Tripod purchasing help

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    • #55082

      I'm ready for my first tripod upgrade.  I'm having specific problems with my old tripod but not sure of the features I need in the new one to correct them.

      I have a Canon XH-A1s (and also a Canon T3i) with a cheapo 'fluid-like' head tripod

      I'm satisfied with the smooth pan and tilt but when I let go of the handle it drifts, especially the tilt.  It could flop all the way up or down.  I can correct this by tighten the tilt drag knob but this affects the position and 'hand tightening' can be seen in the video.

      I think a counter balance will correct this, right?  Will a lever pan/tilt lock cause a similar problem while locking/unlocking?

      I read in a article on
      "Another factor to think about is how it locks into position. Less expensive tripods use the lever handle to control the tilt tension. They lock by increasing the tension to its maximum. This can cause you to shake your shot when you need to release the camcorder out of lock position during a shoot. Its better to find a tripod with a separate movement lock. That way, you can adjust the resistance control features with minimal disturbance to your shot."
      What is meant by "a separate movement lock"?  Is that something I need for my problem?

      2 tripods I'm considering is:
      Magnus VT-4000 & Smith Victor Propod 3 (or 4).


      The Pro3 says: "PRO-3 pan head has separate calibrations for pan and tilt and separate tension controls to adjust calibration movements to individual preference."

      What would the separate calibrations refer to?

      Most of what I record is concerts on stage.  A lot of panning and a little tilt.

    • #206354

      steve221, I think that if you step up to a tripod with a fluid head (not fluid-like) you should have better results. I'm not familar with these two tripods but the Smith doesn't appear to have a fluid head. You need to make sure that the tripod is able to handle the weight of your camera. If you checkout  a place like BHphoto, they should be able to explain to you how the tripod will work for you with the cameras you are using. Hope this helps. Keep shooting.

    • #206380


      If you're working with video to make money, it would be best for you to step up to a 'semi-pro' tripod system. It will cost a little more but having a professional style fluid head with a bowl mounting and legs with metal instead of plastic locks makes for a more satisfying shooting experience. Here's something similar to what I use religiously on shoots though there are other good brands as well:

    • #206382

      You're probably right. An extra $160 or so over several years is not much.  I was about to pull the trigger on your recommendation when I read the spreader is not removeable.  I would need to fit the tripod legs within the seats of an auditorium.  Maybe that head with different legs?

    • #206414

      Steve, I agree with Composite, I have a number of Manfrotto tripods that I have picked up used (ebay etc.). They are older models but are very serviceable and paid under $100, head with legs. it takes a little time and patience but I have great usable tripods at good prices. Keep shooting.

    • #207303

      My guess is that they are referencing a separate ‘drag’ control vs. a head that only employs a lock.  I’ve got a Manfrotto 701 that I actually like for as much as I use it, but I drool over the Manfrotto 502 with the adjustable drag for pan/tilt.  They introduced a 500 that has a better ‘fluid’ head design, but lacks the drag control = less expensive, but not by much.  Still a notch above my 701. 


      I keep a bit of tension with the lock and it’s still fairly free moving and will stay in place generally, but it’s a compromise.  It’s only a hobby for me really for the most part. 


      The ‘pros’ would probably tell you to look at the Sachtler Ace systems, but I see a lot of complaints on the legs that come with those frankly.  The head is probably far superior to the 502 I suppose from the way they rant about Sachtler.  You don’t see many of them come up on Ebay that don’t bring top dollar.  That goes for the Manfrotto heads too though – fluid heads must be extremely popular right now. 

    • #208124

      I've been shooting freelance for a guy who has tripods that don't have level adjustment under the head assembly, and that just drives me nuts. I've always used pretty high end tripods at the TV stations where I worked, and finding level by elongating the legs individually is no way to proceed.

    • #206359

      Thanks Vid,

      Both say 'fluid head'.  I was just wondering about some features.  Counter balance vs tension control vs tension lock vs pan/tilt callibration, etc.  I just want to be able to let go of the handle after a subtle adjustment and it stays there.

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