Advice for no-budget film? re Mathews M25, Davis & Sanford FM18 at
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Old July 21st, 2010, 01:15 PM   #1
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Advice for no-budget film? re Mathews M25, Davis & Sanford FM18

Hi everyone,
I would like advice on which tripod I should purchase for the documentary film I've been working on in rural China.

I was using a Manfrotto RC-128 mini fluid head on a cheap but reasonably decent made-in-China copy of a Manfrotto 090.
My camera is a Panasonic HMC-150, and after many months I've come to realize its shortcomings. Its just not robust enough, or smooth enough. Starts and stops are jerky and I'm fed up.

I am also on a very tight budget. Thus I am considering only these budget options.

Libec TH-950DV 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod System $345

Libec LS-22DV 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod System $397

Matthews M25 Tripod System $169
Davis & Sanford PROVISTAGR18 $160
Davis & Sanford Provista 7518 Tripod w/FM18 Head $190

I realize that the Libecs are significantly more than the others, but I'm wondering if they are really worth the extra money.
Some reports say that the Mathews and Davis and Sanford heads are very smooth, but others reject them as junk and the only real choice is Libec.

I need good equipment- (like most of us) I only have one chance to shoot most of the things that I'm shooting. But I needn't purchase equipment to "last a lifetime". Equipment gets beat up badly here- its hard to load things on a bus or plane without the package being tossed, squished, or otherwise mangled.

For this reason, I don't really want to buy an expensive set of legs which are likely to get wrecked over the next 3 years anyway. The most important thing to me is that the head will be reliable, will allow very smooth pans and tilts using my 6 lb Panasonic HMC-150. Also important is an easy-to-use bowl leveler.

I prefer standard photo-tripod legs rather than the crutch-style only because I often can only manage to carry 1 tripod that I use as a tripod for still photos, and as a video tripod. I just switch heads as needed.
But it seems that with these bowl-leveling systems, I won't be able to mount these fluid heads on a photo-tripod will i?

I'd really look forward to hearing other user's recommendations based on experience with these tripods and heads.

Thanks very much!
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