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Three legs good... be tt er. . . b e st ! Legs, balls and heads All manufacturers must make calculated judgements: weight versus sturdiness, cost versus performance. Libec focuses on aluminium construction for its strength, durability, weight and affordability. Some developers favour carbon fibre for its portability and strength. However, this has issues beyond the cost implications, such as a tendency to lack rigidity whereby tripod legs twist and distort fractionally when the camera is rotated. On release this torsion energy can cause the legs to snap back and unsettle the picture. But frankly, the only way to assess the rigidity and portability of the sticks, is to try them for yourself. When it comes to the various heads available from Libec, there are marked differences. With the two lower cost units, there is little user control over the counter balance and drag features. They are designed to hold smaller cameras stable at any angle: achieving equilibrium may mean adjusting the position of the camcorder or DSLR on the plate. With the RS range, full manual settings are at the operator’s fingertips. Correctly configured, the camera will stay balanced at any angle and with any camera model with no perceptible slipping up or down. Similarly the manually controlled drag mode settings offer control over the ability of the camera to pan and hold still with no creep back. Users have to consider the sophistication of the RS head against the added weight, slightly more involved set up, and higher cost. Feet and braces A rigid platform and strong head are wasted if the tripod does not grip the floor. Each Libec model is available with a telescopic mid or floor-level spreader to give further strength adjustable spreaders and the company supplies rubberized foot pads to maintain traction. All feet are not the same, however. Unlike the others, the RS range comes with double feet spikes – one chrome, one plastic depending on the shooting surface – for very grippy grounding. Go armed Details matter. Can the tripod cope with freezing temperatures and continue to deliver smooth, balanced operation? Are the legs and spreader easy to lock and adjust on the run? Can the quick release plate adapt to accommodate all lengths and widths of camera body? Does the tripod have a spirit level, is it illuminated and is it accurate? Your reseller should be able to help you find the answers and also help you decide how durable each tripod really is (ie how many are returned or need frequent running repairs). This final consideration will be driven by a combination of the manufacturing standards and the cost of the tripod. Arguably, DV-type models are not built for repeated air transport. Lower end professional kit is not designed with extremes of weather in mind. From the calibre of components to the quality of the supplied carry bag, a support in the RS price bracket is intended to perform in every production environment for years to come: to prove the point it even ships with spare quarter and three eighth screws ready for typical camera operator mishaps. 64 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY074FEB13.indd 64 11/02/2013 16:53