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Looking for Advice on Tripod head for 20+lb cameras


Gabe Agoado
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I'm looking for a tripod head for a B-camera weighing 18lbs (20+ with rails, matte box, monitor). I already have a good fluid head I use for the A cam, but I'm not planning to do camera moves with the B-cam, I'm just looking for something I can stick the camera on and is strong enough to take its weight. I've been looking into pan-tilt heads like a manfrotto 229 or Gitzo G1570M because they can handle the weight. Anyone have suggestion?

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Hmm. I wouldn't put a heavy camera package on a plastic release plate like that Manfrotto. Gitzo makes great quality stuff, although geared more toward photographers. Their head you linked doesn't have a quick release. You'll want some kind of quick release, as opposed to trying to line up and thread a heavy cam package onto the head.

Also I don't think those manual-style heads have a counterbalance spring, so once you loosen the tilt, it's on you or the operator to keep the weight from flipping forward or back.

Perhaps look at some ebay fluid heads made for video. You don't need a huge one. But verify its weight limit on the manufacturer's website before committing obviously.

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If it will always be completely locked down, then any head that will hold a large format still camera should work fine.  We used to use the majestic geared heads for big heavy cameras, but you’ll have to adapt it since they worked on 2 inch diameter post.   You can occasionally find them with a 3/8 thread in the bottom  

If you need a cheap solution for an ok fluid head in that range Try the Manfrotto 510, 516, 526.    

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Stephen already mentioned the issue of lining up the camera with the head.   You could always buy a VCT snap plate and throw that on that Bcam.  Then you can use any tripod you want and it won't matter if it has a touch and go plate or a sliding plate because you're never taking it off.  You'll just use the VCT snap function to pull the camera on and off.

In general sliding plates on tripods suck because if you have hand grips or anything below the rails in front a sliding plate will be a huge pain in the ass cause you'll have to take it all off to line up the front of the camera with the tripods.  Something to keep in mind.  The V'lock snap plate is an easy work around as it lets you drop the camera from the top down versus sliding from the back to the front.  Plus it's cheaper than buying a tripod with a touch and go plate as most of those are on the higher end.

Edited by Michael LaVoie
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12 hours ago, Michael LaVoie said:

Stephen already mentioned the issue of lining up the camera with the head.   You could always buy a VCT snap plate and throw that on that Bcam.  Then you can use any tripod you want and it won't matter if it has a touch and go plate or a sliding plate because you're never taking it off.  You'll just use the VCT snap function to pull the camera on and off.

In general sliding plates on tripods suck because if you have hand grips or anything below the rails in front a sliding plate will be a huge pain in the ass cause you'll have to take it all off to line up the front of the camera with the tripods.  Something to keep in mind.  The V'lock snap plate is an easy work around as it lets you drop the camera from the top down versus sliding from the back to the front.  Plus it's cheaper than buying a tripod with a touch and go plate as most of those are on the higher end.

I'll second that. VCT plates are a huge timesaver.

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In camera support mass is your friend. See if you can find an old Ronford&Baker F7 on eBay. Here is one (completely overpriced):

https://ebay.us/49Yz73 
 

I found one a while ago for $800 and had it serviced. Now it's as good as new. No weight limits, works underslung on a jib and I hear reports they even function under water.

Edited by Hannes Famira
typo
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Thank you for all the suggestions. The VCT plate recommendation is definitely helpful. I didn't know these existed, but I've always preferred drop-in plates like the Manfrotto hex plate to sliding plates. The Ronford and Baker also looks awesome, I will keep a lookout for one of those if I end up needing 1. I was also checking out some ball heads like a Sirui K-40X, which is rated for 77lbs?? I don't know what 77lb camera/lens is small enough to stick on a ball head, but I did ask the manufacturer and basically got no response.

I resigned to the idea of another fluid head and found a "Daiwa ENG 30" with 100mm tripod on eBay for $250. It seemed like a Japanese Vinten copy from the pictures. It's an old model, but supposed to be rated for ~45lbs, which makes sense; I have ~20lbs of camera on with the counterbalance set fairly low and it stays in whatever spot I put it, perfect! Now if I can help whoever finds a Daiwa fluid head online for cheap, buy it. It very much feels like using an old model Vinten. My next step I think is getting a VCT plate for it.

daiwa1.jpg

daiwa2.jpg

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5 hours ago, Gabe Agoado said:

I don't know what 77lb camera/lens is small enough to stick on a ball head, but I did ask the manufacturer and basically got no response.

150mm ball heads are no joke, Sachtler has a couple that are rated to handle payloads in the 120 lb+ range, that being said that sirui is not something I’d wager can handle anywhere near that.
 

Also just a note on VCT plates, they experience a good amount of wear and tear from the constant click in/out and do tend to get loose on you after awhile, not something that can’t be maintained but they definitely have their downsides. 

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