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Old December 20th, 2014, 08:21 AM   #1
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Opinions please

As posted in the 'Inside a Bogen 501' thread , I'm thinking of getting a better tripod head than the older Manfrotto I currently have .

Although , in days gone by I used to shoot with a Sony DXC-M3A/VO6800 , then with a JVC GY-DV500 , both of which I sat on my Manfrotto 350 legs and 116Mk II head , I now use a Sony HVR V1e , mainly for family stuff , hobby use and the odd paying job ( usually weddings ) which helps to pay for new toys .

Earlier in the year , I attended a trade show in Glasgow Science Centre and had a play with a few tripod systems , including the newer offerings from Manfrotto , noting that they felt smoother and better than in days of old , and an improvement over what I have just now . I use Sachtler heads at work , so I know how much better a 'proper' head can be , but I can't justify spending a huge amount and was really looking at spending around £200 tops for a newer head ( don't mind secondhand ) . The other thing is that the 350/116 is a fairly big and heavy thing to tote around , besides being overkill for my current camera .

I settled on the V1e as I still quite like tape based workflow , where I can use a new tape every time and keep it on the shelf afterwards ( we use XDCAM at work which uses either the big optical discs or SxS cards , which are too expensive to use new ones every time ) . I may possibly get another HDV camera as prices continue to drop , and may look for a Z7 at some point , but the V1e is a nice size , not being too big to take on family outings and holidays , whilst still being reasonably decent to do the odd jobs with . I also have a couple of video capable still cameras which can provide emergency backup at a wedding , but I still prefer to use a camcorder to shoot video .

At most the V1e will be fitted with an onboard mic ( I still have the standard supplied one , but am planning to get the ECM-MS2 for stereo capability ) , a high capacity battery , then , according to what I am doing any of the following : Sennheisser EW100 radiomic receiver , a Paglight DV , the wide conversion lens which also came with the camera - all in all still not hugely heavy , even if the COG will shift according to what is mounted .

So , in summary , looking for something smaller and lighter than the 116 , which should offer better performance and be more suited to the camera as outlined above and not looking to spend a huge amount on something that is primarily for home use .

I had initially looked at the Manfrotto 504HD , but after reading Chris's review on here , it is perhaps not going to be brilliant and maybe I'd be as well getting the cheaper 502 which is perhaps not much different . I know either the Sachtler FSB4 or the Vinten Vision Blue would both be better , but don't feel I can justify the £500+ they cost .

I can buy a new Manfrotto 502 for a little over £100 , but looking around I saw an older Manfrotto 505 on offer at £180 ( I know this would originally been a more expensive head and looks like a clone of / basis of the Vinten Pro 130 head ; whether there are internal differences between the Manfrotto / Vinten variants I don't know ) .

I guess I'm put off the 502 by the review on the 504 which showed how the QR plate can 'fall down a hole' under certain circumstances and noting they seem to share that same basic design , but the 505 looks to be a big brother of the 501/503 which I have used before and also resembles the Vinten Pro Touch 5 head we have at work .

I'm wondering how they compare : the 502 being a newer design with newer technology , versus the 505 being an older , and probably more upmarket head ? Both should fit without difficulty onto the 100mm half-ball on my 350 legs .

At the moment I'm leaning towards the used 505 as being the safer choice , especially since the dealer , from whom I've bought numerous things before , has a good returns policy and I know I could send it back if not happy .

If anyone has used either or both of these heads , I would value their opinions .
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Old December 20th, 2014, 11:36 AM   #2
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Re: Opinions please

I wouldn't recommend the 502. Kinda small and not so good (or nonexistent) drag and lock adjustments. It works, but I don't really like it. Seems like a $100 head not a $200 one. Could be useful on a slider or for a backup, which is why I have it, but I wouldn't want to use it every day.

On the other hand, I own 2 of the 504HD heads on 535CF sticks. I really don't mind them. I'm sure there are better heads out there, but they've always worked pretty darn well for me. Only problems I have are in cold weather with the internal "fluid" starting to get stiff. I use them hard and they're still going strong after 4 years.

Not saying you can't find something better (probably used) for cheaper, but if the right deal came along, I wouldn't put it out of the question, especially with those killer 535 tripods.

I would be very interested in hearing about the "505" though, it does look a little different from the rest and more advanced from the pictures.
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Old December 20th, 2014, 02:54 PM   #3
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Re: Opinions please

Thanks Nate ,

I had thought the 502 might be OK for a smaller camera , but I'll take your comments on board .

I've so far read two reviews on the 504 , and neither was particularly complimentary , but you are the first person I've heard from who has actually used one for a length of time , so if you reckon it isn't so bad I will keep it in mind . Have you had any problems with the QR plate not locating properly , or the head warping against a lot of drag , as mentioned in Chris's review ?

Admittedly both reviews were when the 504 was newly out , and issues may have been addressed .

I'd still like to hear from anyone who has used a 505 .
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Old December 22nd, 2014, 07:35 AM   #4
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Re: Opinions please

After spending a bit of time trawling the archives on this forum , I found a few accounts of the 505 , which seemed quite respectable .

I've also since come across a dealer selling two 510 heads , one is 'new old stock' with full warranty for £350 and another is used for £200 , but looks to be minus the QR plate and panning bars ( not a problem as they look similar to the ones on my 116 , besides which I would be using my 523 remote panning bar anyway , leaving me to just get the readily available QR plate for it ) . I don't think I'd fork out £350 for the new one as that is then getting towards the price of a new Sachtler FSB4 , but the used one is within price range .

Reading up on it , the 510 seems to be a 'proper' fluid head with three separate fluid cartridges and choice of two counterbalance springs , adjustable over a range of weights . Some reports in the archives and elsewhere seem to show this to have been a reasonable head . Again , though , it looks to be a big , heavy head with 100mm ball , which will suit my tripod , but perhaps not much smaller or lighter than the 116 head which was what I was trying to get away from .

The tripod with the 116 head on it is a big , heavy thing to lug around ; although with the older 136 head , which I still also have , fitted ( this was a head I bought and used with my VX1000 for a while ) , it is apparent that a lot of that weight is in the head , and the tripod would be quite manageable with a lighter head .

I had hoped to find a newer , smaller , lighter head that performed better than my old ones and was more suited to the smaller cameras I use these days .

Last edited by Derek Heeps; December 22nd, 2014 at 12:50 PM.
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Old December 25th, 2014, 07:46 PM   #5
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Re: Opinions please

Well , largely because of Nate's reassurance above , I've ordered a 504 which should come early in the new year , and will see how I get on with it .

I've also ordered a Sony ECM-MS2 microphone along with the head , so those are my Christmas presents to myself :)
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Old December 29th, 2014, 09:10 AM   #6
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Re: Opinions please

There really aren't a lot of options in the $300-600 range besides the 504 and a number of off-branded heads from who knows where. I think the 504 will be a good choice for your uses.

Regarding the plate falling into the gap: it can happen with a bare plate, but if there is a camera attached to the plate, the bottom of the camera serves as a guide and doesn't allow the plate to drop. I tried to put it out of whack the other night but wasn't able to with a C100. Another thing to make sure of is that the handle is properly tightened before use, as to avoid excessive flex.

One more thing, the 504 is a 75mm bowl head, so you might need a little 100mm to 75mm adaptor ring.
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Old December 30th, 2014, 04:36 PM   #7
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Re: Opinions please

Thanks Nate .

I had wondered about the bowl adapter .

I noted that some dealers offered the 504 with a flat base , but they were all more expensive . I'm hoping I can simply remove the 75mm ball from the bottom of the head and fit the 100mm ball I have on my tripod . I presume it is simply a matter of loosening the three screws in the underside of the ball and removing it .

Otherwise I will pop up to my local Calumet , who I know stock the adapter ( the cost is less than the difference between what I paid and what the flat base 504 would have cost ) .
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Old December 31st, 2014, 10:21 AM   #8
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Re: Opinions please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Heeps View Post
Thanks Nate .

I had wondered about the bowl adapter .

I noted that some dealers offered the 504 with a flat base , but they were all more expensive . I'm hoping I can simply remove the 75mm ball from the bottom of the head and fit the 100mm ball I have on my tripod . I presume it is simply a matter of loosening the three screws in the underside of the ball and removing it .

Otherwise I will pop up to my local Calumet , who I know stock the adapter ( the cost is less than the difference between what I paid and what the flat base 504 would have cost ) .
I do not believe this to be the case. The 502 is offered with a flat base but the 75mm ball on the 504 is built-in, and according to the parts diagram, an integral part of the panning mechanism is housed inside. I think you're definitely going to need the adaptor ring.
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Old January 1st, 2015, 02:45 PM   #9
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Re: Opinions please

If that's the case , it is no big deal as I saw the adaptor rings in stock when I was last in Calumet a week before Christmas . The adaptor is only £25 , so not the end of the world if I need it . It would also have the advantage of letting me leave the 100mm ball on my 116 head , making them easily swappable if using a heavier camera again .
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Old February 13th, 2015, 06:46 AM   #10
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Re: Opinions please

I would have updated this thread sooner , but for a less than ideal buying experience I have had with a well known UK dealer .

I ordered the Manfrotto 504 head and the ECM-MS2 microphone on Christmas Eve , fully appreciating that while the website stated 'usually despatched within 2-3 days' that it would most likely be after the holidays . Consequently , I enjoyed my Christmas break and was quite happy when I received an email on January 6th to say my order was on its way .

Unfortunately , a week went by with nothing arriving , so I phoned to see what was happening , and was told , despite the email , that they were still awaiting the microphone from their suppliers and it shouldn't be long .

I knew the microphones were in generally short supply , so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and left it until the end of January .

Just into February , my January bank statement arrived , and I could see that they had taken full payment on the 6th of January ( when they sent the email ) ; I had waited the extra couple of days into February before pressing further as I wanted to be sure of that fact .

I phoned them back up Monday past , to be put on hold for a couple of minutes , then again told the same story that the mic had not arrived . When I pointed out they had told me the same a full month previously , I received profuse apologies and a promise to chase it immediately ; at the same time , I asked if the head was in stock and , being told that it was , I asked for them to at least send that out pending arrival of the mic .

That phone call was at 16:45 on Monday ; I was told I could expect the head 'within the next couple of days' ; it is now Friday and , so far , nothing has arrived !

I will so far refrain from naming and shaming this dealer , but if nothing has arrived by Saturday post , they will be getting an email giving them a deadline for delivery by 28th February ( 2 weeks ) or I will ask my card provider to make a chargeback . I had ordered from this dealer as they were £40 cheaper for the head than everyone else , but within £2 of others for the mic . Perhaps it's easy to advertise cheap prices if you have no stock , but their website still quotes 2-3 days delivery on BOTH items !

To say I am less than impressed would be an understatement .

In contrast , after being assured Monday afternoon of the head coming this week , I went onto CVP's website Tuesday morning and ordered the 100mm to 75mm bowl adaptor ( my local Calumet had sold the one they had and were quoting 2 weeks to order ) and it arrived the following day . CVP are also showing 3 ECM-MS2's in stock .
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Old February 14th, 2015, 10:50 AM   #11
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Re: Opinions please

It came as no great surprise that the postman brought nothing today ( they did state in earlier correspondence that they use Royal Mail ) .

Therefore the following email sent ( no names published on open forum ) . I am not one normally given to complaining , so I hope I have struck the right balance between expressing my dissatisfaction and remaining polite .





Dear sir ,

On the 24th December last year I placed the above order for a Manfrotto 504 tripod head and a Sony ECM MS2 microphone .

While I fully appreciate than an order placed on Christmas Eve is unlikely to be processed over the holidays , I was happy to receive the attached communication ( dated 5th January ) that my order was due to ship on the 6th . Although I would have anticipated delivery later that week , I waited until Monday 12th before telephoning to enquire what was happening , my concern being that the order had gone astray in transit .

At that point , I was told that the order had not shipped after all , due to non availability of the microphone , but that you were expecting delivery soon . As I knew these microphones to be generally in short supply , and appreciating that you would only have ordered it after the holidays , I was not too concerned and stated that I didnít mind waiting .

Having heard nothing further by the end of January , I started to become concerned . I waited until my January bank statement arrived on Monday 9th of February , at which point I was able to verify that you had taken payment in full on 6th January , before telephoning again .

On this occasion I pointed out that you had had my money for over a month with nothing having been delivered and asked what was happening ; I was put on hold for a couple of minutes , then told ( again ) that the hold up was because you were still awaiting the microphone . Having worked in retail some years ago , I do appreciate that these things can happen , but when I asked if you had the head in stock and could that at least be sent out , I was told I could expect it Ďwithin the next couple of daysí .

Alas , that was on Monday 9th ; this is now Saturday 14th and nothing has arrived ! To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement .

It has now been almost six weeks since my payment cleared and apart from one email to say my order was shipping , which turned out not to be the case , I have had nothing delivered and no updates as to what is happening .

I have tried to be patient over this matter and whilst I realise this is a relatively small order for my own personal home use and the first time I have ordered anything from yourselves , I would not have expected to be left for this length of time without any communication , beyond those initiated from my end . I might be completely wrong in imagining that I have been all but forgotten about , and perhaps you have been working tirelessly to obtain this microphone , but you must appreciate how it looks from my end .

In contrast , and in anticipation of the tripod head arriving last week , I ordered a Manfrotto 100mm to 75mm bowl adaptor for my tripod from CVP on Tuesday morning , and had it in my hand by lunchtime the following day : this is one of the suppliers I use at work where we have a substantial budget for broadcast equipment and , despite it being a small personal order , is the sort of service I would have hoped and expected to receive from yourselves . While on CVPís website , I noted that they have both the head and microphone in stock .

If I am honest , I have to say that I ordered from yourselves rather than CVP ( one of my usual suppliers ) because your prices were lower , but had I known that I was going to have to wait this length of time I would have gladly paid the extra £40 or so .

In order to try to be fair to yourselves , I must now give you a deadline for delivery , after which , if the goods have not been delivered , I will regrettably feel obliged to cancel .

Since I write this on the 14th of February , I will allow a further 14 days for delivery , but if nothing has arrived by that date I will cancel the order and will expect a full refund of the £459.98 which was debited from my bank account on the 6th of January .

I would appreciate either a firm delivery date for both items or an early refund .

It gives me no pleasure to do this , but you must appreciate that I cannot and am not prepared to wait indefinitely for these goods . Had I at least received the tripod head as an interim delivery , or some regular updates then I might have been inclined to wait longer .

Yours faithfully ,

Derek Heeps .
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Old February 17th, 2015, 08:51 PM   #12
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Re: Opinions please

The above email , sent Saturday early afternoon ( they are open on Saturday ) has gone unanswered ; it is now the early hours of Wednesday morning , so they have had two full days to respond .

I spent some time looking on the web for feedback about this company ; the only place with any amount of customer feedback was Amazon , where most of the feedback was positive , but there were a small number of negative reports similar to mine .

My worst case scenario is that I will have to wait out the 14 days I gave them , if they then don't refund willingly , I will need to ask MasterCard to initiate a chargeback - hence I'm doing everything by email now and giving them a reasonable chance to still deliver .
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Old February 18th, 2015, 04:40 AM   #13
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I should just add that I'm still really hoping that they come through and deliver the goods , but it looks less likely with every day that goes on .
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Old February 18th, 2015, 05:46 AM   #14
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I'd call them and if they can't give you a tracking number on the phone initiate a chargeback with the credit card company. You're being taken advantage of.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 08:03 AM   #15
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I'm pretty much done talking to them on the phone - phone calls can be denied - hence the email .

I feel that , legally , by giving them a 'reasonable' deadline for delivery ( 14 days ) I will be seen as having been fair and reasonable if it ends up becoming a legal matter , whether by chargeback or via small claims court .

They have another week or so until 28th February , at which point I will formally cancel the order in writing - this time by recorded delivery post as well as by email - and give them seven days to refund .

By following that process , I will feel that I'm on solid legal ground for either the chargeback or court .
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