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Old September 9th, 2005, 12:00 AM   #1
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Newbie needs monopod, dv deck

Just shot my first video footage ever (with a GL2) and now, I'm hooked. My current project is to create a DVD for my nephew who is a terrific high school golfer -- we're pulling out all the stops to get him recruited!

At his last tournament, the optical image stabilization really worked pretty good but there were times when I "felt" the need for a tripod/monopod (I was sore the next day from being so tensed up!). I have an old, heavy tripod but I'm thinking I need a faster way to set-up -- monopod -- that I could just leave on my camera all the time. But, I'm driving myself crazy trying to determine the best one for my needs and my budget... less than $75. My search has led me to the Giottos MV-825 or the SLIK E-Z Pro ($40-$45). The Giottos definitely has a pan-tilt head and I can't quite tell if the SLIK does but I think I like that feature.

Does anyone have any experience with either of these and/or recommendations beyond these.

And, the camera is only a week old but already I'm worried about running tape through it -- other than to record. What DV deck do you recommend?

And, one last newbie question: the DV Challenges sound fun though I'm definitely not ready-for-prime-time. Where can you see the winners of DV Challenge #2?

In advance, thanks so much,
Lynda Halley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 12:37 AM   #2
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Hi Lynda, and welcome!!

I can answer one of your questions and give an opinion on another.

Here's the link for the DVC2 winners:

The beauty of this contest is that anyone should feel okay about entering. I'm on my third try and you should see how amateurish my entries look. (Well, actually, I'd rather you didn't see...) The main reason for the challenge is to get people shooting. Oh, and having fun! So sign up for the next one!

About that deck, I've had my cameras (XL1s) since 2001, shoot a moderate amount and use them for capture, etc. I tried an inexpensive deck ($850) and had all kinds of trouble so I returned it. I remember long-time member Jeff Donald telling me that by the time I wore out the heads I'd be ready for a new camera anyway. I agree with him.

Best wishes on your project. Your nephew is blessed to have such a wonderful aunt.
Lorinda Norton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 06:45 AM   #3
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I tape football, volleyball and basketball players as a volunteer for a local school. You are on the right track to pursue a monopod or tripod. Unlike the sports above, Golf highlight video probably doesn't require much in the way of pan/tilt fluidity (I am assuming little relevance of following the ball but rather of the swing). That is the main difference between monopods and tripods. It is easier to get good shots with snap pans when using a tripod than a monopod (IMHO). With your budget, there is not satisfactory tripod. My gut says that your technique is probably to compose, lock down and shoot. If so, I'd say look at how fast the pod you are considering does all that. If you find you want to add panning and tilt, then your budget isn't high enough for smooth operations.

I use a Bogen 680 pod with a head from a Bescor TH-650 (Libec also sells this). This tripod is light and will serve you ok if you grow your budget. The main feature to look for in the legs is a ball leveler (NO CENTER POST) so you can move and setup fast).
Les Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 09:34 AM   #4
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you should definitely invest in a tripod. for the type of work you're doing, you probably can get away with a less expensive tripod--i've used my GL2 with a number of cheapie tripods, and it's fine, if all you're doing is a bunch of locked-down shots and a few pans or tilts and if your GL2 is not tricked out with too many other weighty items like a big shotgun, MA-200, mattebox, etc. most people will advise you otherwise, but i have gotten pretty solid, stable footage from a $35 tabletop tripod and a naked GL2.

the thing is, if you really are bit by the bug, as you say, you might as well pay for more expensive equipment up front, because you will be wanting it anyway, eventually. you can save money by spending it. but if you are satisfied at simply learning to make better amateur video, you can get away with lesser equipment. maybe it is hard to ascertain at this stage, but you can keep yourself from ending up with a drawerful of cheap tripods, too-small camera bags, crappy 1/8'' microphones, etc., if you can effectively project into your future needs as a videographer.

if quick set-ups and mobility are priorities to you, a monopod is a good idea. also, a monopod can be less invasive (and noisy) than a tripod. i'm working on a project where i was shooting an artist in a quiet, church-like public space and used my monopod instead of a tripod, so that i could hop around the space quickly while he worked and capture a lot of different angles. i didn't want to disrupt the process with a bunch of clanking tripod noise. for outdoor sports, it is faster to set up, too, because you can pick up and set down the monopod/camera as a unit more efficiently.

monopods do sacrifice stability of the shot compared to a tripod, though.

if you like hand-held work instead of tripod work, i would also recommend looking into a DV caddie or a tiffen steady stick, which will get rid of camera judder and offer a lot of mobility. i think they're about $80 or so.

also, if you don't have several hundred dollars for a good tripod, how will you afford a deck? lorinda is right advising you not to worry about running your tape through your GL2. unless you're doing a huge volume, it should not be an issue. if you are worried about it, the budget way to go is to buy a cheapie camcorder (i use a canon zr-100, sale price $319, about 1/3 the price of the cheapest deck). i also lend out my cheap cam, but not my good cam this way and have used it as a bike mount cam instead. also good for trips to the zoo with my daughter because it fits in my pocket, and i don't care so much about the quality of the footage.
Meryem Ersoz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 10:01 AM   #5
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Thank you Lorinda, Ernest and Meryem! You've not only pointed me in the right direction towards the DVC2 winners but also given me great advice regarding my true needs, i.e., based on what, and how much, I shoot. Sounds like I may not need to worry about the heads (and I will keep them clean) and, it's best to buy better equipment for longevity. That latter point was my reason for buying the GL2 in the first place so I appreciate you letting me know that I might be going too cheap on a monopod/tripod.

Again, thank you for your insights and sharing your experiences.
Lynda Halley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 10:29 AM   #6
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Location: Suwanee, GA
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I just bought a Manfrotto 681B monopod that I use at the sidelines for soccer games. No head (but you can get one) and works well. Just watch your horizon. If you are off the sideline, get something like a Bogen/Manfrotto, 501 at minimum or 503 preferrable, head with some good legs (tripod.)

I do not use the tripod on the sideline because of mobility and risk to both the players and my camera.

Some photo monopods are too cheap. A lightweight one will bounce. The 681 works very well with my VX2100 and Beachtek and is very light for as stable as it is.

DO NOT get cheap head for your tripod or one with light legs (I have a Bogen/Manfrotto 3011 tripod and a 501 head.) A cheap head will stick while you pan and cheap legs will make it worse as they will twist and add to the jumps in your pans. I would really consider the 503 head for sports as the 501 works well but does occasionally have some stiction issues.
George Ellis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 01:16 PM   #7
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Ok, George, GREAT recommendation. I'm off to check B+H for those Bogen-Manfrotto monopods: 501, 503 or 681B. Keeping in mind the suggestion to buy for longevity, I'll probably go with the 681B.

I've only been a member of DVi since yesterday and have already benefitted greatly from others. Thanks!
Lynda Halley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 03:49 PM   #8
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Shutterbug magazine reviewed monopods not too long ago (either last month or the month before?). The one that grabbed my attention was the Uni-Loc from a british company. They scored high on the comparison and have an optional foot rest that lets you use your body weight to stabilize the monopod. I think they call theirs a duopod. They cost more and I couldn't find one on B&H. I think I read that they were developed by a free-lance videographer who wanted the stability of a tripod with the mobility of a monopod.

Watch out for cheap tripods, they can be worse than no tripod sometimes. I don't recall tripods on the sidelines of the handful of NFL games I got to cover, its either mono or nothing (don't know if it was a regulation or simply a preference).

Steve Roark is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2005, 04:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lynda Halley
...Sounds like I may not need to worry about the heads (and I will keep them clean) and, it's best to buy better equipment for longevity. ....
Your camera is not a bathroom. Clean the heads when needed. The act of cleaning involves an abrasive activity that adds wear. It is however, necessary at times. To minimise dirty heads over time, use the same brand tapes. Always. Once you start, stick with it. Also, don't reuse tapes. I recommend Sony or Panasonic. Period.

Normally, I'd recommend the Sony DSR-11 deck (not the cheaper Panasonic or JVC). However, given the migration to HD, your GL-2 may last long enough so that you'll be dying to by an HD cam anyway (assuming you want to spend another $2500 or so in 3-5 years). If you want to stay with Standard Definition for as long as possible, then consider a deck to minimize the wear and tear on the camera. I would think your GL2 would last well over 5 years of home use.

Applying the principle of investing in good equipment is difficult to apply to tripods because there isn't an nice gradual price curve. It jumps dramatically to around $800 from $300 with everything in between generally considered "not a good tripod". Opinions vary but that is my observation FWIW. I jumped from a $200 Libec to $1500 carbon fiber and true fluid head. While I wish I had the good one a years ago, it took years to save the $1500 so, ...
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