Jeff’s Recommended Tripod and Grippers

Now that we've taken Jeff's recommendations for our Two Gals and a Dog video camera... it's time to talk about tripods! Jeff is the Associate Producer of Rollin' on TV and the most geeky techie guy we know 😉

"I own three Manfrotto/Bogen tripods, a Manfrotto/Bogen monopod and a Manfrotto/Bogen high-hat, if that gives you a clue overall. It's a solid manufacturer with affordable products that work well.

My most recent purchase was a carbon fiber set of legs and a downsized fluid head that are sized better for checked baggage airline travel than my large "studio" legs. The head I bought is a MVH502A, and the legs are 536 MPRO carbon fiber. This setup is likely a lot larger than you might need for that smaller camera, and Manfrotto has smaller options, as do the other brands listed here.

Most important: When shopping for a tripod, don't go cheap. Cameras are upgraded frequently due to technical advances and the like, meaning you may have a newer camera in 3 or 4 years or less, but a good tripod and fluid head can last you through a lot of camera upgrades. You can upgrade just the head later as needed, for example, most of these companies and systems sort of stick with industry standards such as mounting the head with a 3/8-16 screw. It's not like a set of legs will become obsolete. I still use the Bogen still photo tripod I bought back in 1982 and I could put any of today's new heads on it.

Filmtools Gripper 3025

This is what a "Hi-Hat" is used for. It's a very short tripod with a head mount so you can get really low angles and still use the fluid head.

Definitely: For video use choose a tripod with a bowl head. This saves you a ton of time when setting up, you loosen the center lock handle, adjust the head per the bubble level, and tighten it down. Fast and easy. The 75mm and 100mm bowls are industry standard.

This is what a "Hi-Hat" is used for. It's a very short tripod with a head mount so you can get really low angles and still use the fluid head. This is probably not real important for your use but it really helps me when I'm getting down under and dirty.

I seem to wind up doing a bunch of shooting inside smaller RVs and this is one solution. The big suction cup is normally used for mounting on the outside of the rig, like a car hood or side of the trailer. It can be stuck back in a corner or on a scrap of something smooth and hard as this first shot with the camera on a padded seat.

I believe these shots are inside a truck camper. You pump the vacuum with the grey plunger and once tight, it's not letting go for anything. The red line on the plunger tells you when the vacuum is leaking out, and the unit needs to be re-pumped. I've never had one of these guys let go when I didn't want it to.

I use an adjustable ball handle mount and various hardware I have on hand. This is a Filmtools setup that comes with a Manfrotto type adjustable head, virtually the same still-photo head that came on my 1982-vintage tripod.

This kind of setup might be handy if, for example, you want to shoot both of you sitting at the dinette, you can place the camera on the kitchen counter and that gets it back farther than use of a tripod in the aisle. Lots of interesting possibilities, see the photos on the Filmtools page. Amazon may or may not sell this similar setup.

Jeff in ActionWhen we're getting serious with a hood mount and a heavier, expensive camera, I also use additional suction cups and grip hardware to secure and stabilize the camera. This was a shoot up in the Sierra mountains above Tahoe, on a bumpy dirt "road" and it worked fine. This, too, is probably not anything you guys would get into anytime soon, though I could be wrong. This image was tossed in just for fun.

This flickr album photo shows what happens when you get kinda crazy. I needed an over-the-shoulder dashboard shot in a Winnebago Travato. Sandbags for the tripod feet, one leg short and on the tabletop, clamps and grip hardware on nearby solid surfaces. It worked well.


I hope this helps!"

Jeff, as usual, you are a tremendous asset for Rollin' On TV AND Two Gals and a Dog!

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