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Old November 17th, 2013, 08:44 AM   #1
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A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Thank you for all the replies regarding my flat-base on a video head. Although the Sachtler FSB 8 may be a solution to my problem, there are other heads out there. Unless you live in a place like New York, where there is B and H, it's really impossible to examine any products before buying, and of course, as everyone knows, dealers do not like to order in equipment only for someone to test it out. So may I pose the real, basic, problem, hoping someone has already experienced it, and has solved it.

I use a Bogen Manfrotto 516 head, mounted on a Gitzo GT3531 tripod. The camera is a Sony EX3 with accessories, weighing about 13-14 lbs (6+ kg). Lenses are very long, magnifying any tiny movement tremendously. The slightest touch to the camera causes a visible jerk in the scene. This is expected. What is not expected is the fact that after the touch, the scene continues to shake (its a vertical movement) in one or two reduced amplitude sets. It's like the aftershocks of an earthquake or ringing of a bell, or twanging of a rope suspended between two points. It keeps going after the stimulus in discrete sets of reduced amplitude until it stops. Tightening the drag increases it. Loosening the drag reduces it, but then the camera drifts. (Manfrotto heads have no counterbalance). I have carefully isolated every part of the system and it is not in the camera, the camera mount, the sliding mount to the head, or the tripod legs. It is in the head.

Most users wouldn't be bothered, because only wildlife people employ the high tele, but if anyone has experienced this and has found a head that doesn't do it, I would love to hear before trying to get my hands on three or four different ones to try out. An explanation of the mechanics would also be welcome.

Thanks.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 04:30 PM   #2
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Hi Steve,

I have spent a lot of time experimenting with various tripod designs mostly with the aim of getting close to the ground for semi-macro work. A way of doing this is with some sort of centre pole. With a light camera I have few issues but with the EX3 I get into problems with lengthy periods of vibration that may last 5 or 6 seconds. As I see it I have made a structure that is too flexible and when disturbed will vibrate at a frequency related to its natural frequency. I believe the problem you are experiencing is the same and is determined by the mass of the head and camera as well as the length and stiffness of the total structure rather than poor head design. To overcome the problem either use the conventional video tripod design or the very heavy studio type pedestal – their designs are no accident. As an alternative I try to minimize touching my camera when recording and use the IR remote and a motorised remote focus whenever possible. If I have to pan or tilt I use a very flexible tripod handle that greatly reduces hand borne vibrations. A motorised head is also useful.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 04:49 PM   #3
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

The 516 head does in fact have a CB system, though only a fixed spring non variable one.

About as much use as an ash tray on a motor cycle, but a CB system, never the less.

Red herring disposed of.

As for your "nodding donkey" problem, whew, where to start?

From memory, the EX 1 didn't exactly get rave reviews for its tripod/ QR mounting arrangement, whether that got translated to the EX 3 I don't know. If it did, could be a factor.

(Something to do with the camera base contour [I think], might want to check out the Sony EX Forum down the page a bit).

Then there's the camera/ QR plate interface itself, which could be the sole culprit or aiding and abetting the previous possible problem. Squidgy interface rubber on either the camera, QR plate (or both) with the notoriously wriggly 1/4" X 20 screw, especially with such a heavy/ long rig, has got to be up there as worth looking at.

Then there's the "could be's".

Slop in the tilt bearings, inadequate clamping of the QR plate, receiver warp, flex harmonics in the legs, leg bearings or both (getting pretty esoteric with that last one, but its possible!).

If I were you, I'd check out that first possibility for starters. If there is an inherent problem in the camera base/ QR interface due to the camera design, that rig will most likely show the symptoms you mention on any support system it's used on. I remember there were a number of special adapter plates for the EX 1 on sale to try to fix the problem, but as I said, I don't know if Sony tackled this issue before the EX 3 hit the streets.

On a more general note (but of absolutely no help to you whatsoever), how anyone can expect a rig weighing what yours does, with a length yours must have and lenses as long and sensitive as yours are to stick like glue to a support system when the only retainer between the two is one wriggly, 10 cent, 1/4" X 20 screw has me utterly bewildered.

This is not a criticism of you, I hasten to add, but of the camera and support manufacturers, who should have tackled this problem years ago and sorted a decent 4 point fixing system.

I'll be interested in how you get on.


CS
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Old November 17th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #4
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Many, many thanks for these ideas.

Alastair,

I get the same bouncy behavior whether the (carbon fiber) tripod is extended or completely collapsed, when it is only about 20 inches high. I would like to try a flexible tripod handle. Maybe B and H has one?

Chris,

The camera base contour on the EX3 features about 2 1/2 inches of flatness behind the mount screw and about 1 inch in front of it. It is about 2 inches wide.

Perhaps I should have been more exact about my mounting. It is not just the "wiggly" 1/4" screw. The camera sits on a plywood platform. It screws into a standard hexagonal tripod plate with a 1/4" fitting. The plate is securely fastened to the plywood base. My lens has a foot plate. This plate is also fastened into the plywood with a right angle brace. This prevents yaw. Finally, I have fashioned a way to affix the rear of the camera to the plywood base with a vertical screw. This prevents tilt. Therefore I have a three point attachment, not just a single screw. I originally suspected flex harmonics in the legs, because this motion is obviously that of a harmonic oscillator. The same "donkey nodding" occurs whether the camera/ platform/head assembly is on a tripod, or sitting on a concrete slab. That rules out the tripod legs, although it does not eliminate their being a contributing factor to the severity. I can eliminate the problem by loosening the drag on the head, suggesting that something in the head assembly is the root cause, possibly, as you suggest "slop in the tilt bearings". Unfortunately, trying to shoot moving subjects in telephoto with a loose drag, and my 60 year old reflexes makes them travel all over the frame. Not acceptable.

I am hoping that leaving Manfrotto and trying something like the Sachtler FSB8 or Miller DS 20 will be a step in the right direction. Further reports to come.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 06:42 PM   #5
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

While your text description is detailed, I can't imagine what you've actually done. Post some pictures?

Without that all I can do is generalize. And in general, I agree with Chris. It's unlikely a problem of the head, it's considerably more likely a problem with the mechanical interface of the camera to the head.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 08:51 PM   #6
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

I'll second the motion on the photo's, this I gotta see.

Whilst I think I've got a mental picture of how everything fits together from your description, I'd rather have "think" replaced by "know" before hazarding any more thoughts.

On the subject of trying out kit, one zero cost option is to drop mails to:

Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com & Andrew.Butler@VitecGroup.com

(they are the Product Managers for Sachtler and Vinten, respectively)

giving you rigs weight & approximate COG and asking both for a try out of whatever they recommend for such a beast. They'll ship whatever to your door step and arrange for its collection when play time is over.

It's completely free, no obligation and it gives you a chance to test both a stepped and continuously variable CB option before you shell out the greenbacks.

Not sure I'd recommend a 75 mm bowl system for that rig of yours mind, head - yeah, sticks - nah. I'd go 100 mm bowl 'pod and use a step down ring, so much more rigid.

Of course, it's not such a good idea if you can't even lift 'em off the ground, which tends to go with 100 mm systems.

I'll stay tuned.............


CS
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Old November 17th, 2013, 11:53 PM   #7
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Steve,
While it certainly sounds like there are issues going on mechanically, Alastair's suggestion of the "dampened" pan handle is one I totally second. I am using a shotgun mic foamy on my pan handle & it works very well at dampening any vibrations caused by touching the pan handle. Actually, I am hoping to replace our matrass one of these days, & when I do, I'm going to cut a great chunk out of our old memory foam matrass & try that as I think it would pretty much eliminate any vibration caused from handling the pan handle. At the tiny angles of view we are working with on the EX-3 & 35mm lens' any help is a big help!
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Old November 18th, 2013, 03:01 AM   #8
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

One thing you may want to check is that you’ve not left the lens stabilisation switched on. A few years ago, when I was PM for Vinten, I was asked to go see a broadcaster that had recently bought a large number of Vision blue tripod systems and in their words “unhappy with the tripods spring back”. This “spring back” was seen in the viewfinder as picture movement after the actual framing had stopped. I tested a number of the systems back at the factory and they all performed as they should. So I asked if they were using lens stabilisation and guess what, they were. When we switched it off, the framing never budged. Moral of the story, lens stabilisation is great for hand held stuff but a killer on tripods, in my experience.
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Old November 18th, 2013, 03:30 AM   #9
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Is it possible that it's the legs? Even if everything's bolted together rigidly with no movements in the mounting of the camera, the legs can introduce a lot of wobble.

I'm not familiar with those Gitzo legs, but they seem to be intended for stills photography, even though they are quite expensive, they are single tube carbon fibre and may not be the best for video, especially with a heavy camera. They seem to be specced to 18kg, but that's not a guarantee of absolute rigidity.

A surprising amount of tripod issues can be down to the legs. I'd prefer a good set of twin-tube legs like Vinten or Sachtler, especially Vinten where the tubes are elliptical instead of circular, which further reduces movement.

Edit: another thing, you shouldn't have to mess around with bits of foam, rubber bands, springs etc. on the pan handle. A good tripod removes the need for that. I'm sorry, but I don't include Manfrotto legs or heads in that category.
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Old November 18th, 2013, 09:09 AM   #10
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Let's not forget the fact that we're talking about long lens' on a 1/2" sensor here. With an 80-400mm lens on the EX-3, we are talking about an angle of view of roughly 1.2 degrees!! That's some serious magnification.
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Old November 18th, 2013, 10:59 AM   #11
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

I'm thinking image stabilization is ON too. Many people don't understand it has the opposite effect when a camera is tripod mounted.

I am not a fan of Miller heads. I don't like the 5 stop detent type adjustment system found on many of them. I like a tension knob I can dial in to my exact liking for any situation.

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Old November 18th, 2013, 11:49 AM   #12
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

I/S doesn't work on the EX3 with DSLR lenses. I have an EX3 which used with Nikkor 80-400 and 500 Sigma. Lenses used with a rod support/follow focus system with a nanoFlash mounted on the camera.

My Sachtler DV6 SB not up to it. I think it is the weight of the rig. DV8 SB might be up to it. I understand it is similar weight wise to a DV6 but designed to take a bigger overall weight. Used on my old Gitzo 1325 legs which seemed okay.

Got myself a Vinten Vision 6 on Vinten PT520 (Manfrotto clone) legs. This will handle the EX3 outfit but with the provisos that it bumps the weight up which a pain with mobile wildlife videoing ; wind and people shake can be a problem and with the magnifications involved touching the lens to focus, adjust aperture etc will cause movement.

I use a wired remote on my nanoFlash, so adjust aperture, focus, shoot, pause. The follow focus helps.

I'm actually going to sell this outfit as just too big and heavy for me. Changed to Lumix GH3s which a helluva difference but even with the aforementioned lenses can be used without rods on my Gitzo/DV6 SB combo. With care!

Ron

Last edited by Ronald Jackson; November 18th, 2013 at 11:50 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old November 19th, 2013, 04:41 PM   #13
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

You are absolutely right, Ron. Image stabilization is not supported with my Nikon lens. Since I had issues with the Manfrotto 516 other than the harmonic oscillation, I went ahead and bought a Sachtler FSB8
at B and H. I'll report if it fixes everything.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. My rig contains some proprietary stuff on it, and I am not at liberty to
photograph it.
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Old November 19th, 2013, 05:11 PM   #14
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

Hope you enjoy the new head Steve! One thing I like about my DV-10SB is in fact the stepped drag & counterbalance as well as the easily adjustable fore-aft positioning on the quick release plate. With this set up, I can change from one lens set up to another in seconds, with no fiddling about trying to get counterbalances & drags right on the fly. I know what settings the head needs to be at to balance the camera perfectly for the stock lens, 50-300mm lens, 80-400mm lens, etc, etc. With each change in camera configuration, I simply set the head accordingly, & it takes all of 5 seconds!
Enjoy!
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Old November 22nd, 2013, 03:28 PM   #15
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Re: A deeper question. "Ringing" fluid head

In case anyone is interested, I received my Sachtler FSB8 head today and tried it out. The harmonic "ringing" (also called bouncing) was gone. Of course there is jerking when you touch the camera with the long tele lenses I use, but no more than expected, and it is workable. The biggest shock, however is that the hysteresis with pan and tilt is also gone. I can get rock steadiness if the drag and counterbalance are adjusted properly. Nearly dropped my pants.

I suppose that the reason for all this is explained in the Sticky for this forum "Inside the 501". My old head was just some ridges held together with grease. Thanks to all for the ideas and input. It made the decisions easier.
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