Current Tripod is "Touchy" 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 February 17th, 2014, 07:57 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ferrisburgh, VT
Posts: 178
Current Tripod is "Touchy"

I shoot with a Manfrotto 516 and their recommended carbon-fiber legs.
My camera setup varies in weight, but generally tops out at around 14 pounds.

When I shoot with long lenses (200mm+ on a super35 sensor), my footage is jumpy, especially when it's windy, but often even when I'm just holding the handle for a pan. I feel like I can see my pulse even, it's so touchy.

Is this a problem that could be solved with a more expensive head, heavier sticks, or both? Or just technique? Dial up the drag?

Or a less powerful heartbeat?
Finn Yarbrough is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 17th, 2014, 08:42 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Perth, Western Australia.
Posts: 568
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Finn, I just bought a tripod to get me over the same sorts of issues. I was trying to support an unbalanced rig of about ten pounds on a 128 head. At least a 516 is closer to spec for your weight load. I bought an old 117 tripod with a 116 MK3 head that is rated to 10kg (22 pounds) and have found it much better.

I think the 519 is now the current version of the head I got. I am uncertain what the legs you have got are like, but the 117 are a centre column style and very heavy.

You may wish to look at other brands for support for your gear, but I have no experience with them and will leave that to others to offer advice.
__________________
Cheers
Tim
Tim Lewis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 17th, 2014, 11:04 PM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,430
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

If you can, try to go to NAB this year. Test out the Sachtler and Vinten tripods and heads. Very pricey, but once you feel what a real fluid head is supposed to feel like, you'll see why Manfrotto isn't considered professional gear. Save up your money and invest in a tripod that supports twice the weight of your camera and lens. You'll have to buy a good tripod only once, as it'll last more than 20 years. Consider it an investment to your future. After all, what good are shaky shots?
Warren Kawamoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 01:29 AM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 604
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

There are sure to be better tripod systems to try, however I am a great believer in having some flexibility in the pan handle, as it is the handle that is conducting the vibrations caused by your heartbeat etc to your tripod set-up. A simple experiment you can try is to loop a rubber band around the pan-handle and then pull on the rubber band to pan and/or tilt. Better results are to be had if the rubber is stretched to about half the stretch it is capable of.

I use tapered plastic handles that have a spring at the operatorís end. For very slow movements with a long lens I use the tip of the spring, for faster movements I use a point nearer the camera.

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/images/a...1&d=1392708502
Attached Thumbnails
Current Tripod is "Touchy"-_dsc9913.jpg   Current Tripod is "Touchy"-_dsc9917.jpg  

Alastair Traill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 05:53 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Antrim, Northern Ireland
Posts: 1,569
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

If I had to use a rubber band or a spring to get good performance from my tripod, I would go mad. Or madder.

A Vinten Vision Blue tripod does not cost significantly more than the Manfrotto tripods, but it is a world away in performance.

I've said it before, if you have a good tripod you can forget about the device's limitations and concentrate on the shot. I don't get excited about my VB any more, it's just there, and it works. No rubber bands, no crazy pan handles, it just works.
__________________
Irish Railway Videos on Youtube
Mike Beckett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 06:50 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 604
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Hi Mike,

I have tried a VB and found it to be unsatisfactory with a long lens and slow pans. Like the springs on a car the flexible handle or rubber band is very good at reducing vibrations. Try one sometime.
Alastair Traill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 02:44 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Merritt Island, Florida
Posts: 851
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

I've used the 'rubber-band trick' and it does work quite effectively. With that said, it's a stopgap method of achieving decent Pans and tilts with a less than adequate fluid head and sticks. Save yourself the aggravation and get a proper fluid head and sticks.

IHTH.

Regards,

J.
James Kuhn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 03:23 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Hmm..............

Let's see.

Big camera + long lens + HD sensor + non counterbalanced head + dubious bearings in same + "no name" sticks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Problem: Your camera support capabilities are about 5 generations behind your cameras resolving power.

Solutions:

1. Downgrade camera to SD dinky cam with wide angle lens.

OR

2. Upgrade camera support to something costing $2,000 plus.

OR

3. Ditch video and take up fishing, it's cheaper.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 03:53 PM   #9
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ferrisburgh, VT
Posts: 178
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Thanks everyone for the advice so far. The flexible handle and/or rubber bands look interesting, but do seem as though they might introduce some limitations.

I have to roll my eyes a little bit at the members who are suggesting that I "get a decent tripod" or "spend more money." Yes, I get it. But rather than just throwing my money at whatever seems shiny and hoping that it works out for the best, I seek some specific and well-qualified advice on how to spend it, which I know I can find here.

Chris, I'm looking at you. $2,000 will get me this:
BH (Links)
Which to my eye seems like exactly what I own now with the same sticks, 50% more weight capacity in the head, and a counter-balance. Will these things solve my issues?

BTW, pro fishing is about as expensive as pro videography, so no go there, I'm afraid.
Finn Yarbrough is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 18th, 2014, 05:22 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Finn, I've also got a 516 head (on single-stage, aluminum legs). My 516 is a bit sticky these days, but it's no dainty, frail support system. Mine doesn't have (much) play, just stiction.

Regarding counterbalance, this is beside the point for pans. The head doesn't have "adjustable" counterbalance, but it is counterbalanced for something like 20 lbs with a center of gravity about five inches above the plate. But again, if you're not tilting, counterbalancing is moot.

And if you're getting jiggle in light wind, even the pan is moot - unless the head is loose somewhere. Vibrations due to wind point to the sticks, rather than the head. It could be due to the feet or pins and the surface. To test, try touching the tripod rather than the head and see if you still get vibration. Try wiggling each connection point to see if there is any particular loose item.

If the tripod is anchored well and has no obvious fault, you might improve things by just adding a rope and a weight. Tie the rope to the bottom of the tripod. (There should be a hook there.) Tie a steel weight or water jug to the rope so that it just touches the ground on one edge or corner. This keeps it from swinging free but still applies its weight to the assembly.

Lock down the pan and tilt and touch the handle. With enough weight, nothing broken, and a good connection to the ground, this will be as good as it gets. Any problems will be due only to flex and play rather than to the mechanical operation of the head. Next, unlock the pan and go side to side. Now you're seeing the tripod action and any wind up. Finally, try the tilt. (This is where mine is sticky.) Unless you've added height and weight, you won't be able to just let go and have it stay at any one position.

I've also got a Vinten 3AS with aluminum legs and mid-level spreader. Its motion beats the 516 hands down, but it's not perfect and my 516 setup might even be superior for locked-down stability. A weight helps the Vinten but the real solution was the 70-200/2.8L IS II lens, compared to the non-stabilized 200/2.8L II that I used previously. IS does wonders at removing micro-vibrations.

Your 516 will never be great for motion (especially tilts) but with a good connection to the ground, all connections tight, and enough weight, it might tide you over until you can upgrade - or get an IS lens! :)
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 19th, 2014, 07:29 AM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Antrim, Northern Ireland
Posts: 1,569
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Finn,

Try looking beyond Manfrotto. I don't know why people are obsessed with it.

$2000 should get you a lot of Vinten, Miller, Sachtler...
__________________
Irish Railway Videos on Youtube
Mike Beckett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 19th, 2014, 03:35 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Sorry for the tardy response, was in the process yesterday when my decrepit (8 YO) PC decided to have a terminal cardiac arrest. Need some new silicon!

Think I may have been a bit conservative with that $2 k plus comment having checked out B&H subsequent.

The secret to "rock solid" support is pretty simple, sheer out and out grunt (decent design, materials and manufacture helps too).

Grunt weighs heaps and costs big. Grunt is also what you'll do every time you pick the thing up.

My Vinten FiberTecs (sadly no longer made) weigh in at about 5 kilos with spreader, add a decent head and you're looking at one heck of a lift, but man, have those things got grunt to spare.

They're rated to nearly 90 lbs tho' I think that's a trifle conservative. New price, sticks and spreader, from B&H back when, - US $2,700. Throw in the case and Vision 3 head, which I did, it topped out at over US $ 4 K.

6+ years ago!

So, where to from here?

Rather than me suggest anything in particular, let's draw up a few guidelines and see what our Sachtler and Vinten guru's can throw your way as testers.

Sticks:

Design load - 100 lbs or thereabouts

Format - 2:2:2 (2:2:1 I simply don't think will have the rigidity for those big lenses)

Bowl size - 100 mm (so much gruntier than 75 mm)

Spreader - Mid level

Max. Height - up to you, but the first two items will probably limit you to about 65 inches)

Center column - hell no!

Head:

75 mm should do fine. Full variable counterbalance (stepped, Sachtler; continuous, Vinten), side/ drop load nice but optional.

So, if you now fire mails to Barbara.Jaumann@VitecGroup.com (Sachtler) and Andrew.Butler@Vitec.Group.com (Vinten) they can suggest what systems they would recommend you try to see if they fit your requirements.

(I thought I had the mail address for the guy at OConner, can't find it. Not sure you want to spend that sort of brass though!).

Anyway, if you get a test system from each of the above, you get to decide whether either cuts the mustard and whether you want to spring for one, or not.

All it costs you is the return shipping after playtime, whatever you decide.

And no, I don't think you'll find anything in the Manfrotto line up that will do what you need.

It's got to be a better way to go than the "buy it and weep" alternative.

Good luck.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 19th, 2014, 04:44 PM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Finn,

If you go to a town with a good video rental shop, stop in mid-day if you have a chance (after the morning pick ups and late afternoon returns.) Let them know you're not renting today but are checking out equipment for a possible future job. (Who knows? You might find something very nice that's way out of budget but perfect for that unknown future project.) Just move out of the way when a paying customer walks in. If you call ahead, you can make sure to be there on a less than crazy day.

They'll tell you what has been reliable and takes a beating and what didn't work out. You can probably try one of their long lens setups and shoot something at the far end of the shop. Hopefully, you can try stuff in your budget as well as far beyond. This helps calibrate you to how good things can get - and how nothing is quite perfect. In the end, you might buy a mid-range product while renting "grunt" for specific projects.

What are you likely to find there? Sachtler. What are you unlikely to find? Manfrotto. ;)

Of course, their models might no longer be available as new, so you're unlikely to do true head-to-head (pun!) comparisons. And you never know. They might be willing to part with an old workhorse for the right offer. :)
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 20th, 2014, 09:24 PM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ferrisburgh, VT
Posts: 178
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

All right, thank you all for weighing in with your time and advice, ranging from clever modifications and work-arounds to suggested models and how I might go about testing them.

I think that my main problem last week was a "perfect storm" of challenging conditions that would tax any tripod. However, as my work is moving more towards critical imagery and away from "good-enoughs-ville," I will be trying out some new options.

Next week my first Sachtler test subject should arrive--the DV12 on 5390 sticks. It costs more than I paid for my camera. We will see if it solves the shake!
Finn Yarbrough is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21st, 2014, 12:02 AM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Re: Current Tripod is "Touchy"

Quote:
It costs more than I paid for my camera.

And so it should.

It'll outlast it by 20 years minimum unless they bring in electronic heads and 64K imaging systems, which, of course, they will, eventually.

I shall be looking forward to your impressions of the tester with great interest, it sounds like a great system (and I would have suggested it if I was going to suggest anything, which I wasn't).

Keep us all posted, this is better than going to the movies.

Have you cut Vinten in on this?


CS
Chris Soucy 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 10:01 PM.


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