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Old January 12th, 2008, 12:00 PM   #1
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Recommendations for a new tripod

I think this question is more appropriate to ask of UWOL'ers than in the Tripod Forum, so here goes.
I have a trusty Gitzo Pro Studex all metal tripod that is beginning to show its age. It is heavy, about 12 lbs (6 kg), but it supports a Bogen 316 head and my home-made platform with an XL-2 (about 15 lbs) with ease. It has pretty good steadiness in the wind, lets me get right on the ground for shorebirds, and can pack up small enough to fit in a suitcase. It is perfect, but threads are beginning to strip, and joints are getting loose.
It seems like everything available today is lightweight carbon fiber, and I wonder about the ability to hold my bulky rig, especially in the wind. I'd like to know what some outdoor shooters are using. Per Johan's setup, that he was kind enough to post some time ago, is just too big. Thanks for your help.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 05:36 AM   #2
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Steve,

Im using a Gitzo G1410....heavy as well but rock solid. You may want to look at the new series of Gitzos...the G-locks are really good. For video, I would rec the 5 series.

Cheers

WeeHan
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Old January 13th, 2008, 02:55 PM   #3
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Hi Steve...........

You didn't give any indication of the budget for the new system so not a lot to work with.

If you really want to do it properly, and the budget will stretch to it, you could look into a similar rig to mine.

Not long ago I upgraded to a set of Vinten FiberTec sticks to go with my Vinten Vision 3 head. The V 3 may seem an odd choice for such a spectacular set of sticks but I shoot a Canon A1 which is too light (COG wise) for any of the larger heads.

The FiberTecs' are trully amazing. 4.3 kg including SpreadLoc spreader (+ head) and the most rigid set of sticks I have ever worked with. They are utterly bomb proof. They're rated to 44 kg load, so even your rig would be a walk in the park.

The included carry strap (which is extremely comfortable) lets you easily sling the tripod (head end down) over your shoulder for long distance carrying. Included with the spreader is a set of dinky strap on feet for the single spiked end of the legs.

The legs are a minor miracle of engineering. Based on a carbon fibre "H" box section (which is immensly strong) the two lower sections are nested into the outer "U" of the box. The genius comes with the locking mechanism - when the locking lever is pressed down on either of the two lower sections, the entre side length of that section expands to jam against the side of the box it's nested into.

In effect, when the tripod is set at it's lowest height, the legs are one massive triple box section welded together along their entire length (I'm convinced the tripod at this setting would support a Mack truck!). Even at it's maximum height, there is so much overlap of these locking mechanism sections it really is like having the camera bolted to a (large) block of reinforced concrete.

The massive cross section of the box sections is so resistant to "wind up" and "lateral displacement" that I have been unable to detect a trace of either on footage shot @ Z99 (full zoom in) during a medium speed long pan in a wind gusting to 60 knots!

You want solid? These things are solid!

You want cheap? Forget it!

The sticks are about $2100 US from memory (B&H seem to be down so can't check), the spreader another $5 - 600 bucks (outrageous!).

This rig may seem totally OTT, but for HD video and/ or super long lens work, they are the bees knees and will pay for themselves 10 times over with shots got when all others have the shakes & wobbles.

Check 'em out. Vinten product code: 3498 - 8 (B&H product code: 3498 - 3, for some strange reason).


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 13th, 2008 at 09:14 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old January 14th, 2008, 04:33 AM   #4
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On reflection............

Maybe you should have posted this in the "Heads and Sticks" section after all.




CS
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Old January 14th, 2008, 06:41 PM   #5
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Thanks Chris sounds solid. I use Gitzo 1380 head and love it but their carbon sticks get the shake with the Sony XDCAM EX1. I was out in 40 kts today with the tripod up to 50" and thought I got the shot. I came back and looked on the big monitor and UGH a little shake going. If I knew I would have sat down and solved this but your set up sounds great.

How do you use the spreaders on very uneven rock?
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Old January 14th, 2008, 07:57 PM   #6
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Hi Paul.............

You can use a ground level spreader with the FiberTec's (tho' you can save yourself a huge bundle and use a cheap Manfrotto one, as they use the same feet configurations) but I've more or less given them the flick lest the surface is almost billiard table flat.

I use the SpreadLoc mid level spreader instead, makes life much easier, tho' @ 1kg (2.1 lbs) it's a weighty little blighter.


CS
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Old January 15th, 2008, 05:29 AM   #7
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I own both Manfrotto and Vinten tripods. My Manfrotto lightweight Pro Trekker tripod + Heavy Duty Ballhead is mainy used for Stills photography.

For years I've been using the the heavy but extremely stable Manfrotto 116 MK2 head with matching legs with the XL2, but more often now prefer to use my Vinten Pro tripod because it is the lightest yet sturdiest unit that I can use for the XL2, especially when in combination with long Nikkor super-telephoto lenses.
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Last edited by Tony Davies-Patrick; January 15th, 2008 at 10:21 AM.
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Old January 15th, 2008, 08:41 AM   #8
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Thanks Chris I will check out the Fibertech sticks and the mid spreader. Too bad they are 100 mm bowl since that would mean a new head. My Gitzo 1380 is 75mm and works perfect.
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Old January 15th, 2008, 01:24 PM   #9
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Hi Paul...........

The 100 mm bowl/ 75 mm bowl is not an issue.

Vinten, Manfrotto and many others do a 100 mm - 75 mm step down ring which works a treat.

My Vision 3 is a 75 mm ball head and nestles into that step down ring just fine. No issues at all.

So, no new head neccessary.

The only issue a 75 mm head WILL give you is with the proper Vinten FiberTec bag.

This bag is a work of art in it's own right (as it should be for the price).

Beutifully made, with pockets all over the place and shed loads of padding, but still amazingly compact.

HOWEVER - the FiberTecs' would normally be used with the bigger, heavier upper level heads, and the bag has been designed as such, with fixed centre handles.

With the smaller 75 mm head the bag cannot be properly balanced (without adding a couple of kilos of weight at the head end) and thus is decidedly lop sided to carry using the centre handles.

Vinten is currently designing a new bag for the FiberTecs' via Petrol, another member of the Vitec group, to get around this very problem.

When this will be available I do not know, but if you are serious about getting a set of FiberTecs', I would get a definate answer from Vinten on the subject before stumping up large wads of cash.

My consolation is that one day (sigh!) I'll have a bigger, heavier camera which can use one of the upper range heads and thus the bag problem will be solved. Expensive way of going about it, but hey!


CS
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Old January 15th, 2008, 02:09 PM   #10
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Hi Chris

Good news on a step down ring makes total sense.

As for a bag that is not needed. I use my Lowepro Super Trekker II , or DryZone 200 pack and carry my tripod on the outside when on the job and inside when shipping and if flying I use a storm case. A nice bag came with my Gitzo set up and it sits in the studio.

I priced the Fibertec stick and mid spreader today the 3498-3ENG and will have to think about it. I have a job late next week that will be outside in very windy cold conditions and if it is that much better then my Gitzo carbon two stage which is rated for 38lbs it could be worth the money well almost. How quick is set up with mid spreader? I assume they add a huge amount to the stiffness? Do you ever use it with out the mid spreader? That is a huge additional cost.
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Old January 15th, 2008, 06:58 PM   #11
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Hi again...........

Set up couldn't be simpler.

Make sure the pan arm isn't going to snag a leg (nothing new there), press the yellow leg release on the bottom of the main first stage (this lets the legs spread), undo stage leg locks to get desired height, lock, spread 'em and check centre of spreader is at lowest position (ie. legs have indeed fully spread).

Once the work flow is got used to it's a doddle.

As for adding "a huge amount to the stiffness", hmm, well, this jury is still out on that one. The "SpreadLoc" feature is a knob on the top of the spreader centre section. When twisted clockwise, it "locks" the spreader preventing it's travel upwards should there be sideways pressure on the legs.

The only problem with it is that there is so much slop between lowest setting and the stop when moving upwards that you can 1/4 shut the tripod even with the spreader locked.

The only reason I have been able to come up with is that this prevents sideways/ inwards pressure on one leg centre being transferred to the other legs thus attemptiing to move entire tripod sideways.

I have witnessed this in tests when pressing one of the legs in towards the centre line of the tripod, the legs have a suprising amount of inwards flex, but one moving doesn't affect the others.

So, bottom line, the spreader only seems to be working to stop the tripod doing the splits.

Ergo, it would appear, on the face of it, that operation without the mid spreader is entirely feasible, assuming the feet can get a suitable grip.

I haven't tried it, but probably shall.

I agree, the cost of the SpreadLoc is absolutely outrageous. C'est la Vie, as they say.

One thing I have discovered with these sticks is this: the more load you put on them, the better they work. Vinten have thought of that and fitted a hook under the ball receiver to hang weights from if your rig is a bit light - works a treat.

Good luck if you decide to go that route, I don't think you'll be dissapointed.


BTW. Whatever happened to Steve, the guy that started this thread?


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 16th, 2008 at 12:51 PM. Reason: Oops.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 08:20 AM   #12
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Chris thank you for all the great info. I will have to check it out in person at B&H prior to spending that kind of cash.

Not sure what happen to Steve but glad he asked the question.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 01:03 PM   #13
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What I wouldn't give...........

to be a fly on the wall when you saunter into B&H and ask to take a set of FiberTec's for a test drive, complete with a top end Vinten head.

If you don't get a strange look from the salesperson, I'll be very suprised.

When I rang up the sales guy at Protel here in NZ and ordered mine, he damn near fell off his chair!

(I'm convinced that thud I heard down the phone was his jaw hitting the desk).

Give him his due, he recovered pretty quick (Hi Glenn!).


CS


PS. Not many people on the planet have the cojones (or cash) to pony up for a set of these things.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #14
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I am sure they will not let me take them for a test ride but to set up in the store I hope so. Also they know me since I have a long sales record with them. But you never know. Besides I have never been to the store only purchased from the site.

Glad you gave you sales person a shock. Nice on ya

Great movie last night a New Zealand hero. It is called "The Worlds Fastest Indian". A must see.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 06:00 PM   #15
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Hmm.................

Didn't really envisage them encourageing you to take 'em for a stroll down to Central Park, but it would be great to actually get your hands on one for a play before stumping up the readies.

Hey, there'd be quite a few bods interested in your take on them (me, for one) let us know how you get on.

You're certainly one of the few on DVinfo that gets to go play in techno fairy land before handing over that hard earned pile of notes.

Yeah, that was a great little movie, and no mistake.

Keep us posted on the shopping trip.


CS

PS. Wonder if we should send out a search party for Steve?


PPS.

Just hoiked my FiberTec's out of the car to check something and was reminded about the 100 mm - 75 mm stepper ring. I've got rings from Vinten, Manfrotto and B. Hague in the UK, they all do the same thing BUT the Vinten is made specific to the Vinten receivers and looks, fits and functions better than the other two. As expensive a bit of metal as you'll ever buy but definately worth it.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 16th, 2008 at 08:38 PM. Reason: Addition
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