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Camera Operators’ Creativity Shouldered by Tripods

While there might be more sophisticated gear, perhaps nothing is as necessary as the tripod

Like any creative person, camera operators cannot always predict when they will be inspired by something they absolutely must record for posterity. That is why it is important to have the necessary equipment at the ready. And while there may be more sophisticated gear, perhaps nothing is as important and fundamentally necessary as the tripod. But it would be a mistake to describe tripods as low-tech. They are carefully designed to provide a high level of utility and ease of use.

Tripod manufacturers take the concept of field camera support literally. The 2013 NAB Show featured the unveiling of new tripod models and improvements on time-tested favorites. They include:


Manfrotto’s Q90 The Manfrotto 055 Series Carbon Fiber Q90 foursection tripod quick center system enables the user to move the central column from vertical to horizontal in seconds without requiring that the column be disassembled. An ergonomic leg angle selector improves comfort and precision in use.

A leveling bubble is integrated on a magnesium top plate, designed to maximize lightness and resistance. The tubes are made of 100-percent carbon fiber for a high level of quality, performance, rigidity and lightness. Manfrotto chose a special production process called “pull winding technology” aimed at maximizing performance, resistance and reliability.


Miller’s SOLO Rapid Lock Miller introduced its latest version of the SOLO Rapid Lock series tripod to NAB Show attendees. The new version locks or releases with only a one-quarter turn of the thread system. The original SOLO became popular for its selfadjusting features that protected payload.

The three-position leg angle locking system allows for various heights and footprints and eliminates the need for a spreader. The SOLO Rapid Lock will become available during 2013.


OConner’s 60L The new OConner 60L carbonfiber tripod is designed as a support option for the OConnor Ultimate 2065 and 2575D fluid heads. The 60L, with its 150 mm bowl, combines advanced materials with precise engineering for a unit that is lighter in weight with fast setup.

Despite weighing only 9 pounds, the 60L can carry payloads of up to 209 pounds at its maximum height of 60.6 inches. But it can fold down to 29.9 inches. The quick clamping system includes visible tripod clamp lockdown coupled with a preset mid-level spreader to ensure secure, but effortless, deployment no matter the situation. Spikes are contained beneath rubber feet and can be deployed if optimal traction is needed for payload safety on a variety of surfaces.


Sachtler’s ACE L Sachtler’s ACE L Tripod System is an addition to the Ace line of lightweight fluid head camera support systems dating back to the lower capacity Ace M. It has a payload range of up to 13.2 pounds. The Ace L fluid head is intended for video-enabled, digital single-lens reflex and lightweight high-definition video camcorders, as well as heavier setups with camera accessories. The fluid head features the patented, synchronized, actuated drag-damping system in a choice of two configurations. One offers a mid-level spreader; the other offers TT 75/2 legs for greater height range.

The Sachtler TT 75/2 CF Carbon Fiber Telescopic Tripod is designed with three-section, single carbon fiber tubes. The height range extends from a low of 10.6 inches up to a maximum 67.3 inches. It works with the ACE L and Sachtler’s FSB 6 and FSB 8 fluid heads. The tripod is easy to set up and adjust and comes with footpads and retractable spikes.


Shotoku’s SX-300. Shotoku is targeting sports and major field-production applications, as well as studio use with its robust SX-300 pan-and-tilt head. With a capacity of just over 83 pounds, it supports a variety of cameras, lenses and accessories.

The SX-300 head accommodates a flat base or 150 mm ball base and with its VISCAM technology provides smooth and adjustable pan-and-tilt drag with reinforced torque. Pan/tilt drag is zero to 9 with continuously variable perfect balance.


Tiffen’s Steadicam Fawcett Exovest To entice camera operators who occasionally need to be their own tripod, Tiffen chose to showcase its Steadicam Fawcett Exovest at the 2013 NAB Show. Named for its designer, Chris Fawcett, who specializes in the design of physiologically advanced human weight-bearing appliances, the vest automatically redistributes camera weight to anatomically “correct” areas of the body for the greatest amount of mobility and comfort. The camera stabilization system features front and rear arm mounts and a pivoting exoskeletal structure that is adjustable on the fly.

The Fawcett Exovest is made to be less constrictive for better

Tiffen’s Archer2 respiration, circulation, transpiration and movement. That contributes to a feeling of lightness and control. After docking, the entire vest can be relaxed with one over-center lever. That is possible because the upper pad system bed is under load.

In addition, the Archer2 is the newest addition to Tiffen’s line of professional-quality Steadicams and includes a vest. The Archer 2 is designed for broadcast applications and teleproduction studios that require a lower-cost and lightweight, but fullfeatured Steadicam rig.

It offers a folding sled design, and standard with the new Archer 2 is a 12/24v pivoting battery mount, HD-ready wiring, two-section telescopic fiber post, notools operation, sure-grip gimbal handle, new multisection lightweight Iso-Elastic G-40 arm and “open access “ motor-ready tilting camera mounting stage upgradeable with one or two motors.


Vinten’s Vision blueBridge Vinten unveiled its Vision blueBridge, an accessory designed to work with any of the company’s pan-and-tilt heads in the Vision blue range and to extend payloads for perfect balance, the company said. That enables camera operators to use a single tripod system for their projects.

The Vision blueBridge enables an additional offset of 45 mm of the payload from the tilt axis. The counterbalance system is enabled for more output per unit weight of payload. The entire balance capability of the pan-and-tilt head is shifted downwards.