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Video Heads for large binoculars

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#1 Allardk

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 02:30 PM

In the Kowa versus APM thread we started discussing video heads. I would like to continue this discussion in a new thread.

 

The question is: which video head do you use for your large binoculars or telescope. Please tell us what you like and not like about it, how much you paid for it, how much it weighs and what weight it can handle etcetera.

 

Please do not come up with other mounting options. Do that in another thread  :grin:


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#2 Allardk

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 02:39 PM

I have 4 video heads.

 

Let me start with the Manfrotto 501 HDV. It weighs about 1,6 kg. Max load 6 kg. Tilt minus 60/plus 90 degrees. Balance control in 2 steps up to 2,5 kg. Uses a counter balance spring. For info 1 kg is 2,2046 lbs.

 

What I like about it. Relatively small and light. Very sturdy. Have it for 10 years or more. Recommend to use it for smaller binoculars like the Fujinon 16x70. Yes, some use it on an APM 100 ED, but it is hard work. 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Allardk, 23 March 2016 - 03:19 PM.


#3 Mad Matt

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 02:46 PM

I picked up a Benro S6 and it is pretty much worthless for binoculars. It is supposedly rated for 6kg but it will not hold my Fujinon 16x70 with the balance set to 3.

#4 Allardk

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 03:13 PM

I have a Benro S8. It weighs about 2,4 kg. Max load 8 kg. Tilt minus 70/plus 90. Counter balance in 4 steps. Pan and tilt drag are variable, without steps. Flat base, you can use 3/8" tripods like the Manfrotto 028 and 475.

 

I bought it for about 260 euro. Built quality a step below Manfrotto. A little noisy when using it. It can handle an APM 100 with medium effort. A Kowa Highlander with little effort. An option if you don't wanna spend a lot of money, but you get what you pay for.

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Edited by Allardk, 23 March 2016 - 03:27 PM.


#5 Pinac

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 04:13 PM

Big binoculars (up to 15 pounds):

Vixen fork mount HF2 on tripod Vixen SXB-HAL.

This is quite stable and easy to handle and allows smooth movements both vertically and horizontally, but is heavy and not very transportable, so this is what I use at home or in locations accessible by car (for smaller binos, small scopes and when "out in the fields", I use Manfrotto and Swarovski heads and tripods).

Pinac


Edited by Pinac, 23 March 2016 - 04:24 PM.


#6 Allardk

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 04:40 PM

Can you tell which video heads you use ? Which one is your favorite ?


Edited by Allardk, 23 March 2016 - 04:41 PM.


#7 Pinac

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 05:44 PM

Can you tell which video heads you use ? Which one is your favorite ?

 

I use:

 

- For large heavy binos - e.g. 25x100, 28x110, 30x80 - Vixen fork mount HF2 on tripod Vixen SXB-HAL, see first thumbnail. Solid, heavy, smooth operation horizontally and vertically, effective  fricton control, nice finish (not cheap, though). Overall, I like the fork mount concept for heavy binos, it gives you lots of movement control, but it requires seated operation as soon as you observe above 30 degrees, so in contrast to the central shaft tripod setup (see next item), you have to adjust your seating position with varying observation angles. Limitation: max observation angle with very long binos (28x110) is about 75 degrees (I personally can live with that).

 

- Swarovski DH 101 (on tripod Swarovski AT 101), see second thumbnail. For binoculars up to 5 pounds max. Allows observation angles  up to 89 degrees. Heavier than the Manfrotto, quite stable, smooth operation, with larger binos the friction control is somewhat at its limit at high observation angles, so I sometimes have to use the blockage lever, which is not ideal. On the other hand, the Swaro combination of head and tripod is so high that I can observe while standing, instead of being seated. Here, I adjust the tripod/shaft height to achieve different observation angles. The Swaro combi is my most used mount for binos up to size Nikon 18x70 or Lunt 20x70.

 

- Manfrotto 128RC (on tripod Manfrotto 190xProB), see third thumbnail, for small to medium size binos, no more than 3 pounds.

Light, easy to carry over miles through the fields, if needed, fast to set up; not very stable. Allows observation angles up to 87 degrees. My mount when "on the move".

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Edited by Pinac, 24 March 2016 - 10:38 AM.

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#8 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 07:49 PM

Video heads are for medium size (22x60, 16x70, 11x80) binoculars.  I use DM-4, DM-6, and a few fork mounts for larger (82, 95, 100, and 150mm) binoculars.

 

large.jpg

 

Tammy


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#9 John F

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 08:04 PM

Tamiji Homma, on 23 Mar 2016 - 5:49 PM, said:

Video heads are for medium size (22x60, 16x70, 11x80) binoculars.  I use DM-4, DM-6, and a few fork mounts for larger (82, 95, 100, and 150mm) binoculars.

 

large.jpg

 

Tammy

Tammy,

 

I have a DM6 mount which I use with my NP127 refractor.  If you use a mount like that with a large pair of binoculars then how do you attach the binoculars to that type of a mount?

 

John Finnan



#10 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 08:25 PM

 

I have a DM6 mount which I use with my NP127 refractor.  If you use a mount like that with a large pair of binoculars then how do you attach the binoculars to that type of a mount?

 

Hi John,

 

Here is Kowa Highlander with DM-6, Swarovski ATX 95 with DM-4.

 

large.jpg

 

 

Here is how binoculars are attached to L shape adapter to Losmandy-D dovetail plate:

 

large.jpg

 

Tammy


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#11 range88

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 08:56 PM

Existing video heads can actually hold any domestic binoculars/binoscopes. But the price or weight may bar most users while it comes to a 10000 up professional video head.
But as to binos below 20kg , that's a different story and They last a lifetime.
People outside the moviemaking and broadcast industries don't know much about this kind of equipment. I'll come up with something later.
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#12 GamesForOne

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 10:12 PM

I'm not willing to give up the crank-up center shaft for binocular telescope use. I much prefer being able to adjust the eyepiece height to my seated or standing position rather than vice-versa.

 

Also, I've not used a fork design that does not become difficult to control at high elevation angles. The binos want to swing back to center and I just end up constantly fiddling with the altitude clamp.

 

A fluid head with an adequate counterbalance and a crank-up center shaft are da bomb for me.

 

---

Michael Mc


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#13 Gordon Rayner

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 12:23 AM

Are those unsatisfactory at high angles for you specimens commercial? Which ones?

It is rather straightforward, in principle, to locate the center of mass on the elevation/altitude axis, if one makes a fork or one armed fork, or nested forks or nested one-arm forks.

I have used Losmandy male and female Vixen pattern dovetail pairs, for fore-aft adjustability. I have added a stop or stops to prevent fore or aft spillout when loose. I have some Losmandy D size dovetails for a similar mount , to hold 40 or more pounds.

The Mitchell 35mm standard heads, from Mitchell, CECO, National Camera, Quick-Set, Vinten (!! $$$$$!!), Sachtler(!!$$$$!!), etc., for heavy studio TV cameras of yore, or sports broadcasting today ( good place to see them in action is broadcasts of tennis tournaments such as the recent one at Indian Wells, Calif. ) are unsatisfactory at, or will not reach without wedges, high angles such as 80 or 90 degrees, or 70 or 75. The elevation axis is well below the mass center of the load. Balancing, fore-aft motion, spring setting, friction setting are troublesome.

How does one get a yaw motion with those, to avoid the
Dobson Hole at or near the Zenith? Stack another axis on top, thus further adding to the imbalance around the elevation axis?

Think: Cygnus in August in the Northern Hemisphere.

I speak from experience , having tried various schemes with those heavy duty heads, to avoid building my own mounts, and to conveniently mate big heavy duty , to 400 pounds load, tripods. I explored Hollywood purveyors decades ago. Any body want some 16mm Mitchell heads? Perhaps now collector's items or as props for 30's, '40's, '50's production sets? I mounted two or three USN 20 x 120 straight view on those ( not simultaneously).


With a straight view binocular, chin and knee clearance, and neck fatigue, are problems at high angles, even with elevating central support columns.
Those are lesser, but substantial, problems with WW II 20 or 45 or 60 deg. inclined view specimens, at or near the zenith. Movie or video heads place the operator close to the support column or tripod legs, where interference/ fatigue at high angles is usually unavoidable without heavy and vibration susceptible counterweighting schemes

Edited by Gordon Rayner, 24 March 2016 - 12:29 AM.

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#14 John F

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 01:14 AM

Tamiji Homma, on 23 Mar 2016 - 6:25 PM, said:

 

Quote

 

I have a DM6 mount which I use with my NP127 refractor.  If you use a mount like that with a large pair of binoculars then how do you attach the binoculars to that type of a mount?

 

Hi John,

 

Here is Kowa Highlander with DM-6, Swarovski ATX 95 with DM-4.

 

large.jpg

 

 

Here is how binoculars are attached to L shape adapter to Losmandy-D dovetail plate:

 

large.jpg

 

Tammy

 

Tammy,

 

Thank you for the pictures and your prompt reply.  Where do get those "devices" (for lack of a better word) that you attach the binoculars to and which you fasten it to the DM6's mount head?

 

Also, looking at your pictures I'm wondering how practical it might be to use something like this if you want to be seated while binocular observing.   It looks to me like the legs and seat of a chair would make contact with one or more of the extended legs of the tripod and thus such a system would not lend itself well to observing with it if you also wanted to be able to be seated while doing it.  Am I correct about that or am I missing something? 

 

John



#15 Allardk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 01:49 AM

I'm not willing to give up the crank-up center shaft for binocular telescope use. I much prefer being able to adjust the eyepiece height to my seated or standing position rather than vice-versa.

 

Also, I've not used a fork design that does not become difficult to control at high elevation angles. The binos want to swing back to center and I just end up constantly fiddling with the altitude clamp.

 

A fluid head with an adequate counterbalance and a crank-up center shaft are da bomb for me.

 

---

Michael Mc

 

 

 

Tell us which heads you use !

Also, I see some people don't know you can spread the legs of certain tripods to any angle. Think Manfrotto 475 B. You can easily sit in between the legs.



#16 Allardk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 01:56 AM

Like this....

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#17 Allardk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 01:56 AM

Or like this....

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#18 Allardk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 02:15 AM

So tell us which heads you use or used at what you liked or didn't like about them. Things like built quality, weight etcetera.

I am not trying to convince anybody to use them. I am more curious who uses what and this knowledge can be used for those who are looking for (another) one. I don't like fork mounts or setups like the DM-6.....but who cares. It is not about what I don't like. Everybody has his/her own preferences/goals etcetera.

 

I see for instance Tammiji is using a ReallyRightStuff FH-350. Had to google that, never heard of it. Thanks for the picture.

I see the counter balance range is up to 4,5 kg, so it is for smaller binoculars. Tilt range plus/minus 90 degrees. Weight 1,9 kg. In Europe the price is around 2400 euro.

 

As a side note, the counter balance range for video heads are limits. For smooth use with binoculars you should stay away from that limit. A man (and a video head) gotta know its limitations.....free by Clint Eastwood  :lol:


Edited by Allardk, 24 March 2016 - 02:22 AM.

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#19 range88

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 03:24 AM

So tell us which heads you use or used at what you liked or didn't like about them. Things like built quality, weight etcetera.
I am not trying to convince anybody to use them. I am more curious who uses what and this knowledge can be used for those who are looking for (another) one. I don't like fork mounts or setups like the DM-6.....but who cares. It is not about what I don't like. Everybody has his/her own preferences/goals etcetera.

I see for instance Tammiji is using a ReallyRightStuff FH-350. Had to google that, never heard of it. Thanks for the picture.
I see the counter balance range is up to 4,5 kg, so it is for smaller binoculars. Tilt range plus/minus 90 degrees. Weight 1,9 kg. In Europe the price is around 2400 euro.

As a side note, the counter balance range for video heads are limits. For smooth use with binoculars you should stay away from that limit. A man (and a video head) gotta know its limitations.....free by Clint Eastwood :lol:


RRS fluid head is relatively compact for its full feature and capacity, and it interfaces well with other RRS gears. But it charges for a premium...So I guess it is for RRS hardcore loyals. Nonetheless it is a great head for smaller binos, spotting scopes and dslrs.

#20 Allardk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 04:58 AM

Range88, could you post some pictures of your fluid heads plus some data ?

 

The next head I use for the APM 100 and Kowa Highlander is the Manfrotto 516. Not in production anymore. Max counterbalance weight 10 kg. Flat base using 3/8" screw. Weighs 2 kg. Tilt range minus 60/plus 90 degrees. Pan and tilt drag uses fluid and is variable.

Prices now on Ebay froom 225-600 USD.

 

The 516 is a smooth operator. Built quality very good. On the APM 100 with the heavy Docter 12.5 it is easy to look around. The bino stays in position without the need to tighten the locks. Very light force needed to change position.

 

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Edited by Allardk, 25 March 2016 - 06:43 AM.

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#21 range88

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 08:58 AM

I‘ll come up with some pics first.

 

2 Minimal requirements:

Tilt range: +-90° for zenith clearance

Counterbalance: continuously adjustable for precise balancing

 

There are not many heads meeting the above requirements on the market now. All Oconnor, Ronford Baker Atlas, some of Cartoni, some of Vinten...Then rule out the heads which are over 5kg, you can actually number the options left.

 

Data is easily accessible via their websites.

 

Mininal load (80mm apo refractor) on the Cartoni Focus 22 (weighs 3.9kg, holds 3-22kg).

 

DSC02720.JPG


Edited by range88, 24 March 2016 - 09:49 AM.

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#22 range88

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 08:59 AM

Medium load (123mm apo refractor) on the Cartoni Focus 22 (3-22kg).

High load is reserved for a 15kg 123 binoscopes. I don't think I will push it to its maximum load. Maximum load usually means reduced performance, limited tilt angles, unable to hold when left, etc.

 

DSC02722.JPG


Edited by range88, 24 March 2016 - 09:50 AM.

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#23 range88

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:07 AM

Maximum load on the Cartoni Focus HD with limited success (bounce back above 80° up, won't hold)

 

DSC02419.JPG


Edited by range88, 24 March 2016 - 09:47 AM.

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#24 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:16 AM

 

 

Thank you for the pictures and your prompt reply.  Where do get those "devices" (for lack of a better word) that you attach the binoculars to and which you fasten it to the DM6's mount head?

Also, looking at your pictures I'm wondering how practical it might be to use something like this if you want to be seated while binocular observing.   It looks to me like the legs and seat of a chair would make contact with one or more of the extended legs of the tripod and thus such a system would not lend itself well to observing with it if you also wanted to be able to be seated while doing it.  Am I correct about that or am I missing something?

 

Hi John,

 

Sorry for being off-topic, non video heads.

 

It is L-shape binoculars bracket designed for Half Hitch mounts.  But I use it with DM-4/DM-6 mostly.

 

Binoculars removed from DM-4:

 

large.jpg

 

Losmandy D dovetail plate and one 1/4"-20 screw removed:

 

large.jpg

 

Looking from bottom of binoculars:

 

large.jpg

 

Regarding seated observation, I mostly observe seated on the chair below.  It is pretty light, portable star chair.  If it happens to interfere with tripod/pier legs, I just move a little to clear the legs.  In case I am not using DSC, I can rotate whole setup instead of chair easily.

 

I didn't find a good picture just for star chair, it is Berlebach Mulda.

 

large.jpg

 

Tammy


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#25 range88

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:32 AM

Medium load on the Vinten Vision 8 (5.5-14kg), this is a perfect match for APM 100ed. Perfect performance throughout 180°.

 

DSC02660.JPG


Edited by range88, 24 March 2016 - 09:49 AM.

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