Tripods really have not evolved that much over the last ten years – they still have three legs, stabilize a camera, and allow steady pans and tilts.
by Chuck Gloman
Vinten’s Vision Blue That has all changed with Vinten’s Vision Blue. But the one feature I have been requesting for the last 20 years is finally a reality, an illuminated bubble level.
There are those who believe that a tripod’s head is the critical part; I believe that the legs’ role is just as important. In the particular case of my review tripod, the legs were the Pozi-Loc Type 3776, two-stage carbon fiber. With a maximum load of 55 pounds, those legs will support anything the staff or students at my university can put on top of it.
THE TRIPOD’S LEGS
The legs extend into two expandable sections that reach a height of 61.5 inches. All of Vinten’s 13 other sets of legs extend to a maximum height of 61 inches; they have a leveling bowl diameter of 75 mm, 100 mm, or 150 mm; and are made of either carbon fiber or aluminum. Smaller 20-inch baby legs are also available.
The carbon fiber legs provided for review opened and closed smoothly and were more comfortable to handle in extreme weather than aluminum versions that have been provided in the past. With over 100 students using the equipment daily, the Vinten legs have nary a scratch from the extreme use. Weighing less than six pounds and collapsing to 28 inches, they have proven to not be too heavy to carry around during the day.
The spreader is a nice luxury that most of the university’s other tripods do not possess. Therefore, the decision was made to keep the spreader attached to the tripod at all times because it takes real strength to pull the rubber strap over each leg. However, once the spreader was attached to the legs, they never slipped. A black dial with a blue arrow illustrates the direction to expand the spreader from its smallest position so that it locks firmly into place. That also takes a bit of muscle to open or close.
Nonetheless, the Vinten Blue Pan and Tilt head is the tripod’s best characteristic. The Model V4092 head supports cameras up to 11 pounds, yet it weighs only five. The Vinten Blue head mounts to the legs with a standard ¼ inch screw. Moving attention up from the mounting ball, users will find that the pan drag adjusting knob moves from “1” to “8” increasing in intensity. Once “8” is reached, the drag adjustment is difficult to move, but a sprocket in the knob makes it extremely easy to adjust.
Directly above the knob is the tripod’s best innovation, and the single feature I have always wanted on a tripod. By pressing a tiny blue button, the bubble level to the immediate left is illuminated by a florescent blue LED, making the bubble easy to see in daylight, darkness or with bifocal adjusted vision. Powered by a minuscule 23AE, 12-volt alkaline battery, the blue LED will remain glowing for 15 seconds, more than enough time to accomplish the task.
Vinten Blue’s head also has the expected pan and tilt brake levers, a tilt drag adjustment lever (identical to the pan drag adjustment only vertically mounted), and a “Perfect Balance” adjustment knob that controls the camera’s weight better throughout the head’s range. The Perfect Balance prevents the camera from tipping over, and is extremely useful for quickly balancing any size camera.
The tripod comes with a fabric carrying case that is padded and works well at preventing minor nicks and dings to its contents. In addition, the handles interlock; the interior houses storage pockets; and a vibrant blue exterior make this case the perfect companion to the head and sticks.
There is nothing not to like about this unit. Affordably priced at $1,140, users can get an amazing tripod and head for the money. Finally, no matter what the situation, anyone can perfectly balance the Vinten Blue, because now the bubble can easily be seen.
Chuck Gloman is the Chair of the TV/Film Department as well as an associate professor at DeSales University. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.