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Thread: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

  1. #1
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    Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Hi everyone,


    another novice brain picking question about tripod heads and quick release systems so I'll try to keep it short and sweet.

    Ok so I wanted to get a Miller DS10 tripod fluid head kit for my GH1 because I mainly do video but it might be overkill. It was suggested that I should probably start off on the lower end of the price range to really learn the needs and limitations of my equipment first.

    Liked the gitzo GT2541EX because of the articulation but still expensive. I have now settled for the Manfrotto 190CXPro3 (more stable than 4?) which is similar but at about 1/2 the price.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...r.html#reviews

    Fluid Heads
    Have decided on the Manfrotto 701HDV to keep weight minimal as it will be my travel kit. Will also work well for a glidecam setup too because of its weight.

    Ballhead vs 3way pan tilt.

    Pan tilt seems quite sturdy and safe but real fiddly to use so I am leaning towards a ballhead setup that can easily accommodate an 85mm or 100mm lens + tubes as well as a heavier camera in the future. The ball head also allows me to chose the quick release system correct unlike the 3way? Any recommendations as there's too much to choose from. What do you guys think of this funny contraption?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Ballhead.html

    Quick Release Systems.
    Whats the difference between say a Manfrotto 323RC2 wedge plate style vs an Acraswiss clamp type like this other than price? Is one better than the other?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...era_Plate.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...tem_Quick.html
    I just want to invest in a system I can use forever on ball heads, fluid heads, steady cam setups and those macro rail thingys.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! I spend too much time on the net reading reviews that I confuse myself.

    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Kewk
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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    If video is you main activity I'd stick with a pan head. Ball heads are great for photos, you can sit around waiting for a bird, then quickly release and shoot, but the motion while you're moving isn't nearly as smooth as a pan head. (though I don't shoot a lot of video.)

    Also ballheads can bind pretty easily if they get dirty.

    No experience with the 322RC2, but I do have a smaller Manfrotto ballhead I use for macro that's I'd like to throw off a cliff. Not smooth and can't be trusted to keep the camera in place. It requires a huge amount of friction to stay in place, then it's a bear to loosen.

    The Manfrotto wedge plate system is complete junk. Poor fit and it can be hard to tell when your making a good lock. No experience with the Arca system but it doesn't look very good. Really right stuff is the best by far.

    I have had good luck with Manfrotto tripods, though I prefer the twist locks to the flip levers as they are a little smoother. You can slightly loosen one leg, keeping some friction, and adjust the length. This may be more important with a heavy 600mm canon lens than a MFT setup. Also the flip levers are a pinch hazard.

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Thanks Kewk
    Quote Originally Posted by Kewk View Post
    If video is you main activity I'd stick with a pan head. Ball heads are great for photos, you can sit around waiting for a bird, then quickly release and shoot, but the motion while you're moving isn't nearly as smooth as a pan head. (though I don't shoot a lot of video.)
    Well the majority of my shooting style is quite fast paced with alot of quick angle changes. Photography is something that I would like to delve into more. I currently use a small cullman ballhead on a gorilla focus and it seems to work quite well in quickly framing the shot though I am limited in shooting height as you can imagine and it tends to slip when I throw on the heavier primes. As a video guy, for pans its best to stick to a fluid head. It is more the ease and stability of framing the shot that I care about at the moment. If i were to losen the X Y locks on the 3way, do you think that would give me enough free movement to frame quickly? Does the idea of using a fluid head for photography sound absurd? I would be limited to just landscape shots..ha

    Quote Originally Posted by Kewk View Post
    Also ballheads can bind pretty easily if they get dirty.
    Do you think the Acratech open design is a better choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kewk View Post
    The Manfrotto wedge plate system is complete junk. Poor fit and it can be hard to tell when your making a good lock. No experience with the Arca system but it doesn't look very good. Really right stuff is the best by far.
    Thats interesting. To my untrained eye the Acra system looks fairly similar in design principle to RRS. Their stuff looks great by the way. All I see here in the stores are those wedge type systems so I'm stuck finding one let alone an RRS one to play with. Is there anyway to adapt the RRS QR onto a 3way or am I talking crazy talk?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kewk View Post
    I have had good luck with Manfrotto tripods, though I prefer the twist locks to the flip levers as they are a little smoother. You can slightly loosen one leg, keeping some friction, and adjust the length. This may be more important with a heavy 600mm canon lens than a MFT setup. Also the flip levers are a pinch hazard.
    Yeah the gitzo felt alot sturdier and the twist legs were a breeze to use but at twice the price of the manfrotto, its a difficult decision for someone with no equipment experience.
    Last edited by MRfanny; 11th March 2010 at 16:09.

  4. #4
    Kewk
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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    I think a fluid head is fine for landscape. A ball head (or even better gimbled head) is great for birds, but you don't need quick release for trees and mountains.

    No experience with the Arcatech head. My old Arca Swiss B1 would bind for reasons I couldn't understand somethings, so it's hard to tell from looking.

    I'm not that personally familiar with Arcatech. Looks like they were "inspired" by some of the Arca-Swiss and RRS stuff. The quick release system does look a lot like the RRS stuff so the design seems sound. I know the RRS is super high build quality from experience.

    I'd look for a used aluminum Gitzo. A lot of people upgrade to carbon fiber and sell off the aluminum tripods. Just make sure the right threaded insert comes with the tripod. They get lost easily.

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    - Can't help much on selection of heads for video work as I don't do much video or motion work ... haven't for many years ... but usually pan heads are what people go for. Ball heads are great for still work, 3D heads with precise geared adjustments great for tabletop and landscape work. Whatever head you buy, get a good one: it's what makes or breaks the usability of a tripod.

    (I use an Acratech Ultimate Ball Head and Markins Q3 for my still work. Multiple tripods ...)

    - The Manfrotto 190CXpro3 is a great little set of legs (and yes, more stable than the pro4s). Be sure you get enough elevation for your average needs without extending the column. Not having enough, requiring column extension more than 2 inches most of the time, would be why you go with the 055 series instead.

    - I had the RC2 QR system for years and was continually frustrated by the lack of precision: the plates wiggle a small amount in the clamp, it's hard to get a solid, secure position that stays put. The Arca-Swiss type system is far more secure and carries much bigger loads easily. It's all I use.

  6. #6
    tokengirl
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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by MRfanny View Post

    Manfrotto 190CXPro3 (more stable than 4?) which is similar but at about 1/2 the price.
    I had this tripod, and it ended up costing MORE, because I had to replace it due to lack of stability and the leg locks being a total pain in the *** to use. I replaced it with a Gitzo GT3531S, and after using it just once I can tell you I don't know why I ever bothered with a cheap tripod. The difference is night and day. The importance of good, stable legs under whatever head you choose should not be underestimated.

    I know what you're thinking: $700 for tripod legs??? For a little M4/3 camera??? Are you kidding me???

    No I am not kidding. Try that little Manfrotto outdoors when the wind is honkin' sometime, especially with a really light camera on top. You'll see what I mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by MRfanny View Post

    I just want to invest in a system I can use forever on ball heads, fluid heads, steady cam setups and those macro rail thingys.
    See above, and this link also:

    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by tokengirl View Post
    ... Try that little Manfrotto outdoors when the wind is honkin' sometime, especially with a really light camera on top. You'll see what I mean. ...
    I do it all the time. I've not had any trouble with the Manfrotto 190CXpro3 legs at all.

    You're supposed to hang a steady on them when you've got a wind blowing.

  8. #8
    Kewk
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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    I don't think Manfrotto legs are unstable. They are just harder to adjust and generally not as nice. I noticed plenty of shaking with a carbon fiber gitzo when it blows. It's going to happen with any tripod.

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kewk View Post
    I don't think Manfrotto legs are unstable. They are just harder to adjust and generally not as nice.
    This is the old debate of twist locks vs lever locks again. I have both (my other tripod is a set of Feisol CT3442 Tournament legs) ... I like the compactness of twist locks but prefer the speed of lever locks. I don't find either to be much easier when making adjustments, however.

    I suppose it's more what you're used to and comfortable with than the actual locking mechanisms themselves.

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Really appreciate the feedback everyone. If only the people in the stores selling the stuff were as open with their opinions.

    I am certain about one thing now, I will be investing in either the RRS or Acratech quick release systems...probably the RRS =)

    As for the choice of head. I've been playing with my el cheapo ballhead abit more on my gorilla focus and I have come to really appreciate the ease in framing shots with it though it gets abit fiddly when fine tuning. That and the fact that I have yet to discover a pan tilt that allows me to fix a third party QR system like the RRS. Another big question is how does the Ball head fair in portrait position? Once again the Markins Q3 seems to get mentioned alot with the RRS QR combo. They mention that Markins loctite their QR to their heads so its not a quick and easy swap. How come people don't just buy the RRS ball head too?

    Quote Originally Posted by tokengirl View Post
    I know what you're thinking: $700 for tripod legs??? For a little M4/3 camera??? Are you kidding me???
    Its funny you say that, I was pretty set on getting the Miller DS10 Solo kit which goes for an easy $1kUS for my little shooter. Throw an RRS QR on the fluid head and get an L plate? for portraits and I think it would be an ideal video/stills all rounder. These guys seemed to have thought the same. At just under 6kg, based on my dumbbells, its not the lightest thing to carry around though.
    http://www.outbackphoto.com/CONTENT_...S10/index.html

    Had a good read of that informative link and can completely understand the rationale of getting the right equipment straight off the bat, problem here is I have no clue whats right for me...ha

    I am trying to approach this choice in a "cheaper" tripod as my light traveler kit which also doubles as my learning kit. That way I can transfer all my good investments like the head and QR systems later on down the track to the Miller or possibly Gitzo. I really like gitzo legs but in terms of price they are almost up there with the Miller kit I mentioned? The frottos just happen to be marketed at that lower end and just happen to have that 90deg centre column thingy that I really like for odd angles and macro. Gitzo has the same on their GT2541EX that I first looked at but at 2.5x the price. The tripod seems to be the hardest choice so far.

    I am about 5"6, is it a bad idea to get a taller tripod for that extra shooting angle? I think I should just stick to eye level.

    Feel free to point out any obvious short comings to my thinking, I do get tunnel vision sometimes=)

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    - The Acratech and RRS QR plates and clamps all interchange (ignore what they say on their websites ... I use both together along with Kirk, FOBA, and Wimberley plates too ... have never had a single problem with compatibility or security).

    - For sure, put your best money into picking a great head. The tripod head is what you're going to spend most of your time, and obtain most of your frustration, with if you get something that doesn't work well for you. For video work, you have different needs from mine since you need to deal with camera motion differently ...

    - Legs just need to a) handle the load you want to use with them, b) be tall enough, and c) be well made. Everything else is secondary. Niceties like the easy cross-column support, speed in use, flexibility in positioning are what you look for when you buy your second set: pick the second set based on what you want to improve on from the first, assuming the first are a reasonable baseline quality (nothing mentioned so far in this thread has been under the baseline).

    - Having more elevation expands your shooting choices. Pair a taller tripod with a milk crate or step ladder as part of your shooting kit ... when appropriate.

    I have three tripods, from big and heavy to light and transportable. I've chosen different heads and types for different reasons. They've all come in at around $500-800 apiece (my heavyweight is a $460 head on a $100 set of legs...), and all are superb performers. The video heads tend to be more expensive so budget for that.

    PS: I remember one trip when I borrowed a cheap tripod at my destination from a good friend rather than deal with lugging one through airports, etc. Never regretted any other travel shooting decision so much. I ended up buying a decent tripod there at double what it would have cost me at home and giving it to him after I threw his cheap sticks into the dump in exasperation. He's never stopped thanking me ... he just didn't know any better.

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Another fluid head well worth considering is the Libec H22 from B&H. It is head and shoulders above the 701 and gives MUCH better pans etc.

    For another option for a ballhead, also check out the Kirk BH3.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Beginner Tripod heads and Quick release tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    - The Acratech and RRS QR plates and clamps all interchange (ignore what they say on their websites ... I use both together along with Kirk, FOBA, and Wimberley plates too ... have never had a single problem with compatibility or security).

    - For sure, put your best money into picking a great head. The tripod head is what you're going to spend most of your time, and obtain most of your frustration, with if you get something that doesn't work well for you. For video work, you have different needs from mine since you need to deal with camera motion differently ...

    - Legs just need to a) handle the load you want to use with them, b) be tall enough, and c) be well made. Everything else is secondary. Niceties like the easy cross-column support, speed in use, flexibility in positioning are what you look for when you buy your second set: pick the second set based on what you want to improve on from the first, assuming the first are a reasonable baseline quality (nothing mentioned so far in this thread has been under the baseline).

    - Having more elevation expands your shooting choices. Pair a taller tripod with a milk crate or step ladder as part of your shooting kit ... when appropriate.

    I have three tripods, from big and heavy to light and transportable. I've chosen different heads and types for different reasons. They've all come in at around $500-800 apiece (my heavyweight is a $460 head on a $100 set of legs...), and all are superb performers. The video heads tend to be more expensive so budget for that.

    PS: I remember one trip when I borrowed a cheap tripod at my destination from a good friend rather than deal with lugging one through airports, etc. Never regretted any other travel shooting decision so much. I ended up buying a decent tripod there at double what it would have cost me at home and giving it to him after I threw his cheap sticks into the dump in exasperation. He's never stopped thanking me ... he just didn't know any better.
    Sound advice, well noted and much appreciated...thank you. Call it coincidence but a used miller has popped up locally, be it aluminium not carbon, so I might just end up getting that if the price is right. Weight difference between the two is 0.5kg, aluminium at 3kg and carbon at 2.5kg, so is the extra weight reduction worth the extra price? i'm not too sure. a quick pop into the store will tell. If it falls through I'd probably just get the cheaper 190CXPRO or 055XCPRO as my runabout. I should be able to get a 75mm bowl to flat plate thingy centre column to accommodate a ball head correct?


    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Another fluid head well worth considering is the Libec H22 from B&H. It is head and shoulders above the 701 and gives MUCH better pans etc.

    For another option for a ballhead, also check out the Kirk BH3.

    Cheers,
    I have heard good things about the H22. It is a bowl head so that makes it abit tricky, would have to factor in the cost of the adapter too and weight also if it were to accompany me as a traveler kit. I chose the 701HDV because of its weight over performance, will have to compare each weight specs. Do you know if Kirk loctite their QR plates to their heads? Thanks for your suggestions.

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