Which Light Meter and Tripod?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Chris7, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. Chris7 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hello,

    Looking for a cheap light meter and tripod for amateur work. I'm shooting with a Canon HF100 now, but plan to move up to a prosumer camera in perhaps a year or so (once I see what the other manufactures make in response to the RED Scarlet 2/3").

    I've not used a light meter before, so I'm not sure exactly what kind of information one can get from them. Ideally, I'd like one that would allow me to enter shutter speed and ISO, and the light meter to tell me the correct corresponding aperture. I don't need it to read the light perfectly, but I would love if to have this feature.

    As far as a tripod, I basically just want something that will allow me relatively smooth panning and tilting. It probably will never need to handle more than five pounds. (If I get a camera heavier than that later, I'd likely want to buy a higher quality one anyway.)

    It looks like I can find tripods for under a $100, and light meters for a little more. Do tripods and light meters in this range work well enough for amateur work?

    Thanks for your time,
    Chris
     
  2. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    That's essentially what a light meter's job is. But it's also what your camcorder's auto mode is for. If you simply want a light meter then fair enough, but I'd suggest your money could be better spent elsewhere, like on a more expensive tripod. If you can get it in the States I'd recommend the Libec TH-650.
     
  3. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    #3
    For smooth tilts and pans, you'll want a tripod with a fluid head instead of a friction head. From the <$100 range, you're gonna be limited to brands with 2-way (as opposed to ball) fluid heads like Velbon and Slik.

    As far as light meters go, a Sekonic L-358 can be had for a bit over $200. If you're gonna buy one, don't skimp. A lot of the cheaper meters lack features that are important for film and video, like shutter angle settings.
     
  4. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Thanks. So where's the most bang for the buck on tripods for amateur use? Of course I wouldn't mind a sold stand and really smooth action, but no matter how good the tripod is, I don't have the skill to do professional tilting/panning. Do I need to go to $200 to get something that works? If so, are there any tripods in particular you'd recommend? (Couldn't find the Libec TH-650).
     
  5. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #5
    I have owned both of these, though you should be fine w/the analog one.

    L-398A Studio Deluxe III - Analog Incident and Reflected Light Meter

    L-758DR DigitalMaster Flash Meter - For Ambient and Flash Light with Radio Triggering


    A lot of the tripod manufacturers are making fluid video heads so you can get something pretty decent w/o spending a lot of $. I personally like Velbon tripods ( or Haikuba - same difference). Slik isn't bad either. I would say spend more of you $$ on the head and get sticks that do not have too many sections, for example if I had choice between a 3 section and 4 sections I would choose 3 (that's if you're going w/a traditional still camera tripod).

    If you want a nice pro line made for videography I like the Cartoni series. Satchler is of course the industry standard but probably way out of your price range. In my opinion though the tripods make the shots, so don't skimp too much.
     
  6. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    #6
    Word of caution here: automatic modes will expose, but they will tend to overexpose (in my experience), and make decisions without regards to quality, so they will often crank up the gain (undesirable) instead of widening the aperture (preferable).
     
  7. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Thanks. I found a Velbon Sherpa 538 w/ FHD-51Q Fluid Head for the right price. Is this one decent?

    Edit: I went ahead and bought the Velbon Sherpa 538 w/ FHD-51Q Fluid Head, as I found it new for $108 shipped (B&H sells it for $180). We'll see if it works for now, but I'll surely want to upgrade in the future.

    At what price point to the prosumer tripod systems start (for video cameras under 10 lbs)? I checked out Cartoni at B&H, and the least expensive system is $875. When I look at the Velbon and Silk stuff, it looks like the heads top out at about $300, and the legs at around $500. So how much money does it take to get get something that's stable and smooth enough that it won't limit the shot? Around $400 total? 900?

    Thanks,
    Chris


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...&bhs=t&shs=Cartoni&ci=3909&basicSubmit=Submit
     
  8. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Is the Manfrotto 503HDV the cheapest decent head?

    OK. Got the tripod above, and I get the point. The head just pretty much doesn't work (it sticks, it's unpredictable).

    Doing some reading and I'm hearing the Manfrotto 503HDV (at about $400) is pretty much the minimum for a decent head. Wondering what the people here think.

    Thanks.
     
  9. JGO macrumors member

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    #9
    Are you referring to the Sherpa 538?

    I just ordered one to use with my Canon HFS100. When you say "it sticks, it's unpredictable," do you mean that it does not pan smoothly?
     
  10. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #10
    if you spent $179 on the Velbon and the Head you're getting is like $350 you might as well send the Velbon back to B&H and get the Manfrotto Kit - there are at least 4 of them under $500. This one below is $442 and has an 11lb limit - 3lbs greater limit than the one you bought plus you'll save yourself like $80.

    BO190XB503HD 190XB Pro Tripod with 503HDV Fluid Video Head


    B&H accepts returns for up to 2 weeks, so you shouldn't have a problem as long as you do it right away.
     
  11. JGO macrumors member

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    #11
    The Velbon Sherpa I ordered was only $104.78 from Amazon.
     
  12. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #12
    ha - ok, sounds like a pretty good price you got then.

    The Manfrotto looks good to me - you should call B&H or where ever it is you're shopping and ask to speak w/one of the sales guys on the floor, maybe they can tell you more about it. I don't think you should have any problem mounting it on the velbon but you might want to ask them about that to be sure...

    Good luck,

    Brian
     
  13. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Yes, with the FHD-51Q. The pan sort of works. But the tilt sticks, making it impossible to go from still to tilting within a shot without a pronounced jerk. From what I'm reading elsewhere, a head that works starts about $400. The people here advised me not to "cheap out" on a tripod/head, but I didn't know that meant $500+ for a kit that works.
    Thanks for the rec. Yeah, I wouldn't mount a $400 head on my sticks. Just trying to figure out what the minimum is cost is for a head that really works. Apparently, even the 501HDV is not a true fluid head.
    -Chris
     
  14. iPhoneNYC macrumors 6502a

    iPhoneNYC

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    #14
    From my opinion tripods are a real bitch. Over the past say 10 years everything electronic that was once super expensive can be found in very attractively priced consumer models. The problem is that tripods just aren't electronic. Good tripods cost thousands of dollars and inexpensive tripods just won't give the same results when it comes to pan, tilt, etc. I just say to find the best thing you can afford, use it primarily for lock-offs, learn to work with its limitations and go from there.
     
  15. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Is the Manfrotto 503HDV the cheapest decent head?

    It makes sense that electronics get cheaper as technology advances, whereas products in which performance is based on materials, such as heads, tripods, and glass, stay expensive.

    I appreciate the advice. I understand that, as you pay more for a head/tripod kit, things continue to get smoother, more stable, and more predictable, up and up into thousands of dollars. Problem is, I don't know at which what price point one can buy a head that even works. Where is the starting point?
     
  16. 321estrellas macrumors 6502

    321estrellas

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    #16
    Yeah, your tripod (a good one) will last you a long time, like over 10 years or more, so what's $500 over 10 years?

    The Manfrotto 503HDV is a great head and I use that along with 055DB legs. They (although possibly discontinued) were about $500 together and the updated models are probably the same price.

    While it's true when some people say that the skill lies within the camera operator to get a great shot, and not the equipment, getting a smooth tilt or pan needs a decent tripod. You'll be sorry in the long run (and likely even the short run) with a cheap tripod.
     
  17. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Thanks.
    Yeah, I guess I just did not know at which price point "decent" started. Would you say the Manfrotto 503HDV is the starting point?
     
  18. 321estrellas macrumors 6502

    321estrellas

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    #18
    I have another head that's 501 (now called 501HDV) and after a quick price check in B&H, it's about $185, as opposed to 503HDV which is around $350. I'm equally happy with the 501 to be honest. If you have a camera store or rental shop around, maybe you can have a feel for yourself.
     
  19. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Which tripod package with 503HDV head?

    If I go a 501HDV with thin sticks, I might be upgrading a gain once I get my prosumer cam. Considering going ahead and buying something that will work for a while. Could anyone please help me decide between these three? Thanks.

    Seems OK, plenty of good reviews, and very solid looking, but height limitation.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...2K_503HDV_351MVB2K_Aluminum_Video_Tripod.html

    Right height, but would this be as solid?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...y_Bogen_Imaging__028B_Tripod_Legs_Black_.html

    Seems like this one would be less solid still, yes?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...n_Imaging__BO475B503HDV_475B_Tripod_Legs.html
     
  20. iPhoneNYC macrumors 6502a

    iPhoneNYC

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    #20
    I'm not a big fan of the geared center column as they make things less stable. On the first set of legs posted how does the head fit on the legs. The head looks like a flat bottom and not a bowl to fit the 75mm bowl on the legs. Do you need the adaptor listed?
     
  21. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I called B&H. Apparently the kit includes everything you need. As far as the stands with the geared center colums, would be they be stable enough if I do not extend the colum? The first one listed is a couple pounds heavier than the others.
    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  22. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #22
    Hey Chris,

    Check it out, this article was just posted today in Videomaker magazine titled "A Guide to Buying Camcorder Tripods" I think it pretty much describes your dilemma, and might be of some use to you

    http://www.videomaker.com/article/1...=feature_enews_2009_07_1&utm_campaign=traffic

    EDIT: If I'm in B&H this week I'll stop by the tripod section and try to give you a better sense of those monfrotto sticks.
     
  23. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Thanks, sarge.

    I read a post in dvxuser and I am going to wait until I actually get a 5-7 lb. camera to buy another tripod/head.
    http://66.225.214.124/~dvxuser/V6/showthread.php?t=167802&page=2
    As the article you posted suggests I would need a totally different head for my current camera than, say, a Panasonic HMC-150 anyway -- "Obviously the heavier the camera, the sturdier the head must be, but, if it's too sturdy and mismatched to your camera, you will find the resistance on the drag settings are just too strong. This results in jerky movements, especially when starting and ending pans and tilts, even when the settings are at minimal." I thought about going with the 701HDV for my consumer cam, but I don't know if that would work much better than what I have, as people say the 503HDV is really the cheapest head that even works. So I'm going to keep what I have for now, as it was just $108 shipped.

    Looking closely at how heavy the legs are of the 351MVB2K, I'm thinking that when I buy a prosumer cam, I'll end up with something like this:
    url]http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/293495-REG/Miller_1501_SOLO_DV_Carbon_Fiber.html[/url]

    But I do wonder if these are anywhere near as stable as the 351MVB2K:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...2K_503HDV_351MVB2K_Aluminum_Video_Tripod.html

    I just don't see myself lugging around a 13 lb. tripod/head. I would be curious of your impressions of the 503HDV head with a 5-7 lb. camera, to see if it sticks at all when going from still to a tilt/pan (regardless of what sticks are attached). Some say it sticks, others say it doesn't. I wonder how it compares with the Libec LS-38.

    Anyway, thanks for the link,
    Chris
     
  24. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #24
    Hey Chris,

    I think the Miller setup looks sweet. I prefer telescoping legs due to weight concerns - I live in the city and have to take public transport pretty much everywhere so I'm not into lugging those giant video sticks around. Plus I do large format still work and prefer something that I can carry into the park with me as well.

    I can take a look at the Libec if they have it on display. I have my HVX w/me today so if I can get over there before 2pm I can see how it handles - I've never seen Miller before but it looks similar to the carbon fibre Velbon that I've been wanting.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/250357-REG/Velbon_NEOCARMA830_Neo_Carmagne_830_Carbon.html

    Take it easy
     
  25. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #25
    Did you see this?

    It is so easy to start creeping out of your price range:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/569366-REG/Cartoni_SPDH_HiDV_Fluid_Head_.html
     

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