Smaller Cameras Result in Big Changes in Fluid Heads and Camera Support Solutions

Kevin Salvidge

Author: Kevin Salvidge

Published 16th March 2016

Issue 110 - February 2016

Smaller Cameras Result in Big Changes in Fluid Heads and Camera Support Solutions

As technology progresses, videographers find themselves dealing with smaller cameras that become the flavor of the week, but are soon replaced six months later by technology that makes them even tinier. With this has come a new way of thinking of camera support solutions. Fluid heads that were originally designed to support smaller, more entry-level type camera models are many times not able to handle all of the camera peripherals, such as lenses and monitors, employed in a more professional shoot.

Historically, videographers have depended on larger and bulkier cameras, such as the Sony HVR Z1U HD, which carry significant weight. 100mm ball leveling fluid heads were the norm for such setups, as the extra weight was dispersed along the larger fluid head. As professional cameras shrunk, the 75mm fluid head became a viable option, saving users money.

Videographers have slowly come to learn that camera peripherals are as important as the camera itself, often bumping the weight of the system back into the 100mm ball leveling range. They must ask themselves whether they should spend a large amount of money on a 100mm ball leveling fluid head, with the additional payload support with more counterbalance settings as well as additional levels of pan and tilt, or do they save their money buying a 75mm ball leveling fluid head, but leave some of their favorite camera peripherals at home?

No matter what their choice, the trend is for videographers to update their cameras and buy the new (and often pricey) models. Camera support equipment can last well into their second, third or fourth camera, and beyond, so making a sound initial investment is key. The question then becomes what criteria should videographers use to pick a piece of equipment that could last them a decade or more?

One solution that sits within the 75mm price range while providing 100mm support is the Compass 23 Fluid Head. An affordable entrant into the 100mm fluid head field, the Compass 23 provides support for the latest generation in lightweight HDV/DVCAM/XDCAM, P2HD and DSLR cameras ranging from 4-14 kilograms. It includes three (plus zero) selectable positions of fluid drag, a caliper disc brake system and a quick release 70mm Euro sliding camera platform. The Compass 23 comes with a four position counterbalance system, a tilt range of +90°/-75° and works between -40°C to 65°C, allowing videographers to shoot in the most rugged of conditions. The illuminated bubble level allows for a quick setup under any circumstances as smaller cameras become more common in the broadcast field.

However, what truly sets the Compass 23 apart from the competition is the price point. It runs several hundred Euros less than the competition, offering all of the above 100mm features at the price of its 75mm peers. Thus, it solves the aforementioned conundrum that videographers have when choosing between weight/price and features/payload support.

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