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Old June 14th, 2012, 11:36 AM   #1
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Looking for a tripod system recommendation. (Details Inside)

So, I'm currently using an older Manfrotto 503 Head on a pretty standard single tube set of manfrotto legs, along with a leveling bowl. I'm looking to retire this setup over to my Panasonic GH2 DSLR and get something else for my Canon XLh1a. While I don't *hate* it, I find it lacking when I'm zoomed in following moving subjects, especially dance recitals.

So:

Uses: Weddings, Dance Recitals
Camera Weight: 7-13lbs-ish
Special Circumstances: Zoomed in for closeups of dancers on stage.
Budget: 400-600$
The XL h1a is a bit front heavy cuz of the 20x zoom glass. I don't think I'll be growing to a much heavier camera anytime soon. Maybe going tapeless sometime in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

If I cannot do better with that budget, then I suppose I will just wait longer until it grows a bit!
Also I'm perfectly ok with buying used - saving money that way would be great.
Any help from the much more experienced here is greatly appreciated :)
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Old June 14th, 2012, 11:09 PM   #2
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Re: Looking for a tripod system recommendation. (Details Inside)

Think you're going to come up empty on this one, James, with your stated budget.

For the uses you're looking at you need one heck of a decent set of sticks, plus a proper counterbalancing fluid head.

Not going to happen for $600, especially with a weight topside of 13lbs. Might squeak it in around $1500 if you're exceedingly lucky on the S/H market.

For sticks, the only ones I have personal experience of are:

The Manfrotto 546B's, which are an amazingly capable set, let down by what is quite possibly the worst mid level spreader ever made. Cheapish and doable if you never, ever, extend the spreader arms.

The sticks under the Vinten Vision Blue, even better than the Manfrotto and with a decent spreader, but getting up there in the price stakes.

For heads, well, to get anything like proper counterbalance, at anything less than a kings ransom, you only have either Vinten (continuous), Libec (continuous) or Sachtler (stepped).

None of them is cheap at that top weight range.

The Vinten VB head won't take that top weight and the 3AS is one expensive piece of kit.

Libec make great heads and decent sticks, however, unless they've had a rush of blood to the brain and redesigned their spreaders, they're too unstable to recommend. You might find a head S/H which would handle that 13lbs and as far as I'm aware their heads are compatible with both Manfrotto and Vinten sticks.

Sachtler make great heads but lousy cheap sticks (their REALLY expensive sticks are excellent by all accounts).

Check out S/H Sachtler heads for that top weight figure. Can't really comment on compatibility between Sachtler heads and Manfrotto, Vinten, or even Libec sticks.

Gitzo heads and sticks also get good feedback on here but I've never ever seen one, so can't really comment.

Sorry I can't be more help.


CS
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Old June 16th, 2012, 01:11 AM   #3
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Re: Looking for a tripod system recommendation. (Details Inside)

Correction...............

Having re - read my previous post, I believe my statement :

Quote:
and as far as I'm aware their heads are compatible with both Manfrotto and Vinten sticks
with regard to Libec heads, is in error.

Vinten heads (actually, their clamp knob) have a real struggle with some Manfrotto sticks, and as Libec has an almost identical clamp knob to the Vintens (despite having exactly the same clamp bolt thread format as the Sachtler) , they may well struggle as well.

Neither Vinten or Libec clamp knobs will work at all with the only Sachtler I've had for testing, the 75 CF's, they simply jam in a central position with absolutely no adjustment available whatsoever.

Appologies to all concerned.


CS
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Old June 16th, 2012, 08:08 AM   #4
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Re: Looking for a tripod system recommendation. (Details Inside)

This guy has been raving about the fancier tripod and head. Not sure if it will take the weight that you mentioned.

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Old June 16th, 2012, 11:27 AM   #5
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Re: Looking for a tripod system recommendation. (Details Inside)

@James,
There's nothing in your circumstances that make it any different than the many other posts that asks the same question. A quick search here on DVinfo for "Tripod upgrade" and similar terms will find you many discussions buy the same people making the same points. A good head and QR plate design will let you center the COG of your A1 so it isn't front heavy.

Bottom line is as Chris Soucy indicated, your budget isn't quite enough to get you to the standard bearers. You can let it grow, snag an ebay find or go for an imitator.

My only advice at this point which you'll find in many other of my posts is to consider a side mount head.
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Old June 17th, 2012, 12:17 AM   #6
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Re: Looking for a tripod system recommendation. (Details Inside)

@chris - thank you, you helped a lot, that was a great bundle of information and some directions for me to look. Yeah I kind of figured I may be dead in the water on price, not having used a proper counterbalancing fluid head, I assume that is the way to go when it comes to control of anything heavier than a few lbs. Seems the world is into the vinten vision blue, maybe I can hold out for the rest of the year and swing it going into the next year.

@donald, thanks for that video, I'm going to give it a watch.

@les - well sorry, I read a few and I guess I still felt compelled to ask. >.<

Anyway, thanks everyone, that was pretty much the advice I was looking for. This forum is wonderful.

EDIT: After having watched the video and seeing what he refers to the counterbalance as, I believe my 503 head has something similar, it just is not variable. I find it will pull itself back on its own.
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