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Author Topic: Keeping it stable  (Read 7895 times)
Morgan_Moore
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« on: December 14, 2008, 06:09:47 AM »
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All video needs to be stable unless shake is a stylistic device - but for the purpose of this thread Im after stability and smooth moves

Ive got some very beefy stills tripods - one is an old gitzo head - it has really smooth hoizontal pan - looks fine if you cut into the pan in the edit but not the starts and stops

But I find panning keeping the speed constant near to impossible and controlled stops impossible too (I have rigged a pan bar up)

So..

Heads

FLuid heads seem to come from $500 to $50000

Is a $500 - $1000 head actually going to be any better than my stills heads

What is the difference between $500 head and $50000 head apart from load bearing ability

I would imagine the costly ones somehow damp starts and stops - is this right

Without this facility are cheap fluid heads actually any better than my nice old Gitzo

So could people recomend some brands and models to support D90+400 2.8 though to Sony EX1+Letus and describe why they are good

------

Legs - I hate tripods for stills work - but I think they are a dirty must with video

I think I am after something that folds down really easily - preferably one big handle to undo - and ideally one leg could be used as a mono pod  and a bility to get really low too

Once again I have a range of camera tirpods from tiddlers through to a 9ft manfrotto

Is buying a video tripod going to make things better ?

Any other thouhgts..

SMM





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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2008, 08:10:20 AM »
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I think heads & tripods for video are a very personal and project dependent choice.

The only really good way to decide is to go to a large retailer (B&H in NYC) or a good equipment rental house and try out what is in stock. Rent before you buy if you can.

Find out which works best for you ergonomically and then buy the best you can afford. The good ones are expensive and heavy. Generally the biggest and heaviest head is going to give you the smoothest and steadiest shot - but you then need a grip or two to lug it around and set it up for you.

The best heads for camera movement are geared heads by Arriflex, Panavision or the old Worrall but they weigh in as super heavyweights. I wish someone made a good geared head from modern lightweight materials but I haven't found one yet.

Likely if you are buying, you will end up with a fluid head that smooths movement with oil-filled cylinders and discs. The best are made by Miller (Australia, $$$) and O'Connor (USA $$$).

However for lighter equipment such as current Combocams and HD cameras that only weigh a few pounds there are some good lighter alternatives - Sachtler (Germany $$) is a good brand. Cheap fluid heads I find a waste of time & money. You need at least three or four resistance settings to match the speed of your pan or tilt - without them you will end up being frustrated.

You will need a tripod fitted with a bowl to set the horizon for the head - so your pans are level and not pans & tilts! Again heavier is steadier but at the cost of mobility. Often the tripod will need extra weight added so that it resists the torque of your camera move: Bring out the sandbags.

If like me, you do a lot of running around chasing shots, very often you will find that the delay of setting up for each shot loses you the shot... The alternative is to learn how to handhold, rely on IS or find the nearest solid object to steady yourself.
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Christopher Sanderson
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2008, 10:22:21 AM »
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Quote from: Morgan_Moore
Ive got some very beefy stills tripods - one is an old gitzo head - it has really smooth hoizontal pan - looks fine if you cut into the pan in the edit but not the starts and stops
What Chrissand says.  Beware of anything under about $1000, there are lots of expensive items there that really don't get it.  A bowl mount tripod is a must, I use one for still panos and now regard it as essential, hugely easier than fiddling with leg lengths to get a good level.  Use sticks designed for film work with the crutch-like bracing, most tripods designed for still work will sort of twist a bit during pans which causes a slight amount of back-pan when you stop (many fluid heads contribute to that too).

In the meantime there is a simple trick for decent motion with a cheap head, which is to drag the bar along not with your fingers but with a rubber band or several rubber bands strung together.  It filters out body vibrations and if you sort of gradually ease or increase the amount of tug without fully releasing it you can get incredibly smooth starts and stops with any back-swing.  Even useful for the best fluid heads when you need extremely smooth and slow motion as with a long lens.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2008, 11:39:20 AM »
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Thanks for the thoughts

I am not near to any shop 300 miles round trip at least

I an not too scared of spending money - its pointless to put bald tyes on a ferrari

My Gitzo head mounted on a very good geared manfrotto (mn400) head levels ready for horizontal pan effortlessly no fiddling with the legs

The legs are built like scaffolding

(this stuff was bought for use in studio with a Hassy H1 or Sinar P2)

Its just a beast to move around - wont fit through doors open etc - a shot missing set up if ever there was one

I have two smaller manfrottos too (and the gitzo!)

It seems like my research is correct

Its cheap rubbish or assistant heavy and very cumbersome

Miller Solo carbon fibre legs seem like they might be the thing that may be a good compromise..

Miller Solo

SOLO RANGE seems very reasonable price (600UKP) but the Arrow Range races into 'stop and think territory' (+/-3000UKP) which make me worry that the Solo stuff may be cr*p !

Keep those comments coming !

Maybe this is an other way of putting the question - "is a $1200 video tripod better for 'movies' than a $3500 stills tripod ?"

S
« Last Edit: December 14, 2008, 11:42:32 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2008, 10:30:11 PM »
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Yes, a 200 fluid head is better than a 2 million dollar stills tripod for panning, tilting and video work.  They are different tools.

I have the 501HDV head for the 5D2, and while it's far from perfect, it is MILES ahead of any stills tripod!!  

Try it out.  It's only a couple hundred bucks and you can get a 10% ball head for it.  I got my whole manfrotto setup for like 500 bucks.  You can get a feel for the thing and if you want to upgrade, you can always sell the manfrotto setup on ebay for a small loss.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2008, 06:33:48 PM »
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Well Im going for a Miller Arrow 25 head - with all the whistles - proper fluid and different frictions

a good head hope fully - I have high expectations

and Miller Solo carbon legs

cheapish and light - my expectations are portability rather than ultimate stability

I think this will be a usable compromise for shooting fast

When I want a really stable long lens shot I will attach the head to my manfrotto monster legs - Im working on a 'hack' right now having bought a second 'hi hat' for the head

I also got a second mount so Ill be able to put my nikon or blad onto the vid pod without undoing too many bits and bobs and completely filling up the motor with non compatible legs

I also got a microphone and am tracking down a photon beard flouro lamp - which should be interesting for fill with stills too - no more flash synch speed worries !

Interesting how I am trying to 'combo' my gear - the the D3X had had decent manual control video I probably would have flogged every other camera for a pair of those
It would appear that the camera is the cheap part

S
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 06:36:45 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2008, 09:05:27 PM »
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Please let us know how you like it!
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Christopher Sanderson
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2008, 09:10:01 AM »
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Quote from: Chrissand
Please let us know how you like it!

OK First Half Day test.

The legs

are pretty much as expected - not the most solid because you can kick them inwards

They are moveable fast because you can kick them inwards

They are light and the leg adjustments are as good as could be expected for the design

I would say they are therefore fit to purpose when the purpose is speed of movment exchanged for ultimate stability

Like all video legs (that I can find) however they have the distict disadvantage that it is at least three arkward movments to change the height because no centre columb

------

The head

 is heavy and quite deep meaning that the lens sits at least 35cm above the top of the legs with (with EX1 and Letus) meaning bulk is quite massive and ulikely to re-mout onto my stills pod

The actions on the head seem smooth and clearly defined over the 5 levels of friction - panning is smooth even starting and stopping - I can see this will be invaluable as different speeds of panning are required dependent on the mood of the footage and the focal lenght of the lens - longer =slower often

I now realise that the slow architecutral pans I have been attempting are the hardest possible - it seems uneven pans are more visually acceptable when one is follow a moving target like a person

Using an elastic band really helps

-------

The whole tripod issue has really been stressing me out as I find tripods a serious encumberance to the composition of nice images quickly (both still and video)

Why have I been so worried about the dis-ease of changing the camera height - you can just swivel the head up or down - easy but somehow wrong

I realised this is a lot to do with wanting to keep the lens in a vertical plane which keeps paralax correct - uncorrectable in the moving image and most distracting when panning -  once one has fixed the lens in the vertical ones changes to composition are then driven often by a requirement to change height - a real PITA

AHA ! - I then dug into the old box of toys and pulled out an old 28PC lens (I dont really bother with the PC lens on my D3 - just sort it in PhotoShop - so easy and fast)

Now this is a killer combo

I think a PC lens makes up for many of the compromises one makes when one stabilises ones camera using a system whose for which height adjusments difficult

That lens will therefore make the whole system work for me as an acceptable set of compromises

S









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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2008, 07:54:33 PM »
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Day 2

Still worried about the legs ability to adjust for height in a simple manner - I think a spreader may be required that you can put your foot on and drag the head up or down

Its amazing how height is critical to composition

in all cases this would appear to be an action where the camer must be removed first

Playing in traffic..

You may also notice there are no pans in this film

Also pulling the manual focus mid shot can wobble the lens - a problem for all stills lens users

Lots to learn

S
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2008, 11:34:48 AM »
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Quote from: Morgan_Moore
I now realise that the slow architecutral pans I have been attempting are the hardest possible - it seems uneven pans are more visually acceptable when one is follow a moving target like a person

Camera operators get paid lots of money for their skills in this area.  When the subject is static and you're providing all of the motion in the scene, you gotta be good.  Practice, practice, practice.  Even more difficult than architectural work is closeup work.  Panning and tilting around a piece of artwork is a great way to test yourself and the hardware.  When you can start on one composition and move smoothly and accurately to another, you're getting there.  Figure-eight moves will kill you until you finally get it right.  It's the stops and starts that separate the men from the boys.

Sachtler, Cartoni, O'Connor make the best heads, IMHO.  I'd be looking for a high quality used head/sticks with one of those names on it.  Once you've used a really good head, you'll never be satisfied with anything less.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2008, 01:01:18 PM »
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Quote from: Peter McLennan
Camera operators get paid lots of money for their skills in this area.  When the subject is static and you're providing all of the motion in the scene, you gotta be good.  Practice, practice, practice.  Even more difficult than architectural work is closeup work.  Panning and tilting around a piece of artwork is a great way to test yourself and the hardware.  When you can start on one composition and move smoothly and accurately to another, you're getting there.  Figure-eight moves will kill you until you finally get it right.  It's the stops and starts that separate the men from the boys.

Sachtler, Cartoni, O'Connor make the best heads, IMHO.  I'd be looking for a high quality used head/sticks with one of those names on it.  Once you've used a really good head, you'll never be satisfied with anything less.

Typical

Ive only been trying to do two things at this point - buildings and small things in my studio - no wonder Im stuggling

(I have studio and hotel/architecture clients amongst others - trying to sell the concept of 'moving stills' for thier websites)

I got the miller arrrow head - seems to be as expected

Its the legs that are stressing me - adjusting the height with no centre columb Im now learning what Im calling the 'miller shuffle'

I also rigged a motor onto my 'frotto stills pod for full 360s at completely even speed - rough starts though

I will use the frotto pod in the studio with the fluid head clamped on top for smooth pans and easy composition - weighs a ton though

Tommorrow will use in 'anger' because I have client (still) work to do in the studio will pracice on real products lit properly

(ah did I mention lighting ? - another wall to climb)

S
« Last Edit: December 22, 2008, 01:02:26 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2008, 07:58:47 PM »
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When mounting a camera such as the 5DII on a video head should the position of the camera be set to the nodal point if you are doing panning shots?
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2008, 10:45:33 AM »
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Quote from: Derryck
When mounting a camera such as the 5DII on a video head should the position of the camera be set to the nodal point if you are doing panning shots?

Surely that depends on the look you want

Imagine the camera was on a 10ft pole (very far from the nodal point) then the shot would kind of 'investigate the room like a sniffer dog'

A different look from a nodal point shot - but not wrong

Im sure being at the nodal point (and keeping correct verticals) has a very nice look

tipped verticals are extra distracting during a pan due to the fact they fall over during the shot

S
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