Let’s observe the Vinten Vision 3 AS in action.
Tripod Mounting / Head Levelling
The tripod mount is classic Vinten, with the usual three lobed handle on the bowl clamp and substantial clamp cup. This works perfectly with any Vinten tripod, whether a 75 mm bowl model or 100 mm bowl with step down ring.
The usual issues can however arise when using this Vinten head/ bowl clamp design with some other manufacturers tripods, namely:
- The lobes on the clamp fouling the tripod legs adjacent to the hinge pins, preventing the tripod from fully closing.
- The over size clamp cup fouling the underside of the tripod receiver and significantly reducing the available angle adjustment.
- The ball / bolt / bowl clamp geometry leaving only ½ to 1 ½ turns on the bowl clamp from fully locked to falling off.
Vinten quite convincingly argue that their head / tripod designs are engineered to give the best performance when used as a system, so they see no reason to offer a more compatible clamp for other manufacturers tripods. I took some persuading, but can now see the logic of that approach.
The leveling bubble on my unit was significantly twitchier than on my V3, and had a significantly larger bubble. Vinten had warned me there was an issue with the pre-production units in this area, so I’m sure it will be sorted on the real thing.
The slide plate to camera attachment has been greatly improved over the V3. Instead of the attachment screw(s) being captive nearly dead center of the plate, thus reducing the ability to balance long or front/ rear heavy cameras, the new plate allows the screw(s) to slide almost the complete length of the plate, giving a huge range of adjustment.
Irrespective of which attachment method you use (1/4” or twin 3/8”) Vinten have incorporated a nifty ”rubber strip” screw storage compartment on the top of the head plate for the screw(s) you don’t use. I wonder how many current Vinten owners can still lay their hands on their unused screws? Hmm, I know mine are somewhere…
Plate Load/ Unload & Balance
This, as I mentioned before, is fantastic. Set – up and knock down are now a complete doddle, though over confidence or inattention can lay traps for the unwary.
I found that after an hours “full on” set-up & knock down, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my loads, vaguely waving the camera in the general direction of the head plate and expecting it to engage and load as if by magic. Missing the head slot completely and having the camera slide clear off the right hand side of the head (luckily, still firmly in my grip) bought that no–no to my attention.
Similarly, only half-heartedly backing off the plate lock screw can lead to the situation where the plate release lever will just release the camera, but will not allow the plate to lock on a subsequent load. To a casual observer, it must have looked hilarious the first (and last) time it happened to me, standing there, alternately pushing the camera down onto the head, it not locking, then picking it up again with an ever-deepening expression of utter bewilderment on my face.
Getting the camera balanced on the plate is easy. Wind the tilt drag to minimum, make sure the tilt brake is off, back off the plate lock screw, slide plate to roughly center of range, tighten the lock screw and do the forward/ backward tilt thing. Repeat till you get it right.
Once that’s set, wind up the counterbalance knob till the camera is perfectly counterbalanced, if required.
The only issue is with repeatability. Lets face it, the weight and C.O.G. of your rig isn’t going to change much, if at all, in the course of a days shooting. So, the camera needs to go to the same place on the head every load. How? Well, it takes a bit of organisation unless you want to go through the above rigmarole every load.
On my V3, I simply used a dab of TipEx on the side of the slide plate and drew a line on the head with a felt tip marker. On my pre-production V 3 AS I used a dot of TipEx on both plate and head, which looks pretty “Mickey Mouse”, is a sod to remove or change but gets the job done.
I gather the production versions will have the numbers for the slide scale printed in white, but I do think Vinten could go one better here and fit a “press to slide, release to lock” marker arrow on the slide plate scale and a factory dab of white on the slide plate indent.
Note the white line on the head plate for the load point!
Other Controls — Pan & Tilt Drag:
As on the V3, these controls are very smooth, though by the time you get near maximum, it takes a lot of finger pressure to move them.
For most shooters, maximum drag on either control would be more than adequate. I shoot a lot @ 20 X zoom and find that even more drag than max would be nice, tho’ you need a pretty solid tripod even at their current maximum.
Pan and Tilt Lock:
The pan lock is as on the V3 and does exactly as the name implies, with no issues. The tilt lock is a bit more problematical; I found it a bit awkward to flick it from the Lock to Unlock position. This could just be me.
That this is the only non-ergonomic control I have found with the V3 AS is a tribute to the AS’s designer(s).
Funky blue. Performs double duty. If it’s dark enough to be required, it’s time to pack away the toys and head for the pub, especially if shooting HD.