The Tiffen Company has brought to market their Davis & Sanford ProElite tripod and head series and boy are we glad they did. Davis & Sanford has been around for many decades and has a solid history of engineering quality tripods, tripod heads and accessories. The ProElite 75mm video tripod with 5-15 fluid head is a testament to the continuation of their fine tradition of excellent craftsmanship.
It’s in the Bag
The tripod comes packed in a heavy-duty ballistic nylon padded bag with zippered storage pouch and shoulder strap. It’s accompanied by the fluid head, quick release plate, center support brace, ground spreader and a 10-year warranty.
At full height the tripod and head extend to a maximum height of 64 inches. The tripod legs are constructed of aluminum with a quick locking system. Setup is fast and secure. Flip the locking lever up, slide the legs to the desired length and then flip the lever back into the locked position. A snap-in center support brace is included to keep the legs from unexpectedly spreading out too far. Without the brace, the legs swivel straight out, bringing the camera platform to within about 8.5-inches off the ground for those nice low-level shots.
Each leg ends in a pair of metal pointy feet for maximum grab on the unsure terrain of the great outdoors. Little rubber slip-on booties provide support for the tripod’s feet and will keep the legs from slipping and nice hardwood floors scratch-free. An adjustable ground spreader is included too for maximum rigidity. Each leg of the spreader has a locking wheel which when loosened, allows the two-piece leg to slide in or out up to a total of seven inches. Altogether, the spreader can adjust from 25-41 inches in diameter. Adjust to taste, slip the pointy feet into the booties at the end of each leg of the spreader and flip the rubber latch over the feet to lock them in place.
Loaded with professional features, the ProElite 5075-15 is capable of making some very sweet, silky smooth moves. Regardless of the terrain, leveling is a snap. As the 5-15 fluid head is a bowl mount, simply loosen the large bolt below the bowl and adjust the head while watching the bubble level. When the bubble centers, tighten the bolt and you’re ready to go.
The quick release plate itself has enough length to allow a fair amount of adjustment to aid in balancing the camera.
To control pans and tilts, and to compensate for the weight and balance of the camera, the head is equipped with three multi-position control wheels. Rated for up to a 15lb. payload we sought to test the head’s ability to control an unwieldy beast by strapping on a just-shy-of-8lb., big lensed, front-end heavy Canon XL2. Be very careful when attaching any camera, that you don’t let go of the pan handle unless everything is tight and secure. When all the control wheels are set to zero there is no resistance anywhere, your expensive camera could easily crash forward or backward. While it isn’t likely to launch itself off the tripod altogether, any forceful jolt is bound to be a bad thing.
The quick release plate itself has enough length to allow a fair amount of adjustment to aid in balancing the camera. Additionally, the 5-15 head is equipped with a 5-level self-righting system. At position zero there is no resistance at all, but at level 1-4, there is increasing push back to bring a camera back to level. Surely, many cameras will feel safe perched atop this head, though many that forget to set the self righting resistance to zero will be fighting to keep their camera in place unless the pan and tilt brakes have been applied.
In addition to its self-righting prowess, the head has a 4-stop tilt drag control wheel for producing flawless tilts. Stop zero provides, well … zero resistance, while stops 1, 2, and 3 provide increasing levels of resistance for tantalizingly terrific tilts every time. And what about those picture perfect pans? A separate 4-stop pan drag control wheel enables you to produce powerfully poignant pans with predictable precision. (Okay, we’ll stop already with the wonderfully wordy and winsome wit.) And should you decide it’s time to hold still and enjoy the moment a while, the pan and tilt lock knobs are rock solid. Once set, your camera’s position won’t budge until you’re ready.
Handheld, dolly, floating and jib shots add variety to any shoot but for those classic, silky smooth pans and tilts we like the Davis & Sanford ProElite Series 5075-15 Tripod with 5-15 Fluid Head.
The Tiffen Company
90 Oser Avenue
Hauppauge, NY 11788
- Load Capacity: Tripod – 88lb.; Head – 15lb.
- Maximum Height: 64”
- Minimum Height: 23.6”
- Folded Length: 35.4”
- Leveling Bubble: Yes
- Weight: 13lb.
- Counterbalance (Self-Righting) System: 5-step (0-4)
- Quick Release/Wedge Plate: QR515, 80mm sliding range
- Tilt Drag: Selectable 4-stop pan and tilt drag
- Tilt Range: +90 to -75 degrees
- Material: Aluminum
- Leg Stages/Sections: 2
- Leg Lock Type: Flip-lock
- Spiked/Retractable Feet: Spiked feet or rubber feet option included
- Center Brace: Snap-in center support brace
- Excellent performance
- Reasonably priced
- Tilt and pan with varying drag
- Very smooth moves
- Counterbalancing mechanism can be cumbersome
Colin Marks is a video producer and trainer.