Strictly considering ONLY smoothness of pans, which fluid head would you recommend? at DVinfo.net

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Old February 12th, 2007, 03:29 PM   #1
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Strictly considering ONLY smoothness of pans, which fluid head would you recommend?

Hi all. . .

Obviously, there are a number of factors involved in the selection of a fluid head, but I'm wanting you to ONLY consider the smoothness of the pans and tilts for the following four heads (which meet my price limits):

Vinten Vision 3
Sachtler DV-6SB
Cartoni F100
Manfrotto 519

I'll be using an HVX-200 with a Redrock M2 (Nikon lenses), follow focus, matte box, and Marshall monitor.

Again, I am only interested in a comparison of the panning and tilting smoothness of these four heads. If they are essentially identical with respect to this quality, select on price alone.

Thanks so much.

Stephen
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Old February 12th, 2007, 05:09 PM   #2
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This is a rather tough question as most people do not own more than one good tripod.

I have a DV8-100 with Speed Lock II Carbon Fiber legs. I am very pleased with the tripod.

The DV8-100 is now probably called a DV12.

I find the tripod very smooth. There is no "Stiction" (a real word) that occurs when you first start to move.

It is best to properly size your tripod for the load. I bought a larger tripod because I expected my camera to get much heavier. This was a good move as the XL H1 is much heaver than the XL1s that I initially used.

I know that there are other good tripods out there. I do find it intersting that in ads showing professional cameras, Sachtler's are used more than any other brands.

Please understand that not all Sachtlers are created equal. The very lightweight Sachtlers are not as stable as their bigger brothers.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 09:52 PM   #3
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I'm not a fan of any of the Bogen/Manfrotto heads. I think it comes down to personal preference, personal ergonomics and how it feels to you. I have the Vision3 head and it's great, I also like the Cartoni, Panther and Sachtler heads. I'm not a fan of Sachtler's 75mm ball DV series as I feel that they are very wimpy and flimsy. Perhaps the DV8 is okay, but I haven't tried it. Their other heads are industry standard, though.

If you are going to purchase, go and try out the different heads and see how they feel with your rig on it, or a similar rig that you will be shooting with.
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Old February 27th, 2007, 05:09 PM   #4
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Excluding the DV-6, which I haven't used, I'd pick the Cartoni out of that lineup based only on pan smoothness. Sachtler's, however, have a great reputation, and I love using their Video 18 head. I've also used their DV-4 head, and I'd pick the Cartoni F100 over that head (that is not, however, a fair comparison).
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Old February 27th, 2007, 05:19 PM   #5
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The Sachtler DV6SB is nice in that it supports a very wide range of camera weights. Thats what the "SB" indicates.

The Sachtler DV8 came in two models, one with a 75mm bowl and one with a 100mm bowl, the DV8/100.

As we discussed before, a 100mm bowl is superior and much more expensive.

The Sachtler literature can be trusted, if it says that it will support 1 to 9 kg (2 to 20 pounds), then it will.

I like the illuminated bubble and the 10 step counterbalance system.

Here is a review.

http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/Read...rticleID=12332
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Old February 28th, 2007, 12:50 AM   #6
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I do understand the point everyone makes about 100mm but when you are in the field a lot a 100mm bowl adds a lot of weight.... like 40%. And with the DV camera's most of the people are using here 75mm is sufficient. That's the reason why I have decided to opt for a 75mm bowl. Might add a 100mm bowl tripod in the future so I can choose which tripod for which type of job.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 10:29 PM   #7
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Having compared these heads myself, based on your criteria - ONLY smoothness, here's what I thought

Vinten with the Cartoni an eyelash behind
Sachtler - very smooth, but sloppy and flexes like crazy
Manfrotto - not in the same league

BUT, there is more to this story. Depending on the range of cameras you'll use, how heavy a system you can use, and how tightly you need it to balance, the decision once again gets complicated.

The Vinten, in my personal opinion, is the clear overall winner in quality. The Vinten fluid system is a cut above anything close to this price class - it feathers starts and stops internally, building drag as you push harder against it. Brilliant! BUT, it uses an archaic balance system. If you don't think you'll be changing the weight and c.g. of your camera very often, this is a non-issue. If you use multiple different configurations in the same day, this may not be the head for you.

The Cartoni is exceptionally smooth. The price is incredible, and it balances a large range of cameras. Plus, it uses the larger bowl, making it more compatible with accessories from dollies to hi-hats, to jibs and more. BUT, the build quality is not up to the quality of any of the others. While many users have had great success with it, the castings are not as good as the others, and long-term issues have come up in a large number of these heads. Oh, and it's like a lead brick. The thing is HEAVY.

Sachtler's upmarket offerings are, as has been pointed out, the industry standard. They are relatively lightweight and very durable...mostly. The quality of plastic used on the head casings is quite resilient. The plastic used for quick release knobs, kipp handles, etc.. is not as good. For some reason they use brittle, oddly formed controls on the spots most likely to break. Unlike the higher-end gear, the DV series does not use the castings/millings to protect the plastic parts... smart! So the majority of DV-series sachtler's I've used have been broken in all the same spots. Sachtlers are VERY linear in their feel, across the board. But I find a lot of slop and backlash in their DV heads. While moving, they are incredibly smooth, but at the beginnings and endings of moves, the DV's are easily outclassed (even with drag almost entirely off). They offer a nice range of drag, with repeatable click stops. As for balance, the speed balance system is very nice, though the lowest setting may still be too much for certain popular cameras.

As for the Manfrotto - if you're looking for nice features, this head has a lot. The balance system is the best of the bunch. The drag is adjustable in myriad ways. BUT, it's nowhere near as smooth as any of the others. It's VERY compact and lightweight, and in kit-form it's a great deal. You can, however, get a lot more for your money by spending just a little more on one of the others.

And for legs? I'm in love with the Miller Solo legs. Super light, very durable, no need for a separate hi-hat, no spreader, and they go HIGH when necessary. Very little wind-up at any height. If you're getting a 75mm bowl head, do yourself a favor and get these legs. A giant step up from any of the kit offerings of any of these heads for not a lot more (if any more) money.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 12:37 AM   #8
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Thanks Jason. I am using one camera setup at this moment. If I understand you right, what you are saying is that the Vinten Vision 3 has the best build quality as well as fluid movements. The Sachtlers are good but they are not as good as their higher end offerings (and the Vinten Vision 3)? One problem I have with the Vision 3 is the springs. Even if I don't change my camera weight often, how do you know beforehand which spring you need? The Vinten website says spring #2 for the Canon XL-H1 but many people are using the #4 and the #5 spring. Springs cost $40... so it would be important to get the spring # right.

Another thing I consider is going for a Vinten Vision 6. The bad thing is that it costs me another $1000 but I would get perfect balance in return.

I have considered the Cartoni Focus but I have read a lot of less positive feedback and I also do not like to the weight of it.

This tripod decision turns our more difficult then I thought.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 01:08 AM   #9
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Vinten Vision 3 Head

I had the same question. Which spring to use? For now, just using the HVX, with a camera light, wireless receiver, firestore that will be attached to the camera. Also, is it harder to balance the camera with the Vison 3 than other heads? Went to 2 stores today and no one has the vision 3 so I can't try it.
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Old March 5th, 2007, 10:44 AM   #10
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I believe Mark S. pointed out something to me (and a lot of other people) - the springs correspond to the Kg figures of the weight they balance. Some people may use a 2 on their XL-h1 and others may use a 6 - it all has to do with how much stuff you have tacked on to the camera, and how much of the camera's weight you want the head to balance. Some people prefer less balancing tension, while others perfer the camera to auto-level. And some of us like it to stay put at all angles. If you have 2 Lectro receivers, an anton bauer adapter with a hytron, a litepanel, 2 stage mattebox/filter setup with glass filters, follow focus, rails, etc... it'll weigh a LOT more than in stock configuration. A trip to the post-office with your camera should get you a very accurate idea of how much your camera weighs. If its in Lbs, just google the conversion to Kg.

Basically, consider the head as an investment for your camera in its most used configuration. Every time you buy a new spring, it's basically upgrading to a bigger head. While other heads have this capability built-in (Focus, DV-6sb), I personally found the quality of the Vinten to be so much better that I was willing to make the trade-off in flexibility. Also, I believe Gitzo sells the same springs in a full-kit fashion, so you can get them all at once at a reduced price. Oh, and the Vision 6 is designed to balance cameras starting at about 8-10 lbs, (like most of the Speed/Quick/Perfect balancing heads), so while it's more convenient, you will need higher weight or c.g.
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Old March 5th, 2007, 01:54 PM   #11
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Thanks Jaron. But that still leaves me puzzled. Vinten says the Canon XL-H1 nees a #2 spring. If I calculate the weight I will need a #4 spring and maybe even a #5 spring. Why does Vinten recommend a #2 spring? It is rated for only 2 kilograms while the Canon XL-H1 weighs 3.75kg without accessoires. Only that would already mean a #3 or #4 spring. But I may hope that Vinten knows which springs I need.... but if I really need a #2... I cannot calculate which spring I need for my setup with my accessoires... so what's going on. Springs cost $45 and I do not want to find the right springs with trial and error. I would have to try spring #2 till #5 which will cost me $180 on springs alone.
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Old March 5th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #12
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Rather than sidetrack the original discussion about pan/tilt smoothness, here is an active thread specifically about the spring system of the Vinten Vision 3 tripods:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=43131
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Old March 6th, 2007, 08:20 PM   #13
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I don't know why no one has mentioned the o'connor tripods, i tried one out once... cant remember what model, but is was so incredibly smooth it was crazy, in fact if i panned quickly and let go of the handle it would decelerate by itself before coming to a stop!
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Old March 6th, 2007, 08:40 PM   #14
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True, the O'connors are outstanding. BUT... they are also many times the price of any of the units mentioned earlier in this thread. And FAR heavier. But I don't think anyone can knock their smoothness.
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Old March 7th, 2007, 10:24 AM   #15
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OConnor use to make a small head called the 515/Ultimate DV that was fairly affordable (about $2500). It could balance cameras up to 24 lbs at 4" CG or 18 lbs at 6" CG. But unlike any other head out there, the counterbalance could be dialed continuously all the way down to zero. You could even balance an HV10 on it. And although it was OConnor's smallest head, it was built like just the larger heads. This thing was a tank. So it was a little bigger and heavier than competing heads, but it had that same famous OConnor feel.

Not everyone likes OConnors though. They don't look like and operate like a typical video head so you won't see an ENG crew with one. OConnors are meant for the slower, more controlled pace of film style or studio shooting.
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