than that up Half Dome in Yosemite ;-)

Obviously this probably not as economical as buying into a "system", but the wind up thing has me wigged out a bit.

Do you think that going with this thought might make a $1200.00US system more like a $3000.00 rig?

I'll see what NAB has to offer since that is only a few weeks away. Man, this has my head spinning!

Thanks for your advice.

Jonathan
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Old April 1st, 2012, 02:27 PM   #14
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Jonathan...ROTFLMAO!! I'm with you Boss. My days of 'humping' a 90-pound 'Rucksack' (fill in you own here) of camera, lenses, tripod, etc., are over. I spent a lot of time in the Smokies carrying a 2-1/4" MF Kit. My aching back, along with my torn-up right knee appreciates me not doing it anymore.

Regards,

J.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 07:49 PM   #15
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Re: Tested a Sachtler FSB 4 with CF sticks.

Jonathan, James, I feel your pain, and in this case, that's more than just a figure of speech!

My days of schlepping the length and breadth of Asia with said humungous pack are, alas, far behind me.

I'll see your screwed spines and knackered knees, and raise you a herniated L5 disc and resultant problematic (ha!) left Sciatic nerve.

I've just unearthed my notes from last years uncompleted shootout, some interesting figures therein.

Tripod and spreader weights - no head.

Sachtler 75CF 2.6kg

Libec RT - 30B 2.925kg

Manfrotto 486B 3.25kg

Vinten VB 3.75kg

Vinten FiberTecs 4.65kg

And yes, as the weight went down, the measured wind up increased almost exponentially.

The Libec sticks were actually very good, considering their extraordinary light build, just a shame about the God awefull spreader.

One to keep an eye on at NAB, because if they redesign it (the spreader) they're in with a chance.

Other options are to go to a stills tripod, gets rid of that 75mm ball head (heavy!) and chunky receiver.

Pretty well screws getting any decent pans but it's worth taking a look at the option, another is going to a monopod and investing in a camera with the best OIS going.


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; April 2nd, 2012 at 01:02 AM.
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