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Old July 15th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #1
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Another lite, yet sturdy and fluid Tripod quest!

I'm using a Sony HDR-FX1. Occasionally I shoot my cousin's comedy performances and other fairly static set-ups. I bought a PlatinumPlus 7500 Pro tripod by Sunpak from Best Buy for $80.00. It's big enough to do the job but the head is...well it's an $80.00 head and sucks. I need to have fluid motion to shoot my hyper-kinetic cousin.

So, I need a simple, lite-weight, but fluid head tripod system that can support just the my FX1 camera and a shotgun-mic. It would be nice to have a tripod that is compact and sturdy yet can achieve good fluid motion and not be too heavy to lug around. I don't need this thing for extreme activities or anything. Just easy set-ups.

Oh, and I don't want to spend more than $200.00. But if that is unrealistic than what other options would you guys suggest?

Thanks for your time!
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:19 AM   #2
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save up a bit more

for $200 there isnt anything i'd personally recommend. However, if you can scrap up another $50, b&h sells a package with the 3001bn legs with the bogen 501 head for $243. This is still a far cry from a "pro" tripod, but it will absolutely urinate all over any tripod at best buy.

thats my 2c.

-a

I used the 501 head with my fx1 on a shoot last year. i had a tiny bit of stiction, but thats to be expected in that price range, really. You can get beautiful work out of a 501 if you are diligent. For what you described? i think the 501 will do nicely.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:35 AM   #3
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Thanks Andrew! I'll check those out!

What do you think of this one?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #4
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Yeah, unfortunately I think you just wasted $80, but probably learned something useful about tripods in the process. I have a 501 head with the 3221WN legs which I use when I want something smaller and lighter than my Miller DS5:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

The 501 is fine for certain things, especially if you're pretty close to what you're shooting. But if you're far away and zoomed in then it's virtually impossible to get smooth pans and tilts.... I got the Miller after ruining a couple shoots this way with the 501.

I'd agree that the 501 is the minimum you should consider for an FX1. I haven't used the 3001 legs, but they look kind of lightweight from the photo and the specs. I don't think I'd want that camera on anything lighter than my 3221 legs personally.

If at all possible, try going somewhere that you can see these tripods in person (road trip to B&H would be ideal, they have lots of tripods on display). As you learned at Best Buy, cheap stuff is no bargain because it's just money wasted if it doesn't do the job for you. Eventually you end up spending more when you finally buy what you really need...
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Old July 16th, 2006, 07:31 PM   #5
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Boyd is absolutely right.

The 501 is hard to do perfect moves at the end of a zoom. You can do them, but not reliably. However, the jump up from the 501 combo to a smooth, reliable headed tripod is at least another $500.

Nobody likes to hear this stuff. I certainly didnt. But having ignored all the advice and chosen to purchase multiple tiers of tripods and microphones, i can, from painful experience echo the sentiment everybody gives:

If you are even remotely serious about video and plan to do this for years on any sort of quality level... you will, after a few years, end up buying some really expensive gear. All of the money you spend on cheap tripods and mics in the mean time will be literally wasted. You cant recover 90% of it and the moment you've used a decent tripod and/or mic, you will never want to touch the pile of junk that you've bought on the cheap again. By buying the cheap gear in the meantime, you'll end up spending tons more than if you had sprung for the good gear to start with.

It is much more painful initially, but far more rewarding to splurge on the "right" gear to start with, then enjoy it for years than to perpetually be buying "slightly better" gear that sucks. For the best buy $80 and the $150 for that tiny plastic headed tripod you linked to, you could have already purchased the 501 combo. When starting, $250 for a tripod probably seemed absurd. But $250 for two useless tripods is even more unthinkable.

Entry level into "pro quality" true fluid head tripods for a 5lb camera is probably around $700. If you plan on putting a 35 adapter and lens and shotgun on your camera, then you are closer to 10lb and entry level is more like $1100. (top end is still like $5k)

I'm not a professional shooter, nor a gear snob. I'm an editor by trade that wanted to shoot some fun projects on the side. Cheap gear, as it turns out, isnt fun. If your gear sucks, you tend not to shoot and that makes ALL the investment pointless.

You are at the same crossroads i was a few years ago. One path seems like a hard, expensive climb straight up and the other is a gentle stroll uphill with little $100 and $200 steps. I'm at the end of the gentle stroll and I wish i had taken the hard path. The gentle stroll leads around the mountain and back to the same hard climb, only this time you spent all that time and money walking around the mountain.

"Dude. take the hard path now, spend money on quality professional gear and save money in the long run!".

I didnt listen when people told me the same thing, but maybe you are smarter than me.

-A

Oh, remember, a used pro head (designed for your weight of camera) is still better than a new cheap plastic head.

Sachtler, miller, vinten, bogen are the ones to look for. probably in that order. (beware that bogen/manfrotto sells some cruddy gear too, so you cant just buy on name alone)

hope that helped or something.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:19 PM   #6
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Indeed it did help Andrew! I appreciate you taking the time to tell me all that you just articulated from your experience! Thank you very much.

I returned the $80.00 tripod to Best Buy and got my money back.

I certainly don't have the cash for the top quality professional gear, yet. But I'll definitely keep in mind your sage advice! Buy good quality first and save money! That shall be my film production motto!
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Old July 17th, 2006, 12:25 AM   #7
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Gitzo

Look at Gitzo, too. They have a fluid head, ball adaptor and several carbon fiber tripods to handle smaller cameras. You will spend close to $1,000, but you will never have to replace it, and you will thank yourself everytime you shoot. Gitzo, if I am not mistaken is now owned by Bogen.
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Old July 25th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #8
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I found a good tripod solution

I had been looking for a good "pro quality" tripod and hated all the Bogen solutions below $500. I had seen alot of posts on Japanese sites about Libec and I checked out the TM20 only to be disappointed, it was pretty flimsy. I then found a model TH950 at a local dealer and fell in love. For $299 it has a buttery smooth fluid head and an adjustable counter balance system. The sticks are more stable than others in the price range. I have used this with my HC1, an XL1 and a HD100 with great results. I would highly recommend this tripod to anyone looking for a quality tripod at a budget price.
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