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Which tripod to get for my needs?
  • So, I've recently upgraded my whole rig from a Canon 7D to a GH2. Now it's time for the tripod, stepping up from my Manfrotto 501.
    I'm somebody who shoots mostly tripod-mounted and a good tripod is very important for me.

    The rig I'm using is a GH2, with old Nikon AI-primes, a TrusMT follow focus and matte-box and a SmallHD DP4, all mounted to a Gini Rig with just the rods (I remove the shoulder pad and handles when on sticks I should add).
    This is my base rig. I need a tripod that is good and will handle this. However, I want some future proofing too. Right now, I rarely shoot with a barebones kit and if I do, it's never any jobs, so my demands for this is smaller.
    But as I'm shelling out a bit on it, I don't want something that I'll have to get rid of once I upgrade my camera. It won't need to handle a RED or an Alexa, but I'd like something that at the most could take an F3 with Compact Primes, using the same setup for the rig.

    I'm also adding a Kessler Crane KC8 crane. So I will be mounting the head on top it.
    I live in Sweden and will order from the UK or Germany (if you find any of these cheaper, let me know!)

    My alternatives:
    E-Image 7083
    (£525)
    http://www.proav.co.uk/E-image-EI-7083-AA-Video-Tripod-Kit/p26789.aspx
    Pros: The cheapest of them all, 100mm, the legs can take a crane. Handles the most weight (13kg/26lbs), supposedly great quality for the price.
    Cons: Still an "off-brand", so I'm not 100% about it, not much less than a Vinten, current rig might be too light!

    Vinten Vision Blue
    (£610)
    http://www.proav.co.uk/Vinten-Vision-Blue-Tripod-System/p29084.aspx
    Pros: A real Vinten that is supposed to deliver anything one could expect from that. Pretty cheap too!
    Cons: Smallest weight range at 2kgs to 5kgs (4lbs to 10lbs) and don't know if it could handle a larger camera and screws to adjust the tripod!

    And then there's Sachtler. They have some kits over at Creativevideo with the ENG 75/2 D legs, which I saw and they didn't impress me. I need some legs that are a bit sturdier. So I thought, why do I need their legs? I could get a nice head and then pick up a decent set of legs (E-Image or Libec) over at ProAV anyway (suggestions here are welcome)!

    Sachtler CineDSLR
    (£506 for the head)
    http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/index.php?t=product/sachtler_cine_dslr_head
    Pros: Designed for my needs, could balance up to 9.7 kgs (20lbs!), so it should work! Oh and it's a Sachtler.
    Cons: Ehm... Legs might be worse? Still haven't seen it with a bigger camera.

    Sachtler FSB6
    (£589 for the head)
    http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/index.php?t=product/sachtler_0407
    Pros: It's a Sachtler. Alternative to the CineDSLR.
    Cons: Don't know if it's better or worse than the CineDSLR. The most expensive of the bunch.

    Other suggestions are welcome!
  • 50 Replies sorted by
  • >E-Image 7083
    > Still an "off-brand", so I'm not 100% about it, not much less than a Vinten, current rig might be too light!

    It is not "off-brand". E-Image is brand of Weifeng and Weifeng is largest tripod manufacturer in the world.
    Tripod you selected is for large ENG cameras.
    Counterbalance won't work properly as it is for heavy rigs.

    You can look at FC-470 Fancier tripod.
    But it's counterbalance is also 4-5kg minimum, I'll have custom made head with different counter balance spring soon and we'll see how it behaves.

    As I know Vinten and Sachler low end models are not really very good heads.
    Their heads must be worse comparing to Weifeng heads.
    But I don't know how much
  • Vinten Blue is highly overpriced.
  • btw, as V says, the #1 problem with GH2 and tripods is that most, nearly all tripods need a heavier payload than is provided by GH2. Counterbalance won't work right. Key point.
  • @gabel, I brought a sachtler FSB6 last year with carbon fibre sticks. My idea being I should never need to buy another one. It is an awesomely built thing, but it IS large and heavy so a chore to take out. The head is amazing tho, I believe the Dslr one is similar to the fsb4 model perhaps so will be excellently built.
  • I just bought the Sachtler FSB 4 and I absolutely love it. And the CF sticks with the "speed lock" is a thing of beauty. Actually the counterbalance does work with my GH2 but I know what you mean. I see it as future proofing for building a heavier rig on top of it. Expensive but a good solid tripod is the scary basic of what's to come.
  • @brianluce you are right about balancing the GH2 on these larger heads, the gh2 and heavier lenses like the 14-140mm or 25mm f0.95 feel better but still aren't balanced. You can still use these setups and get smooth horizontal pans however, vertical ones are fine too they just have a bit of an undesirable movement at the end of any pan. I had a canon 550d at the time but always planned to use rods, follow focus etc to get more weight and height. These do comfortably allow me to get balanced but my FSB6 is still at the low end of it's weight limit.
  • On the FSB 4 the pan handle sticks back far enough that I have to slide my camera on the large plate ahead to find the right C of G balance point. But yeah the FSB 6 wants more weight, for sure. My 14-140 is the minimum for mine, so before I buy a smaller lense I'll have to beef up with a FF system, etc...
  • Thanks for the replies!
    Calling E-Image an off brand was a mistake... But I meant that it is still not a "pro" brand.

    As I hear the problems with balancing the GH2. Again, keep in mind I don't need a tripod for using an unloaded GH2 (then I'll just use a small tripod). I need one for rods, matte box, follow focus and so on! This is one of the things I like with the Sachtler, that it has such a large range. The FSB-6 seems to be the better head to go with there... Then the question is, what legs?
  • Vinten has LED illuminated leveling bubble. That helps a lot maybe in dark theater.
  • >Vinten has LED illuminated leveling bubble. That helps a lot maybe in dark theater.

    Weifeng, also has same thing, at least FC-04 head.
  • @Gabel: What did you end up buying? Are you satisfied with your choice?
  • @Retina: I ended up with an old Sachtler Panorama 3+3. Works pretty good with my GH2, as I have a rather heavy rig (using OCT-19 lenses), weighing in at about 8 pounds. The only bad thing is it's lack of an adjustable plate, but I will replace the mount with an E-Image one.
  • CineDSLR all the way. I helped beta test it and they made changes to accomodate my suggestions. This head has FAR more weight range than any of the others AND most importantly it will function equally well with a tiny barebones GH2 body and 20mm lens than with a full rig. Show me any other that is a proper fluid head with springs that can do that. You should be able to tilt in any direction and it stops wherever you let go of it without ever using drag.
    See my video here:
  • @yoclay
    I think I've glimpsed the Rosetta Stone. And it's affordable.

    I've been really happy using what I think is the best "Dumb" system, the Libec H38, silky pans and tilts but almost no controls for fine tuning such things as counterbalance.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/459140-REG/Libec_H38_H38_Professional_Fluid_Head.html

    CineDSLR looks the best so far. Does it have a light on the leveling bubble?

  • @yoclay

    Sounds pretty suspicious, as it is your first message on forum.
    And right away it is "CineDSLR all the way. I helped beta test it and they made changes to accomodate my suggestions."
    It is fine head, but not the only option.
    As they tried to cut in all possible parts.
    My understanding it is your words in their arvertisment:
    http://www.sachtler.com/ru/latest-news/news-detailed-view/article/bravo-sachtler-filmmaker-clayton-burkhart-puts-the-cine-dslr-fluid-head-through-its-paces-3.html
  • Dang, it's becoming harder and harder to rely on any recommendation. Everyone seems to have a hidden agenda.
  • You could also find links to topics on two forums.
    As I remember, Vitec Group sponsored and advertised on both :-)
  • I like my Fancier tripod, $135 from Amazon. It's not perfect, but it is very good. You can take it apart, clean it and use thinner grease if you want it to be more responsive, and you can level it without changing the legs. Can't wait to see Vitaliy's custom version.
  • This is NOT my first post on this forum and I am also a moderator onother forum if you have any questions about my credibility. Further, I independently reviewed the product for that forum and made suggestions as a real world DSLR user which to my surprise, they adopted. They stopped production, changed the design and re-released it so that it would be a better fit for our needs. Pretty incredible if you ask me.

    I do not work for Vitec. Only after I reviewed it, did they ask to use it on their site.

    I have tried all the fluid heads in question as well as A LOT of others as a real world user, and I can tell you without hesitation that the CineDSLR blows them all away. So you can choose to focus on the fact that Sachtler posted it on their website or you can look at the video which I made to try to clearly show what it can do, or you may read the in-depth review which also includes criticism of the fluid head itself. In terms of the OP's greater weight needs for instance, I feel that the carbon speed lock legs or a third party manufacturer would be a better choice than the inexpensive aluminum ones that are commonly offered.

    While all the fluid heads in question can deal with mid-range rigs, neither the Vinten nor the E-image can properly deal with a bare-bones, body only GH2 for tilt adjustments without having to introduce drag.
    The OP's final choice of a Panorama 3+3 is a good fit for heavier rigs of up to 12Kg officially (probably more actually) and makes sense, but would also not be as good on the extremely light end, if that was ever to be a need. This is of concern to us because many DSLR users today have a greater range of needs than the old style video camcorder users. Sometimes we just need to throw a camera on the tripod and this is where most fluid heads fail.


    Of course O'Connor and Panther makes great tripods too, but then again how many of us can actually afford to buy one?



  • yoclay: The reason I ended up with the Panorama 3+3 was that it was offered to me at a pretty good price. I like the fact it could take a larger load, as it turns out I might be running something as big as an Epic on it. Plus the 100mm bowl fits all my other gear (like Kessler Jib, hi-hat and so on). While many heads would provide me with better range from light to heavy, I have no use for it. About the same time I got my Panorama I had decided to switch over to OCT-19 Lomo lenses. I like my camera heavy and always use it with my rig, which weight about 4kg (8 pounds), sometimes even higher. As such I had no use for a tripod taking a lighter camera, as it is never of any interest of me.
  • With lighter cameras I just use a rubber band stretched between my fingers and the handle. Takes only a few minute to learn.
  • @yoclay
    >I do not work for Vitec. Only after I reviewed it, did they ask to use it on their site.
    >have tried all the fluid heads in question as well as A LOT of others as a real world user, and I can tell you without hesitation that the CineDSLR blows them all away.

    Here is the thing.
    We do not talk in this forum on such level.
    Words like " blows them all away" ,etc have no value.
    As far as I know it is very good head. But try to keep bounds.

    >While all the fluid heads in question can deal with mid-range rigs, neither the Vinten nor the E-image can properly deal with a bare-bones, body only GH2 for tilt adjustments without having to introduce drag.

    FC-HDSLR head can deal pretty good with 1Kg load, with ability to adjust balance without steps.
    Normally it is GH2, lens, light camera base and rods or light cage with rods (at least this is how I use my bodies).
    And believe me, it is made not to cut costs, contrary to CineDSLR.
    Other Chinese head manufacturer exist who makes heads with very low balance limit.
    Problem with the balance range if not new. And frequently manufacturers othercome it by removing one strong spring and using cheaper approaches. I really hope it is not the case with cheap entry level CIneDSLR head.

    >Of course O'Connor and Panther makes great tripods too, but then again how many of us can actually afford to buy one?

    Yep, Vitec makes some heads better than Vitec :-)
  • "Here is the thing.
    We do not talk in this forum on such level.
    Words like " blows them all away" ,etc have no value.
    As far as I know it is very good head. But try to keep bounds."

    No one has to believe me if they don't want to. If anyone has any questions about it's ability to do what I am saying they can simply look at the video. I have not seen any other tripods out there that are able to reproduce this weight range in anywhere close to this pricepoint or cheaper, including the E-image ones.

    "FC-HDSLR head can deal pretty good with 1Kg load, with ability to adjust balance without steps.
    Normally it is GH2, lens, light camera base and rods or light cage with rods (at least this is how I use my bodies)."

    There are many, many users who do not even use a camera base, rods, light cage or mattebox, especially for B-roll. They use just the camera and the lens and this is where most fluid heads fall flat. They can't deal with it and therefore produce rebounding, because it is too light for them. They are forced to use drag (friction plates) and are thus limited in their movement abilities. Or if they can deal with the light load they only go up to 4kg. maximum. What impressed me was the range of the CineDSLR as a non-friction system. 0.5-9.7kg

    "And believe me, it is made not to cut costs, contrary to CineDSLR."

    Not sure what you are referring to. It strikes me that it is the other way around, the E-Image tripod was more likely made to cut costs. Maybe this is what you meant. Most of the Weifeng tripods are FRICTION based or at best hybrid, this is common for cheaper video heads. The clue is "stepless" balancing. That means they often don't use fluid cartridges as their main support.

    The CineDSLR has exactly the same shell as the FSB shells and uses exactly the same counterbalancing springs as in their other heads, they are just configured differently. No shortcuts here. It is a true fluid head with fluid cartridges. It is not a friction based system and this is why I could actually remove the drag knob in the video and it would still balance properly. Further it is an all metal shell and probably could last an entire career. You could womp an elephant with it and it would probably still go on working!

    "Yep, Vitec makes some heads better than Vitec :-)"

    I think you are referring to the fact that O'Connor (THE cinema industry standard alongside Mitchell) is now a Vitec brand after being purchased by them several years ago. However, Panther is not.

    I am glad Gabel has found the right tripod for him. It does seem to make more sense that he go for a 100mm bowl system, regardless of the manufacturer. Even better if he got it at a good price.

    On a personal note, outside of this little debate, I really like what you are doing here and admire the spirit. So sorry if I have ruffled any feathers. It just happens to be a subject which I have spent a lot of time investigating.

  • >It is a true fluid head with fluid cartridges.

    You know that "true fluid head" is registered marketing term of Vitec? :-)
    They ahve few other things in their arsenal :-)

    >Or if they can deal with the light load they only go up to 4kg. maximum. What impressed me was the range of the CineDSLR. 0.5-9.7kg

    In FC-HDSLR user can swap the spring if he uses it with bigger cameras. So no problem with using it from 1Kg up to 8Kg.
    As you are deep involved in internal Vitec things.
    Can you show me how CineDSLR is made in counterbalance department?
    I mean to disassembly whole head and show us.

    >Not sure what you are referring to. It strikes me that it is the other way around, the E-Image tripod was more likely made to cut costs. Maybe this is what you meant.

    You are good words twister.
    I meant exactly the opposite.

    >It just happens to be a subject which I have spent a lot of time investigating.

    It happens to look like Vitec advertisment.
    So, no more Vitec pushing here. Period.
    From now on I'll be extremely hard checking of any Vitec marketing efforts here.
  • I would love to take the DSLR head apart, but I am not sure if I would be able I would be to put it back together again. Which would be a bummer, because I need to use it :-)