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Old January 17th, 2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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Tripods? anyone...?

I recently purchased what I thought was a nice tripod from B&H, the Davis & Sanford with FM18 fluid head... this model actually:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation

Now, I was expecting a pretty nice setup for almost $300 shipped, but I was highly disappointed in my purchase! The head is nice, feels good... but it's a pain in the ass to adjust. The knobs get in the way of each other, they feel cheap, and they're not as adjustable as I first though. I've pinched my fingers more than once making simple adjustments.

The legs are pretty nice, weighing about 10lb... a little heavy, but all-in-all sturdy, but the center lift? It's supposed to be pneumatic?? I was expecting some high quality hydraulics, but instead I got some cheap air-shock type system that doesn't lift smoothly at all, and going back down is even worse!

Anyway, enough complaining... my point is, for roughly the same price (or cheaper) where can I get a nice 2-way fluid head tripod, adjustable drag, bowl levels, and mid-weight legs, with no center post? I've determined after using this, I want a good tripod without a center post. Also need a removable fluid head.

I've seen some nice bogens, but I just want some recommendations from someone who's had more experience with tripods than I have.

Thanks in advance
Nick Weeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 17th, 2006, 05:28 PM   #2
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Certainly it depends on the size of the camera, but for 'pro-sumer' camera's
and some professional ones, it's been my experience that you need to spend at least $1500 to get a decent tripod. And those are borderline decent.

I know it seems like a lot to lay out for a set of sticks, but believe me, you are seldom disappointed.

Example:

I purchased five Cartoni tripod systems (heads and legs, I forget model numbers... too many anyways) for $1200 each three years ago and, gradually, they fell apart: snapped tilt controls, head lock etc.

But that's over a period of three years mind you, with lots of use.

Sent them back to the company in L.A., they fixed them and returned them at no cost.

I noticed just recently, when I went to buy an additional sixth set, that Vinten was making a similar model at similar costs... it just arrived a month ago, it killer, I could not believe the quality and detail for such a 'cheap' tripod. Perfect for 'Sony 250 DV type' cameras.

I'm sure I will never buy another set of sticks, at that price, with that feel.
It'll last 10 years, no problem.

There are very few deals in this business, but every now and then, a big company makes a great 'affordable' piece of gear that is worth every penny in the long run.

Most times fortunately, with the big boys, dollars equal quality.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Herring
Perfect for 'Sony 250 DV type' cameras.
Do you mean the DSR-250? That's a pretty big, heavy camera. Nick hasn't told us what kind of camera he's using, and that would have a lot to do with the kind of tripod he requires.

I have a Manfrotto 3221/501 which is small and pretty light. No problem with it breaking or falling apart, but the action on the 501 head isn't so great if shooting telephoto. It cost around $300, and has a center column but you can remove it and replace with a small plate if desired.

I also have a Miller DS5 which has a much nicer head and legs but costs around $800. Last time I shopped around I didn't see much middle ground between the $300 and $800 tripods. Then of course you can spend LOTS more than that very easily, and like Dave says - you get what you pay for.

However my cameras are a Sony PDX-10, VX-2000 and HVR-Z1. All of those combined are probably not any heavier than a DSR-250 :-)
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Old January 17th, 2006, 06:26 PM   #4
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Thanks Boyd, correct, the DSR 250. I also put a HDW 700A on the new Vinten, but don't tell anybody.

Just don't walk away too far.
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Old January 18th, 2006, 06:43 PM   #5
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I'm using the VX-2100, but thanks for the tips, I'll definately have to take a look at some "higher up" models. I'm just trying to dedicate funds to other equipment right now until I can get some more business to where I can actually buy a $1500 tripod and not feel so badly afterwards...
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Old January 18th, 2006, 08:52 PM   #6
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I think you can find a tripod that you like for the VX-2100 for a lot less than $1,500; Dave is talking about a much heavier camera. First you need to decide what your priorities are. If you need to shoot at maximum zoom a lot then you'll need a head with very smooth motion, but you should be able to find something in the $800 ballpark. Wider shots aren't nearly as critical, and a $300 tripod will be fine for those.
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