The Vision blue3 is the third Camera Support System in the blue series, sitting somewhere between the original Vb, and the Vb5 I reviewed last year. The “blueBridge” Small Camera Adapter (SCA) is Vinten’s take, and an extremely well thought out one, on a Centre of Gravity (COG) lifter, a subject I talked about briefly last year in the Vb5 review. The only thing that has changed between the Vb and the Vb3 is a different spring rate. The sticks, case, spreader and head are in all respects identical down to the last detail, but for that spring change. So, if you want all the details, refer to my original Vb review. For this review of the Vision blue3, I’ll skip the usual format and concentrate on the Vb3’s place in the blue hierarchy, the measurable differences between their individual spring rates and, additionally, the effect of using the blueBridge SCA with them both.
Author Chris Soucy
Another NAB, another Vinten review! Yes, it’s that time again: tinker and test, tweak and note, dust off the keyboard and set about disseminating the information. This is something of a “two for one” deal. This was necessitated by the fact that Peter Harman at Vinten kindly sent me the Vision blue5 for the review, and very nice it is too. However, it’s COG/ Mass graph quickly demonstrated that all of my Video cameras, even piled/ bolted one on top of the other, weren’t going to get the Counter Balance system to play ball in a fit. Cue: a mad scrabble to prise one of the very first prototypes of the new CB100 (more of that anon) out of my business / design partner / machine and powder coat shops in Texas. As I write this (eight days before copy deadline) it’s currently shown as “somewhere between Chicago (?) and New Zealand,” just what I really didn’t need.
The three levers, tilt, pan and slide plate lock, all have 6-position spring loaded lever arms allowing easy re–positioning at 60º intervals, although the latter two are not retained, so can easily be wound clean off the head. They all look readily replaceable in the event they take a fatal smack.
I have read somewhere that there is an issue with the slide plate lock lever swinging above the head plate and thus not allowing a “hippy” camera system to lock, or only with difficulty. As that lever only requires a 90º swing from full lock to off, and vice versa, and the lever arm is repositionable in 60º increments, if you can’t configure the lever arm not to swing above the head plate, you simply haven’t grasped how these levers work. This is a non-issue, and it’s simply not true.
The pan, tilt and slide plate lock levers have stops preventing them from being accidentally unscrewed from the head. In addition, the slide plate lock lever has a 90-degree throw from horizontal against the “off” stop to vertically downward, which keeps it from swinging above the head plate, which would prevent it locking with some of the more “hippy” camera rigs. Should that change due to wear, it is adjustable using an Allen key. Interestingly, that lever shows no signs of self-locking during transit, which is a big plus, but its position down behind the RH pan bar rosette and lever is the usual pain for access. The head is very easy to level, perhaps the easiest of the bunch, as a result of having exceedingly smooth finishes to both the head ball and the receiver bowl, in combination with a very jitter free levelling bubble and a “bubble centre” dot aiding correct alignment, IF you can get a hand to the clamp knob, which I’ll go into later.
Right from the beginning, Vision Blue threw up some pretty major conundrums. On the one hand, the spec was for a system priced for amateurs and semi pro’s, which the proposed price most surely is. On the other hand, the spec was, to use a motoring analogy, like asking Rolls Royce to make a Mini at a Mini price but with all the quality and performance of a Rolls Royce. I just could not see how Vinten were going to square that circle without taking some serious liberties with something. Surely it couldn’t be done without cutting corners somewhere? So it was with an air of mild foreboding that I embarked on my investigation of the Vision Blue system.
Strange things, video tripods: after the cameras themselves, they are quite possibly the most owned piece of video equipment on the planet. They’re indispensable for secure, stable and portable camera support but are possibly the least understood, least written about and badly described pieces of kit you’ll ever own…