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Old November 28th, 2013, 10:11 AM   #1
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Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

I was hoping to revisit this little question: I just broke my Sachtler ground spreader last week (it was, at that point, only being held together by epoxy and hope) and thought I'd rethink the whole spreader issue before buying another overpriced piece of very breakable plastic and using it as the only thing that keeps my expensive tripod from collapsing.

I know I should switch to a midlevel spreader, but so many midlevel spreaders (from anecdote at least) seem to be so breakable (and expensive) that I started thinking about going the Miller Solo/Gitzo Systematic route. I have a DSLR rig that weighs less than 9lbs/4kg. Would anyone recommend this switch?

If not, does anyone know of a legs/spreader combo that's really reliable?
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Old November 28th, 2013, 11:16 AM   #2
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

How'd you break it?

Apart from the Manfrotto 540ART tripod and another Vinten VB set that I own, I also own a Manfrotto 535 tripod those are single tube "spreader-less" like you put it. No problems at all, it's my most used leg of choice.
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Old November 28th, 2013, 11:22 AM   #3
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

I was shooting solo, trying to do ~115 setups in 6 hours and kicking the spreader up so I could fold the legs and get through a door. Make no mistake, I was the one who broke these legs and I shouldn't have kicked so hard, but I don't thing it's too much to ask for a tripod that I can move around quickly without babying.

Nice to hear that your spreader-less legs are your legs of choice. Complaints I have heard are: a) there's more torque when panning (although with heavy Gitzo legs, I find that hard to believe) and b) usually each leg has multiple sections, so to change the tripod height takes longer.
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Old November 28th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #4
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

I've only known one mid level spreader to break and that was on a Vinten Vb3 set of sticks that turned up here for review (from the UK) with a spreader arm end completely sheered off the arm.

How is still a mystery as there was no discernible damage to any of the many layers of boxing, bubble wrap, case, more bubble wrap or the sticks themselves.

I've never heard of a MLS failing in use, though just about anything can be broken if used outside it's operational limits I guess.

You didn't mention what model Sachtler sticks you're using so I can't give any info as to the robustness or otherwise of their relevant MLS.

I do know the MLS on their 75 CF's is built like a tank, so imagine the rest are very similarly constructed.

I'll certainly agree that MLS's do tend to be rather over priced but that's just the "short and curly's" situation with pro camera support.

As for going to single concentric tube sticks (1:1:1:(1)), all things being equal (more on that in a moment), if using similar diameter and wall thickness tubes to either a 2:2:2 or 2:2:1 or (shudder) a 2:1:1 configuration, the 1:1:1:(1) must wind up more than the others, simple physics.

Depends on your pain threshold how much of that you can tolerate.

Additionally, many 1:1:1:(1) units have concentric locking rings which I find a monumental pain in the whatsits.

On the "all things etc......." front, an anomaly is the Manfrotto 528 XB's which are 1:1 sticks, however, the outer tube is alloy nearly as thick as my wrist, the inner tube steel ditto and it comes complete with it's own non detachable tank like MLS and all up weighs pretty nearly more than I do.

They are exceedingly robust but utterly inappropriate for your application.

I'd suggest just going with a MLS for your current sticks if, apart from your spreader saga's, they otherwise do want you want and haven't pushed you to wind up insanity.


CS
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Old November 28th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Thanks, Chris, for that nice detailed response. I think you're voicing the pretty common wisdom that I've heard before. To answer your question, I have pretty basic 2:1 Sachtler 75mm bowl sticks with a DV1 headľall of which I was ready to upgrade from before the "incident".

My main question, as I look for upgrade choices, is whether the common wisdom about windup, etc, does not apply as much to lighter rigs. As I look at Gitzo legs, which seems to lock very easily and provide very nice stability, I can't help wondering if it's worth going that way (plus, the longevity of Gitzo legs seems to be unsurpassable).

It is nice to hear that, in your experience, mid-level spreaders can be trusted. If I do go that route, I'll feel less like I'm throwing money down the drain on breakable equipment. I'm just curious to see if anyone puts a light rig on Miller Solo or Gitzo legs and prefers the experience.
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Old November 28th, 2013, 10:18 PM   #6
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

I use Gitzo CF Systematic legs (with 75mm bowls) with Sachtler FSB and Cine DSLR fluid heads. No spreaders and absolutely, positively ROCK solid. Not cheap, but they will last for decades (unlike cameras). You have to physically try them to understand how solid they are. Also, with no spreaders they provide for low angle shots.

Cameras include XA20, XF100, 7D, and 5D Mk III.

Last edited by Richard D. George; November 28th, 2013 at 10:25 PM. Reason: Added text
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Old November 28th, 2013, 10:42 PM   #7
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

I have to agree with Richard, I have the Gitzo system 5 or 6 legs (sorry can't remember exactly which ones now) But they are rock solid. I am using them with a Sachtler DV10SB head for my Sony EX-3 that I use a lot with long telephoto lenses & there is absolutely no wind up what so ever. I also have the Miller CF legs & they are also very nice legs.
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Old November 29th, 2013, 06:05 AM   #8
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Thanks, Richard and Bryce. That's really great to hear. Would you mind letting me know if you ever get frustrated trying to adjust the tripod height with multilevel legs and collars? Does it take much longer than with more traditional video legs and locks?
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Old November 29th, 2013, 07:38 AM   #9
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

More wind up? Definitely. It's noticeable on my Manfrotto 535 only when I crank my vinten head's drag all the way up for those long lens shots. If all you're gonna use on your dslr is a 70-200 then you've got no worries there.

As for the height changing, yes to that too. Open the locks on your sachtler and their legs drop easily, allowing you to pull up the upper carriage with your camera to desired height. For my case, I'll need to lift the whole shebang, camera + head + tripod while bent down to increase the height, because the legs don't just drop down and are kinda "suction locked" so to speak. There's an audible hiss when you pull the legs out quickly.

Is this worth the trouble for me? Absolutely yes, because I can get a tripod that goes so low, and for my short height (165cm) I only ever use the first section legs for most shoots anyway.

Oh and that thing goes up high:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/iez3vl3qyi...2010.48.13.jpg
https://www.dropbox.com/s/bligirnoe2...2010.40.35.jpg
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Old November 29th, 2013, 09:13 AM   #10
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Life is full of trade-offs. I will tolerate taking an extra minute or two to get the height correct. After you have done it enough times you get a sense of how far to extend each Gitzo section to obtain a resulting tripod height. I do the leg extensions before spreading the tripod. Sometimes I have to adjust. No big deal, once you get used to it.

I have the carbon fiber Sachtler "quick set up" legs but never use them (see countless posts by Chris S. others on the issues).

Leveling with the Gitzo legs is easy because of the 75mm bowl.

Once you realize you can do low-angle shots, it opens up interesting possibilities.
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Old November 29th, 2013, 09:19 AM   #11
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Life is full of trade-offs. I will tolerate taking an extra minute or two to get the height correct. After you have done it enough times you get a sense of how far to extend each Gitzo section to obtain a resulting tripod height. I do the leg extensions before spreading the tripod. Sometimes I have to adjust. No big deal, once you get used to it.

I have the carbon fiber Sachtler "quick set up" legs but never use them (see countless posts by Chris S. and others on the issues).

Leveling with the Gitzo legs is easy because of the 75mm bowl.

Once you realize you can do low-angle shots, it opens up interesting possibilities.
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Old December 5th, 2013, 11:41 AM   #12
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Richard, are you using Gitzo legs with anti-rotation and g lock? It sounds like those features, especially the anti-rotation, make changing height less of a pain.
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Old December 5th, 2013, 11:31 PM   #13
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Yes.

One GT3531lsv with 75mm bowl
One GT3532lsv with 75mm bowl (replaced GT3531lsv)

They were pricey but I never regretted it.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 07:06 AM   #14
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard D. George View Post
Yes.

One GT3531lsv with 75mm bowl
One GT3532lsv with 75mm bowl (replaced GT3531lsv)

They were pricey but I never regretted it.
Hi Richard,

that looks like a great solution. Thanks for the information. I promise this will be my last question to both Richard and Zexun: I see you both work with DSLRs. How heavy a rig do you end up using on these CF legs? Or do you mostly just have the camera+lens on there?

Many thanks!
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Old December 6th, 2013, 10:10 AM   #15
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Re: Spreader-less Tripods in a DSLR World

For my part, not very heavy. However, both models are rated for plenty of weight.
From the B&H website:

GT3531LSV (no longer available from B&H, but still shown. Available on Amazon)

Load capacity - 39.7 lbs
legs weight - 4 lbs
Rating - 5 stars from 4 reviews (some using these legs with Sachtler FSB heads, like me.)

GT3532LSV

Load capacity - 55 lbs
legs weight - 4.4 lbs
Rating - no reviews yet

Remember, you can modify existing Gitzo Systematic legs by swapping out the flat mounting plate with a Gitzo 75mm bowl, so if you could find some used Systematic legs, you might save some money.
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