Questions about fluid heads

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    • #43768

      So I’m lookinginto getting anew tripod and as everyoneknows, fluidhead isthe waytogo.

      The problemis, Idon’tknow much aboutfluidheads,so I’m gettingconfused bysomeofthe technical details.Thecamera thatwill mainly beused is a Sony VX2000 with Beachtex XLR adapter (microphone will be on a boom, not connected to the camera), so nothingtooheavy. Do I go with a head that can support around 6-8 pounds, or is it better to go with something that can support 20 pounds to help keep pans and tilts smooth?

      What about fluid-headtypes?Isee somesay 2-way fluidhead, otherssay 3-way fluidhead,etc.Is there a significant differenceinthese?What’s the advantage of a 3-way over a 2-way?

      What aboutarms?Isee some tripodshave asinglearm, somehave dual arms, somehave angled arms while othershave straightarms.My guess would be this allcomesdownto preference,butare thereanysubtle advantages to onearm style overanother?

      Also, tripodlegs seemto be veryimportant.Isee styles suchastelescoping and “crutch” style. Itseemslike people prefer the crutch style, butwhy?

      Throughout myresearch itseemslike Bogen and Arriarethe best ofthe best?What makes them so much better than others?

      Here’s thetoughpart-as with 90%of othersout there, I’m on a fairlytightbudget andwouldliketo spend around $200 to $250max.Iknow thatleavesme with onlythe entry-levelfluidheads, but whatwould youguysrecomend?Are there any otherfeaturesI needto lookinto thatIdon’tknow about?

      Someonerecomendedthis kitin another thread.I don’tthinkIreallyneed thedolly,butit might beuseful (orit might bea pieceof junk)?

      Thanksforany help! πŸ™‚

    • #183372

      I posted that link. For me, this tripod works very well. I’ve used it for a couple of professional shoots now and it is everything I need. Like you, I don’t need a dolly – but I’ve got one! A word on the dolly, you really have to be on a smooth surface to get a nice traveling shot.

      I’m using a VX2100 (which is basically the same camera you are using, and I also use a JuicedLink mixer (which is similar to the Beachtek that you use). As far as the telescoping legs, they work – so I don’t have any issues although the vast majority of opinions encourage the crutch syle, but like you I’m not completely sure why.

      I chose this tripod for it’s incredibly smooth pans and tilts and for the double strut leg construction. It also comes with a very nice padded bag and an extra mounting plate.

      There are most likely many wonderful tripods in the price range that you are looking in, but I can only offer my review of the one I own. I hope you get more replies about other models.

      Good Luck,


    • #183373

      Thanks forthereply!

      It’sgoodto hear yourpositivereview of that tripod- it’s nowinthe listofpossibilities. :)I’m not sureif you know,butin doingresearch I’vefounda lot of websitestalking about whatreallyisafluid-head andwhatis not (for example, the Bogen 501 listed on B&H as a fluid head is fluid pan and friction tilt). Do youknowif this isa “true”fluidhead? Sorry for all the questions, but one thing that worries me about Davis Sanford is that they supposedly fall apart fairly easy (screws come loose and it then wobbles). How long have you owned yours and have you noticed anything like this? I generally take very good care of my equipment, but still the more durable, the better.

      Letme break upthis post for one momenttorespondto my own question fromearlier.Thismay be obviousto a lotof people,buttookmeagood bitofgooglesearchingtofind myself,soIthought I’dpostthe “answer” forthose that might notknow it likeme.A 2-wayheadmeans that it can panandtilt up and down.A 3-wayheadmeansthatitcan pan,tilt up and down, andalsotiltleftandright.Easy enough…though it wasn’t entirely aparenttome originally.

      Otherthan that tripod, indoingresearch I’vealsofoundseveral on B&Hthat might bean option forme. I was hopingto getafewopinions about these frompeoplewhohave experiencedthem (especiallyiftheyare truefluidheadsor not). – This has a counterweight, is one of the tallest leg sets (by only a few inches), and has what I think is the type of legs more people like? – One from abovepost.

      I’m excludingthe Bogen kitIfound becauseit was usingthe 501HDVheadwhich isn’t true fluid-head (though amIreallygoingtofind a truefluidheadinthispricerange?) -Ithrewthisin only becauseit wasso cheap, but I’vegota strong hunch thatit’s not a truefluidhead.Ialsohavereadyseveralreviewsofit thataren’t terriblyfavorable,sothis isreally onlyalastresort.

      One otherthing I’ve noticed during myresearchis thatsome tripodsdon’thavetheleg spreaders.I’mtalking aboutthe piecethatgoes betweenthelegs, usually seemsto bein the middleofthelegsor atthe very bottom,andhelpsmake surethey opento a certaindistanceand stay there.Ithought this wasa mustfor stability, but someoftheselegsare the more expensive ones (Iknow, more expensedoesn’t alwaysmean quality).So whatwould bethe advantage of no spreader?Are you supposedto use a detachable spreader withtheselegsorsomething?

      I hope I’m askingthe right questions.I’m not tryingto ask forthe “supermega awesomeperfect” tripod for super cheap; I’m just tryingto findout what details/specs are available on tripods (and get the most information about different types of tripods) so I can make the best choice for my own needs.

    • #183374

      Ralck, if you can spend only $200 to $250 don’t expect to get a good fluid head tripod. Unless you’re lucky to find a bargain, of course. The first tripod I bought was a “Velbon Videomate Mini-Pro Fluid Panhead” for about $70. Like you,I didn’t have the money. I got so much shake from that tripod. The best way to use it was to switch on the camera, lock both pan and tilt heads and don’t touch the camera until you were ready to switch off. The next tripod I bought was a Libec for about $500. That was a significant improvement but the head did not have adjustment for pan and drag. So the head was always too “free.” Finally I purchased a Vinten Pro Touch for $900. I am happy with it. No shakes and there is adjustment for pan and drag. Don’t buy a tripod with a centre column. Buy a tripod with the spreader on the floor. I believe you will save yourself a lot of grief and some money too if you put out the money for a good tripod from the start. That is, if you are aiming to be a pro.

    • #183375

      I agree and disagree with sham.

      Definitely don’t get one with a center column. It’s unstable. I’ve seen news cameramen (actually, women) in Philly, PA use those tripods and extend the column all the way up and then not even extend the tripod legs. Not only is it unstable like I just said, but it looksridiculous.

      I wouldn’t get one that has the spreader on the floor though. I feel it would get in the way if you were on an uneven surface. If you don’t get one with a spreader on the floor, definitely get one that has the spreader that’s half way up the legs or whatever it is.

    • #183376


      OnceI was aboutintoday 2or 3of my research of tripods,Ifoundout that “true”fluidheadsareinthe $1000+rangeand that onesin my pricerangeare usuallyreferedto asfluid-effect.

      Forthose whoare just startingtodotheirresearch, fluid-effectmeansit uses a viscious substance (Isee a lotofpeoplesay it’s usuallya form of thick greaseor thick oil)and friction plates instead of a fluid pack that true fluid heads use (I’m still not quite sure what a fluid pack is, but I think it’s some form of multiple disks with fluid to dampen them?).

      Unfortunetaly, nomatter how muchI wantto be pro,I justdon’thavetheresourcesto get a “pro” tripod.Fluidhead is justout of mybudgetatthispoint (collegeis expensive!).I’m stilllearning all sortsofthings aboutfilm andatthispoint it’s mainly a veryserious hobbyforme (I’vemade a grandtotalof $50 doingfilm work,butit’s a start). ThoughItake very goodcareof my equipment, I’mgoingtohaveto geta fluid-effect tripodtouseas a “starter” tripod (Idon’tthink I’mgoingtocount my current tripod on accountof howjerky andwobbly itis… butit was free :-P).IfIcan getreally lucky on ebay andfinda good set, then I’llgoforthat, but even mostofthoseseemtogointo the $500+range which isoutof mybudget.

      Nowto getslightly back on topic… Bothof yousaydon’t get acenterpost.I agree that acenterpost addsinstability;there’s no question aboutthat.But itdoes add “emergency” heightin my mind.Now, the onlytime I’vehadtouse thecenterpost on my Slik sticks wasfilmingatallpersonin whichcase thecamera wasn’t moving (they were standing still).Any tripod that doesn’thaveacenterpost that I’veseenhasa maximum heightof about 5feet (60inches). So beingas low-budgetasI amand how much “versatility”Ido withshooting, I feel likehavingthisas a backupto getafew moreinchesof height might be worth it (And if I need more height I can assure you I’ll extend the legs fully before using the center column πŸ˜› I always have and always will)?Can yourecomendanygoodlegs (or entireset) without acenterpost,but stillhasa good height?

      Sorry… didn’tmeanforthispostto bequite so long;Igot carried away abit.

      Thanksforthe helpthough!Everygoogle search and every question I ask getsmea littleclosertoreally understandingthis stuff.

    • #183377

      When I first started, I got a tripod for 180 dollars. Like Sham said above, tripods in that price range may wobble, but mine works fine until I put a 2x teleconverter on my camera and zoom all the way in. You should be able to find something decent on

      this is the one I have. There isn’t anything I don’t like about my tripod other than it doesn’t have pan or tilt drag. I think as a college student (like myself) you will find this is suitable.

    • #183378

      Thanks forthereply!

      I was lookingatthe Libecearlier (I actuallypostedthesame B&H link above :-P). I was able to get some hands on experience with some Libecs and I’m not sure I entirely like them. There is a Matthews set on B&H using those same legs and a very similar head (but all the reviews say it’s better). If I can get some hands-on with that tripod I might go for it. The thing I’m concerned about is these only go to about 60″. What if you need to do an interview with a 6-foot tall person? How do you get the extra height?

      Onan offtopic, whatdo you guysthink ofthis head on ebay?It’s missingthe quick-release plate and panhandle, butIcan probably getthose from OConnor or maybe on Ebay?

      (Please don’t bid on itthough :-P)

      ThenIcould geta decentsetof legs from B&H andhaveareally nice tripod? Even with all theresearch I’ve done, I still feel likeIdon’tknow enoughtodothat correctly :-P.

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