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Old February 23rd, 2006, 09:48 PM   #1
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Tripods for FX1 / Z1

Hi,

I have done some searching and it looks like this topic hasn't been discussed at nauseum already, so I think another topic on this is welcome.

I'm looking for a tripod that sells for between 300 and 500 dollars US. Based on what I've read, the way to go in this range is with a Manfrotto 501 or 503 head. For legs, I've been looking at the 3021/3221 or 3046 legs.

I noticed that these setups are rated to support 10-20 pounds of equipment, and I am worried that they may be overkill for a 5/6 pound camera (mic, big battery, maybe a light later on).

Has anyone had any experience with any combination of these heads and legs with a similar camera? Is it overkill?

Aswell, I'd like to know how much better a 503 head is than a 501 (based on experience with similar cameras)?

Thanks for the help,

-Mike
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Old February 24th, 2006, 01:43 AM   #2
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The 503 is a lot better since it has proper fluid cartridges for the damping - the 501 is purely friction. The 525 legs are good as well.
I find that the 503 is only just suitable for my FX1, since with the Beachtek box plus matte box etc it can get a bit heavy. I tried the 519 the other week and that is probably what I'll be getting next - although it is quite a bit more expensive...

Robin
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Old February 24th, 2006, 09:13 AM   #3
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I have a Miller DS-5 which I originally bought for my PDX-10 (much smaller and lighter than my Z1). Have been using it primarily and it works fine for the Z1. If I was going to buy another one I'd go with the DS-10, but that would be way over your budget. I think the DS-5 is around $800 these days.

But I also have had a Manfrotto 501 with the 3221 legs for a long time. I use the Z1 on it when I want something smaller, lighter and more portable than my Miller. It actually works pretty well, but if you're doing anything at full zoom then the movement on the 501 head can be a little abrupt. But for the price it's not a bad setup, and it will work fine for wide shots or locked down shots. But if you're shooting events from 100' away then it really doesn't hold up so well. The sliding base plate on the 501 will let you balance the camera pretty well. One nice thing about the 3221 legs is you can go really low with them if you remove the center column and replace it with the plastic cap they supply.

A big downside to 501/3221 is the lack of a ball leveller. I think you can get this as a separate add-on from Manfrotto and it would be well worth the cost if you aren't using a ball tripod. Makes it MUCH easier to level the camera.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 04:32 PM   #4
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Upon shooting with the Z1 I found that a true fluid head was essential. HD rez showed every little bump and grab with a manfrotto "fluid effect" friction head, errors I'd never seen with DV.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 04:51 PM   #5
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Seth - what tripod head did you get those results with?
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Old February 25th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Toledano
Seth - what tripod head did you get those results with?
That was with a bogen/manfrotto 3063, which I believe was the predecessor of the Manfrotto 501.

I ended up using a Sactler DV-2 which was very nice true fluid, but only one level of drag. Worked well. This was a 10-day shoot when I rented a Z1. The 3063 has worked fine for standard def, Sony PD150 & similar.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 02:38 PM   #7
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I phoned B&H...

The minimum they reccomend would be the 503 head. For legs, the 3046 seems to be a fine choice as well, although the problem with this set up is that it doesn't support a ball leveler. There is one available (the 3052) but that can only level for 10 degrees. How useful is a ball leveler?
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Old February 27th, 2006, 07:50 AM   #8
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I have the add-on leveler and 10 degrees is actually fairly significant. If you are frequently setting up in areas with more tilt than that, you need to move to a place with better building codes! :) Seriously, most situations don't need huge adjustment. If you do, you still could use the length of the sticks to change level then fine-tune with the ball.

How useful are they? In an 8-hour shooting day with dozens of camera moves, it will probably save you nearly an hour. Either that or you will get better composition because you will be less reluctant to move the camera. ALL tripods should have a ball leveler unless the extra 1.5 pounds is too much weight and few camera setups will be done.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 02:05 AM   #9
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Don't get the 501, the stiction problem is too great and there is no spring counterbalance... both, huge drawbacks!

There is sort of a workaround for the stiction problem. When the head has been sitting for a while, the first movement of the head will jerk. After that, it will work smoothly until it sits for a few minutes (or maybe 30 seconds). So, before you start recording, do a quick pan & tilt. However, if you let it sit still for a couple of minutes (or 30 seconds), the next movement with be accompanied by a jerk. Not a great solution. Personally, I don't consider the 501 fit for any panning or tilting with any cam. Not even with SD at wide-angle, it's strictily for lockdown. Now, I live in the desert with very low humidity. Perhaps in a humid environment it would perform better, I don't know. I had a 501 for one day.

I haven't used the 503 or maybe I did have one for one day... not sure.

I had a Miller DS5 for one day. I can't remember exactly why I thought I should upgrade to the DS10 because I had a VX2100 at the time. IIRC, the counterbalance was not counterbalancing.

Now, I have a Miller DS10 which I really consider the absolute minimum for a VX2100, PD150, XL2, et al. You might think that it would be a dream head but it's not. On panning, when the pan stops, there is a rebound effect where the head ever so slightly moves back the way it came, that is, pan left, stop, rebound to right.

Next time, I will not consider anything less than a Vinten Vision 3. I can't believe one has to pay $1000 to get an adequate video head. It's sad. Live & learn.

Oh, if you ever have a ball leveler, you will never want to be without one... well, unless you are always indoors, on flat floors, in that case, you don't need one.

Nick
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Old March 7th, 2006, 02:32 AM   #10
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Marcus is absolutely correct about the ball leveller - it is the best thing I ever bought for a tripod with no built in leveller.

The 503 head is a good combination with the 525 legs - sold as a kit in the UK with a massive discount on the separate units. This has a built in leveller.

Last edited by Alan Craven; March 7th, 2006 at 04:31 AM.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 04:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Reed
Now, I have a Miller DS10 which I really consider the absolute minimum for a VX2100, PD150, XL2, et al. You might think that it would be a dream head but it's not.
I'm surprised you say that. I use a DS10 on Solo Carbon Fibre legs every weekend to shoot sport and would have to say it is the best tripod/head combo I have ever used. I can't understand why everyone raves about Manfrotto's - Miller is far superior in my opinion.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Farrell
I can't understand why everyone raves about Manfrotto's - Miller is far superior in my opinion.
Miller is a big step up from Bogen/Manfrotto. B/M is popular because of price and it is a big step up from the Velbons.

This is the way that I see it. It's only one man's opinion, feel free to disagree.

Velbons and such: $50 - $100 pods that hold a camera up. Best for people who rarely use a tripod, people who need a very small, or light, or inexpensive tripod. Great for consumer digital still cameras, very poor for video.

Bogen/Manfrotto (usually 501 or less): a big step up in quality and longevity. When people need a heavier pod for stability and they want it to last for many years, they have to move up to B/M. This is also usually the choice for people who are looking for a pod in the $300 - $500 range. Heavy and built to last, a perfect tripod for a studio where it will be used locked down. For video, better than a Velbon but still inadequate with a 501 or less head, which most people seem to buy. Some people report good results with their 501, I think most do not. The 503 or higher head may be the solution to the problem here. I don't know.

Miller (usually DS5 or DS10): a big step up from B/M in pan & tilt quality but still not "there". This is where people go when they are not happy with their B/M. They don't want to spend the cash but they have to, to upgrade. The Miller Solo legs may be some of the most versatile legs available. However, the DS5 and DS10 head have poor drag controls, so poor they are an insult. Also, no bubble level is provided.

Vinten (usually a Vision 3): although I am not one of them yet, this is where people seem to find true happiness, with a Vinten Vision 3. I don't remember many people saying that they were upgrading from their Vision 3. Of course, some do, they need a head with more capcitiy or whatever, but they don't upgrade due to being dissatisfied with it. Smooth action, variable counterbalance and bubble level. What more could you want? Sure, half-price, of course.

There are a couple of heads that I would like to know more about. I would like to know where they fall in the above lineup. The Cartoni Action Pro 11 and the Vinten Pro 6.

My current dream pod is Miller Solo legs with a Vinten Vision 3 head. Actually, I would like to hear other people's opinions of this setup.

Nick
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Old March 7th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #13
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I am using a Gitzo system. The legs are the carbon fibre G1325 and the fluid head is the G1380. This system compares very favorably with the Miller DS10, but the Gitzo head is a better design. It has counterbalance springs and pan and tilt drag. The Miller and Gitzo legs are very similar in design and performance, both being carbon fibre and ideal for outdoor locations. The weights of both systems are about the same, 9 lbs and the prices are also very similar, maybe the Miller is a little less. The Gitzo head is a good product as is the Vinten. These systems are expensive but they will last a lifetime so maybe doing it right the first time will pay off in the end.
D Kane
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Old March 7th, 2006, 04:50 PM   #14
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I understand where you're coming from in your last post. I'm in Australia so pricing is probably different. There isn't too much a premium to go with Miller compared to what else in on the market.

The way I look at it is, if I am going to buy the Sony Z1 or the Canon XL2 (both around $7000 - $7500 AUD) then spending an extra $500 on a top quality tripod makes sense. You can pick up a Miller DS10 Solo with carbon fibre legs for $1490 AUD or $1289 AUD with alloy legs. They are reasonable proces when compared to other tripods on the market in Australia.

All in all I understand you point.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 07:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Farrell
The way I look at it is, if I am going to buy the Sony Z1 or the Canon XL2 (both around $7000 - $7500 AUD) then spending an extra $500 on a top quality tripod makes sense. You can pick up a Miller DS10 Solo with carbon fibre legs for $1490 AUD or $1289 AUD with alloy legs. They are reasonable proces when compared to other tripods on the market in Australia.
Theoretically I agree, however when I've bought a $5000 CAD video camera, and I'm still paying it off, an extra $500 dollars is a huge stretch from what I can afford.

The store I'm buying at offers a full refund within 2 weeks. I plan to buy the 501 head with my tripod, and if it's horribly insubstansial I'll return it and buy the 503. I'll repeat until satisfied and/or broke (whichever comes first).
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