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Old May 19th, 2003, 05:02 AM   #1
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Sachtler DV-2II and Bogen 501

Well,

I'd decided on a Bogen 503 head and was debating over which sticks to pair it with, and after getting accustomed to the $750 price tag for the 503/525 combo, I started thinking, "well, the Sachtler DV2II w/dual stage legs" is only $250 more, and the Miller DS-10 $350 more, so maybe I should just whip out the ol' credit card and go to town, a dangerous game to play on a limited budget which started out at around $500-$600.

Of course, I'd rather save some money for future gear purchases (like a wireless mike and a light kit)...

Anyway, did a search for the DV2 on this forum, and nothing came up, so I'm wondering, is anyone here using the Sachtler DV2II, and if so, what do you think of it?

Clearly, Sachtler's highly-regarded, but is the DV2II head, with its limited drag settings and two counterbalance settings, a good match for the roughly 4.4. lb. weight of the DVX-100? It'll support the weight easily (head's rated up to 7.9 lbs or something like that), but how's the panning and tilting?

I'm also now wondering if with the DVX I even need the Bogen 503 (which has a built in counterbalance for a weight of about 5.5 lbs), or can I make do with a 501 without worrying the camera will tip on its own and won't stay put at tilted angles, unlike a camera on a perfectly counter-balanced head.

Can any 501 or other non-counter balanced head users chime in?

Thanks for any info!
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Old May 19th, 2003, 05:26 AM   #2
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I have the head one down from the 501 (Manfrotto #136). It works great for a small cam but it is not a true fluid head---whereas the 501 is---so I would stick with that one, the 501. Regarding legs, you have many choices. Hopefully someone else will jump in and give you some suggestions for a good set of legs/ball/spreader, from the US Market.
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Old May 19th, 2003, 10:22 AM   #3
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I use the 501 head with the 3182 stix under my PD150, and I find it to be perfectly fine for 90% of my uses. The only time I have had any problem with it is using a very long lens, and beginning a pan.

OTOH, the combination only cost $360 at B&H.

BTW, whoever started this business that the pan head is supposed to hold the camera perfectly still when it is tilted? That's what the little locking lever is for. You lightly set the lock to hold the position, so you can easily unlock the head without movement. What the head should not do, is fight your efforts to tilt up or down. This usually means a head that is too strong for the load.

There is indeed at least one manufacturer that ballyhoos that their head will stay put, but that is really a none issue. Very often, with professional size cameras, the operators will set up the cameras to be a bit nose heavy, as they like the feel of a bit of resistance, versus no feel. That is virtually impossible to do with the small dv cameras.
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Old May 19th, 2003, 11:08 AM   #4
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Hi Wayne,

Quote:
BTW, whoever started this business that the pan head is supposed to hold the camera perfectly still when it is tilted?
I don't know who started it but it is certainly endorsed by many people, including Charles Papert SOC, Ken Tanaka and myself. Charles' said
Quote:
Speaking of tilts, this is yet another factor to look at when shopping for a head: how many degrees of tilt does it allow in either direction (sometimes more one direction than the other)? It's good to look into this, because there's quite a bit of variation--a great head can deliver a full 90 degrees straight up or straight down, whereas a cheaper one may only go 60 looking down. In such extreme tilts, a head that offers counterbalance really shines, otherwise you are left muscling the camera in and out of those tilt positions. When checking out a head in person, make sure to tilt all the way through the range with a full load onboard to see if you are happy with how it performs.
Ken followed up with how it benefits his shooting style.
Quote:
But when my XL1s is fully loaded it gets heavy and the center of gravity moves higher and forward. That's the situation for which I bought the Sachtler DV-6. Its variable, and repeatable, tilt counterbalance control make a world of difference for such a setup. Once balanced, I can easily tilt the camera within nearly a 180 deg range and it will stay put even without locking the position. That means that all force I apply to the pan handle in either direction serves to overcome inertia and head friction, rather than unequal forces being required to tilt up versus down. That's very important, since most head moves are not purely pans or tilts, but combinations of both. If the camera is balanced in both planes your ability to execute such moves accurately is greatly enhanced.
I would have to agree, that at least for my shooting style, I prefer a head that does not require the lock to be set. Setting and releasing the locking mechanism almost invariably cause some undesirable camera movement. I also find that camera movements are more fluid and smoother.

You can read all Charles' and Ken's thoughts on the mater in this thread
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Old May 19th, 2003, 12:01 PM   #5
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Hey Jeff, if that is really important to you, then you go for it. But I don't think that Stas, the original poster, was looking to spend over 1K for a panhead, but maybe you have convinced him otherwise. I stick by my comments: what is important is that the head doesn't fight you as you tilt up and down, not that it stays perfectly still if your release it. I see nothing in Charles post that indicates that a camera tilted in the extreme should stay absolutely still when your hand is removed from the pan handle.

Ken Tanaka feels he needs a very high quality head to use with his bulky XL1, and I certainly won't disagree with his choice, since Sachtler makes great pan heads, and would be my choice for professional use with larger cameras. But Ken is going to pay dearly for his choice, to the tune of $1500.00 for the head alone. If money is no object, you couldn't do better.
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Old May 19th, 2003, 12:24 PM   #6
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Everybody has different shooting needs and styles. Most first or second time buyers don't usually take into account all the variables when making a purchasing decision. That's why they end up here, to get different opinions on what features are available and what might and might not fit their intended use.

Heads that have a better counter balance do not require $1500. The Gitzo 1380 is $350 (read the thread I referenced) and has very good counter balance (much better than the Bogen 501, in my opinion) for the lighter cameras. The 503 is acceptable but the Gitzo is probably a better deal and an all around better head.
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Old May 19th, 2003, 12:59 PM   #7
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"Can any 501 or other non-counter balanced head users chime in?"

Jeff, that is a quote from the original poster. I am an owner of the 501 and I find it quite adequate for use with my PD150, which is similar to the poster's DVX100 in size. If money is a consideration, this head will give you good value for dollar. If you have unlimited funds, you can certainly find more exotic products.

The Gitzo sounds like a good possibility, and maybe Stas will check it out.

Always nice hearing from you.
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Old May 19th, 2003, 08:10 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the opinions, guys!

Wayne, I take it from your post that the 501 is more than adequate for a Pd-150/DVX100-size camera. My main concern regarding the 501 and 503 is the whole counter-balance issue; I just want to be sure that when executing tilt downs with a non-counterbalanced head, that I won't be fighting gravity to keep the camera from tipping farther than I want (which, from my limited experience, you don't have to do with properly counter-balanced heads). Of course, with the 503 I also want to be sure I won't have to fight the counter-balance to execute a tilt either.

Just to clarify, given your satisfaction with the 501, is it fair to say that it basically meets the requirement that when you're tilting up or down, the head isn't pulling down because of the camera's weight?

I tried the 503 with the DVX at NAB, and it seemed to work well, but if I can achieve more or less the same results without the counterbalance, I'd get the 501.

Jeff, the Gitzo head you mention, sans the five springs, sounds like a great deal, and I would consider it, but unfortunately, I'm locked into buying a kit tomorrow for a shoot this week, and can't wait to have something shipped. Don't want to rent; that's just throwing away money I could spend on the gear. Still, thanks for tipping me off to the deal. Who knows, I may wind up returning the 501 or 503 and getting a Gitzo after all.

Thanks again for the helpful responses.
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Old May 19th, 2003, 09:29 PM   #9
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Stas, I just noticed your Los Angeles address. There are oodles of stores that stock this set up to bring in your own camera and try out the head. Samys comes to mind. Many others. Additionally there are rental houses for dv gear, such as Hollywood Studio Rentals in No Hollywood.

And, as a last resort, I will be happy to let you try out my set up with your camera. I'll even show you my Zoe zoom controller, although it won't work with your DVX. Post me at waynorr@hotmail.com.
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Old May 20th, 2003, 12:47 AM   #10
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Stas,
I would just add (to my quotes, above -- eeck!) that one key charcteristic you should look for in a head for your DXV100 should be an adjustable sliding mounting plate. The nature of that camera's design, like the GL2/PD150/VX2000/et.al., is such that the weight of accesories (i.e. lens adapters, XLR cables) will all be at the camera's front. So, under such loadings, you want to make sure that you can easily reposition the camera laterally to bring its center of gravity back over the center of the head's fulcrum, or at least very close to it.

Honestly, I'm not convinced that the Sachtler DV-2II represents a real value for small cameras compared to the Bogen 501/503. Unquestionably, the Sachtler features excellent workmanship and detailing. But, in the end, I'm not convinced that its significant additional cost delivers commensurate true value for occasional videographers. On the other hand, for pros that have to shoot almost daily, the Sachtler's built-like-a-tank durability might make much sense even for such a light load.

In summary, to me, the cost premia of the Sachtlers, Vintens and O'Connors make the most sense for (a) managing heavier and variable payloads, and (b) reliability under frequent and challenging conditions.

Good luck with your search!
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Old May 20th, 2003, 09:09 AM   #11
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Well thought out comments, Ken, and FYI, the Bogen 501 does offer a sliding mounting plate. You basically echoed my thought process when I was shopping for a panhead for my PD150, and decided I could not justify the jump to a six hundred dollar plus set up I would need to go to, in order to top the Bogen 501 kit. This at a time when I had all the ancillary expenses of purchasing the really necessary gear to flesh out my kit, inclulding a wide lens.

I have only wished on the rarest instances that I had a better head under the camera, and now that I have the mad money to spend, the head still seems perfectly adequate.

Of course, I'm anxious to hear if you tested your Zoe controller. Hmmm?
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Old May 22nd, 2003, 07:59 AM   #12
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Good Morning.

To toss in my dime in this discussion, I use the 516 head, with the Plong plate.
My lens compliment is the 16-1, and, 100 to 400, on an XL-1s.

With this combo of head and plate, I can easily, by the loosening of one lever, set the ballance of the camera from neutral, to foward, to backwards. And I don't have to take my eye away from the view finder. Obviously, important in wildlife photography.

I have control, the likes of which, were only equalled, or surpassed when using a vinten with an LDK 6, Sony PC, etc.

While I can appreciate the suttleness of many of the heads mentioned, I question whether there would be sufficient gain in operation, for the additional expense.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 12:14 AM   #13
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I looking to buy a tripod for my beginning DV Film class. I was looking into buying the Librec M20, but I wanted to be able to use the quick release with a Bogen Monopod.

So from all posters here, what would you believe to be a good tripod (head and legs) that will be able to give me functionaliy for my film making. Remember budget is an issue, less than $400.

I'll be using a GL2.

Thanks

Warren,
I'm looking for the set your talking about at B&H Photo. Can you tell me the B&H Part Number? I don't see a 3182 with a 501. I do see a 3182 with a 503...And a 3181 with a 501.
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Old May 29th, 2003, 02:16 AM   #14
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Hi all,

Just a quick update. I ultimately decided on the Bogen 503 head with the 525 legs, for $750, the priciest of the combos I was debating. After much testing of the equipment in-store, and much angst over laying out the cash, I figured, might as well get the best I can currently afford.

No, it's not a Vinten or a Sachtler or O'Connor... but it's the first pro pod I've actually owned rather than rented, and for that, I'm loving it.

The 503's counterbalance is just about perfectly tuned for my DVX100's weight, and the legs are sturdy and quick to set up.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for the advice.
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Old May 29th, 2003, 02:33 AM   #15
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Congratulations, Stas! Thanks very much for following-up. I'm sure that your remarks will be of great value to other DVX100 owners on similar quests.
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