Director of photography Danna Kinsky may use large cameras and heavier support equipment when shooting feature films like the upcoming Untold, but she wants the same kind of support performance when she shoots with smaller form factor cameras, like her Canon EOS 7D. She recently tried out the new Ace fluid head and tripod system by Sachtler, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company.
Ideal support for lightweight camera setups
In connection with the Untold project, Kinsky shot a public service announcement about anti-gay bullying in schools, using her DSLR and the Ace tripod system, designed for camera packages weighing from 0 to 4 kg (0 to 8 lbs). The bottom of that weight range is important to her, because she often uses a lightweight camera package, her Canon EOS 7D and a small prime lens. Smaller cameras actually present more of a challenge to a tripod than larger cameras, because theres so little mass to help smooth the panning and tilting moves, she says. Ive shot before with small tripods that want to inch along the floor when you pan, which means you have to hold the sticks in place with one hand while panning with the other. It makes me a more confident shooter to know that I dont have to deal with problems like these when Im using the Ace.
New patented Synchronised Actuated Drag
The way Ace solves both those issues for Kinsky is that Sachtlers engineers developed a completely new patented SA-drag¢ (Synchronized Actuated Drag), which guarantees the familiar accuracy and repeatability that Sachtlers larger tripod systems are famous for. With 3 vertical and 3 horizontal grades of drag (+0), the SA-drag¢ enables fine adjustment for precise panning and tilting, no matter how small the camera package. Additionally Ace has five different counterbalance settings. Kinsky adds: The Ace is stable enough that it stays put when youre panning, and the legs are substantial enough that theres no backlash when you start or stop a pan. Ace can be tilted through a range of +90° to -75°.
Rugged and easily adjustable
Kinsky also appreciates the ruggedness of Ace. When its time to move the camera to a new location, I easily adjust the mid-level spreader and the sticks come together, and Im off to my next spot. The Ace is rugged enough to handle circumstances that happen on set. Ace is easily adjustable up and down, and it can be used on uneven surfaces. For shipping, it breaks down to less than 86 cm (34) which allows it to be put in a suitcase instead of requiring its own shipping case. Whats really amazing, says Kinsky, is that at a remarkably economical price, Sachtler has incorporated a lot of the features that were previously only available in tripod systems that cost thousands of dollars.