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Review: Vinten Vision blue Tripods--UPDATED with New Interview on Vinten blueBridge from NAB 2013

Infinite counterbalance control is what differentiates the Vinten Vision blue line of tripods from its competitors. Here's a look at the latest additions to the line, with tips on balancing, counterbalancing, and choosing the right-payload tripod for your camera and accessories.

Update: New Video from NAB 2013 Introducing Vinten blueBridge

Shawn Lam and Vinten's Andrew Butler discuss the blueBridge accessory and what it adds to Vinten's popular Vision blue tripods. Andrew Butler explains, The blueBridge is a new accessory from Vinten. It’s really aimed at guys who want to use two different cameras of different weight on the same set of sticks."

My wife and I have a three-year-old son and twin one-year-old girls. These past three years have been the most rewarding in our lives. While the birth of our first child brought change and a need to rebalance life a little, when my girls were born we had three kids under the age of two, and we realized that traditional rebalancing just wasn't going to be enough--mainly because the dynamic demands of our trio exceeded our combined capacity but--most importantly--because we were outnumbered.

Whereas rebalancing involves moving things around a little--a little less work, a bit more family and a lot less sleep, a lot more coffee--what we needed was to add some counterbalance. This meant hiring a Monday daytime nanny, arranging Tuesday and Thursday preschool for my son, and finding a Wednesday evening babysitter so my wife and I could have a date night. As a video producer, this notion of balance and counterbalance made perfect sense to me, since video camera operators require the same from our tripods.

Balance, Counterbalance, Camcorders, and Tripods

Now let me explain the difference between balancing a camera on a tripod and counterbalancing a camera on the tripod: Balancing the camera is the process of centering the weight of the camera so that there is an even amount of force on the front and the back. The test is that when you release the tilt drag tension that the camera remains at equilibrium at the neutral horizontal position and falls forwards and back at the same rate when you tilt the camera out of equilibrium.

You balance a camera by sliding the tripod plate to or fro to achieve balance before tightening the plate clamp. Balancing a tripod is the first step, followed by adding the appropriate amount of counterbalance, and then finally adding drag.

Counterbalance works to add counterweight via a spring so that the camera no longer dips or returns to the neutral position. My current Vinten Vision 3 tripods (I own a pair--the oldest dates back to late 2005, when Vinten first introduced the Vision line) adjust counterbalance by changing the counterbalance spring. This is a time consuming task and requires the camera operator to carry a range of springs which is both inconvenient and costly, especially when a full set consists of 10 springs, each costing about $50.

If you were going to always use the same camera with the same accessories you could get away with owning a single spring, but getting a perfect counterbalance was often an exercise in adding and subtracting weight and moving this weight to a different position on the camera. Most camera operators change their setup frequently, and there are several factors that affect weight and load balance, including size of the battery or lenses and the presence of a wireless microphone receiver, shotgun microphone, external monitor, on-camera light, rails, follow-focus, external recorder, and matte box.

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The Vision blue system with mid level spreader, complete with Pozi-loc tripod and soft case, is designed for the lightest weight 1/4-inch camcorders and DSLRs