Two Heads or Two Tripods?

Started Feb 5, 2012 | Discussions
ScottTomlinson
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Two Heads or Two Tripods?
Feb 5, 2012

I own a rock solid Manfrotto 3021BRPO Tripod with a 3047 Photo Head. I'm starting to do a lot more video, and this head is not sufficiently smooth (or designed for) panning. I'm debating whether to get a video head for the 3021 or to buy a fully set up video tripod. I've never taken the head off so I'm sure how easy interchaning them on a single tripod would work. Does anyone have any advice in this regard? I wish there was a single product that worked great for both stills and video. The photo head gives you the 3rd axis, the video head gives you smooth pans and tilts. Thanks ahead of time for the help.

BeautifulEarth18
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Re: Two Heads or Two Tripods?
In reply to ScottTomlinson, Feb 10, 2012

I'm no expert, but since you've not received any replies I thought I'd try and help.

I think that two tripods is not realistic for most people. I can see why you are thinking of doing that but think of the weight. Even a fairly light tripod like mine weighs about 2kgs with the video head attached. If I was carrying another similar one with my ball head, that would be close to 4kg in weight. Plus tripods are big. Again, mine is fairly light and compact but I can only just fit my tripod in my backpack with the rest of the gear. I know that it would be possible to carry it in a shoulder bag but it's just more baggage. Grappling with 2 tripods all the while will get tiresome (I actually tried it for a while myself when I had a very small tripod with a ball head and my slightly larger one with a video head. I found that it only slowed me down).

Unless you have an assistant, or unless you don't travel far on foot when out photographing/shooting video, I would definitely suggest sticking to one tripod.

Now, the negatives of changing tripod heads depends on how they are attached. My tripod heads simply 'screw' onto the tripod. Just one screw thread in the centre. I can easily enough change heads within a couple of minutes. However, the only problem with tripod heads like that is that they can come loose sometimes if you pan the head around. Essentially if you are panning in the direction that you would loosen the screw, it might start to come loose.

Better tripod heads have little fixing screws set around the plate so you tighten them. But then it takes longer to remove the head as you have 4 or 5 screws to undo and then do back up again.

I do have one other suggestion though. You can buy a spare centre column for some tripods. And, if the tripod head attaches to the centre column, you could just buy a second centre column and attach a video head to one and a ball head to the other. That way you only have one set of tripod legs in your kit so it cuts down the weight a little. And it means you can keep the tripod heads fixed hard to the columns.

But you might even want to comprimise. I do a lot of the time. I always carry the ball head if I think I'll need it but mostly I just comprimise and use the video head for photo's too.

Hope maybe that helps.

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Jim oc_2
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Re: Two Heads... not only a fluid-like head, but also more height?
In reply to BeautifulEarth18, Feb 11, 2012

Ok, I’m no expert either, but what are you shooting? I do the kid’s performances at our schools. I benefit from having my camera as high as possible. I now set up at ~ 7 feet and just barely getting over the heads of the audience. So for video I needed not only a fluid-like head, but also more height.

fwiw, I usually take a kitchen step-ladder with me, but now that I was given a sony control handle I can put the camera high and still work the On/Off, slow zoom, and pan. (I just use the sony control handle, having taken it off of a shorter sony tripod, but it only works with sony camcorders.) I still prefer the stepladder, but sometimes like tonight at the basketball game, I need a smaller profile as floor space is scarce (and the bleachers move too much).

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RUcrAZ
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An ignorant answer
In reply to ScottTomlinson, Feb 24, 2012

Don't they make simple rigs to mount two heads onto one tripod?
Or, could not one be made easily?

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tvnewsbadge
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Re: An ignorant answer
In reply to RUcrAZ, Feb 26, 2012

I use my tripod for both video and stills... A fluid head mounted on a leveling base mounted on the legs... Manfrotto (sp) products are easy to mix and match if that's what you have.

Maybe not ideal for still work, but works great for me. Fact is, I probably use it more often for stills than video.

Of course, if I do ever need a dedicated still head, I've still got the one that I took off the tripod when I bought my video head and it'd only take a couple of minutes to change them out, but I don't see that ever coming up.

Of course, Thom Hogan will probably say not to go that way, but it works for me

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jralbert
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Re: An ignorant answer
In reply to tvnewsbadge, Feb 27, 2012

Kinda scratching my head here but it would seem to me that the fluid head choice, once mounted, stays in place and can take either a still camera or videocam. DOn't they have the same size mounting screw threads (at least at the consumer level)??

I just got a fluid head (haven't taken it out of the box) and will have to check that for myself.

But I fully understand why you need one. even with a very lightweight camera and a seemingly fluid tripod action, the regular heads get stuck when panning and ruin the shot. Even a tilt sometimes gets jerky.
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joel albert

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harrygilbert
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Re: Two Heads or Two Tripods?
In reply to ScottTomlinson, Feb 27, 2012

I too have a 3021 tripod. I bought a second center column and fitted it (for my purposes) with a panorama head. Then I got a 3rd center column and fitted it with a ballhead. It is really easy and quick to swap center columns, and cheaper than buying multiple tripods.

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tvnewsbadge
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Re: Two Heads or Two Tripods?
In reply to harrygilbert, Mar 1, 2012

Actually, a better solution is something like this 556B Leveling Center Column for 190 PRO Series Tripods or 554 MDeVe Video Leveling Column for 3443 & 3444

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DonHD
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Re: Two Heads or Two Tripods?
In reply to ScottTomlinson, Mar 2, 2012

I have used a lightweight and compact Manfroto Carbon1 3444 (4section) tripod with the 700RC2 head. It has fluid pan and tilt but is not adjustable. With light cameras, the up/down is stiffer than the pan so less than ideal....and it is horizontal only. I keep quick release blocks on my DSLR, and HDvideo cam and new NikonV1. If you want fluid pans but the ability to tilt for verticals, consider the new MH055MH-Q5

Removing a Manfroto head is easy. Unscrew the 3 set screws on the underside of the centerpost flange and the whole head twirls off. When I travel, I remove the head so the 3444 packs in a small carry-on duffle. I snipped a piece of .040" thick titanium (!) I had to make a coin sized "screwdriver" since I didn't want a longer one confiscated at the airport.
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..have FUN with it...

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