I recently dove in and purchased a Cartoni Delta Tripod Kit. And I’m pretty excited about it.
In my profession, I’ve purchased five tripods, this Cartoni being the latest one; I must say, I should have just purchased this one to start. But I’ll walk you through my thought process and purchases, then tell you why it was wrong (or right).
This did an amazing job, and I actually still have it and use it occasionally for smaller jobs where I want to pack light or just for recreational photography. It was affordable, but eventually I started shooting with rigs that were heavier, and I wanted some ability to counter balance (at least a little).
So I purchased the 60mm Bowl WF 717 Tripod head with the aluminum sticks that came with it.
This was extremely affordable, I think I got it for $200USD and it came with a soft bag as well and an extra plate I believe. It’s a Chinese knockoff of the E-Image brand tripods. This also saw a lot of great use. It’s also pretty compact, but the fluid head seems to stick until you “warm it up” by moving it around a bunch. The spirit level fluid disappeared when I had a shoot in Mexico and brought this tripod with me. I actually still use this for small setups with DSLR cameras. This however, did not support the weight of a RED or larger cine cameras, so I ventured forward.
I then purchased, regretfully, Tiffen’s Davis & Sanford FM18 Tripod Head (a kit that came with legs).
This was everything I wanted on paper. It supported 18lbs, it seemed like a great tripod, and to be honest, I was pretty happy with it for a bit. It was a low-cost of $200USD and it came with tripod dolly wheels (which I sold for $50.) I used it with the Red One MX pretty often until I threw on the 18-85mm RED PRO ZOOM Lens with a RED ONE MX, it just couldn’t handle the weight. This was my fault of course, for not figuring out the weight/support capacities – but the reason I didn’t like this was because it’s very difficult to fix – the problem is a loose bolt now, and I can’t even find any tools to get in there and fix it!
After this horrible Davis & Sanford Tripod failed me, I purchased a Sachtler Video 14 II. It supports 35lbs. (The link is to my actual tripod I’m selling now)
This tripod is a great tripod! I still use it now. It supported almost all my camera needs. I purchased it used from a friend of mine. And I said above, it supports 35lbs, however, it only counter balances 12lbs. Now normally this is all I need, but I’m the type of person that is always wanting more or better things. Not being able to counter balance more than 12lbs is difficult. So I began hunting for a better tripod – first looking at the Sachtler Video 18 or 20, and then at Cartoni.
I’ve had much experience with better tripod heads, I’ve rented and used the O’Connors and large Sachtlers before – this spoiled me, and I wanted it.
So now, in the mail coming to me, is the Cartoni Delta. I’m excited for it.
But what I want to say about all this, is: You don’t necessarily need to find a tripod as heavy-duty as a Cartoni Delta or a O’Connor 2575, find a tripod that suits your needs, HOWEVER – if you buy this kind of head, you’ll most likely never need to buy another head again.
Now on the other side of this:
I have worked with a mentor of mine, and he owns a O’Connor 2575D. He frequently asked me to bring out my Sachtler Video 14 II for some more guerilla shooting because it’s much lighter, and he’s looking at getting a heavier duty E-Image style tripod (thats not as heavy as the O’Connor and sticks he currently has. His sticks are a custom Ronford Baker and are both Baby and Standard. So thats something to consider.
I suppose in the end, my theory goes back to: “poor man pays twice”. Buy the right tool for the job once. The names that you often hear about are big for a reason, because they have quality, durability and they do the job right. This also means that they will make your job easier, or make your work better. I’ve had ‘fluid heads’ that weren’t so fluid. I’ve had counter balance issues where my operating was being affected. For me, this is my bread and butter, if I don’t do a good job this time, I won’t get called back and get paid next time.
Also take everything I say with a grain of salt, these purchases that I make are specific for what I shoot with. Even my DSLR rig, when fully decked out, weighs about 22lbs. So these types of tripods are what I like to have.