Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Tripod Heads

 

Published : 4th August 2013

Full disclaimer to start: My employer Abel Cine Tech is the US distributor for the product below.

For those considering new tripod purchases, may I humbly suggest the new Panther product line. They are excellently machined and manufactured, and are of an extremely rugged design. They are also true fluid heads -- not canisters of fluid or springs, but a cup-within-a-cup design that is very smooth. We've also taken a few apart (training for a technician) and for anyone who has ever had to have service done on a Sachtler, Cartoni or any other modern head, I can tell you that the ease of getting in and out of the head is a breath of fresh air.

Again, full disclaimer that we rep the product, but that doesn't mean that I'm any less enthusiastic about it. Anyone in the NY or LA area can always come in to demo one of our floor samples, and you don't have to buy a thing!

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


At this point you'll have to pry my cold dead fingers from the latest O'Connor line. How does Panther compare?

I assume this is the same Panther behind the Panther dolly... of which I'm not a fan, especially of low mode...

Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | Hidef | Video
San Jose, CA, USA
www.artadams.net


>>I assume this is the same Panther behind the Panther dolly... of which I'm not a fan, especially of low >>mode...

I am with you Art.. O'Connor rules.

I have been contacted by Panther on the side in the past as I posted several negative comments on the Panther 'dolly'... uugghh... I was straight up and told them my honest low opinion of their product.

Panther folks.. please don't e me regarding this post in an attempt to win me over (again).. it won't work. I will stick with Chapman and Fisher Dollies and O'Connor Sticks.

David Rakoczy
Dir/ DP
LA/ Florida


>>Would you recommend the X15 or T10 head for use with an Aaton XTR with primes or a lightweight zoom?

They are indeed spendy. Curious how the Cartoni F101 head compares to the Panther T10?

>>For those considering new tripod purchases, may I humbly suggest the new Panther product line.

Would you recommend the X15 or T10 head for use with an Aaton XTR with primes or a lightweight zoom?

These look spendy?!

40 FRAMES
Alain LeTourneau
Pamela Minty
425 SE 3rd, #400
Portland, OR 97214
United States


Same Panther as the dollies, although there are two companies (one is Panther Broadcast--confusing, I know.) The heads are quite good. True fluid design, meaning a compressing chamber filled with a thick fluid. That's the same "true fluid" design as O'Connor, although the physical exterior design is much more Sachtler, which to me makes it the best of both worlds. As much as I like the performance of O'Connor heads I've never been a fan of their ergonomics, like making the tilt lock latch the opposite direction from everyone else.

The dollies are a matter of taste. I believe that many European DPs swear by the center column design while most Americans and particularly LA-based DPs prefer the boom arm or scissor design of Chapman or Fisher. I fully appreciate your feelings on the dolly, but it has little bearing on the quality of the heads. Perhaps a discussion of dolly design is a useful one, but it should be under a different subject heading, and may even belong in CML-Grip. Don't mean to chide; I just think the tripod discussion is very useful as it is a tool we all use every day (well, except Jeff Kreines) and I hope not to see the conversation drift away from this.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


>>As much as I like the performance of O'Connor heads I've never been a fan of their ergonomics, like >>making the tilt lock latch the opposite direction from everyone else.

Interesting, I both agree and disagree on that one. For EFP-style work, I've loved the Sachtler 18+ and 20+ heads. I own a 9+9, but I'd trade it for an O'Connor 2575 in a second. The Sachtler tilt & drag controls, which are great for the ENG/EFP environment, just don't do it for me on the bigger, heavier heads.

I do agree on the tilt lock latch, though!

George Hupka
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List
Saskatoon, Canada


>> I own a 9+9, but I'd trade it for an O'Connor 2575 in a second.

I've used the 2060 a lot for 16mm and HD work and love it. Just like the 2575, only smaller. The 1030 is good too but sometimes I feel it's a little too lightweight for long-lens ENG work.

I used to be a big Sachtler fan but starting with the 20p the heads have a new feel that I don't like quite as much. Still, they are my second choice.

As a camera assistant told me the other day, Cartoni heads are great for the first year and then they're done. I've used Cartoni heads a certain amount and they aren't my taste, plus I know of one that started making "spring" noises after a couple of years of fairly light duty. I've used their Dutch heads to great effect but I don't care for them otherwise.

Vinten makes a couple of newer heads (I don't know the numbers as well... could be the Vinten 18) that feel just like Sachtler's, but the ones previous to that I've felt were a bit sticky. I also don't like the tension knobs as they change on their own too easily. Haven't ever tried or seen the Vinten heads that one always seems to see in behind-the-scenes photos of Italian productions.

Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | Hidef | Video
San Jose, CA, USA


>>Would you recommend the X15 or T10 head for use with an Aaton XTR with primes or a lightweight zoom?

I think a T10 would be pushing it. Better to go with the X15, which is latest generation.

>>They are indeed spendy. Curious how the Cartoni F101 head compares to the Panther T10?

Don't know the Cartoni head well enough to fairly compare. The previously noted service issues with Cartoni's are an issue I can verify, if that helps.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


Interestingly, no one has mentioned that O'Connor, Vinten, Sachtler, Cartoni are all owned by the same company (unless something has changed recently).

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California


Bob,

I thought Cartoni was independent.

Stephen Williams DoP
EU based

www.stephenw.com