A piece in every cameraman’s (and camera woman’s) kit that can’t be compromised is a solid tripod. I heard that when I first started in the field, but went the affordable route and found myself buying a second tripod that same year, and then renting another one on bigger projects with heavier cameras. Don’t do what I did. Save your money, get a great tripod that will outlast your cameras and one that can work with a variety of rigs. I finally did that, and got the E-Image GH15 tripod from ikan.
Specs and Features of the E-Image Tripod Head
You can read all about the tripod head on the product page but I wanted to highlight some of my favorite features. The head supports 33lbs and because of the 9 steps of counter balance, it even works well with DSLRs. This gives a custom feel for every camera and for your preference. In addition to that, there are 5 grades of drag for both pan and tilt. I love having this many options to get the exact feel I need for certain shots.
It is an extremely smooth and reliable tripod that I am holding on to. With the GH15 handling 33lbs, it was a bit over kill for my C300. Luckily, ikan carries a wide range of tripods and offers theGH10L which still gives you a 100mm half bowl and with 22lb max payload. This head is also offered in a 75mm half bowl design. Another difference between the GH15 and GH10 is the grades of drag. The GH15 offers 5 stages while the GH10 offers 3. Up to you and your shooting style to decide if this is worth in the difference in price.
Difference Between a Good Tripod and a Bad One
In situations such as interviews, the camera stays locked off and you never touch it. There won’t be much difference between a good tripod and a cheap one. As soon as your shots require you to pan, tilt, or both, you will start running into problems. Not to mention, if there are specific speeds that you must pan or tilt.
You don’t want a client or director asking you for a shot and have to tell them that your tripod won’t do that!!!
On a recent shoot, a quality tripod head was a necessity. I was covering a rally cross event and the cars where coming at me at 90mph, then drifting into turns. I had to pan and tilt while keeping the car(s) in frame which wasn’t always easy, especially when shooting with a 200mm lens. The tripod moves had to be smooth in order to look good because at that tight of a lens, any jerks would be noticeable.
When I first started filming, I was working with the Manfrotto 503HDV due to my slider setup. I took that tripod system on the track with me and after only a few minutes I had my AC run and get the GH15. Instant satisfaction. The Manfrotto would get loose, pans wouldn’t be smooth, and it took me a few tries to get certain shots. As soon as I switched tripods, I was getting these shots in one take which allowed me to move on to another focal length and angle. This saved a ton of time and effort. Check out the video below to see how well it worked for me in the field.
Along with having a solid tripod head, you will want legs that are quick in the field and can handle the weight. These legs, like most mono lock systems, were stiff in the beginning. I recommend breaking them in before using in the field. The floor spreader allowed for extremely low angle shots and made for stable slider shots (tested with the 2ft Duzi). I also like how there is a way to tighten the lock on the legs. Not every tripod offers this. The aluminum and carbon fiber 100mm bowl legs are rated to hold up to 133lbs. With the spreader fully compressed your sticks will reach 61.5″ and compress to 25.5″. The aluminum legs are 14lbs while the carbon fiber are 9.7lbs.
If you have any questions on the GH10L, GH15, and/or the legs (I’ve worked with both the carbon fiber and aluminum) please don’t hesitate to ask. Another thing I want to mention is how great of a case this comes in. Although it isn’t a hard case, I would feel very comfortable flying my tripod in the provided case (may just add a towel). Click here to check out the case.
You can read more on the specs on all the products disucssed at http://ikancorp.com/productfamily.php?id=213. For more information on availability, warranty and ordering E-Image products, contact ikan.