View Full Version : Best super-lightweight fluid head - need advice
Adam C Lubkin
12-16-2010, 10:19 PM
I need a small, light head that can support 10-12 pounds for a special application. I need something that weighs no more than a few pounds, and the lighter the better. A flat base is preferable. Obviously something like this won't have the smoothness of a nice head like an O'Connor but I'm hoping to find something with adequate drag in the pan and tilt. First choice right now is the Manfrotto 501 but I'd like to find something smaller, lighter, and with better movement. Price isn't such a factor as size and weight. I know this is an unusual request, but any thoughts?
hans de vries
12-16-2010, 10:26 PM
I'm looking into the same thing, as I've had bad experiences dragging very heavy stuff all through namibian desert, and I'm going back the coming year. I'm thinking of trying a light Sachtler head on a carbon Gitzo tripod; the last is very light and very quick to set up
12-17-2010, 03:33 PM
btw, Gitzo makes a 100mm bowl (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/569204-REG/Gitzo_GS5320V100_GS5320V100_Bowl_Interface_100mm.h tml) for the series 3 and 5 legs. I've used that with my series 3 CF legs and a Cartoni Focus head. That did an ok job with a lighter build of the R1. It did leave me missing the sturdiness of the O'Connor head, but damn lightweight!
12-17-2010, 05:59 PM
I picked up an e-image tripod for DSLR work. It's essentially a Sachtler knockoff. Pretty light and very cheap. Sachtler's Cine DLSR+75mm carbon legs are about a kg lighter but also more $$$.
I've been using it on all my DSLR work and it's been great so far. Much lighter than the OConner 1030 that used to be my lightweight tripod.
12-21-2010, 12:32 PM
I use a Gitzo (5541) with 100mm bowl like Christopher, but with O'Connor 1030b. It's a great combination. I also have an old 501 head that I use for lightweight tricks, like on a slider rail. Recently I checked out the Benro B-3 ball head at B&H, and it is surprisingly amazing. Even next to the Gitzo and Manfrotto ball heads, this one is crazy solid and smooth. And significantly cheaper.
Benro just released a newer one called J-3, but it seems to only be shipping to non-US destinations (find it on eBay). For under $200, these B-3 and J-3 heads are amazing small-head options with fairly smooth motion for small camera and separate locking.
Because they are ball heads, "wobble" and tilt are not isolated from one another. Pan can be performed separately. I don't know what your application will be, but if you need to lock down a vertical tilt, Manfrotto's new 504HD is terrific. I messed with one in a local shop and was impressed with the movement and range of fluid resistance for a fairly cheap, small head. Again far better than the 501.
12-21-2010, 09:30 PM
Love our Libec RH450 pair it with a good lightweight 75mm tripod, and it will work fine with a lightly rigged Red. Its' what we use for run-and-gun.
Adam C Lubkin
02-08-2011, 04:37 PM
Update: I spent several hours at bhphoto playing with everything they had out, and the only relatively small heads that I thought were really good were the Sachtler DV10 and FSB8. They are both larger than is ideal for my particular application, but would be great for general use. The Miller DS10 and DS20 had nice movement but are limited in that there's only a couple settings for the counterbalance. Still, I may pick up a DS10 for my Scarlet mobile kit. It's by far the best really compact head that I've tried. All the Gitzos, Bogens, Cartonis, Libecs, and even the smaller Sachtlers had issues, IMHO. Of course budget will often dictate compromises, but for pure performance in a small package they didn't come close (again, this is just my opinion, for what it's worth). For a medium sized head I love the O'Connor 1030.
02-08-2011, 07:43 PM
For lightweight trekking but with a real smooth head, check out Miller 25. We have a Miller 25 with VJ Solo CF Legs. We use this for trekking jobs or places we just can't get our OC 2060/Ronford set up. It's pan/fluid action is by far the best price/performance out there. I like it better than Sachtler's action, though not quite OConnor smooth, but still the smoothest after OC. Miller also just improved its 25 series with the Compass 25. The VJ solo legs will get you from 8" to 73". The head and legs weigh about 13 pounds. I've run this over river beds, rocky streams, steep hillsides, rooftops, stairs, behind bartops, over the tops of crowds, passenger seats, etc with no additional rigging. It's not quite as rugged as a Sachtler but smoother than any of their 100mm offerings. As an owner/operator, the build should be fine. Not recommended as a rental house item. Also, the Th VJ legs separated from the 25 head, will fit in an overhead suitcase or backpack. Perfect travel package.
Adam C Lubkin
02-08-2011, 08:40 PM
Thanks Tim. They didn't have that one there, but I'll track it down.
02-09-2011, 10:09 AM
Check out the Compass 20 as well if you need to go even lighter. Will take up to 12kg I think. Checked one out at Abel and it was quite smooth and small.