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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old December 23rd, 2005, 02:24 PM   #1
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I currently am using a Bogen 501 head, mainly because that's all I could afford at the time I bought the XL1. I using a 80-400mm Nikon lens, which makes the rig quite heavy, compared to the 15X lens that came with the camera. I do have the lens and camera mounted to a common plate, so balance isn't a problem. I don't have really any issues with the pan function, but the tilt action is less than desired. I'm currently looking at the Vinten Vision 3 as a replacement. It's priced more than some, but a lot less than others, thus making it somewhat cost effective for the type of shooting I do, which is mostly birds, both static and in flight. I do like the the ability of being able to change load springs, depending on the lenses I might use. Any thoughts....
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 08:01 PM   #2
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Interchangeable load springs would be a great help, especially with a heavier rig.

Not only does it help counterbalance the weight of the camera and let you use less drag on the tilt control, but it'll help prevent a potential disaster where the camera might tilt uncontrollably if left unattended... and come crashing down.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 08:38 PM   #3
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Thanks Dean, been there, done that, and it's one more reason to get another head. Luck would have it, that the legs were spread wide enough apart in the right direction so the whole rig didn't go over.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 09:24 PM   #4
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You may want to check out the Vision 6 head. It's also a 75mm ball and has continuous counter balance. Since your rig is already pretty heavy you won't have to waste time changing springs. You may also want to look into bigger heads with a 100mm ball. Sachtler, Vinten, Cartoni, Miller, O'Connor.

If you are using a ground spreader, it's a good idea to put a 20-25 pound sand bag on the spreader. This prevents your rig from tipping over. If you're out in the bush and humping a sandbag is impractical, perhaps some rocks, or use a Lowel water weight and fill it up from a nearby water source.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 09:50 PM   #5
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Have a look at the Miller Solo, very good for uneven ground, even good on the side of a cliff. Also being carbon fibre you don't get frozen to it / burnt by it. Also so far we're seeing no signs of corrosion compared to our other tripods. With the DS10 head you get two choices on spring force. They've recently released a bigger version with longer legs which might be even better suited to work in the wilds.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 11:10 PM   #6
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I just weighed the camera with the lens and all the mounting hardware. The total weight is right at 7.25lbs (~3.3kg). I use an external sealed gel cell battery in an over-the-shoulder pouch, so the battery would not be included as part of the camera weight. It sure feels a lot heavier when out in the field all day.I don't think it's heavy enough to up to a 100mm bowl, that's why I was looking at the Vision 3. Most of the time the camera is at about 4 feet, or even lower. Very rarely would I ever go high on the tripod. I really want to replace the head first to use with my exsisting 75mm tripod, and then look at carbon fiber tripod later on.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 11:37 PM   #7
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I've seen the Manfrotto 515MVB and I actually like it. The legs are carbon fiber, are rated for 33Lbs, are sturdy and they're under $400. It's a 100mm ball, but you can always get a 100-75 adapter for less than $50 and have a good set up.

I'd get a heavier duty head, that way it will be able to smooth things out. If you are zoomed all the way out to 400mm, any movement at the camera will be magnified 100x when you are at the tele end of the lens. If you want to pan, or tilt, having a smooth, well damped head will help give you smooth moves.

You can drape the battery belt around the outside of the tripod and that will help stabilize and hold down the tripod.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 08:07 AM   #8
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I realize you're using your rig outdoors, but these tripod issues have been extensively discussed in the camera support forum here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/forumdisplay.php?f=42

You might try browsing back through old posts there. You would probably also get a better response to tripod-related posts in that forum since many of our members may not read this new forum. If you like, I can move this thread to the support forum, just let me know.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 02:55 PM   #9
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Don,
Before you go spending big bucks on a Vinten head, look at the Bogen 516. I am using one now for the same sort of bird shooting you do and find it perfectly satisfactory. It is somewhat heavier than the 501, but has better continuous tilt control and can reach angles that the 501 can't. It uses a spring, unlike the 501, which adds to control. I can follow flying ducks, for example, significantly better with a 516.

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Old December 27th, 2005, 11:29 PM   #10
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Thanks Boyde, a much better forum that I'm sure will help me. And thanks Steve for your suggestion. I was thinking about that head, and I'm sure it's "heads" above the 501......Don
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Old December 28th, 2005, 11:12 AM   #11
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Don,
If you can afford the Vinten, I'd go with it. It's an excellent product with almost zero "backlash" and built to last. The Bogen/Manfrotto is ok (I have a 503 for my DVX100A) but not in the same league.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 02:51 PM   #12
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Thanks Ken. I looked at the Bogen 519, which is fairly new to their product line and seems to be right up there quality wise for the price range, but it cost nearly as much as a Vision 3. I looked at the Vision 3 at the Los Angeles DV Expo in 2003 and 2004. It felt really nice, and during the show I was always drawn back to the Vinten booth for more looks and test drives. If I had not purchased some software and other goodies during my two visits, I would had taken advantage of buying it right off the floor at a good discount. Even at retail, it's still a very good price for what you get. Thanks to all out there who offered inputs. I think this thread can close now...Don
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