Manfrotto 503: fluid tilt, sticky pan at DVinfo.net

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Old April 6th, 2007, 05:50 AM   #1
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Manfrotto 503: fluid tilt, sticky pan

I have both the pan and tilt friction controls fully loosened, but - while the tilt feels really nice, effortlessly springing the camera back to level position - the pans have a bit too much friction to them, which causes jerkiness at the beginning and ending of pan movements. Any suggestions?
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Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; April 6th, 2007 at 09:28 AM.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 08:22 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
I have both pan and tild friction controls fully loosened, but - while the tilt feels really nice, effortlessly springing the camera back to level position - the pans have a bit too much friction to it, which cases jerkiness at the beginning of panning movements. Any suggestions?
Pretty common issue Piotr. But, make sure that you have both the friction and the lock controls loose. Other than that they seem to work better if worked in or used for a while.

Mike
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Old April 6th, 2007, 08:38 AM   #3
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Thanks Mike. Any panning techniques I should be using, to minimize jerkiness?
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Old April 6th, 2007, 08:45 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Thanks Mike. Any panning techniques I should be using, to minimize jerkiness?
All I can suggest is making sure the tripod is very secure and that the center column/shaft is locked down in order to minimize twist or torgue in the tripod itself. The only thing you want to move are the friction plates inside the head.

And practice. :)

Mike
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Old April 6th, 2007, 11:54 PM   #5
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I recently bought a 503/351mvb2 kit. I compared it to the Sacthler DVII at the time and went with the Monfrotto. Both had a little bit of rebound and initial stiction particularly in the pan....however the 503 kit was almost 50% less expensive than the Sachtler so ....:)

I've been using now a little over a month and have come to have much better control over these minor issues. I was recently filming a junior hockey game and had very low drag settings for pan and tilt to be able to follow the fast action. Things went so smoothly I was blown away!

I think the head does take a little break in time to smooth itself up a bit. If I am using a higher zoom then I typically start to tighten up the drag to give very controlled pans/tilts. Here my technique is to sort of slowly preload the pan or tilt just shy of the stiction letting go. Then as the pan/tilt goes it is important to keep just a little pressure at the end of the movement to ensure it does not spring back.

I guess when you compare it to other more expensive tripods they may not have these niggles but to the Sacthler DVII it was the exact same boat. So more money does not always suggest better performance.
As I mentioned too, the head is a little more responsive the more I work with it, and I think my technique is starting to develop to make the 503 head work very well. For the price of the kit....good stuff.

two other tricks I use....if you are prepareing for a shot, pan and tilt the head a bunch and it loosens up slightly.

if the shot is going to be cut within the pan/tilt....start the pan or tilt before the area of interest and already be moving the head through the key shot area....definetly no stiction to be had doing that.

hope this gives you some ideas.

James
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Old April 7th, 2007, 12:20 AM   #6
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2 x 503 heads

We bought two of these tripods, the decision was made higher up the chain based on costs.

To be honest they're terrible heads. They're used for a total of about 5 hours a week, and they have stiction, and then there's also a large amount of freeplay within the head mechanism so you have no friction a few degrees either way on a pan, and then you get a jolt when it takes up the slack.

I don't believe these are true fluid heads, they just rely on friction plates, I'd go with something like a miller DS10 or 20 depending on what size camera you want to mount.

cheers

Adam
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Old April 8th, 2007, 03:12 PM   #7
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When I recently got hold of my FX7, I found out, that HDTV is not very forgiving at undesired camera movements.
The tripod head which I used for almost 20 years did not suit the needs of viewing the (big) HDTV screen.
At my local dealer I could check out both the 501 HD and the 503 head.

After a few moments of comparisation, it was obvious, that the 503 was superior.

However it was clear to me that the 503 is positioned at the lower price side of the fluid heads, it was performing much better than the 501 HD.

The tilt of the head is very good, special care should be taken in balancing the position of the camera (center of gravity).
My first experience then, at the local soccer field, was that I got better camera movements after I put a little bit more friction at the pan for better performance. Also stability of the tripod will be responsible for fringing.
You could try to put some aditional weight at your tripod.
It took a little time to get used at the response of the head, after about an hour or so my handling of the head realy improved and I am satisfied with it.
So just practice and making small adjustments did the job for me.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 03:25 PM   #8
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One old-time trick is to leave a rubber band hanging off the pan handle. When you need a really smooth start grab the rubber band and pull on it. Practice helps, your mileage will vary, typically you want the lightest band that won't break when you pull on it.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 11:33 AM   #9
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Seth!!! Your the man. That trick with the rubber band never crossed my mind but I tried it last night. A great trick for ultra slow shots in my opinion. If I turn the drag up on the head pretty high and use an elastic it creates a very smooth, extremely slow pan. Great for closeup detail pans.

Now I just wish I had a rubber band yesterday when I was filming a grain boat slowing sailing across from me.

NOTE - the initial 'stiction' is there when using higher drag settings so to compensate I use a hand on the handle and rubber band to start and then once it's moving just use the rubber band.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 02:58 PM   #10
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That's a really good trick Seth. James also brings up a good point when considering buying a tripod, you have to test and be careful what "price point" the manufacturer is aim at. I went to NAB 2005, (will be going again this year) and was able to test lots of tripods aimed at the "DV" market. I couldn't agree with James more, there seems to be this zone that you get into where a high quality manufacturer price point product is no better or even worse than something thats a lot cheaper.
I tried everthing, being unhappy with my Bogen 501. I eventually concluded that the Miller Arrow 30 was by far the best, and should be as it cost over 5k. I ended up buying one, just because I was fed up of dealing with the stiction issues of lower end tripods, and even ones around $2500 weren't that much better, and I didn't want to waste my money. The Miller is flawless, and can handle a pretty wide weight range.
There was a thread though that said the Gitzo 1380 was really good, and its way cheaper than the Miller stuff, so maybe that might be worth a look. I'll look for it at NAB.
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