Pro Video Fluid Heads
Companies like OConnor, Sachtler and Vinten have been designing tripods to meet the specific needs of video and movie cameras. These fluid heads are built for professional performance, and these systems also have higher payloads for supporting big, heavy camcorders (as well as video-capable DSLRs—watch for minimum capacities, though). They can carry lots of extra accessories, like large-capacity batteries, microphones and sound-recording units, as well as pro video gear like follow-focus units and matte boxes. For photographers capturing video of wildlife and birds, these setups can balance the largest telephoto lenses on the market.
The 1030HD midsized fluid head includes OConnor’s sinusoidal counterbalance system for accurate balance throughout the tilt range. The pan-and-tilt fluid drag is smooth enough for fingertips to perform tracking, and a tilt-locking pin holds the head still for camera changes. The dual pan-arm rosettes can be configured for left- or two-handed operation, and the head supports up to 39 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $5,600. Contact: OConnor, (818) 847-8666, www.ocon.com.
Sachtler’s Video 18 S1 and Video 20 S1 100mm fluid heads are designed for video professionals, so they have a wider payload of up to 55 pounds (40 pounds with the 18 S1). For video-capable DSLRs, the minimum capacity has been reduced since the previous models accept setups as light as 4.4 pounds. There’s a 16-step counterbalance system for exact alignment of the camera and smooth panning and tilting, thanks to Sachtler’s Speedbalance technology. There are seven horizontal and vertical grades of drag and an ergonomic turning knob. Estimated Street Price: $9,465 (Video 18 S1); $11,685 (Video 20 S1). Contact: Sachtler, (845) 268-0100, www.sachtler.com.
The Vinten Vision 100 Fluid Head with 100mm Ball Base will support up to 44 pounds. The drag mechanism uses noncontacting, thin-film technology to achieve consistent drag and performance, even throughout a temperature range of -40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The drag knobs are backlit with grooves for locking in precise settings, and the head uses an infinitely variable spring mechanism that gives it Perfect Counter Balance throughout the full tilt range. Estimated Street Price: $4,700. Contact: Vinten, (845) 268-0100, www.vinten.com.