Why do people use tripod legs with spreaders? at DVinfo.net

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Old November 17th, 2006, 06:34 PM   #1
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Why do people use tripod legs with spreaders?

Hi all:

As the former owner of Sachtler Video 18, current owner of a Bogen 503 with the mDVe aluminum legs and of a Miller Solo DV with a Sachtler DV-6SB, I can't figure out why anyone would want tripod legs that use spreaders?

I guess if all you ever do are studio shoots on flat ground, fine, but every time I am in a hurry or I am shooting on uneven ground, around stairs, etc. I thank my good fortune that I bought legs without spreaders. The newest addition to my arsenal are the Miller Solo DV carbon fibre legs, which I paired with a Sachtler DV-6SB. It is a dream setup, except for being too heavy, with the Panasonic HVX-200.

If you are on the broke end of things, the Bogen 503, teamed with the aluminum mDVe legs are a good compromised and still give you all of the advantages of non-spreader legs. I often shoot with two cameras (HVXs) right next to each other, often inserted in to the same teleprompter screen and it is so much easier with the non spreader legs.

I can also go down to hi-hat levels with the Miller legs, about 6" off of the ground. Saves hauling an extra piece of gear (hi-hat or Cinesaddle).

Just wanted to throw this out there, why do you use or do no use a tripod with a spreader? I think most people just buy them because they look traditional and they don't think about it until the really begin to use it. We have the POS Bogen legs at work that use Bogen ultra cheap mid-level spreaders. They are so bad, it's not even funny. You can barely collapse the sticks enough to fit in the bag with the stupid spreader and then you take it out, leveling and getting the legs extended is a nightmare because the spreader is in the way.

The Miller and Gitzo non-spreader legs are so superior to everything else on the market. The Gitzo 1325 legs and the Miller Solo DV legs are 75mm bowl and the Miller Solo VJ legs are 100mm bowl so you are pretty much covered as far as being able to interface with different heads.

Discuss?

Dan
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Old November 17th, 2006, 07:00 PM   #2
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YOu mean tripods with a "Built IN" spreader, right?
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Old November 17th, 2006, 07:39 PM   #3
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Try using a 12 foot crane that weighs 32kg on a standard tripod without spreaders and you'll see why .

BTW i can't say i've ever had any bother leaveling a tripod with spreaders on uneven ground.You could level a tripod with spreaders on a 45 degree angle no bother.

Andy
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Old November 17th, 2006, 08:32 PM   #4
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I have never *not* used a spreader. Too many slick auditorium floors in my past. While I can understand how a mid-level spreader can get in somebody's way if they're in a hurry, I honestly can't see how a ground spreader can get in the way. The nice thing is having the choice, whether it's a mid-level spreader, a ground spreader or none at all.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 08:44 PM   #5
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I'm with Chris on this one. Choice is good. I always carry my spreader with me. Don't always use it, but it's always handy. I can see how a built in mid level might stymie you though. I HAVE spread my legs way far apart, to get a foot or two off the ground, and you probably couldn't do that with some of the mid level spreader models I've seen.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 10:51 PM   #6
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Tripods designed for smaller video cameras generally are designed not to need spreaders, but when you're talking about a heavy 35mm camera and heavy tripod head, you need a stronger pair of tripod legs and more support to keep them from spreading apart from the weight & downward pressure, unless you can spike them into the ground or a carpet.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 11:03 PM   #7
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Hi all and thanks for responding.

Andy:

For jibs, I recommend not using your video legs with a jib. I just ordered the LWT (lightweight tripod) with the Porta-Jib, it was under $400.00 or I would buy some cheap Mnafrotto legs. http://www.portajib.com/columns_tripods.htm#lwt

These legs are designed for the Losmandy spider dolly and are really beefy and cheap and very steady. Personally, I am a bit paranoid to raise any legs with a jib, extension, counterweights, camera, etc. And yes, they do have a spreader, I agree, I would not use my Miller legs with a jib.


Chris:

I agree, choice is good. I just find mid level spreaders a hassle and I find ground spreaders a nightmare. Once again, try putting two HVXs right next to each other for a two camera shoot where you want the cams about 2" apart for a simultaneous medium and CU with any tripods with spreaders. Impossible.

The Miller has angle leg locks with rubber feet (with spikes when in soft stuff) that would preclude any slippage on a slick floor.

Thanks for input guys. I would say with spreaderless tripods, try one, you will never go back, except for a jib or really heavy camera.

Dan
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Old November 17th, 2006, 11:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett
Thanks for input guys. I would say with spreaderless tripods, try one, you will never go back, except for a jib or really heavy camera.

Dan
I have two Bogans with mid-level spreaders. I had one Bogan without a spreader, and after the first couple of weeks, I sold it! Just not as stable, and felt chinchy. (SP?) Fine for my 35mm Nikon!

If you want to put two cameras that close together, get a head kit that has multiple mounts on it. One tripod and two or more cameras. Are you doing 3D?

I have one spreaderless tripod left, a carbon fiber one that I intend to use for a crane mount, as it has a greater load capacity (77 Lbs), but I intend to put it on a wheeled spreader I have.

Good Luck

Mike
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Old November 18th, 2006, 06:27 AM   #9
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These new tripods such as the Miller Solo are not the same as the older kit minus a spreader. These lock the legs in place using a catch in the hinge. The legs can be locked at various angles, something you cannot do with a tripods designed to use spreaders.

Because of this new design all manner of situations can be coped with. Add to that how much easier they are to rig and they're a real step forward for the solo shooter. Plus the carbon fibre material doesn't get burning hot or freezing cold.
The way the telescoping legs lock seems much more rigid than the traditional approach. I can with a little practice rig a Miller Solo with one hand. In a crowd being able to keep the camer in one hand while I rig the tripod is a big step up in security.
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Old November 18th, 2006, 08:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant
These new tripods such as the Miller Solo are not the same as the older kit minus a spreader. These lock the legs in place using a catch in the hinge. The legs can be locked at various angles, something you cannot do with a tripods designed to use spreaders.
My Bogan had the locks with multiple settings too, but I just didn't care for it. That's why we have choices, so everyone can have what they like. :)

Mike
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Old November 18th, 2006, 10:22 AM   #11
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I've used tripods with mid-level spreaders, and ground spreaders. Personally, I love a good set of spreaders. Gives me a place to stand on to hold the tripod onto an angled ground, has locks on it so that I can setup on pretty much anything uneven (for one of my previous jobs, I was setting up on bleachers at sporting events, with ground spreaders), and because of the adjustability of spreaders, not only can I set the tripod at just a few adjustable angles, but I can actually angle one or two legs a touch farther out, a touch farther in, or whatever I need for my rig to get stable. And about working outdoors? Pop some gaffer's tape on the bottom of the feet! Simple enough, keeps your nice spreaders from getting too dirty, and gives you a little bit of grip, should you need it. I've never had the opportunity to work with many tripods without spreaders, but personally I just don't feel the need to. My big ol' Vinten does me fine. (King of overkill here putting a 7 pound camera on a borrowed Vinten Vision 10)
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Old November 20th, 2006, 01:00 AM   #12
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"The Miller and Gitzo non-spreader legs are so superior to everything else on the market."

I don't necessarily agree with you there! I have a set of O'Connor 35B legs that set up in a matter of single digit seconds. I find that it can be very tedious loosening, extending, then re-tightening every single leg extension with the Miller and Gitzo legs. The Miller and the Gitzo do have some advantages, but for 99% of my work, the O'Connor 35B kicks ass.

For jib work I have a Quickset Gibraltar tripod. It has a 200 lb capacity so I don't worry too much about overloading it!
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Old November 21st, 2006, 01:34 PM   #13
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I have an O'Connor 50 and a Gitzo 1338. I can move with the O'Connor, raise it up or down to the exact level I want in a fraction of the time it takes for doing the same thing with the Gitzo. If you're using a lightweight camera and don't need to move up or down, the Gitzo is a great light tripod, and the head seems just as smooth as the O'Connor.

I just bought a Canon XH A1 for some personal documentary work, and it's a bit light for the Gitzo (which has the 22 pound spring), so I got the mid-spreader Libec-22; just ordered it from Zotz Digital. With a mid level spreader you can move quicker than the old type of ground spreader. My ancient O'Connor 50 has low spreaders, but they attach to the legs a couple of inches off the ground, and when you pick up the tripod you kick them up from the middle and they fold up just like mid level ones. This is probably the ultimate in a well designed spreader.

One thing you can do with the Gitzo is, if you need to go up a bit, you can just pull the legs in, which makes it taller. But when you do that you don't want to walk away from the camera because somebody might walk by and kick a leg (happens all the time), and you'd lose it all.
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Old December 7th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #14
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I'm going to drag this one out of mothballs to ask:

Does the Miller solo have the option to add a spreader? I don't see a compatible spreader on the Miller website.

Here's my issue: I've been using a set of Gitzo CF legs with my HV-20. No "bowl" just a plate with a stud; they're for stills heads +the lowest end Bogen pan/tilt. It's time for a better head since I'll be adding to my kit. That means a tripod upgrade.

The Miller Solos get good reviews except: folks complain about not having spreaders and that the legs might be a little too light when you start adding adapters, matteboxes etc. In my experience with the Gitzo legs, it's easy for people to bump into a leg and get it to move.

I'm thinking that having the option to add spreaders would be nice, but don't see that option with the Millers.

Also: does having spreaders make it easier to get all the legs at the same length quickly? My only other issue with the Gitzo is that it can be a little fiddly to get all three legs to the correct length quickly. Operative word is "quickly" it's not a major hassle just wondering if spreaders makes it easier.

Comments, please
Bob
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Old December 7th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #15
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Hi Bob.................

No, there is no spreader option for the Miller Solo's.

People complain about the Solo's because, good tho' they are, they're simply incapable of being as rigid as the conventional twin tube design (of comparble quality) and are thus more susceptable to movement.

Whether a spreader would help is a moot point.

As for getting the legs the same length quickly, with the upgrade to a half ball head the issue is a bit of a dead duck, no matter what length the individual legs (within reason, of course) the half ball will allow the head to be leveled.

If anything, a mid level spreader slows things down as it's yet one more thing that needs to be fiddled with before you can start shooting, not much maybe, but more nevertheless.

Mid level spreaders do, however, significantly aid rigidity and are thus a GOOD THING.


CS
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