Bogen 503 head for Z1? at DVinfo.net

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Old February 8th, 2006, 10:27 PM   #1
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Bogen 503 head for Z1?

Anyone have hands on using the Bogen 503 head with Sony Z1 camcorder? On paper it should be a good match, but one person told me his Z1 was too light for this head. He thought the movement did not start and stop cleanly with pans and tilts. I'd like to get feedback from others using this setup. I was planning to get the 503 head, 755B MDeVe legs along with a Sony Z1. I tried the 503 at the expo and liked the feel of it, but at the time I had not decided on a camcorder and did not try it with any camcorder mounted.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:27 AM   #2
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I have worked with the FX1 on the 501 head which is about the same weight capacity as the 503 and it worked fine. I believe it was also on those same sticks. The 503 should be even better. You can always ADD weight, but when you want to go run-n-gun it's nice to have a small camera like the FX1/Z1. Perhaps you could put on the big battery (970) to beef it up. Actually, I don't think there is a real fluid head smaller than the 503, but there may be high-end heads that have replaceable springs that can accomodate small cameras. Of course, those cost multiples that of the 503...as in 10x the cost to get started. I have a 503 on the way as I wanted something a bit smoother than the 501. If you can wait about a week (slow shipping to Honolulu), I can report on the 503 with the VX2000.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #3
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503 head

Thanks, I'd love to hear from you when you get the 503. I tried the 501 at the expo and ruled it out - just a bit too wimpy in the feel of its movement, but the 503 felt just right despite the fact its not "true" fluid head. Some threads I read here talked about 503 problems until they found the little screws that needed tightening - I think on the bowl?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 08:22 PM   #4
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Hmmm...where to start? Well, I got the 503 and it is a NICE head. Are there better in the world? I'm sure there are. I'm guessing that they cost at least 5 times the cost of the 503 to be appreciably better. Whoever suggested the 503 as the minimum head to buy was correct. Thanks for the advice, DVINFO users! I have mostly used lesser tripods and definitely got to the point where I was fed up with them.

Here is my observation regarding weight. The counterbalance springs in the head are fairly strong. My vx2000 glides back up toward level if I tilt down and let go. I don't think this is an issue since I don't foresee any situations where I will be tilting that low or high. Regardless, the spring does not fight against me so it is not a problem for a light camera. The tilt drag isn't perfectly smooth, but it is close enough to be good with a little finesse. The pan drag seems very smooth. Since panning is the most common tripod move I use during events, this is important. Also regarding weight, the head is fairly substantial and has easy pan and tilt locks.

I tested the head by putting on a 5x telephoto adapter (yes, that makes my vx2000 able to see 1.5 miles away) and pointed it out my window overlooking Hawaii Kai. I was able, with practice, to smoothly track along the crest of the mountains that are over a mile away. Tracking horizontally is easy, but diagonally is a bit more challenging due to the tilt being a bit less smooth than the pan. Regardless, this is a ridiculous worst-case-scenario test and it still gives a decent action.

I just put my 2x telephoto adapter on the VX2000 and did more tests. I think that the fluid tilt drag works best at medium tension. Low drag causes a bit of a jolt at the start, as if the viscous fluid was sticky then lets go. With a bit of pressure added via the tilt drag knob, this problem decreased. It started raining while I was testing, so I had to cut it short. I was able to shoot long enough to get a better feel for it and to confirm that I still like the 503. I'll dream about the time when I can afford a $10,000 head, but until then, this is a decent product and the minimum I would recommend unless there is a comparable model for ultra-light cameras.

Although the spring has a lot of tension at extreme tilt angles, it shouldn't effect using a light camera in normal tilt angles. The final word is that this head is smooth enough that the flexibility of the tripod and the floor on which it is resting become more of a bottleneck for performance than the smoothness of the head. I think I'm going to go out soon and try to get some surfing video with my 2000mm equivalent telephoto!
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Old February 14th, 2006, 09:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
this is a decent product and the minimum I would recommend unless there is a comparable model for ultra-light cameras.
I'm looking for a good match for an HC1, which I believe is less than half the weight of a vx2000 - it sounds like it'd probably be way too light for the 503 based on your review. Does anyone know of a good fluid head for ultra light cameras? Would the 501 be a good choice, or should I be looking somewhere else entirely?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 11:52 PM   #6
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503 head

Thanks Marcus for the detailed report re: how this head works with your vx2000. I'm now about 99% ready to get this head along with a Z1. But still the remaining thing I wonder about is whether or not there would be a difference when shooting in hdv with the Z1 because of the added resolution and the hdv format. One Z1 user told me that the could see a visually "drift" (I think was the word he used) when panning/tilting. He said it was very subtle & thought it showed this problem because of the more precise demands with the resolution in hdv mode.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 06:50 AM   #7
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Evan, the VX2000 doesn't seem to be anywhere near enough weight to counter-balance the 503. Half of nothing is still nothing, so a smaller cam will probably act similarly to the VX2000. Regardless, there may be a smooth head for small cams, so you might want to read review of heads like the Bogen 701rc2. I think that is the replacement for the Bogen 3130 head that I also own. The 3130 is actually fairly smooth, but it doesn't lock down and it can't handle the weight of the VX2000 with the 35mm lens adapter. If the 701rc2 is similar in function it should be fine for the HC1. I bought the 3130 for the TRV900 which is the grandfather of the HC1. It is also just about big enough to work with the VX2000 without large accessories.

Chris, if you tilt down really far, a light cam will spring back up slowly and cause this "drift" on the 503. There is no pan springback. I don't think that the drift of the head is as great as the flexing of my lightweight tripod, so I can no longer blame my tripod head. Even so, the drift is not going to be significant in normal distances and pan angles. I don't think most people are going to be doing tests on objects a mile away. Most people don't even live in places where they can see a mile away with no obstructions. Also, I don't think HD is going to make tripod issues worse. Jolts or drifts of X degrees are going to be X percent of the image, regardless of how many pixels that is. I think the degree of movement, not the number of pixels is most important. Too much movement and the audience will see a jolt. Anyway, I doubt that you will find anything better for under about $1000.

Here is another good reason to get the 503. It is the cheapest fluid head that can use an extra-long QR plate. The standard plate has 7/8" of travel in the forward direction only and the 501plong has 2 7/8" forward travel and 2" of rear/reverse travel. The total travel is still only 2 7/8", but the camera can be mounted anywhere on the plate for plenty of flexibility. For detail-oriented enthusiasts, the standard plate is 3 1/2" long and the 501plong is 5 1/2" long. THEY BOTH LOCK ONTO THE HEAD WITH A SPRING-LOADED PIN AND CAMLOCK. This is a big improvement over the old hex plate mounting system since the camera can't slide off if the camlock is loosened. Just make sure the pin pops into place by sliding the plate completely onto the head. That should help keep things from drifting since I won't have to be constantly vigilant monitoring an imbalanced camera. Also, I got a Quick Release adapter for monopods that uses the same plate. Now, I can go mobile in just a few seconds. To top it off, I can put the ball mount and QR adapter on a jib or other rig and have compatibility with my tripod! Joy!

I'll try to do some more tests tomorrow.

Last edited by Marcus Marchesseault; February 15th, 2006 at 07:32 AM.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 07:41 AM   #8
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stick review

here is a great review

http://www.studiodaily.com/studiomon...dies/5997.html
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Old February 15th, 2006, 10:22 AM   #9
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Robert,

Many thanks for the pointer to that review. It has cleared my mind considerably on several issues.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 11:46 AM   #10
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It has cleared my mind considerably on several issues.

what issues? care to share?
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Old February 15th, 2006, 01:05 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
If the 701rc2 is similar in function it should be fine for the HC1.
Thanks for the recommendation - it looks like the 701 or possibly even the lighter 700 will be perfect for the HC1, and both do lock down. Plus the price difference between these and the 503 mean I can get carbon fiber legs for the same as (or less than) a 503 + aluminum legs.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 05:03 PM   #12
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plate for 503 & monopod

"Here is another good reason to get the 503. It is the cheapest fluid head that can use an extra-long QR plate. Also, I got a Quick Release adapter for monopods that uses the same plate. Now, I can go mobile in just a few seconds. To top it off, I can put the ball mount and QR adapter on a jib or other rig and have compatibility with my tripod! "

I guess you got the 501p long plate because you're adding extra weight on the front? At least initially I don't think I'll be adding anything extra on the front of Z1 like matte box etc., so not sure if it would be important for me to spend the extra $70 for the long plate. Let me know if I'm overlooking anything.

Would love quick a change to my monopod. I have the 3245 monopod with added tilt head 3229 which has a small built in plate & quick release - this head won't accomodate the 501plong plate. Do you have a ball head (or tilt head) that can be used on your monopod with the 501plong plate? What model numbers for monopod & monopod head?
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Old February 15th, 2006, 10:21 PM   #13
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Okay, more playing with the 503 today. I think I finallly figured out exactly what is going on. The "stickyness" of the tilt is intentional. This is done to fix the camera in place slightly if the operator let's go of the handle. It seems that the pressure needed to get the tilt to "unstick" is felt more than seen. Also, once the tilt is free, it is very smooth. I am able to do smooth diagonal camera moves. BTW, practice with your rig and quirks can be worked around. It's really the operator, not the equipment (assuming the equipment is not total junk).

The long plate. Hmm, it's definitely not mandatory, but I think it turns a decent head into a pro head. It allows me to balance the camera almost instantly so it behaves as I like against the counterspring. I can shift the balance and have the camera (a light, bare VX2000) hold a forward tilt of 45 degrees against a fairly strong-feeling spring. This allows the beginning and end of a shot to be precise. Balanced properly, there is no end-drift even in extreme angles. Without the long plate, there is less freedom but it is not seriously limiting. I honestly don't think most people shoot 45 degree down-angle shots very often. I think this feature will be most important when adding a matte box and 35mm adapter or if one were to move up to a larger camera like the XL-H1 or the JVC HDV camera with it's large, replaceable lens system.

I am now quite happy with my purchase. This 503 head can probably take a much larger camera than the VX2000, but it also works for me. The pan drag is absolutely silky. I guess that I might want the ability to turn on and off the tilt "freeze" function that holds the camera still when one remove's their hand from the pan bar. I wouldn't mind just locking the tilt if I need to leave the camera unattended for a moment. Since gravity is not fighting the pan direction, it has no "freeze" when stopping.

Concerning the monopod Quick Release: I don't use a tilt/ball head on my monopod. I feel that it is better to tilt and pan by moving the whole monopod. This keeps the direction of the lens fixed to the monopod handle area which keeps the camera angle fixed in my mind. If the camera angle was changed by a ball adapter, I think it would be disorienting. Since the camera mostly needs to be level, a lack of a ball/tilt mount is not a hindrance. I have no trouble doing up-angle or down-angle shots with a fixed-head monopod. Also, if you learn to use the monopod without a ball head, you can do all camera moves with one hand. This leaves your other hand free to work the camera or to manipulate other objects, like doors and obstructions, in your environment. The QR that works with the 3433pl and 501plong plates used on the 501/503/519 heads is the Bogen 577.

Evan, I hope the 700 heads are nice. I really like the 3130 for a cheap head. If they have improved their smaller line like they have done with their mid-range heads, the 700s should be even better. If you wan't a light carbon-fiber tripod, I got one from ebay store amvona that is actually fairly nice. If I had known one was available at the time, I would get one with lever locks instead of twist locks on the legs. I plan to report on the inexpensive (~$60 shipped!) amvona tripods later.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 02:45 AM   #14
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" I have no trouble doing up-angle or down-angle shots with a fixed-head monopod. Also, if you learn to use the monopod without a ball head, you can do all camera moves with one hand. This leaves your other hand free to work the camera or to manipulate other objects, like doors and obstructions, in your environment. The QR that works with the 3433pl and 501plong plates used on the 501/503/519 heads is the Bogen 577."

I'm a little confused about the QR you mention. The 501p long listed on B & H says it's a quick release long camera plate - so I didn't think you'd need a separate QR - I must be missing something here.

With the Z1 I doubt that I'd be strong enough to support its weight with one hand. I can see how your method gives you more freedom with camera moves but I could probably only do that briefly. Usually I work with my monopod inserted into a pouch attached to my belt - bend my knees for some moves (can be a bit tough on the knees sometimes) This takes the weight and still gives me some freedom of movement - but I really need my tilt head to work with this arrangement. I've been using this for my vx1000 and I know the Z1 will be heavier. (didn't purchase it yet) If it didn't add too much more weight I thought a ball would be better for use with my pouch method than just the tilt head.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:32 PM   #15
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The 501plong is just the plate itself. Yes, $70 for just the plate. The 577 realease base is needed to mount the plate to a monopod. I'm pretty sure that you can get a ball head that simply has a 3/8" screw mount on the top instead of it's own plate mount. That way, you could have the ball mount and the 503 plate adapter at the same time. Just mount the plate release to the ball mount's 3/8" threads.

I usually shoot with the monopod resting on the floor. I am able to move from one position to another without completely ruining the shot. I have no trouble panning and tilting the monopod when it is resting on the floor. I have considered the method you describe using a belt pouch, but I figure that it will only work for about 10 minutes at a time before I get tired. Still, it seems that it should be easy to pan and tilt a fixed-head with the monopod resting in a pouch. Why do you need the tilt? Is your pouch so tight that it doesn't allow you to lean the monopod?
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