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Solid Sticks

Oct 26, 2010 12:00 PM, By Barry Braverman

A few camera support options to help you keep the frame you intend.


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The Vinten Vision Blue features a solid construction with a very smooth action. Fitted with a standard 75mm ball mount, the Blue supports an 11lb. payload with a near 90-degree tilt capability. I like the illuminated spirit level (in blue of course), and the raised spreader that stays mercifully clear of dirt and debris. My main areas of concern include the protruding the pan/tilt wing adjusters that seem unnecessarily prone to impact damage, and the lack of a zero drag resistance setting, which complicates routine camera setup and balancing. Still, at only a few hundred dollars more, the Vision Blue is a significant move up from the cruder, more ubiquitous Manfrotto 501 and 503 models.

The Vinten Vision Blue features a solid construction with a very smooth action. Fitted with a standard 75mm ball mount, the Blue supports an 11lb. payload with a near 90-degree tilt capability. I like the illuminated spirit level (in blue of course), and the raised spreader that stays mercifully clear of dirt and debris. My main areas of concern include the protruding the pan/tilt wing adjusters that seem unnecessarily prone to impact damage, and the lack of a zero drag resistance setting, which complicates routine camera setup and balancing. Still, at only a few hundred dollars more, the Vision Blue is a significant move up from the cruder, more ubiquitous Manfrotto 501 and 503 models.

Over the years, we shooters must make every effort to perfect our craft. We put a frame around the world and embrace those elements that impel our story forward, and exclude those that may be distracting or unhelpful.

This is why we also understand when we shake or weaken the frame walls, we seriously affect our story. Whether that impact is ultimately helpful or hurtful of course depends on the story we are trying to tell. Suffice it to say since 1980 and the advent of MTV, we've seen quite enough of the gratuitous destruction of frame integrity. Shaky-cam is gone, over and done with, and so once more, when the frame moves, it moves for a reason.

Our choice of support gear is again so critical. It's the most efficient tool we have to preserve the sanctity of the frame.

Low-cost and professional

I'm a huge fan of investing in high-quality camera accessories including a substantial tripod. The reason is that such first-class accoutrements will likely last us a lifetime, while that shiny new camcorder du jour will typically exit the frame in less than three years.

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For a long time, there has been a notable lack of professional tripod systems in the $1,000-to-$1,500 price range. Many of us are familiar with Sachtler's offerings in the $2,500 realm; I'm thinking of the DV 6 and DV 8 models, for example. The Vinten Vision Blue comes in at approximately half that price, at roughly $1,375 for the complete package—legs, head, and spreader—and is thus a practical option for many corporate and event shooters. There is no groundbreaking new capability inherent to the Vision Blue (despite the blue illuminated spirit level); it simply offers solid professional performance at a very economical price.

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