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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robbie Carman: So, Rich, we've talked about some of the drawbacks of sort of the traditional ball head style, photo head, and tripod combo. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie: Now, when we get into sort of the professional world of video production, we don't really see people using photo ball heads, right? If you did, you might get a couple snickers on set, right? Rich: Yeah, I mean they're only really used in a pan shore to lock down the camera on a wide shot, but people really want to get to a fluid head. Robbie: Right. Rich: Now there's a huge difference in quality here. If you go with a cheaper fluid head, it's going to make it really easy to quickly adjust and recompose the shot, but you're still going to need to actually lock the camera off.
The benefit of the fluid head is that you could pan and tilt and lock it down. The higher quality fluid heads are going to let you do on-camera movements. In other words, this is going to make it easier to pan and tilt while you're recording the shot if you want to follow the action. It's really a matter of budget and the heavier the duty, the bigger the price. Robbie: Well, yeah, when it comes to sort of tripod heads and as well as the actual tripod bases themselves, as you step into the professional level side of things and you start getting those heavy duty bases and tripod heads--especially the very nice fluid heads--you can spend a lot of money.
You can spend much money sometimes as you know a used car, if not, even in a brand-new car. You know some of the high-end manufacturers like O'Connor and Miller and some of these other manufacturers, they sell very, very nice products that are very stable, very adaptable, and very sort of versatile, but they do come at a price. It's one of those things that you sort of decide, hey, I'm doing this full time as a living and I always have to have the best quality shots that I can get, then you might want to invest in the nicer heads and the nicer tripod bases. Rich: Yeah, this is really going to be a matter if you are doing DP, national spot, digital cinema, high-end uses.
Of course, those price points really start to kick in when you get to the super heavy duty ones that are being designed to hold 30, 40, 60, 80, 100 pounds of gear, you know you're putting an Alexa on there, you're putting a high-end RED, you're going to need beefier sticks. But you can often get by, you know, here we have a very entry level one. And what you are seeing is I've got the ability to pan, so I could follow the action. I can loosen up the tension knob here and that gives the ability to have it freeform. As I tighten that, I can get to the point where it's not totally locked, but I could still make small adjustments and let go.
You have to be very careful that you get that tension correct, but if you do, you can get it so you could frame the shot and then you know essentially let go and it holds or apply very little pressure. This will allow you to do things like pan across the action or start down and tilt up and then reveal something. Maybe you want to show something rising, or go across an architectural building. But ultimately, still here, what we are going to do is lock that down and get it where we want. Now you can adjust tension and knobs and there's a bubble level to help you here, but this is really an entry-level tripod head.
It does give you the nice arm that you can use for control, but this is really bare-bones basic sort of the minimum you could spend. Robbie: Yeah, and what I have here, Rich, is the upper mid-level approaching the higher-end type situation, this is from Miller. Rich: For the record, we flipped a coin and I lost. Robbie: This is a nice set of carbon fiber legs, pretty light-weight, but what you'll notice here is this sort of real beefy head. There's a couple distinguishing factors about this head that I want to show you. First, if you look at the back of it, you'll notice that there's actually some numbers back here in several different rings.
What these allow you to adjust is the fluidity or the tension for various types of movement. So, this ring right here adjusts how much tension or sort of drag I have as I'm panning from side to side. So higher the number, it gets harder to move. It's like a workout, right? If I go to a lower number, it becomes very easy to move, very quickly. And the same thing was forward tilt and reverse tilt. I can dial in different numbers here to get different amounts of drag. This is really nice for a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to balance out your particular camera rig.
Depending on how much stuff you have on a cage or with rod systems and that kind of stuff, it can get you balanced out. The other thing is that it gives you even more control for the type of shot that you're trying to get. If you are trying to do a nice, slow, very dramatic pan, you need to dial the drag on that. This kind of setup really allows you to do that very well. Rich: Yeah, there's one more cool thing about this type of tripod head. If this tripod in my case is not level, I got to adjust the height of the legs, I got to do a little tilt here, I could try to do things, open a leg up more.
This one has an ability to be easily adjusted. Robbie: This is a ball type situation here. This is just a 75-millimeter ball. Some of the bigger tripods might be 100-millimeter balls, but this allows you to very quickly level off the shot, and this particular one is just a couple of screws in. They get it tight again. If you are not in a perfectly level situation and adjusting the legs, it's going to be difficult, or you have got them as level as you can, this allows you to further refine that level giving you another layer of flexibility and adjustability. Rich: It also opens up the option for those of you who have access to things like a jib, which is a large crane type material, or maybe you are using a slider.
A lot of times, the tripod head could be detached from the tripod and moved over. The same could be said for this tripod, this is just a standard thread mount and that can often attach to a slider, but this higher-end one is more common when you are dealing with a jib arm and you want to have those rising crane type shots. This is a system you are investing in. The good news is, is a good tripod is going to last a long time. I've got tripods I first bought when I started in the industry, coming upon 20 years old at this point, works just fine. If you take care of the tripod, keep it dry, make sure if it needs to be lubricated for certain systems you get it serviced, these will last for a very, very long time.
So make sure you invest in something that you are happy with, and if you need to, when we come back, we are going to talk about how to transition from a photo tripod to a video tripod as an intermediate step.
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