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-   -   Tripod system for long lenses (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl-gl-series-dv-camcorders/44770-tripod-system-long-lenses.html)

Ofer Levy May 17th, 2005 07:09 PM

Tripod system for long lenses
I am getting the XL-2 and going to concentrate on birds as I am a professional bird photographer (stills).
I am going to use lenses as long as the 300mm and 400mm with x2 and x1.4 converters on the XL-2 - any advice as to a good tripod system for this kind of work keeping in mind I need top quality material. (My budget is limited to around 1500$...)-; )
Ofer Levy - Sydney

David Lach May 17th, 2005 10:46 PM

In that price range, I'd recommend the Vinten Vision 3 from personal experience. There's room to grow as it will support up to 22lbs. It allows for silky smooth motion and incredible support. Mine has a floor spreader but for your needs I figure a mid-level spreader would be better suited (although the mid-level spreaders from Vinten are ridiculously overpriced).

I paid $900 on eBay for a complete Vision 3 system with head, camera plate, spreader and 2-stage legs, so if you're patient, you could probably find a deal eventually, but if you need it right now, the retail price is closer to $1800 with the 2-stage aluminum legs, $1700 for 1-stage, so if you don't have a penny more than $1500, you might want to buy the head only for around $950 and get a decent pair of used legs with a 75mm bowl.

And although I don't have hands-on experience, I've seen the Miller DS-20 recommended quite a bit by some folks. I guess the Sachtler DV-6 is an other good contestant for the money.

All those systems have 75mm bowls, but again, you could just buy the head and get a set of used legs with a 75mm bowl or even a 100mm bowl with an adapter, which gives even more room to grow in the future. I just checked and there's a 2-stage tripod with 75mm bowl and floor spreader, advertised for loads of up to 26lbs, selling for $230 on eBay right now (although I cannot comment on its built quality).

Patrick King May 18th, 2005 05:07 AM

As the lens size increases, at some point, you switch to supporting the lens and not the camera. Long Canon

I guess you could concentrate on individual feathers with this thing.

Jay Gladwell May 18th, 2005 05:31 AM

The thing I've learned is it's not simply a matter of how much weight the head and legs can support, but how stable they are. With the XL1s (16x auto lens) I had a light-weight Sachtler that "supported" it just fine. However, when I zoomed all the way in on something, there was no way to keep the image steady. The only way to avoid any shake at all was to not touch the handle or camera.

When I did the upgrade to the XL2 (with the 20x lens!) I knew I was going to have even more trouble. There were only two options available to me. The first was to live with the shakes, and that, to me, wasn't really an option. The second was to swallow hard and invest in a tripod and head that not only supported the camera, but also offered the stablility I needed for those long shots. I wound up paying as much for the tripod and head (another Sachtler) as I did the camera. Now, when I'm zoomed all the way in on something, the image is steady!

What is a tripod system? It's the foundation for the camera! A weak foundation will yield weak images. With those longer lenses Ofer is talking about using, anything less simply isn't going to work. It may with still images, but not with motion images!


Mike Sutherland May 18th, 2005 10:56 AM

Vinten Vision 3
I agree with the firsy reply, the Vinten Vision 3 is perfect. I use it with no problems at all, very smooth, good counterbalance and perfect for use with long lenses. I think it would be a false economy buying something cheaper as you would probebly not be 100% happy and upgrading at a later date would cost more in the long term.

David Lach May 18th, 2005 12:01 PM

Hmmm, just to be clear here Ofer, are you talking 400mm in 35mm equivalent or are you talking about 1/3rd converted lenghts (which would make quite a difference in the choice of support).

The 20x lens is 108mm which converts to about 850mm. Now if you're talking about prime photo lenses with an adapter - and I think you were in fact talking 35mm photo values - you might be ok with any of the tripods mentioned as far as load is concerned, but maybe not lens support.

Also, you might already know, but if not, be aware that using a 35mm lens on the XL2 will magnify and proportionally reduce the FOV by 7.8x, which would turn any prime 400mm into a 3120mm effective FOV equivalent. You probably already knew as this is any wild life videographer's dream come true, but just in case you didn't...

Ron Armstrong May 18th, 2005 08:28 PM

Hi Ofer; With 35mm lenses beyond 200mm, or any lens with a mounting foot, you should consider a 100mm bowl and a sturdy tripod. In your price range, I would consider one of the more robust Bogen tripods ( 3192) with a Vinten head. Some of the 75mm heads can be ordered with 100mm bowls. I can't emphaize enough the value of a good head. You will soon see the difference in the smoothness of your pans and tilts. Spend the money on a good head. Vinten and Sachtler both make excellent products.

If you happen to use a Gitzo 400 series or larger tripod in your 35mm work, you can fit it with a video head adapter to accept the fluid heads. Gitzo manufactures one, but I can't put my hands on the part number right now. They call it a levelling ball, and it is in their video catalogue,.

With those long lenses, and the excessive chance of vibration, instability and balance, you should also consider a RONSRAIL, and to find the subect in the limited FOV a RONSIGHT would be invaluable.

See my website for examples of various camera- lens combos and fluid heads.

Mark Sasahara May 18th, 2005 08:41 PM

Support lens and camera
He's shooting with his still photo 300, or 400, so he's going to be very close to, or exceed the Vision3 load limit, depending on the lens. I suggest moving up to a larger head with a 100mm ball and legs with a 100mm bowl. This will be steadier.

Actually the ground spreader is good. Have a leg pointing to the rear, under the camera body and put a sandbag on that spreader arm. This will prevent the tripod from tipping accidentally. Just be careful, the spreader is plastic and the spider in the middle can break if you aren't careful.

You will need to support both the lens and the camera. It's one thing to have your EOS, or DX hanging off the end of your long glass, but the EOS mount will get seriously torqued by the long XL2 body protruding.

Ronsrail is a good thing. I haven't used it but I think others will vouch for it.

ZGC in New Jersey, USA has them, but not sure where in Oz to go.

You may want to look for a good used Miller, Sachtler, or Vinten tripod and head with a 100mm bowl. Some of the newer Manfrotto legs are good, but not the Manfrotto heads. There are a number of heads that will hold up to 15Kg and more. Check the manufacturer's web sites. Do your homework.

Normally, on a cine camera and some video cameras, a set of rods protrude in front of the camera that are for mounting accessories. There are long lens supports for supporting long and heavy lenses. Chrosziel and Cinetech make them as do others. You'll need a bracket and the rods. light weight 15mm rods should be good.

David Lach May 18th, 2005 10:53 PM

I really don't know if he could find such a device + quality tripod for around $1500. The Ronsrail alone is $800.

Well there's always eBay. There's a good but banged-up heavy duty head there once in a while. And maybe a rail type support can be machined too? I don't know, I'm not speaking from experience, but it looks like the kind of thing I'd just love to build myself.

Mark Sasahara May 19th, 2005 09:18 AM

DIY is a matter of time, money and skill. It's always nice if you know someone who owns a full machine shop.

Unfortunately, $1500 will probably not get a good tripod and support, but the used market in local shops and good ole ebay are great places to start.

Chris Hurd May 19th, 2005 09:25 AM

If he's limited to $1500 that may be in AU dollars, which unfortunately constrains the options a bit more.

Mark Sasahara May 19th, 2005 09:31 AM

Yes, he's probably talking Aussie dollars. Not sure what the rate is these days.

Chris Hurd May 19th, 2005 10:18 AM

As of today (19 May 2005), the AU dollar is worth about 76 cents US, which gives him a budget of about $1140 US to work with.

Mark Sasahara May 19th, 2005 10:46 AM

Ooo! I'm coming to Oz! Oh wait. I'll go to Canada instead. Plus I can go to the "Canadian Ballet". Definitely better than Koalas and roos.

Lauri Kettunen May 20th, 2005 02:53 PM


Originally Posted by Mark Sasahara
You will need to support both the lens and the camera.

Mark, you are not the only one saying this, and would like to add an comment here: I just came from a hide after filming birds for several hours. I had the Canon Ef 600mm/f4.0 attached to the XL2 body with the EF adapter, and the whole system was supported on the fluid head (Manfrotto 510-10) from the lense. That is, the X2 body had no support. It was hanging free behind the lense. This is what I have been doing for years and never met any problems. It would be really bad engineering, if the connector could not take the weight of the XL2 body.

Ofer, the EF teleconventors 1.4x and 2x will blur the your footage. Canon manuals for the XL1 recommend not to use the conventors. Once you try, you will immediately understand why.

Mark Sasahara May 20th, 2005 11:27 PM

Hi Lauri,

I haven't used any long lenses on the XL2, so you know more than I do in that department. Me personally, I would want a little bit of support. But I'm just paranoid. I'm used to a cine camera, where you have a bridge plate that is fastened to the bottom of the camera and the rods extend forward to support the lens.

From your reports, it seems fine, just in my mind, it just seems a little precarious.

How is the weather Finland? Did you see any interesting birds? Any you were hoping to see?

Patrick King May 21st, 2005 06:47 AM


Originally Posted by Lauri Kettunen
...and the whole system was supported on the fluid head from the lense. That is, the X2 body had no support.

Lauri, I think you are justified in assuming the connector is built to support the cameras weight. The fact that the Canon people did it with their ultra-long lens would lead you to believe your assumption is correct.

Mark, the fact that the connector will support the weight, doesn't mean that it should be used that way. Pure physics of a lever indicates that simply placing enough hand weight on the camera to press a button will be enough to flex the position of the field of view. Maybe I'm just ham handed with mine, but I can imagine making a camera adjustment where the camera body is not supported and not seeing the image change as a result of manually manipulating the camera. Lauri, did you use the LANC remote alot to avoid this?

Lauri Kettunen May 22nd, 2005 01:07 PM


Originally Posted by Patrick King
Lauri, did you use the LANC remote alot to avoid this?

Yes, this is definitely crucial. Without a LANC remote control the whole system oscillates for a while when pressing the rec button.

I do agree that an additional support could be useful. This is, indeed, basic facts of mechanics. (Obviously, Ron would not market his Ronsrail unless there was some idea behind it.)

The crucial point is to get the lens and the camera well balanced; If the center of mass is properly over the fluid head, that makes things much easier. I don't know whether Canon did really design the XL1 and XL2 bodies such that centering mass is easy with the 400mm/f2.8 and 600mm/f4.0 mm lenses, but that's the case. However, with the 70-200mm/f2.8 zoom this is a slight problem.

If a support is employed, one should also take into account the thermal expansion. In very cold or warm conditions the expansion of the support may differ from that of the camera body + lens combination, and as a result the support may create tension between the body and lens.

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