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Bogen head recommendations?

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#1 barsuda

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 06:19 PM

I recently acquired Skymaster 25x100 binoculars. With a weight of just under 10 lbs (more with the telrad piggybacked) they are well beyond the limit for my existing tripods/heads. I do however have a sturdy Bogen 3040 tripod (no head) and have started the search for a compatible head that will handle the 25x100s. Initial research has left me feeling like I need to know a lot more to make any kind of decision on what model numbers to look for. 

 

In terms of binocular usage I do a lot of scanning, with frequent stops. The main feature I am looking for while doing this is smooth motion and easy clutch lock/release minimizing backlash. I am hoping to keep the cost down, I would love to know that the gold standards in heads are but for this purchase I am looking for best value.  

 

Help with discussion and recommendations of the various head options would be much appreciated.



#2 Astroman007

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 06:34 PM

The Oberwerk 5000 Series mount head is a good inexpensive option (about $120 US as I recall). I use it myself without problems, and with binoculars far larger and heavier than yours.


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#3 Rich V.

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 07:27 PM

FYI, Bogen was a distributor for Manfrotto products so you see a lot of Bogen/ Manfrotto tripods and heads on the used market.  There's no more Bogen anymore, just Manfrotto.  wink.gif  

 

On the used, "reasonably priced" market, the discontinued but common 6kg rated Manfrotto 501HDV  2-way video head would be the minimum I'd recommend.  It has a light 2.5 kg counterbalance spring that can be switched on for bino use. Heads that incorporate counterbalance springs are best for binoculars; they minimize the need to keep adjusting the clutch tension as you move upward in elevation.  Binoculars used at angles appropriate for astronomy become offset, off balance loads.  The CB spring helps a lot.

 

https://web.archive....V/_/501HDV_Head

 

Rich


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#4 junomike

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 07:46 PM

FYI, Bogen was a distributor for Manfrotto products so you see a lot of Bogen/ Manfrotto tripods and heads on the used market.  There's no more Bogen anymore, just Manfrotto.  wink.gif  

 

On the used, "reasonably priced" market, the discontinued but common 6kg rated Manfrotto 501HDV  2-way video head would be the minimum I'd recommend.  It has a light 2.5 kg counterbalance spring that can be switched on for bino use. Heads that incorporate counterbalance springs are best for binoculars; they minimize the need to keep adjusting the clutch tension as you move upward in elevation.  Binoculars used at angles appropriate for astronomy become offset, off balance loads.  The CB spring helps a lot.

 

https://web.archive....V/_/501HDV_Head

 

Rich

This is what I use also.  Although the spring isn't quite strong enough to totally support my APM 100 Semi's, It does work wonderfully with just a little clutch tension.

Manfrotto1.jpg

Manfrotto2.jpg


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#5 ButterFly

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 10:43 PM

The 501HDV fits the bill for these.  They appear on craigslist often here in NY.  I keep my 25x100s slightly front of center balanced to help the counterspring in the 75-85 degree range.  I only ever lock the altitude when I pick it up to move it.

 

For your listed usage, what you are looking for is a head that can pan smoothly (fluid video head, or much more expensive geared heads), with adjustable panning tension (so you don't get tired with the fighting or the drooping), with a counterbalance (to help maintain the binos' position without locking and unlocking all the time), and an adjustable arm position for comfort (I like the arm slightly away from downward).

 

Any other head that has the above four qualities will be ideal.  If you find a head on the bay without its specs listed, you can usually find the specs from the old B&H or Adorama listings at archive.org.  Manfrotto heads have the advantage of a large user base with spare parts available.  Whatever you choose, if you have more than one bino you can use, get more quick release plates and use BLUE threadlocker to have plates live with binos.  The 25's will always be mounted anyway so you don't need to take off the plate.  If you ever need to, BLUE threadlocker can be broken whereas red cannot.


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#6 hallelujah

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 10:50 PM

On the used, "reasonably priced" market, the discontinued but common 6kg rated Manfrotto 501HDV  2-way video head would be the minimum I'd recommend. 

It has a light 2.5 kg counterbalance spring that can be switched on for bino use. Heads that incorporate counterbalance springs are best for binoculars; they minimize the need to keep adjusting the clutch tension as you move upward in elevation.  Binoculars used at angles appropriate for astronomy become offset, off balance loads.  The CB spring helps a lot.

 

Rich

https://www.ebay.com...501HDV&_sacat=0

 

Stan


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#7 Vondragonnoggin

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 11:28 PM

I used to use a Smith-Victor Pro 5 25lb capacity two-way Head with dual steering arms with my 25x100 Zhumell Tachyons. No spring on those though. Just tension adjustment on gears. Worked well but as mentioned, the spring resistance is nice.

 

If I was to go for another high weight capacity two-way Head though that was in the less expensive range, I might go for one of these 22lb capacity Sirui VH-15 heads

 

https://www.bhphotov...video_head.html


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#8 barsuda

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 11:27 AM

Thanks for all the information everyone, it is taking me time to figure some of this out. As a starting point and to get some experience with this tech, I went ahead and managed to pickup a used Manfrotto 501HDV head at a reasonable price. It should be delivered shortly and I can see how the head gets along with my 25x100s. 

 

I find the counterbalance system in the 501HDV intriguing. Not having used counterbalance before I am not clear on what the experience of 5.5 lbs of counterbalance will be. With any luck counterbalance will eliminate or minimize the dreaded "tail dive" I have sometimes experienced with the 25x100s. 

 

During my research I  saw newer/bigger capacity versions of the HDV head. The MVH502AH (current model replacement for the 501HDV) with a counterbalance of 8.8 lbs. Up to the 504HD with a variable counterbalance of 0-16.5lbs. Beyond the weight capacity increases in the these heavier heads are there advantages/disadvantages to the increased counterbalance? i.e. where is the sweet spot? I would appreciate comments and suggestions.



#9 Rich V.

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 12:06 PM

The higher weight rated heads usually have a range of counterbalance that you can select.  The 501HDV is more basic and only has one 2.5kg setting that can be switched on/off.  The 503HDV was the next step up with 1.3, 2.6 and 3.9kg settings.  It think the 501HDV should be fine with your 25x100s; I've used a similar weight bino with no problems.  Your binos provide a range of balance along the central mounting bar and additionally, the 501PL plate on the head has a range for fore/aft movement that can help dial your balance in as well.

 

Members who have used the 502AH head have stated that they felt the head was on the weak side.  The newest N12 head would be a big step up from any of the above.   

 

Rich


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#10 Vondragonnoggin

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 12:15 PM

I use a Benro S8 Head rated at 17.6 lbs capacity and has adjustable counterbalance spring tension. It is a welcome feature. When switching to heavier eyepieces a simple click to a higher weight counterbalance setting, returning the telescope or binoculars to terrestrial viewing position to engage the new setting and back to your observing angle is pretty easy.


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#11 GamesForOne

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 01:17 PM

The higher weight rated heads usually have a range of counterbalance that you can select.  The 501HDV is more basic and only has one 2.5kg setting that can be switched on/off.  The 503HDV was the next step up with 1.3, 2.6 and 3.9kg settings.  It think the 501HDV should be fine with your 25x100s; I've used a similar weight bino with no problems.  Your binos provide a range of balance along the central mounting bar and additionally, the 501PL plate on the head has a range for fore/aft movement that can help dial your balance in as well.

 

Members who have used the 502AH head have stated that they felt the head was on the weak side.  The newest N12 head would be a big step up from any of the above.   

 

Rich

Yes, as one with experience with both the 503HDV and the 502AH, the 503HDV is preferred (not the 503 without the "HDV" which is totally different!). I did not care for the 502AH and I tried to make it work for a couple of observing seasons. The biggest issue was it does not have a gradual drag (or friction as it is implemented on the 502AH) adjustment in the altitude axis.

 

Yes, the next step would be the N12 if you can afford $$$ it.

 

Oh, and I use the 503HDV on the Series 5000 tripod from Oberwerk (I actually bought it from Garrett before Obie bought it).

 

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Edited by GamesForOne, 20 February 2019 - 01:20 PM.

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#12 ButterFly

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 09:57 AM

I find the counterbalance system in the 501HDV intriguing. Not having used counterbalance before I am not clear on what the experience of 5.5 lbs of counterbalance will be. With any luck counterbalance will eliminate or minimize the dreaded "tail dive" I have sometimes experienced with the 25x100s. 

 

That's exactly what the counterbalance does for pointed up binos - it counterbalances the torque to keep the bino positioned in the altitude.  The 501HDV has adjustable friction in both alt/az that can assist the counterbalance.  With my setup, I feel I need to forward balance it slightly in skyviewing mode to keep the alt tension reasonable.  You can also squeeze out some more tension from slightly locking instead of fully locking in the alt.

 

I track every satellite I see so I need good balance between the alt and az panning friction.  I set the alt first then adjust the az to balance.

 

 

where is the sweet spot?

Truly depends on the weight and whether you are pointed mostly up or mostly horizontal.  I use the 501HDV for 50, 70, and 100mm.  You can shut the counterbalance off, which is great!.  For the 50s, even at max alt friction, it still tries to right itself, so I turn it off.  With the 70s, at a reasonable tension, it tries to right itself near 80-85 degrees - which is fine for me becuase I don't find straight up comfortable.  Mostly horizontal with the 70s is fine with or without counterbalance.

 

The 502AH does not let you shut off the counterbalance - which is terrible for the lighter binos.  If you're not in that sweet spot of balance vs. friction, you have to lock and unlock to pan and it gets annoying.

 

The 504HD would be fantastic and absolutely worth the money - if only it came with a flat base.  You need to add an adapter to turn the ball head into a flat head so it just adds weight for no good reason.  With more counterbalance settings, you can get a friction setting more to your liking.

 

The N12 is pricey so I didn't try it so that I can't know what I would be missing.  But the specs give a pretty good idea that it can handle binocular telescopes and most refractors with ease.  The 8lb minimum counterbalance also means no 50s or 70s without annoying.


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#13 Vondragonnoggin

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:06 AM

I would think that a 25x100 would ride smoothly on a Manfrotto N8 which is quite a bit less than the N12. N8 has 17.6lb rating.

 

Even the older APM 100ED Semi Apo is just 16lbs.

 

what are people mounting the new APM 100 ED Apo bins on? APM lists the 90° at 25kg and Lunt lists that same model as 32lbs.

 

Thats a bit of discrepancy in listed weight. Still, 32lbs is a lot!


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#14 Rich V.

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:33 AM

The APM 100 EDs are 14.5 lb and 15.4 lb. for 45° and 90° respectively so no difference between them and the old model; the same heads work.  The 25kg weight is the packaged shipping weight.

 

Rich


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#15 Vondragonnoggin

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 11:29 AM

The APM 100 EDs are 14.5 lb and 15.4 lb. for 45° and 90° respectively so no difference between them and the old model; the same heads work.  The 25kg weight is the packaged shipping weight.

 

Rich

Thanks. No wonder the difference then between the Lunt weight and APM. APM packages things like they will be handled by disgruntled shippers. All my stuff wrapped up rather good from Markus.



#16 barsuda

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 01:33 PM

Quick update on this thread.

 

I picked up a used Manfrotto 501HDV off of Ebay and have been using it with my Celestron 25x100s the last few nights. It has performed really really well, handles the 25x100s without effort and without any nose or tail dive. The counterbalance alone is adequate for almost all positions, just a little bit of clutch required above 45 degrees. Easy and smooth to move plus stays where you put it. I am also watching for the bigger versions of the 501HDV head, 503HDV, N8, N12 etc. Thanks to everyone for suggestions and pointing me at this technology :)

 

A further thing I am exploring with this 501HDV  head is its ability to carry my smaller scopes; ST80, C90 etc. I picked up an extra mount plate and attached a dovetail clamp which all seems to work well. Not had a chance yet to see how well it works yet, especially with no slow motion controls. Does anyone have experience or suggestions with using the 501HDV type head and a scope?



#17 hallelujah

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 03:50 PM

 

A further thing I am exploring with this 501HDV  head is its ability to carry my smaller scopes; ST80, C90 etc.

I picked up an extra mount plate and attached a dovetail clamp which all seems to work well.

Not had a chance yet to see how well it works yet, especially with no slow motion controls.

Does anyone have experience or suggestions with using the 501HDV type head and a scope?

I have used a Manfrotto 503HDV with my Celestron C5 spotting scope.

At lower magnifications it works fine.

As magnification gets around 100x, & above, a Manfrotto 410 is a better choice.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=OkyYhvvqGnQ

 

https://www.cloudyni...75-geared-head/

 

https://www.ebay.com...sacat=0&_sop=15

 

Stan


Edited by hallelujah, 08 March 2019 - 03:55 PM.

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#18 Rich V.

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 04:04 PM

A further thing I am exploring with this 501HDV  head is its ability to carry my smaller scopes; ST80, C90 etc. I picked up an extra mount plate and attached a dovetail clamp which all seems to work well. Not had a chance yet to see how well it works yet, especially with no slow motion controls. Does anyone have experience or suggestions with using the 501HDV type head and a scope?

Glad to hear the head is working out well for you.  A light scope like a C90 or an ST80 should work fine, too.  The heavier the scope, the more CB you need, of course.  Slide the QR plate as far forward as it will go for best balance when looking upward.

 

I use my heavy 80mm f6 refractor on a Manfrotto 3063 head but I made a "side saddle" plate so that the scope is situated so it's centered on the altitude axis for nice, balanced action.  The 3063 doesn't have a CB spring but it does have a wider, smoother range of clutch action on both axes than the 501HDV.  I've used the scope at over 200x on this setup just nudging the scope along.

 

Rich

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#19 junomike

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 05:30 PM

Quick update on this thread.

 

I picked up a used Manfrotto 501HDV off of Ebay and have been using it with my Celestron 25x100s the last few nights. It has performed really really well, handles the 25x100s without effort and without any nose or tail dive. The counterbalance alone is adequate for almost all positions, just a little bit of clutch required above 45 degrees. Easy and smooth to move plus stays where you put it. I am also watching for the bigger versions of the 501HDV head, 503HDV, N8, N12 etc. Thanks to everyone for suggestions and pointing me at this technology smile.gif

 

A further thing I am exploring with this 501HDV  head is its ability to carry my smaller scopes; ST80, C90 etc. I picked up an extra mount plate and attached a dovetail clamp which all seems to work well. Not had a chance yet to see how well it works yet, especially with no slow motion controls. Does anyone have experience or suggestions with using the 501HDV type head and a scope?

I've used my 501HDV for smaller OTA's (80, 120mm).

It works well but IMO is best suited for low power use (30X).


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#20 barsuda

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 09:44 PM

I use my heavy 80mm f6 refractor on a Manfrotto 3063 head but I made a "side saddle" plate so that the scope is situated so it's centered on the altitude axis for nice, balanced action.  The 3063 doesn't have a CB spring but it does have a wider, smoother range of clutch action on both axes than the 501HDV.  I've used the scope at over 200x on this setup just nudging the scope along.

 

Rich

I happen to have a venerable Bogen 3063 head that I use for with my 15x70 binoculars on top. Since the 3063 has no counterbalance I found that the 15x70s were about all it could comfortably handle without using a ton of clutch to prevent tail dive. Because of that I had not considered mounting a scope on this head. Your technique for shifting the scope laterally and down (per your picture) to center the scope mass on the altitude axis seems to solve that problem nicely :) In the picture I like the simplicity of having of the scope hang from the straight plate.

 

A refinement I am tempted to prototype is to substitute an "L" plate for the flat plate with a dovetail clamp on the outside of the L directly centered on the 3063's altitude axis. This would produce a true "side saddle" mount with the advantage than any any scope would have its center of mass on the altitude axis regardless of the scopes tube diameter. The shifting of mass laterally does introduce unbalanced stress on both the alt and az axis of the head. I question what the weight limits would be for this type of usage for the 3063 head and if the Manfrotto 501HDV head would be better suited in this configuration? 



#21 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 11:03 PM

For scopes:

 

A Bogen 3047 mounted side saddle.

 

AT-72ED Sidesaddle .jpg
 
Jon

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#22 Rich V.

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 12:03 AM

I happen to have a venerable Bogen 3063 head that I use for with my 15x70 binoculars on top. Since the 3063 has no counterbalance I found that the 15x70s were about all it could comfortably handle without using a ton of clutch to prevent tail dive. Because of that I had not considered mounting a scope on this head. Your technique for shifting the scope laterally and down (per your picture) to center the scope mass on the altitude axis seems to solve that problem nicely smile.gif In the picture I like the simplicity of having of the scope hang from the straight plate.

 

A refinement I am tempted to prototype is to substitute an "L" plate for the flat plate with a dovetail clamp on the outside of the L directly centered on the 3063's altitude axis. This would produce a true "side saddle" mount with the advantage than any any scope would have its center of mass on the altitude axis regardless of the scopes tube diameter. The shifting of mass laterally does introduce unbalanced stress on both the alt and az axis of the head. I question what the weight limits would be for this type of usage for the 3063 head and if the Manfrotto 501HDV head would be better suited in this configuration? 

An L plate with a saddle is a good solution if more than one scope will be mounted.  For me, I had the flat plate stock available and I was only looking to mount the one small scope in that manner.  I kept it simple.

 

I don't see why the 501HDV wouldn't work well as the basis of a "side saddle" setup. It has a bit lower profile and wide set pivot points to spread the load.  I do prefer the smoother, finer range of clutch action of the 3063, though, since the CB spring isn't necessary.  With an L plate you'd have to provide enough clearance to reach the side tension knob of the 501; with the 3063 the clutch lever can be located on the opposite side.  Certainly you want the least offset for best results.

 

Rich


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#23 ButterFly

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 09:27 PM

I'd proceed with caution on the video heads with side torque.  Photo heads are designed for pitch, roll, and yaw movement.  Video heads really aren't designed for heavy torques on the roll axis - most video cameras have their centers of mass near the centerline.  When I really loosen the yaw friction (az axis) on the 501HDV, there is already noticable movement in the roll axis.  That is where I feel it would weaken the fastest under side torque.  You can, of course, double L and use counterweight on the other L to help guesstimate balance at the cost of total weight.  There is no real way of knowing beforehand what they can handle because that use is very far off spec and you can't unlock in that direction to test balance.  Knowing when you went too far though ... ?!


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#24 Crusty99

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 11:30 PM

Mike... Really like the tea kettle on the stove.

 

shocked.gif  


Edited by Crusty99, 16 March 2019 - 11:32 PM.


#25 junomike

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 02:39 AM

Mike... Really like the tea kettle on the stove.

 

shocked.gif  

Kettle (and that House) are now gone.

Still got the Gear though!grin.gif




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