Tripod head recommendations for XA20 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Tripod Sticks & Heads


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 9th, 2013, 09:57 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Hi all,
I was hoping someone here might be able to help me out in finding a suitable tripod head for my new Canon XA20. If you are not familiar with the XA20 from Canon, it is virtually identical in size to the XA10 only with lots of improvements over the older model especially of note is the 20x lens equivalent to 576mm in 35mm terms on the long end, so fairly long.
While I have a couple of very nice 75mm ball fluid head tripods with CF & aluminum sticks, what I am after is a head that has a flat base & either 1/4" or 3/8" thread for mounting on a photo tripod.
I am trying to make a very portable, very light tripod I can hike for days with & already have a lovely set of sticks, & a levelling base. Problem is, I can't seem to find a decent head to go on it. Weight of the camera is no more than 1870grams or just a bit over 4 pounds. Oh & I may be using a tele converter that will stretch things out to roughly 1270mm (again talking 35mm equivalent) so I am looking for something as smooth as possible.
I have looked into the Manfrotto 701HDV but that sounds like it will be too stiff to balance such a light setup. I ordered a Vanguard head after seeing a review on it but was disappointed to say the least with its performance. Last night I looked at a (super cheap) Weifeng 717A head which sounds like it may do the job but i'm unsure if the quality will be up to what I am after??
I am sure there must be something out there that would give me something reasonably fluid with a pan lock & tilt lock & a reasonable length pan handle, I just haven't been able to find it yet.
If anyone has any ideas as to what would work I would greatly appreciate the help.
Regards,
Bryce Comer
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 10th, 2013, 12:04 AM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 604
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Hi Bryce,

Have you looked at the Wiefeng range marketed as Wiefeng, Fancier, Mantona etc? I have a WF 717. I am very impressed with its panning ability and the tilting is fine if your camera weight and centre of gravity / height combination is suitable. I notice Protog are currently advertising a flat-base Fancier FT-717AH for AU$99.95. They also come with a ball base and a choice of heights, mine was AU$189 and as is my custom I modified it slightly for my purposes.
Alastair Traill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 10th, 2013, 01:09 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Hi Alastair,
Thanks for your response. I have been looking at the Weifeng head you have. Great to hear you think it's a good head. It is certainly very cheap, so cheap in fact, that I really thought it would be just like the last head I ordered that fell way short on performance. I may have to just bite the bullet & order it in the hope that it will do the job.
Regards,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2013, 11:02 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Ok, so I did end up ordering the Weifeng 717 head & just managed to get a hold of it before I headed off for a multi day hiking trip.
So, what I ended up with in the end was the following setup;
Tripod legs- Velbon Ultra REXi L Aluminum Tripod
Levelling base- Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base
Tripod head- Weifeng WF 717AH

Firstly, the legs. I was a little apprehensive about ordering such a lightweight set of sticks considering all the other legs I have are much, much heavier. To be honest though, I cannot say enough good things about these sticks. They seem very strong for their weight. They pack up extremely small. The system used for extending & packing away the legs, while they take a little getting used to, is a fantastic system & with a little practice the legs can be extended to what ever length you like in seconds flat!! There is further adjustment of the top leg sections to enable easier levelling of the head. Rubber feet are all you get with these legs, but on all the uneven ground I used them on, I never had a problem. These sticks would make an ideal travel setup for any lighter weight camera.

Next the levelling base. The Sunwayfoto levelling base is a very well made well machined very smooth piece of equipment. There is roughly +/- 16deg of adjustment, so getting the camera level is very easy with this base.

On to the Weifeng head. After researching a bunch of different heads with a flat base that would be able to be used with the tripod legs & levelling base, & watching some reviews of various heads, I ordered a Vanguard PH-111V head. Ok, so that took roughly 2 mins to decide it wouldn't cut it. I then went on to order the Weifeng 717AH head & received it just in time to take it along on our hiking trip. Well I am glad to say that for a head of this price, it is extremely capable. I was able to obtain very smooth pans & tilts even at full zoom on the XA20. The pan has no adjustment on the drag, & felt a little too tight for my liking, however, after a while I got used to it, & in the end I think I was able to get very, very good results.

All in all, I would have no hesitation in recommending any of these products for their performance especially considering their price. Together though, they make in my opinion, a very, very good travel tripod for the XA20 & XA25 cameras.

Regards,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2013, 06:36 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 604
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Hi Bryce,

I am pleased to read that you like the Weifeng. I am using mine with the 450 gm TM900 and to get good tilt performance with such a light camera I replaced the supplied spring with a weaker one.

I am interested in how they achieve such good pan performance. The TM 900 has a 700x zoom that is pretty useless for practical purposes at anything over about 20x. However it is useful for checking spring back or windup and when set to ~ 40x I find that windup is insignificant.

The big question is how long they will last. My guess is that servicing will be non-existent but for less than AU$200 I can have a new one delivered the next day whereas according to a recent thread if I want a new spring and service for a Vinten 3AS the charge is 400 pounds plus other parts if needed. Add shipping charges and temporary loss of use servicing is looking costly.
Alastair Traill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 1st, 2013, 09:47 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Agreed Alastair,
That head for the money cannot be beat as far as I am concerned. There are others out there like the Benro that may be on par, but I cannot say since I have not tested one.
One of the things I do like about the head is that it does actually have a bit of weight to it. There is certainly a fair amount of plastic on it, like the knobs for example, but again, for the money it's great. Personally I don't have any problem with the tilt axis of the head using the XA20, I guess it must be just heavy enough to work. The pan is quite tight, but I think I am getting used to it, & as long as I don't need to do any whip pans, I shouldn't have a problem.
Regards,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 22nd, 2013, 05:54 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Well I have been using this tripod now for a few months & love the compactness of it. Like I have said in my previous post, the pan is very stiff, & this last week while out shooting in sub zero temperatures, I found it too stiff to be useable. I have pulled the pan section of the head apart, & it appears it is a very simple bearing, relying on a damping grease to get the smooth (& very stiff) action. Is there anyone out there that could point me in the direction of where I might be able to buy some less viscous damping grease, or any alternative. I have cleaned the original stuff off & tried various different lubricants, & none of them really cut it.
Alastair, if you're out there, any ideas? I'm sure if anyone knows where to source this stuff, it would be you!!

Regards,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 04:02 AM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 604
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Hi Bryce,

I am rather intrigued by the Wiefeng (Fancier, Mantona or any of its other incarnations). By using a grease and not a fluid there is no great need for seals and I expect this is why the head is so wind-up free. The only complaint I am aware of is the opposite to yours and that is, the grease started to leak out. It has not happened to mine, at least so far.

Did you keep a sample of the grease you cleaned out? If so, it could be very useful as whatever it is, it works very nicely at more ‘normal’ temperatures. You would be then looking for a substitute that does the same but at your lower temperatures.

I have no experience of using a grease for this purpose. I have used a silicone fluid for the heads and other damped devices that I have made – usually General Electrics ‘Viscasil’ 600,000. I would be interested to know what Wiefeng use. If I was looking for a grease I would start with ‘Nye Lubricants’. I bought one of their damping grease sample packs a couple of years ago. The pack contained 6 x 10 ml syringes of different damping greases and cost as much as the Wiefeng head. You could also try Wiefeng.
Alastair Traill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 10:17 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Thanks for the reply Alastair,
Yes I am pretty sure it is the damping grease just like you would have in one of the syringes from Nye. I would assume though, that they have used the highest viscosity grease, since even in the height of summer, the head was extremely hard to pan. When I opened up the head, the grease inside could best be described as "glue like" by that I mean, it was extremely sticky!! I may have to bite the bullet & purchase a sample pack like you & use one of the lower viscosity greases. Like you said, they are very expensive, & not what I had hoped to have to spend. I will do some more research & hope to find another source, otherwise I will have to go with the Nye product.
Thanks,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 02:40 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Bryce............

There is a product available from Dow (and others presumably) called something like Silicon Vacuum Pump Grease.

It's a gel, very dense and looks similar to petroleum jelly at first glance but in practice is absolutely nothing like it.

It's completely stable from -20C to +80C so won't "leak" when warm, doesn't sublimate under any circumstances (even a vacuum) and behaves very much like a viscous graphite in it's shear characteristics though, unlike graphite, it doesn't "shed" particles, simply reattaching to itself when the stress is removed.

(Sort of a grown up, far more useful version of silly putty, I guess)

Should be perfect for a head damping compound.

Quite where it can be obtained I have no idea.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 02:50 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Merritt Island, Florida
Posts: 851
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

There is also a Dow-Corning product that comes in different viscosities called, D-C 200 Fluid 100k cST. This is a clear viscous fluid used in Fluid Heads. Unfortunately, you may not be able to purchase it in the small quantities needed for your purpose.

I hope this helps.

J.
James Kuhn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 03:08 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Thanks Chris,
Yes I hadn't even thought of vac grease. Could indeed work although it does definitely get less viscous as the temperature goes up. When it is said to be stable, I think they mean it doesn't "outgas" or "gas off" so under vacuum, it will not destroy the vacuum. (I am talking very low pressures mind you. Like less than 10 microns of mercury) I used to work with it all the time, so know exactly where to get it.
James, I will look into the product you suggest, it also may be an option. Like you have mentioned though, I think it is the quantities I am after that is the problem.
Regards,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 03:43 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Merritt Island, Florida
Posts: 851
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Bryce...I 'read' somewhere, Dow-Corning may provide a 5oz. bottle of the material for free as a 'sample'. I can't remember where I read this and working with my memory is a questionable practice at best, but you might give D-C a call and maybe they'd send you a sample.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

J.
James Kuhn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2013, 07:28 PM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rossland, British Columbia
Posts: 966
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Thanks James,
I will contact them & see what they can do.
Regards,
Bryce
__________________
There's never enough hours in the day!
Bryce Comer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2013, 05:45 AM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 604
Re: Tripod head recommendations for XA20

Hi Bryce,
If the pan has always been stiff I would suggest that it could be a problem with its manufacture, particularly if the tilt has proved to be OK at BC temperatures. The drag relies on an accurately maintained, grease filled gap between two surfaces that move relative to one another when panning. Your panning efforts are turned into drag by setting up a velocity or shear gradient in the grease, some grease will stay with the moving surface, some will stay with the fixed surface and the layers in between will move relative to both surfaces at in-between velocities. The thinner the layer the greater the velocity gradient and the more the drag for any given pan rate. Actually the relationship between drag and rate is only roughly linear at low rates and flattens off as the rate increases. This is all very convenient and gives the operator good control at low but not very low speeds. By choosing a suitable thickness and viscosity one can have precise speed control for ‘normal’ pan rates while permitting ‘whip pans’ at rates faster than where the drag versus rate relationship flattens off.

If it was my tripod head I would be looking closely at the relevant moving surfaces to see whether there are any burrs or scuff marks. I would also try to measure the gap and relay the information to Wiefeng or their agents. As an aside I recently returned a camera to its Korean manufacturer who thoroughly checked it, pronounced it as OK but gave me another plus some tea bags for my trouble. I was very impressed.
Alastair Traill is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Tripod Sticks & Heads

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:37 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network