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Old March 24th, 2013, 05:31 PM   #1
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Tall Sticks...

I recently shot an outdoor memorial service. I positioned myself to obtain as clear a field of view as possible, but, because of the audience, I still had people with heads at camera level when they were standing. I have my Vinten Vision Blue as high as it would go.

My question is this: Is it worth investing in a set of sticks that will give me an additional ~12-inches of altitude above a crowd?

What I have....
up to 61.5-inches
Vinten 3821-3 Pozi-Loc Aluminum Tripod Legs (Black) 3821-3 B&H

What I am looking at...
up to 73-inches
Miller Solo DV 3-Stage 75mm Carbon Fiber Tripod 2001 B&H Photo

This is not the first time I have encountered a situation such as this. Of course, with a set of taller sticks, I also have to carry some form of step to get myself into a position to operate the camera.

What say ye?
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Old March 24th, 2013, 05:38 PM   #2
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Re: Tall Sticks...

Bogen 3246 with the center column raised...8 feet in the air!
I know some people don't like Bogen (Manfrotto) but these legs have served me well for over 12 years with all kinds of rigs on them. Some over 20 pounds. What I love is the height. I use a small step ladder to run the camera.
Just throwin' it out there! ;-)
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Old March 24th, 2013, 05:42 PM   #3
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Re: Tall Sticks...

Don, have you had any stability issues with the center column extended? My thoughts were that the three legs would offer greater lateral stability.
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Old March 24th, 2013, 05:59 PM   #4
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Re: Tall Sticks...

Are you talking about the tripod being pushed around in say high wind conditions or camera being stable when tilted panned or moved in anyway.

As for adverse conditions affecting the tripod when fully extended, let me say that with the exception of a 12" steel beam vertically sunk in to bedrock (I stole that line from James Kuhn-so I gotta give him credit) I think pretty much any tripod could be affected but specifically about the 3246 legs sure there will be some slight perhaps even almost noticeable movement of the head with the center column raised 2 feet even the the column is a good 2 inch diameter and geared with a crank. I might see see a bit more movement since I removed the crank and gear mechanism about 6 years ago and only use the thumbscrew to tighten the column up. Now that I've said that I will say that I've had the legs out in some fairly bad conditions and honestly the conditions didn't affect the tripod as much as I thought it might. There is a fine line as to the amount of weight of a rig that can be set up and not be affected by conditions; too light and the conditions can affect it. Too heavy and the same. I've run 5 pound rigs and 25 pound rigs (JVC GY-DV5000 with an AB Hytron 120 battery that itself weighs 5.5 pounds with a wireless receiver and a light hanging on the rig, Kinda scary but it held it's own and didn't fall down or anything like that.
I guess I can't really answer the question with a definitive yes or no because in some cases as long as the camera wasn't moving around like a flag on a windy day I was OK with some movement if it showed up and that was a shot that I needed. By the same token, there have been times when I wish I had that 12 inch steel beam. I also try not to go up to the full 8 feet too often unless it's inside on a solid concrete floor or at least somewhere where no one is going to be walking by.
I wish I could be more precise but I'm afraid that that's the best I can offer. I can only add that if you need to get over 7 feet your options are somewhat limited and the 3246 do offer a way out.
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Old March 24th, 2013, 06:03 PM   #5
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Re: Tall Sticks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
Bogen 3246 with the center column raised...8 feet in the air!...
I just got a set of these, haven't used them yet. But they look pretty good brushing the ceiling in my office!

Don, what head are you using, and are you using a soft case that fits?

IMO the center column is at least as steady as the rather long legs, it's got tension rods compressing/stabilizing a tube that the column runs in, looks much steadier than any other center column I've ever seen.
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Old March 24th, 2013, 07:53 PM   #6
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Re: Tall Sticks...

Hey Seth, I have a bag from Bogen but couldn't tell you the number as it's pretty old. Actually I have 2 of them and use one for light stands. I can get 3 in the bag 4 if I squeeze.
I've been using a 501 head on them and while it's not the head of choice it's what I had and honest to God, it's carried the load, big and small. It really is cool to see a tripod that high up in the air, people tend to give it a wide step.
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Old March 24th, 2013, 08:00 PM   #7
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Re: Tall Sticks...

I stuck a 503 on it for the same reason; it's what was lying around least-used.

Good Intimidation Factor - that's a benefit I hadn't thought about. I suppose when people see a low-to-the-ground type like me up on a high step-stool they're going to want to make sure that I don't fall on them ;-)

That's one of the things I've always disliked about getting portable stage sections when wanting to shoot over crowds in hotel ballrooms; people seem to forever think this is the spot for their coffeecup, briefcase and sometimes their butt. Meanwhile, that camera is shakin'!

Thanks Don!
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Old March 25th, 2013, 12:55 AM   #8
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Re: Tall Sticks...

I have been traveling for 7 years with the Bogen 3246. This is a fantastic tripod. I just realized I'm having a problem with the center column, but I can change it out myself for $67 bucks.
This tripod has been on at least 40 round trip flights a year for the last seven years. really nice sticks.

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Old March 28th, 2013, 12:38 PM   #9
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Re: Tall Sticks...

I just got a set of the Miller Solo legs and they are very nice. Really rigid but still lightweight and very tall.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 06:04 PM   #10
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Re: Tall Sticks...

^ +1. We run Miller Compass 15 heads on Solo carbon Fibre 3 stage legs. They drop down to 220cm too. They're made 20minutes from us in Artarmon here,
so I did the Miller factory tour. The CF legs are actually made in France and put together here.

Stuff I learned was, many people twist the Solo locks too tight, half a turn does it. Drop one leg and it's a monopod.

Run a thin strip of white adhesive tape on the lower left side of your camera and on it, mark the camera balance levelled point on the tripod,
and once you establish your tripod working height, mark each leg with a permanent marker. Both these tips make setups much quicker.

Cheers.
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Old March 31st, 2013, 12:45 AM   #11
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Re: Tall Sticks...

I don't think the answer is necessarily a taller tripod. You may want to consider using a riser. I used to work as a camera op on a lot of mobiles, and remember working from portable risers. Sometimes we'd drag carpeted risers from our studio that were made from 3/4" plywood but they were very heavy. I just did a quick google search and it looks like there are lots of portable lightweight risers available.
Search terms: portable stage riser, portable stage, portable camera platform.
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Old March 31st, 2013, 06:56 AM   #12
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Re: Tall Sticks...

While I agree a riser would be the way to go, sometimes it's not feasible to do. Be it the setting, (not being an appropriate thing to have set up such as a funeral-unless it's a head of state and it's a national network televising) the last minute decision or simply not having one to use. Tall sticks can be a real life saver.
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