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Old February 12th, 2010, 05:13 PM   #1
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Bogen 503 pro head versus 503HDV

Does anyone have personal experience with the older 503 pro head versus the 503HDV. I tried two 503HDV and they were a bit sticky at start stop with some pull back at the end of the pan. I tried a well-worn one and it was a bit better. Also was better with a heavy cam.
I've seen some of the older 503 pro heads on ebay and heard they were better, but not from a source I trust. I'm shooting with a 7D and occasionally with an XHA1.

Is there an alternative to a $2K Sachtler or O'Conner to get really smooth pans and tilts at 10-20X zoom?
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Old February 12th, 2010, 06:00 PM   #2
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Hi Roger.........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Shealy View Post
Is there an alternative to a $2K Sachtler or O'Conner to get really smooth pans and tilts at 10-20X zoom?
Yeah, actually, there is.

Vinten | V4043-0001 Vision 3AS Fluid Head (Black) | V4043-0001

There you go, half the price and IMHO a better head than either of the others quoted.

Makes the 503's look like toys, again, IMHO.


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Old February 13th, 2010, 01:42 PM   #3
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I know there's a lot of anti-Bogen/Manfrotto sentiment on these boards, but in the $300 price range they're fine. There are definitely better heads but you pay. The only issue I've had is when I'm unable to neutrally balance the cam because of all the extra junk on it, it's a bit hard to keep the head level without holding it all the time, and as I like to keep the tilt rather loose you get some hand jitters.

I have both the 503 and the 503HDV and find both to work fine. No stickiness for me. More controls on the HDV variant.

Chris is really the tripod expert so I'd follow his advice. But if your budget won't allow for a $1000 head, the Manfrottos would serve you well... either one.
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Old February 13th, 2010, 03:36 PM   #4
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Thank you Adam.............

for the kind words, tho' in this day and age the word "expert" is somewhat devalued by it's constant misapplication.

OK, by the numbers.

As you may or may not know, I do, indeed, happen to be the somewhat jaded owner of a Manfrotto 503.

I bought it new, so long ago it's aquisition is shrouded in the mists of time.

I too was strapped for budget and it was all that could be throttled out of the piggy bank.

It served me very well under my Canon XL 1s, tho' at anything over half zoom it's operation was somewhat eratic but not something I couldn't cut around.

That it's fixed counterbalance "just about" cut the mustard for the load it was carrying was something of a small miracle.

Then disaster, or epiphany, struck.

I bought a Canon XH A1.

I won't bother to go through the heartache and Anglo Saxon adjectives the first view of my first hours shoot elicited, suffice to say it was utterly depressing.

I could just about save stuff shot at full wide, but any attempt to move that zoom off it's stops produced absolutely unusable garbage.

The 503's days were numbered right there and then.

To cut this short, I replaced it with a Vinten V3 and the improvement in handling was miraculous, tho' it also pointed the fickle finger of fate at that tripod (Manfrotto 520), which was the second weakest link in the chain.

Now, by this time I was already 3/4's of the way through a total re - equip for the jump to HD and "big budget" shooting and a good proportion of my $80 k budget was already gone.

I had, however, invested in a set of Manfrotto 528 XB's to sit under my Hague jib, a job they performed effortlessly.

The new Vinten on the 528's was a revelation, shame I could hardly carry it, it weighed in at about 30 pounds +.

So I figured this was crunch time, re - jigged the budget and lashed out on my FiberTecs.

Camera support heaven ensued.

My new Vision 3 AS is EVEN BETTER.

Now, my point?

I can rack my A1 out to maximum zoom, pan. tilt, you name it, take my hand off the pan bar, kick the tripod, fiddle with the camera controls, swat sandflies, ward off over amourous sea lions with my mic boom, you name it and none of this is visible in the footage, none!

With a 503 and the average tripod used with it, any of the above is nothing but a lesson in futility if shooting HD.

HD, full zoom, 503, does not compute. All, of course, IMHO.

That was the original question.

Anybody wanna buy a slightly used 503, one carefull owner?


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Old February 13th, 2010, 07:55 PM   #5
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Wow, harsh words on the 503 and 503 HDV. I have two of the HDVs, and an A1s, and am not yet experiencing what Chris is talking about. (Notice I said "yet".) Maybe I should go test this out, although I'm not sure I really want to know for sure.

I use the 503 head on my Manfrotto monopod all the time and it works fine for me, and I've never noticed footage issues using the tripod footage.
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Old February 13th, 2010, 10:16 PM   #6
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So Chris, what is your tripod recommendation for the Vinten head? I don't much care for the cross members that sit on the ground since I do some shooting outside on uneven terrain as well as indoors.
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Old February 14th, 2010, 12:21 AM   #7
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Ah, well...............

If you decide to go the Vinten head route, it simply has to be a Vinten set of sticks, no question.

Due to that massive clamp knob (visible in the B&H photo in my link) a Vinten heads operation cannot be guaranteed with anything else (untill such time as I have persuaded Vinten to change it - pigs will fly first, I reckon, but I keep trying).

From there on in it becomes a simple question of economics, what can you wring out of the piggy bank against what you might earn/ gain by going up market.

It's all well and good me banging on about decent camera support when guys without two cents to rub together are buying HD cameras and expecting to out Hollywood Hollywood on a budget that wouldn't even buy a family car.

I don't recall seeing a budget mentioned in this thread so can't really answer, but anything Vinten you can manage will be better than............ "you know who".

As for the spreader, well, all the Vinten offerings give both ground and mid - level spreader options, the mid - level being by far the most usable.

You can use the Manfrotto ground spreaders on the Vinten tripods, which saves heaps of bickies for those occasions when a ground spreader is the only option (can't actually think of an occasion when that would be appropriate, but it could happen I guess) as the Vinten mid - level spreader comes with strap on rubber soled booties for those spikes, by default.

Something else not mentioned:

What, exactly, are you going to park on top of this support stuff?

There's little point me suggesting a solution designed for a 15 pound, COG = 125 mm monster when you're actually using a Canon HV20.

There is a lot more to this than meets the eye you know, but rest assured, if you get it right, it really is magic.


Er, Bill:

Using a head on a monopod (which I have done to good effect, many times) isn't quite the same thing. The OIS system takes up a great deal of slack and it's obvious that a bit of wavering is inevitable.

Mount it on a tripod and turn off that OIS. Zoom to 100%. Pan 180. Let go the arm. Pan back 180. Let go. Then do a figure 8. Let go.

Watch the result on a 46" HD screen, 4 feet away. If you don't want to crawl under the carpet, you must be blind, or maybe I'm just totally anal (OK, I'll admit to the latter "up front").

Horses for courses, I don't think I could shoot to Beeb standards (BBC) but I can run 'em a pretty close second (on 1/100,000,000 of their budget!)


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Old February 14th, 2010, 06:42 AM   #8
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Thanks Chris. I'm currently working with a 7D, but often use an A1 as well, so I seldom go over 8 lbs. I am looking to get a new micro cam sometime soon, probably a Canon HF-S21. When I'm not being serious I enjoy the smaller cams for family events and travel, but still like to have smooth movements. In a lot of ways the quality of the tripod trumps the image superiority offered by more sophisticated cameras, assuming movement is being used. On more than one occasion I've locked down the tripod and done digital pans and zooms, degrading the image rather than have to use a jumpy tripod (in the end going down to 720 from 1080 was a better option than bumpity, bumpity, slide...).

What you're recommending is really in the same price range as the Sachtler DV6, which has gotten really good reviews on the forum.
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Old February 14th, 2010, 11:30 AM   #9
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>Er, Bill:

Using a head on a monopod (which I have done to good effect, many times) isn't quite the same thing. <

Absolutely, you are right. Again, I haven't really tested my tripods as you suggest. Denial can be useful. ;)
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Old February 14th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #10
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Bill,

I use an inexpensive Velbon PH-368 head on a Monfrotto 560b-1 monopod all the time with the 7D. Works well compared to handheld. I use the pan of the 560B-1 (lock the head) and use the tilt of the Head. Very smooth.

It's not a good substitute for a good tripod, but then again, I take it places a tripod can't go at all or where I'm not willing to carry it.
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