"Best" fluid head small lightweight video tripod

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Smarty, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. Smarty

    Smarty Guest

    I am looking for a truly small and lightweight fluid head tripod to be used
    with prosumer camcorders like the Sony HC3 and Canon HV10 / HV20. I own
    larger tripods for bigger camcorders which are too bulky and heavy for many
    types of uses, and would very much appreciate any thoughts on what would be
    a good choice for something very small and portable.

    Many thanks,

    Smarty, Apr 7, 2007
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  2. Smarty

    Steve King Guest

    I was on a set not too long ago, where I saw a Libec. It was very light
    weight, very smooth. Not cheap.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Apr 7, 2007
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  3. Smarty

    PTravel Guest

    I used a Bogen RC72 (I think that's the number) with my VX2000. It was the
    smallest and lightest fluid head I could find. I eventually dumped it
    because I needed a head I could also use with my still camera. It wasn't
    bad, though not as "fluid" as a good professional head.
    PTravel, Apr 7, 2007
  4. Smarty

    Smarty Guest

    Thanks Steve and PTravel for your suggestions. I'm seeing a number of Libec
    tripods starting at around $600 which weigh 5 or 6 pounds and collapse down
    to about 2 foot length. Still too big, heavy, and expensive for a 1 pound
    camcorder which fits in my coat pocket. The Bogen Manfrotto with Rapid
    Connect plate (RC series) look better but have not found a really small unit
    yet. Will continue to research this and thanks very much for the tips.

    Smarty, Apr 8, 2007
  5. Smarty

    PTravel Guest

    Ah, you're looking for sticks, too. I have Manfrotto (or Bogen -- it's all
    the same, now) 3444D carbon fiber sticks. Weight is around 4 lbs, collapsed
    around 18" I think. The 3444D is a four-section tripod with quick locks, so
    it sets up quite quickly, goes quite tall (it has a center post) and was the
    lightest and smallest I could find that would support my VX2000. The RC72
    was a good match for it (though I use a 3160 now). I understand that your
    camcorder is a 1-pound pocket deal, but it's hard to imagine a tripod
    smaller or lighter than the 3444D that would have sufficient rigidity to
    provide a good stable base. Is this something that you can use a different
    form of stabilization for, e.g. chest straps, one of those cords that you
    step and pull tight, etc.?
    PTravel, Apr 8, 2007
  6. Smarty

    PTravel Guest

    Smarty, I got the model number wrong: it's a 700RC2.

    Also, how about a good monopod? Would that work?
    PTravel, Apr 8, 2007
  7. Smarty

    Smarty Guest

    Thanks PTravel for this excellent suggestion. The 700RC2 looks very light,
    small, and exceptionally low priced, and I am very interested. I'm thinking
    of using this with the legs offered in this combination:

    The carbon fiber weight advantage is attractive, and the collapsed size is
    reasonable. I might see if a 4 section leg design might allow me to collapse
    down to something closer to 18 inches. This one at 28 inches is a bit
    unwieldy for travel.

    Thanks again!

    Smarty, Apr 9, 2007
  8. Smarty

    GeekBoy Guest

    Fry's sells one for about $89. Just under 5 pounds.
    It's a Velbon Videomate 607 and comes with a quick release head. I have had
    a Canon XL1s on it and held fine, and that weighs 13 pounds.
    Though now I see B&H selling it for 69.95
    GeekBoy, Apr 9, 2007
  9. Smarty

    Smarty Guest

    Thanks Geekboy for the suggestion and I will check it out. I would like to
    know how the head is designed. If have other tripods here without fluid
    heads, and they just cannot do a really smooth pan or tilt. How well does
    the Velbon 607 do?

    Thanks again,

    Smarty, Apr 9, 2007
  10. Smarty

    GeekBoy Guest

    Acually for a rather inexpensive tripod wold say it does quite well, though
    do take in mind it is under $100 and you are not going to get the same
    quality something like a Bogen. But I am satisfied with how it pans.
    GeekBoy, Apr 9, 2007
  11. Smarty

    Steve King Guest

    Whether a fluid head performs satisfactorily is truly a personal preference.
    If you want smooth pan at telephoto extremes I haven't found anything under
    a few thousand dollars that is satisfactory. That doesn't mean that I don't
    use lesser expensive tri-pod head configurations from time to time, but they
    don't make me happy generally. Of course, cost and portability are
    sometimes even more important. As you are testing, pay particular attention
    to the ability to smoothly start and stop pans and tilts. Many cheaper
    fluid heads will pan just fine after you get them going. Unfortunately,
    jerky starts and stops call attention to themselves. Sometimes this
    deficiency can be overcome with operator technique. Sometimes not.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Apr 9, 2007
  12. Smarty

    Smarty Guest

    This is really a great forum, with an excellent variety of experienced
    people, and the suggestions are very much appreciated. At risk of sounding
    like I am a cheapskate, I ordered the Velbon and will try it out. At $69 I
    think I am willing to assume the risk of it not being exactly right, and
    will return it if it is really bad (a very unlikely scenario based on what I
    am hearing about it and reading about it). I have a couple other non-video
    tripods here (from Sony and Slik) and neither is suitable for smooth panning
    whatsoever, so I am going to have to see how well I can master this Velbo
    and develop the right technique. Again thanks for all the help.

    Smarty, Apr 9, 2007
  13. Smarty

    David McCall Guest

    The built in image stabilization can sometime affect the starts and stops.
    It might be best to turn off stabilization when trying to do smooth moves.

    Too much "drag" can also be an issue with cheap tripods.
    Sometimes the top of the tripod will twist a little as you pan,
    then spring back when you end the pan.

    Just a couple thoughts.

    David McCall, Apr 9, 2007
  14. Smarty

    Fred Guest

    Best to turn off stabilization altogether with a tripod mount. It keeps
    expecting to activate and can cause off & on blurring.
    Fred, Apr 9, 2007
  15. Smarty

    GeekBoy Guest

    Actually this one does not have a jerky start or stop, though it does seem a
    bit tight.
    GeekBoy, Apr 9, 2007
  16. Smarty

    GeekBoy Guest

    For $69 I think you will be happy with it. I am too at times quite frugal.
    Out of all the cheapies I have tried this one performed the best.
    GeekBoy, Apr 9, 2007
  17. Smarty

    GeekBoy Guest

    This particular model does have a slight play in the head at the main shaft
    (not the fluid pan area), but does not spring at all.
    GeekBoy, Apr 9, 2007
  18. Smarty

    Bill Guest

    I've heard this too and have generally practised it. But I do note that
    I have occasionally forgotten to do it and wasn't able to notice any
    problems with a VX2000 mounted on a Manfrotto.

    Besides, don't we all want to be edgy and cool and imitate those jerky
    hand-held effects in "24" and "Babel"? I actually saw a wedding video
    that did that, and also included black and white footage, and faux grain
    and scratches. Quite astonishing, actually. I was expecting Quentin
    Tarantino to burst out of the wedding cake and blow away the
    bridesmaids... Not that I'm complaining. I believe it won an award
    from a wedding videographer's association.
    Bill, Apr 10, 2007
  19. Smarty

    Smarty Guest


    I wondered how Tarantino got that special look in Grindhouse / Death
    Proof.....Now I know... (-;

    Smarty, Apr 10, 2007
  20. Smarty

    Fred Guest

    Well for the 0.1% of us who want that effect and know what they're doing,
    then go for it. Win awards and be happy about it. I have no problem with
    I have noticed the effect on a PD-150 and other cameras.
    Fred, Apr 10, 2007
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