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Old January 2nd, 2003, 03:06 PM   #1
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not a which tripod question (well sorta)...

hi there,

the question doesn't have to do with exact brands/combos, but i wanted to get the opinion on the seasoned crew around here. selecting a tripod/head, i know you should get what you can afford, but is it good to maybe even go a bit over what you "can" afford for one that will last you a long time?

just asking because theres a couple setups that look good around the $500-$600 range, but i keep getting goggly eyed over a few $1000 setups.

i'm trying to look at it like a monitor-- you sink a good chunk of change into one and it'll last. but then i know people that get the cheapest, biggest, easiest and are fine. so opinions are welcome and thank you for your time.

matt

edit: grrr, sorry i thought i put it in, i didn't. I'll be using this for an xL1s.
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Old January 2nd, 2003, 08:57 PM   #2
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What camera are you using? Size and weight make all the difference. The better tripods you invest in can last 10 to 15 years or can last a lifetime. The 10 to 15 year tripods are the Manfrotto/Bogen tripods and perhaps one or two lesser known brands. Lifetime tripods are from Miller http://www.miller.com.au/Product_Centre/index.htm O'Connor http://www.ocon.com/oconnor.htm Sachtler http://www.sachtler.com/default2.asp and Vinten http://www.vinten.com/intro.asp I have owned O'Connor, Sachtler and Vinten tripods. But for DV work I have several favorite models.

My current favorites are the Vinten Vision 3 and the Miller DS10. Both tripods have optional mid-level spreaders. Unless all your work is done indoors, mid-level spreaders are far superior to ground level spreaders. They set up faster on both level and unlevel surfaces. They collapse quicker and are usually lighter weight. Ground level spreaders are almost useless on uneven surfaces. Depending on the terrain they can be more of a hinderance then a help.

Sachtlers introductory models does not have a mid-level spreader option and has fewer drag controls. Vintens drag controls are continuously adjustable. A very nice feature for whip pans etc. If your an event videographer some of the models have illuminated bubble levels and drag adjustments. Vinten Vision 3 has field removable and replaceable counter springs. It handles the widest range of camera weights in it's class. So, if the chance exists you might upgrade from an XL1 to something larger and heavier the Vision 3 can grow with your system. What can make it last longer than that?

If your really looking for a tripod to last a lifetime (25 years or longer) I would go with Vinten, Miller and Sachtler in that order. Why not O'Connor? Unless their line has changed, they are considerably heavier than the other 3. If someone has a current O'Connor and I've erred please jump in and correct me.

Jeff
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Old January 2nd, 2003, 09:50 PM   #3
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Jeff-
Your comments are most welcome. I edited the post, I'll be using an xL1s. Right off the bat I plan to get an MA100, the dual battery holder and possibly a decent wireless setup when needed. I will be looking to add to it as well with a different lens (probably the 16x manual) and mattebox system. Yeah I was also thinking of trying to make it a little "future proof" (if I can use that term) if it comes to be later I use/buy a different cam or the xL1s changes considerably, etc. I would definitely be taking my gear outside and working too, I haven't noticed too many totally flat surfaces outside, so I can see how the ground level would be a nuisance.

The $500-$600 setups that caught my eye were: the Libec LS-35, but with the optional mid-level spreader it's roughly $800. And the Cartoni ActionPro. From their site though, I could be wrong, it doesn't look like there is any kind of pan or tilt adjustments. It shows: Fluid Drag.....Continously adjustable. I don't see anything on the head though other than a pan/tilt lock knobs. A Bogen 503 head (not sure on sticks). Bogen though it seems they don't have anything "middle of the road" though. I know in the whole scheme of things their stuff is cheap (price wise), but like the 503 head. You can pick that up for under $300. To step up to the next head in their line you're looking at $400 more.

For around 1k I was looking at the Cartoni Alfa, I've been looking at this one a bit, which seems to offer a lot more control over the ActionPro. The Sachtler DV-4II, I like that one, from their site, they don't show a mid-level spreader for it. I was also looking at a Miller DS20, that pretty much has everything I would be looking for. I recall from another thread some people were listing prices in AUD, they were going to order.

I don't know maybe I'm putting too much thought into tripods, or maybe not enough? Just trying to settle on things now so I'm not doing it when I get the cam. Thanks again for all your help Jeff.

matt
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Old January 2nd, 2003, 10:05 PM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matt Betea : I don't know maybe I'm putting too much thought into tripods, or maybe not enough? Just trying to settle on things now so I'm not doing it when I get the cam. Thanks again for all your help Jeff.

matt -->>>

I'll go out on a limb and say that I think your tripod is your most important accessory. Even more important than great audio. People tend to forgive a few audio glitches, buzzes etc. You can even partially fix them in post. But try fixing unsteady, sloppy camera movements. Just about impossible, can't hide it with music either. I've bought my share of inexpensive tripods, but never again.

If you're considering Sachtler, you'll need to move up to the DV 6 to get a mid-level spreader. The price goes way up for the DV 6 too. Miller probably offers the best value if you get it direct from Australia. Vinten is probably the most flexible with it's interchangeable spring design.

Jeff
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Old January 2nd, 2003, 11:11 PM   #5
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Hello Matt,

I've been following along here and would second Jeff's remarks.

Regarding Millers, I like them very much. They're very well designed but not over-designed. They're simple, elegantly engineered but tough guys. I use a DS10 for my XL1s rig and find it very adequate. The DS20 is rated for a higher load and features a bit more drag control. It's also a bit heavier in the head.

Re: load, don't make the mistake of thinking that the XL1s is a 5 lb camera and end up purchasing an under-rated tripod/head. My XL1s, when loaded with the (Ikegami) b&w viewfinder, a 7" Panasonic lcd monitor, the 16x Manual/Servo lens, an MA-200 and one BP-945 -class battery weighs in at just under 12 lbs.

My second choice for a tripod would be either a Vinten Vision or a Sachtler. Any of these tripods could easily be lifelong purchases as long as your cameras stayed within their weight ranges.

BTW, I believe that you should include a remote zoom/focus controller (ex: a Varizoom) as part of your tripod budget. As soon as you mount your camera on your new tripod you'll realize that you need one.
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Old January 3rd, 2003, 02:01 PM   #6
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I agree with Jeff, a good tripod is certainly very import. If you decide to put together the pieces to make a good tripod system, make sure it includes a leveler. Most of the better tripods already have them, but not everyone does.

With the XL-1 a tripod is more than the audio, too...that's because it has the best stock mic of these prosumer cams.

I would also second getting a Varizoom as part of your tripod system. You will be glad you did.

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Old January 3rd, 2003, 04:53 PM   #7
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I was looking at the setups some more last night. And I have to say the DS20 has everything I'm looking for, also it doesn't hurt that I haven't heard one bad or even so-so thing about them. The other ones, I'm sure are great too, but going through their specs, there's a little thing I don't like about that one or this one, etc. The Varizoom is definitely on the list of first accessories. Their "Ultimate TFT" looks good too. I recall it being pretty inexpensive to some others I've seen. Thank you Ken and Nathan for your input too, as well as Jeff.

matt
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