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Old March 26th, 2003, 10:05 PM   #1
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I went up to northern Michigan last weekend to shoot
wildlife with my XLS1. Have a Bogen tripod with a Manfrotto
head (old 128RC). I like to keep a safe distance from the
wild life so am shooting from about 900 feet. I use Canon
100-400mm lens with 2x doubler. Have excellent clarity.
But the problem is my "fluid" head is not so fluid and
becomes quite jerky. Set up is fine for shooting still, but
when elk move about it is hard to follow them without
excessive shaking of lens in both pan and tilt. Video head
has too much "memory" from last position and wants to
return to last position which is just enough to take my
subject out of the frame.
Any suggestions?
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Old March 26th, 2003, 10:58 PM   #2
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It sounds like it's time for a new head better suited for your camera. Do a "Search" in this part of the forum and you'll find many, many threads on the topic. If you want to stay with Manfrotto the 501 and 503 heads are very popular with XL1 users. Of course there are many alternatives depending on what you are wiling to spend.
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Old March 27th, 2003, 06:34 AM   #3
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The 128RC is not a fluid head, it's fluid effect, so not quite as good. I also had this problem when I had the 128RC so I changed to a 503 and have never looked back.

John.
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Old March 27th, 2003, 06:49 AM   #4
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I switched to the Bogen 3246 Tripod with 3066 Fluid Head and waved goodbye to all my "head memory" woes. This rig might be too heavy for wildlife field work, though.
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Old March 27th, 2003, 09:58 AM   #5
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Since he's not using a fluid head this doesn't apply but.... What effect does temperature have on fluid heads. I'm guessing outside in northern MI he's seeing some damn cold weather and I would suspect that the viscosity of any fluids would be affected. Anyone had any experince with this?
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Old March 27th, 2003, 11:33 AM   #6
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Rob,
I've had my Miller and Sachtler out in the cold (20-30F) and it has no effect whatsoever on either. To a great degree, you get what you pay for with these heads. My Sachtler's rated range is 140F to -40F. I seem to recall someone recently remarking that his Manfrotto 501 or 503 did quite well in quite cold conditions, too.

You would expect cheaper heads to begin getting stiff or loose with temperature variations. I have an old Velbon "fluid video" tripod that I was given as a gift many years ago. I didn't know anything about heads or tripods at that time. In fact, I didn't even have a video camera. I just needed a light tripod for a telescope. The first time I took it outside on a warm (but not really hot) summer day the head displayed the reason it was labeled "fluid": it began weeping thick oil everywhere. I still use that tripod for my scope and, yes, it still leaks a bit of oil every so often.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 09:53 PM   #7
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Thanks Ken,
I will search for more info. Have found lots
already. My 128RC is very inferior. If I go with
the Manfretto 501 or 503 heads I want to make
sure that these are VERY fluid. I don't want to
loose a moose at 900 feet going for water because
my panning was too jerky.
If the product for me is going to be a Sachtler or
Miller, or Vinten I need to find that out now with the
right investment instead of spending $$ on an intermediate product that doesn't do the job.

Is there any kind of objective rating for this feature
in fluid heads? Such as which one can follow an animal
(bear or moose) walking at 900 feet without the jitters?

Dave
p.s. what is a bowl and a ball?
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Old March 28th, 2003, 10:54 PM   #8
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Dave,
No, there is no rating system for tripods and heads. In fact, there's very little objective review material available anywhere on them. Manufacturers have been pretty stingy with loaning test units to magazine reviewers. Jeff Donald and I are actually in the process of preparing reviews of several models for the main part of this site. Look for them to start appearing around May.

But for the time being you'll mainly have to rely on your fellow members here for recommendations. If I was shooting wildlife in the backcountry I would probably opt for something very sturdy and very flexible, but reasonably lightweight. A Sachtler DV-6 might be a good choice. Its on-ground spreader might actually be an advantage for you. Since you'd be shooting in the forest, you'd simply remove the spreader and use the spiked feet for good footing. This enables the legs to spread much wider and lower than legs that have mid-level spreaders. A Sachtler would likely be a lifetime purchase since they are extremely durable and reliable. (I really like mine.)

Good luck!
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Old March 30th, 2003, 10:29 AM   #9
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WOW, 100-400mm with a 2X is over 115X magnification. It ainít gonna happen. I can unequivocally state that my $6,000 USD tripod canít produce fluid type moves with that type of magnification.

I rarely suggest this, but I think you can get closer that 900 feet without endangering yourself or the animals. I have done a considerable amount of work in Yellowstone and the Tetons with elk and moose. Unless they have calves or itís mating season I get to about 300 feet very comfortaby. This distance does not alarm or intrude on the animals and gives you plenty of space in case a retreat is needed.

If you get a little closer, you can reduce your magnification, and possibly use the Bogen 503, as recommended.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 01:04 PM   #10
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As Jeff suggests, long lens work requires very high quality gear. I have the Bogen 501, and I promise it will not be your answer. I doubt the 503 will be much better. If you have the cash and determination, you should be looking into some gear from Sachtler, Cartoni and other high end manufacturers. Figure out how much your set up weighs, and be certain to get a head rated for at least your total weight. Obviously, your best bet would be to "test drive" this gear. Consider rentals for testing. And look into carbon fibre legs for weight savings.
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