O'Connor 1030D Arrived! at DVinfo.net

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Old October 3rd, 2014, 02:20 PM   #1
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O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

This is the last of my proposed equipment purchases for awhile. It's my attempt to future proof my support kit. I actually got a good deal on a 'like new' O'Connor 1030D. I believe it was part of the "Calumet Photo, NYC" bankruptcy. But, don't really know.

To paraphrase my 'Ozzie cousin', Paul Hogan, 'Now that's a fluid head!'

I'm not going to do a 'review'. First of all, we have an in-house resource (Chris Soucy) who does all things Tripod and fluid head much better than I ever could. However, I will say this 'head' appears 'built like a brick Dunny'!

Thanks to all who helped me learn enough to make a good purchase.


Best regards,

J.
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Old October 3rd, 2014, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Congratulations James! Dog with two tails time indeed.

Thanks for the kind words (above), tho' can't see OConnor letting me get my sticky mitts on a 1030D any time soon.

Might dragoon you into doing some sleuthing on my behalf tho' with regard to that new head.

I've read two very in depth write ups of the 1030D, one from a company that actually rebuilds them and both have mentioned an oddity in the way the counterbalance performs over the tilt range.

They've both said that the CB (Sometimes? Always?) gives the impression during tilts that the camera balance has moved fractionaly, thus throwing the CB off minutely at certain angles, giving the strange situation where it CB's perfectly at one angle but not quite as perfectly at another.

This is one of those esoteric "whodunnits" I just love to get my teeth into.

Questions are:

Can you observe this?

Does this have a specific weight/ cog element to it; ie does it only do this outside/ inside/ both the 10 - 30 lbs weight range that gives the head its name?

Is it angle specific; ie will it always pull this stunt at the same angle(s), load independent or does the angle(s) change with load?

Is there a usage element - it gets better/ worse/ no change with use hours?

I'm sure I'll think of more but I'll be interested in your experiences with this issue, if, indeed, you ever witness it (I had sort of put this down to "erroneous urban legend" despite the supposed pedigree of the writers concerned, but it never hurts to have another opinion from someone with the ability to get hands on play time).

Enjoy.


CS
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Old October 3rd, 2014, 11:09 PM   #3
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Hi Chris,

I had the pleasure to have a Scarlet on a 1030D a few months ago and didn't notice any strange CB issues. We put it through it's paces too. Since the first time I got to use a 50 I've always loved the feel of O'Connor heads.

James, feeling a tad bit of envy. Enjoy a great piece of equipment.
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Old October 4th, 2014, 11:08 AM   #4
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

I had a much lengthier response, but because of the infuriating 'time out' feature of DVInfo it was lost. I'll have to re-write my response and cut and paste it.

Sorry.

J.
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Old October 4th, 2014, 05:05 PM   #5
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

that's a great head. I own the 2060 and have worked with the 2575 also . I've never had issues with dialing in the counter Bal. I can see where an issue may happen when the camera and support are not properly centered. since that would cause different CB ratios to happen if say you were tilted down and looking for recovery coming back , or tilted back and looking for recovery forward. For sure you now have a " future proof " item that will last much longer than any of the camera bodies you will be mounting onto it over the next several years.
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Old October 4th, 2014, 05:10 PM   #6
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

One of the few (maybe only) brands I've remained loyal to my entire career has been O'Connor--on some jobs I've been asked to substitute other heads, even perfectly respectable ones like Sachtlers, but I stand firm because I've always found them bulletproof and without compromise. Very surprised to hear that there have been common issues found in the performance of the 1030D. I have a 1030B that is least 15 years old and it doesn't demonstrate any counter balance issues. I'll check with my friends at O'Connor to see if they have any response to this.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 11:35 AM   #7
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Thanks Chris, Garrett, Charles, et al! I appreciate the kind words.

Based on my limited 48-hours hands-on with the O’Connor 1030D, I’m very pleased with my purchase.

It’s quite the machine!

Chris, I haven’t experienced any peculiarities with the Counterbalance (CB). Although, being a neophyte and not having any experience with O’Connor Heads, I’m a poor choice to ask. More sophisticated and knowledgeable operators like Charles and others are more likely to ‘feel’ the nuances then I am.

With that said, I’m proud to be asked by “Soucy Testing Laboratories, Ltd” to be their North American field testing agent. I’ll have my Lawyers draw-up the proper paperwork and overnight them to you. : )

Unfortunately for your purposes Chris, I’m not challenging the rig by any stretch of the imagination. My current configuration is a PMW-200 with the large BP-U90 battery, SXS cards, Sony ECM-MS2 Mic and a Manfrotto 492 LCD Mini-Ball Head on the front Cold Shoe; I’m barely pushing 8.71lbs. (3.95kg). Definitely not stressing the system, even with the Sony Wide-Angle conversion lens, VCL-EX0877, which only adds another pound and a half (+0.68kg), or so, to the front-end.

I think the question of whether the O’Connor 1030Ds can balance a lightweight payload can be put to bed. Even with the small Sony BP-U30 battery it will balance and operate perfectly.

I really like the operating layout of the Fluid Head. All the controls are properly located for easy handling. Visually, it has a ‘Bauhaus’ look to the overall design, very industrial.

In accordance with the ‘Owner’s Manual’, once the payload is properly leveled fore and aft and with the Pan and Tilt Drag wheels set at the lowest setting (1), the Counterbalance Crank requires 13 revolutions (from the stop) of increasing Counterbalance for my camera configuration.

At first I thought this seemed like too much, but then I started cranking clockwise, increasing the CB to see how far it actually goes. I stopped when I got to 40 revolutions. I had not hit the ‘mechanical stop’ and there was more adjustment available. I’m definitely at the low-end of the Counterbalance adjustment.

The adjustments are very precise and repeatable. If, I back off the CB by one revolution (12), the payload will start to ‘drift’ from its Tilt position. When I increase the CB by one revolution (13) and move the Fluid Head through its range of motion, the Fluid Head and payload will remain in any Tilt position I set and this is before I add any Tilt Drag.

There’s no bounce-back, no slipping and no additional movement after a Pan or Tilt movement is completed.

I didn’t really understand when people would talk about how Sachtler and other Fluid Head/Tripod combinations are more suited for ENG/EFP while others (O’Connor) are considered more suited for Cinematic purposes.

I’m not sure I agree with that analysis. Once you understand the adjustments required for the camera and accessories you plan to use, it’s just a matter of ‘dialing it in’. The O’Connor is so precise and repeatable; it’s simple and quite fast. Initially, it's not quite as fast as my Sachtler, but once dialed-in it's fine.

The O’Connor Owner’s Manual recommends, “When shooting is finished and the Head is to be stored, Head settings (i.e., Counterbalance and fluid drag) should be left unchanged. This reduces wear on the Head’s mechanisms and save time on the next shoot.”

My Sachtler FSB-8 and Speed Lock 75 CF legs are definitely my ‘GOTO’ sticks for run and gun.

The O’Connor 1030D and the Sachtler CF-100ENG HD 2CF sticks are my medium payload rig. Short of a steel pier imbedded to bedrock, I don’t know of a more stable, reasonably portable Tripod/Fluid Head system.

I say ‘reasonably portable’ because with my bad knees, I’m not planning on carrying this rig up a mountainside anytime soon, my days of humping an 80lb. Rucksack are over!

My thanks to all of the working pros who've taken pity on me over the years and assisted in my education.

Now, I understand there's a thing out there called a "Geared Head". Anybody know anything about them? : )

Best regards,

J.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 12:24 PM   #8
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Hi James,

Geared heads are basically heads that use cranks to manipulate the pan/tilt. Here's one by ARRI.

http://www.arri.com/camera/pro_camer...af673c10037643

They used to use these all the time on film cameras before they came out with fluid heads. The ARRIHEAD 2 is massively expensive. I've seen them used for around $25K. I have no idea what it would cost new.

Some cool stuff though.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 01:22 PM   #9
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Hi, Garrett! Good to hear from you.

The 'Arri' is a beast. I have looked at the 'GearNex Gear Head'
.

Believe me, I think I've 'shot my bolt', so to speak. The O'Connor will have to do until someone wants to pay me to learn and then operate a 'Geared Head'. Although, I wouldn't mind some 'hands-on' to get a feel for how they work.

Getting use to Pans, Tilts and diagonal moves happening simultaneously, dependent upon how you turn the axis control wheels would require some practice. Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. But, once you get a feel for the mechanism, I'll bet it would be fun!

I understand Geared Heads have been around for a long time. Research I've done says they were used to film "Lawrence Of Arabia". A stunningly beautiful film. I'm sure a cinema historian can tell us exactly when Geared Heads were first used in film.

Regarding the O'Connor 1030D Fluid Head. I have never experienced this amount of control and smoothness with any Tripod/Fluid Head combination I've owned. Not Vinten Vision Blue or Vision 3, nor my beloved Sachtler FSB-8.

Caveat: I haven't used other 'high-end' Sachtler, O'Connor, Millers, etc.. But, for me the difference in performance is significant.

I now understand why pros like yourself are so enamored with this Fluid Head.

Take care,

J.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 06:42 PM   #10
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Hi James,

I believe that geared heads were around before the fluid head. They're what I've seen on very old production set photos. Also, they were able to move those 100 lbs. monstrosity cameras they use to have to shoot with.

The smaller geared heads are somewhat of a puzzlement for me. With the advancement of a good fluid head they don't seem to give much of an advantage. Especially for you with the 1030D. I would imagine you would get just as good pans and tilts. The one advantage you could be with the geared heads is that they are more precise in their stop and start angles since they can be marked. but, I imagine you could be almost as precise if carefully lining up each shot.

I have used the higher end Sachtler and Vinten heads. And, even though they are miles above most of the others out there, they are just as far behind the O'Connor heads IMHO.

Enjoy the O'Connor head.

~Garrett
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Old October 8th, 2014, 09:16 PM   #11
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

HI everyone. James, I'm glad to hear you are enjoying your 1030. It's a beautiful head and it will last you through many generations of cameras.

About geared heads:

Yes, they were designed at a time when they were the only way to truly operate a camera smoothly (especially the mammoth payloads of early sound cameras, Technicolor, Cinerama etc.). I cut my teeth on an old CP Mini-Worrall some twenty years ago, spent a winter with a laser pointer tracing out my name on the wall of my office. After moving to LA I found myself almost exclusively using geared heads for the next 15 years, to the point where I found myself rusty at using a fluid head when required to! They have become a little more exotic than they used to be and many shows including mine just carry fluid heads now. However it's still important for union operators to know the skill because most remote heads come with wheels, although panbars (like a fluid head interface for a remote head) are sometimes available.

The advantage of a geared head basically revolves around magnifying the displacement or movement that an operator makes, which tends to smooth out the results--when you make a tiny diagonal move with a long lens on a fluid head, your single hand movement is quite small and very specific, whereas the rotation of two separate hands creates more finesse. It's kind of like setting your mouse movements on a computer to "gear down" when moving slowly.

A classic example is when doing moving shots on a dolly, like a fast push in with abrupt deceleration. WIth a fluid head you have to really rein in the forces to keep from getting a bump in the shot--with a geared head, it's much easier. Same thing about clambering around on a dolly mid-shot, if you have to pan 180 degrees or more. Back in the day, one had to keep one's eye stapled to the eyepiece or you'd let light onto the film plane--in the digital era, it's much more common to work off an onboard monitor so again this is less of a concern than it once was, so there is less contorting the body to stay locked to the camera.

Learning the skill of the geared head is, as James suggests, like rubbing the belly and patting the head. It takes a little bit to figure out which hand does what. The closest thing that a civilian would encounter is actually an Ekta-Sketch. I was a little stunned to learn after my first few years of daily geared head operating that I had become unknowingly adept at that toy, and could now draw circles with relative ease. Bonus! After it becomes instinctive where you can aim a camera without thinking about it, you start to learn the nuances of the system, which are many. When to use which one of the gears or even neutral; how to "throw" the wheels (a fast or whip pan that continues into a subtle piece of operating requires spinning the wheel fast, letting go, then catching it again smoothly and returning to operating position). Some of the more interesting tricks are things like nailing a stand-up, where an actor is to get out of his chair quickly. That can be tricky on a fluid head, landing with perfect headroom and not over or undershooting. With the geared head, you can set the top position with the actor and then count the number of revolutions it takes to get him down to the sitting position. When he stands in the shot, you simply crank the wheel fast and keep track of the turns, and you will stop the tilt at exactly the right spot every time.

Where we separate the men from the boys is in backpanning, most often experienced with a crane or jib arm and remote head. When the arm swings, you have to pan just to keep the camera pointed forward. Finding exactly the right speed so that the frame doesn't fishtail back and forth is not easy, then there's feathering out of it as the arm comes to a stop--and what if the shot requires panning as well? You find yourself cranking slower to pan one way and cranking faster in the SAME DIRECTION to pan the other way. If you have to think about it, you are sunk!

As far as the little fad of small geared heads led by the Gearnex a few years ago, I shook my headin bemusement over that one. You are correct, Garrett, in that they offer little advantage over a good fluid head in this day and age. Most users will rarely need the benefits of a geared head, and I have yet to see any late model versions that equal the performance of the Arri or Panahead, which makes them pointless. They were by and large a fashion statement, a way for newbies to look more cool on set (in their estimation) and I'm sure a lot of them embarrassed themselves by turning in crappy looking moves as they struggled to overcome the shortcomings of those heads let alone learn the skill. I remember seeing one of the early purchasers post a photoset of his first shoot with the Gearnex which consisted of literally 50 pictures of himself standing at the camera, leaning on the wheels, looking thoughtful etc. I doubt I have 50 pictures of myself behind the wheels for those 15 years I was a union operator on TV shows and movies...
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Old October 9th, 2014, 12:27 AM   #12
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Hi Charles,

Thanks for the very informative post as always. Operating a geared head seem a little like trying to operate a backhoe. Need to coordinate several things at one time. A good operator makes it look easy. If you're even a little incompetent you're gonna gave a lot of crap where you don't want it.

I'd love to try master a geared head just for the fun of though.
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Old October 9th, 2014, 09:17 AM   #13
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Charles and Garrett...thanks, gentlemen! I love to hear the prospective from people hwo have been 'in the trenches'. It's invaluable!

I'm with you Garrett, I'd like to learn how to use a geared head because it looks like fun and it's an additional arrow in my skills quiver.

The OConnor 1030D has turned out to be, so far anyway, one of those pieces of equipment that just does what it suppose to do out of the box. Sadly, the same can't be said of many other things. Things seldom livie up to the marketing hype.

OConnor 1030D Cons:

1. It's made in Costa Rica. Now, I have nothing against Cost Rica or Costa Ricans, I just wish America still mannufactured things.

2. The OConnor 1030D camera dovetail mounting plate is not compatible with my Sachtler FSB-8 (75mm bowl) dovetail plate. Once the camera mounting plate is installed, you're committed to that support system.

However, after I thought about it, the 100mm bowl 1030D is made for larger form factor cameras and it makes perfect sense it would require a larger dovetail plate. I wonder if it's the same dimension as Astronomy heads? Hmmm?

3. It's heavy! Not unmanageable, but a bit hefty. As I always tell people about tripod systems. If you want steady and solid, it requires Mass. More Mass = heavier tripod. You can't have it both ways.

Other than the aforementioned sniggles, I love the OConnor 1030D!

Thanks for listening to the 'Fan Boy'. : )


J.
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Old October 9th, 2014, 10:19 AM   #14
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Something I forgot to mention about geared heads is that they have a limited tilt range compared to fluid heads, generally 60 degrees total as opposed to the nearly 180 degrees of an O'Connor. I don't know about the little heads but the pro ones have an integrated tilt plate that allows you to offset that range for specific shots, but it affects the geometry of the system by raising the center of gravity, and it becomes more difficult to operate the head smoothly the further you raise the plate. Usually in that scenario I'd switch out to a fluid head, although before I learned to do that I turned in some pretty wonky tilts--there's one in Office Space when Tom shows off his "Jump to Conclusions" mat, the shot of the mat itself features a pretty unspectacular tilt courtesy of yours truly.

I know the 1030 comes with a choice of full size or mini size "Euro" QR assemblies (which was O'Connor's way of describing the Sachtler plate back when the companies were rivals, before Vitec bought them both), but I was surprised to see that the Sachtlers don't always use Sachtler plates any more! The FSB 8 seems to come with what looks like a Manfrotto style QR plate--is it the same one? Interesting. If that is the case, James, you could buy a complete QR assembly, like: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Quick-Release-Assemblies/ci/3937/N/4071351450/)and mount that to your Sachtler plate--a little funky having dual QR's but it would allow for fast switch out. Or, if you wanted to spend a big chunk of change, convert your 1030 to the Manfrotto style QR completely:
OConnor Sideload Quick Release Top Platform C1248-1001 B&H Photo
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Old October 9th, 2014, 01:21 PM   #15
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Re: O'Connor 1030D Arrived!

Charles...thanks for amplifying your comments about 'geared heads'. I love that more information 'spills' out of your head by accident, then what some people charge a bunch of money for a weekend seminar. I hope that sounded right? Very inarticulate sentence. But, thank you.

I have the O'Connor 'Side Load' Dovetail camera plate and Platform assembly. It's an interesting system.

Best regards,

J.
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