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Old March 28th, 2003, 12:50 AM   #1
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sticky fluid head?

I have a bogen 501 fluid head that I am using with my tripod to shoot school performances and weddings with my VX2000. The left to right panning is OK, but the up/down movement is too viscous. I've backed off the adjustments to their minimum settings, but I still can't get a fluidity that I like. I suspect that the 501 was designed for 15+ pound videocams and has a minimum resistance that works well for a camera that weight. Unfortunately, it takes too much manual effort to move it up and down when dealing with a two pound VX2000. I'm wondering if there is an internal adjustment that I could tweak to improve its performance if I knew what I was doing. Is anyone aware of any way to reduce the up/down viscosity of a bogen 501 fluid head? Or perhaps a recommendation on a fluid head that would work better with the VX2000?
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Old March 28th, 2003, 11:20 AM   #2
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A friend of mine experienced the same problem you've got - and he has a TRV900. He dissasembled the head and replaced the fluid (actually a white silicone sticky grease) with some multi-purpose grease.

WRONG!

It was never the same again, never as good, and a big mistake.

As to the head I'd recommend for the VX2k - it's the little 128RC (if Bogen has the same numbers as Manfrotto). My first one was not good, but the second one is absolutely perfect. Doesn't say much for Manfrotto's quality control, so you just might try another 501 head before you buy a 128.

tom.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 11:28 AM   #3
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Just a safety note to those of you who disassemble tripod heads.

Silicone grease or fluid is really nasty stuff if you get it in your eyes. Wear rubber gloves when you take these heads apart.

And if one is leaking, get it fixed. The last thing you need on a shoot (or any other time) is to get silicone in your eyes.

If there is something wrong with a head or the legs, the manufacturers usually have quite good support. I regularly get the cheap tripods we use at the Community College repaired for $5 to $10 each. I'm talking major missing or broken parts. Everything but the quick release plates for which they sort of hammer you.

I had Miller rebuild a head that is so old it had no serial number or model number. $150 later it is as good as new.

Check before you buy but sometimes really old but good heads can be purchased for a song and refurbished for less than one can buy an inferior head. Once you use one of these $1,000 to $3,000 heads, you won't want to go back.

So when you find a tripod with wooden sticks, look at the head. Sometimes real jewels are mounted on wood and the owners no longer value them.

BTW, Squash, please register your real name. Soon you will not be able to post until you do so.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 12:35 PM   #4
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I'd just like to point out (and I'm probably not the first), that every time I see this thread's subject head I begin giggling.

But then, whenever I'm watching "24" and some agent says: "she needs to be debriefed", I also can't stop from giggling.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 08:25 PM   #5
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Keith, Keith, Keith...tsk...tsk..tsk

2 questions:

1. Are the sony Remote Tripods fluid head? The ding bats at Sonystyles can't seem to give me an straight answer. "Umm, it ah for the um Handycams, like it says on the box, so I would think ah, Sony wouldn't do you wrong and knows what's best for their cameras." A sales rep actually has told me.

2. Where can a get a decent fluid head tripod for a decent price? (Keith get your head out of the gutter...)
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Old March 28th, 2003, 10:43 PM   #6
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Mine's only a monopod.
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Old March 28th, 2003, 11:26 PM   #7
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The Sony remote control tripods are barely tripods, let alone have any relationship to fluid heads.

Truly there are no inexpensive fluid heads. The manufacturing has to be too precise and the volume is too small.

The only way to get a decent head is as I described earlier in this thread.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 10:14 AM   #8
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The Bogen 501 is a video head, but not a fluid head. True fluid heads are much more expensive. Complete details can be found at Bogenís site. It is a friction head, not a fluid head. Itís maximum capacity is listed at 13 pounds, but it will not provide smooth, professional movements. You can try sending it to Bogen for an adjustment, but I think you have reached a design limitation of inexpensive, friction heads.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 12:00 AM   #9
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501 Head

I've got the 501 as well, and mine's been a little sticky on the start of tilting since I bought it (two years ago). My first thought was that my camera was too light (xl-1), but it seems to be the head that everyone suggests for this camera..

Anyway, this week I've finally decided to do something about it, don't want to send it for service and wait weeks, so I'm thinking of re-greasing it myself. Tom mentioned that his friend did so and his head was never the same, but didn't they use something other than silicon-grease? Wondering if anyone has any success stories of having re-greased a "fluid" head (although not quite as Jeff D. pointed out), preferrably a 501, themselves.

P.S. I have a friend with the same head and camera and his has worked incredibly well since he bought it, luck of the draw I suppose.

Jeff
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Old October 10th, 2003, 01:20 PM   #10
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I use the 501 head with my GL2 and haven't noticed the tilt being too viscous. At first I did get what appeared to be some stickiness in the footage at the start of a movement but then I realised I had left the Optical Stabiliser on which was causing that (compensating for the first movement in a pan or tilt) :-D Doh!
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Old October 10th, 2003, 01:44 PM   #11
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I got a 501 a couple years ago for my VX-2000 and it was such a huge improvement over my cheap tripod that I was very happy. But last year I started doing some work at full telephoto and realized just how coarse the action is on the 501. If you're close to the subject it isn't so much of a problem, but at max zoom every little bump is magnified.

So I upgraded to a Miller DS-5 a couple months ago, and it's a whole different experience. Tilting and panning is much smoother - no comparison to the 501 regardless of condition. Of course, this is what one ought to expect from a tripod/head combination that costs about $600 more than my 501/3221 :-)
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Old October 10th, 2003, 04:33 PM   #12
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One of the tricks to smooth out a head that is designed for heavier cameras is to add weight to the camera plate.

I added a Cast Iron weight to a Glidecam so the camera operator could use a DVX100 instead of a DSR-500. Worked well.

I use, from time-to-time, a large and old Bogen head for my DSR-300 and then swap in a PD150. The camera plate for the 150 is made from steel and the added weight does make everything much smoother.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 05:27 PM   #13
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Adding weight to plate

Thanks Mike, that sounds like a good solution.. Any more specifics on the most eficient way to add weight? Keep in mind the plate on the 501 is pretty small..
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Old October 10th, 2003, 06:49 PM   #14
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What I did for the Glidecam is get a quick-release setup and then bolt that to the sled plate with a cast iron weight sandwiched between them. Then the camera could be removed quickly without disturbing the weight. The DP purchased another sled for use with the DSR500.

If you have a machine shop or are handy with drill, hacksaw and file, you can add a weight to the plate without too much difficulty. Although it is somewhat dangerous, you could just take something like a tuna fish can and fill it with lead. Then drill a hole on-center through which you bolt the quick-release base to the tripod head plate.

Of course you might have bogen look at the head. Maybe it does need an adjustment or grease replacement.
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