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Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head

B&H # DAFM18 MFR # FM18
Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head

Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head Left-Side View

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Product Highlights

  • 18 lb Capacity
  • 10 Year Warranty

You Pay: $93.99

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The Davis and Sanford FM18 is a compact fluid head with an 18 lbs capability. This head offers an economical choice for videographers using a full size camcorder.

Adjustment
Independent pan and tilt drag and locks offer effortless control over tripod capabilities.
Quick Release
A sliding quick release that locks offers balancing capabilities for a variety of camcorder sizes from small to full size.
Load Capacity 18 lbs (8.2kg)
Diameter/Thread 3/8" Female Thread
Counter Balance System Sliding Quick Release Plate
Counter Balance Range Not Specified by Manufacturer
Center of Gravity Not Specified by Manufacturer
Quick Release/Wedge Plate Yes, Sliding with Adjustable Balance
Balance Plate Sliding Quick Release
Camera Mounting Screw Interchangeable 1/4" and 3/8" screws included
Tilt Drag Adjustable
Tilt Range +90/-90°
Tilt Lock Yes
Spring Loaded Counter Balance Adjustable
Pan Range 360°
Pan Lock Yes
Leveling Bubble/Illuminated Yes/No
Temperature Range Not Specified by Manufacturer
Height Not Specified by Manufacturer
Weight 4 lbs (1.8kg)
Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head
  • Pan Bar
  • Fluid Head
  • Quick Release Plate
  • 1/4" Camera Mounting Screw
  • 3/8" Camera Mounting Screw
  • 10 Year Warranty
  • REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

    by PowerReviews
    Davis & SanfordFM18 Fluid Head
     
    4.3

    (based on 36 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (18)

    • 4 Stars

       

      (13)

    • 3 Stars

       

      (4)

    • 2 Stars

       

      (0)

    • 1 Stars

       

      (1)

    94%

    of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

    Pros

    • Stable (13)
    • Durable (4)
    • Easy to use (4)
    • Unfolds quickly (4)
    • High quality (3)

    Cons

    • Cumbersome (4)
    • Heavy (4)

    Best Uses

    • Stabilization (11)
    • Movies (8)
    • Video (3)
    • Weddings (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Aspiring film maker (9), Film professional (8), Tech savvy (8), Semi-pro photographer (3)
      • Primary use:
      • Business (3)
      • Was this a gift?:
      • No (26)

    Most Liked Positive Review

     

    Good fluid head action, mediocre quality

    For the price this is one of the best heads you can get. I prefer it to our Manfrotto 501 head that is suited for the similar cameras, yet it is pricier and does...Read complete review

    For the price this is one of the best heads you can get. I prefer it to our Manfrotto 501 head that is suited for the similar cameras, yet it is pricier and does not have the same smooth action as the FM18 when starting or stopping pans and tilts.

    That being said, the build quality on the FM18 could be improved. Most of the connections do not feel sturdy, and while trying to adjust the tilt lock for the first time a piece of plastic broke off the handle making that adjustment inoperation without toting a separate piece with you. Luckily we were able to procure the all metal tilt lock hardware from our older FM18 that we were also replacing due to broken parts.

    I don't think this head is intended to have variable drag, but some tension can be added without completely tightening the locks. That being said, even with the locks fully open the drag is too great for the mounting points for the arms. When operating the unit with both arms spread wide it feels sturdy, but if you need one hand to operated controls while using a single arm it will flex slightly at the joint, which can be irritating and can potentially mees up a shot.

    All in all, if you're looking to get great moving shots on a budget this is the best head I have found, but that can come at the cost of reliability.

    VS

    Most Liked Negative Review

     

    Solid, but inconvenient fluid head

    Normally I rent high end tripods for bigger shoots, but I wanted to get a low end setup for day shoots, and the reviews about pan and tilt performance tempted me into purchasing this...Read complete review

    Normally I rent high end tripods for bigger shoots, but I wanted to get a low end setup for day shoots, and the reviews about pan and tilt performance tempted me into purchasing this model.

    This unit is well designed for shoots where performance is needed over adjustability, and provides solid performance at an unbeatable price but it not as well suited for situations where quick 'adjustability' is vital.

    Great pan and tilt performance - on par with $1000 units, but pan and tilt fluid friction are not matched, so it requires a very steady single hand or the use of both hands operating both panhandles for a clean pro diagonal move.

    Two full length tripod plates is a very generous touch - most heads at this price offer one short plate and make you pay an additional $20-40 for a longer one.

    The down side of this head is ergonomics, or complete lack of... The QR lock runs into the bottom of any wider camera bodies, and often requires a full turn as the QR plate is not a uniform width all the way across, so pull the spring loaded twist handle then reset,then lock tripod plate and slowly ratchet the QR down… making it a 'slow' release.

    This QR handle also runs into the right panhandle, sometimes requiring pulling the panhandle completely off to get the QR plate locked - which takes forever - a Gitzo style round twist nob instead of a protruding twist handle would solve this.

    Panhandles are very stable and don't slip if loose, like on many panhandles with shallower adjustment teeth. The down side of the deep teeth in the panhandle mount, adjusting a panhandle requires more than 10 full turns of the adjustment nob to loosen, and another 10 or so turns to re-tighten. By this time, actors are asleep, and crew is ready for a bathroom break…

    So, for film/video/still shoots where a single configuration works, this is a great tripod head, but once adjustments need to be made, time is lost, and frustrations can rise.

    This product could be modified, or redesigned into a super head at a super deal, but for now, I am hoping to find something with more thought put into ergonomics... hopefully something out there that matches the solid performance for 5X the price.

    Reviewed by 36 customers

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    Displaying reviews 1-20

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    4.0

    I love this thing!

    By Colin

    from Daleville, VA

    About Me Business Owner, Professional Artist

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Use
    • Highly Compatible

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Home Movies
      • Independent Films
      • In The Studio

      Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

      Several years ago I bought a D&S tripod that came with this FM18 head. It is dependable and smooth and I needed a second one for a homemade slider. It seems a little bit tighter than the last one but maybe that's just me. It comes with two quick-disconnect camera mounts which was a nice surprise. The first time I bought an extra camera mount and ended up with three as a result. The head also comes with a 3/8" threaded screw which is screwed into the head so you can swap that out for the 1/4" one that comes in the camera mounts. Nice.

      The main reason I gave it 4/5 stars is that one of the quick-disconnect mounts with this one gets stuck in the dovetail because it was not ground down smooth enough (it's a cast part and there was a raised cast spot left). I am going to have to grind it myself to get it to slide smoothly.

      Overall, this is a great value and I have always been happy with how smooth it operates.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

      Share this review

       
      5.0

      Very pleased, with one little caveat

      By Mike V

      from Baton Rouge

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Easy To Use
      • Improves Performance
      • Professional Quality

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Independent Films
        • In The Studio

        Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

        After much research I chose this tripod head - mostly based on the fact that Kessler used to sell their smallest cranes in a package with this head. At the time, the crane was heavier than the current model, so I thought I'd be in good shape. Many people had success pairing this with a KC-Lite 8.0, which I fly with small cameras. The FM18 is underrated for that much weight, so the crane leans away from the rig a bit. It's too early to be conclusive, but so far the moving parts all feel like quality craftsmanship and I'm optimistic. (except for the slight lean, which makes me think that over time it will fail) I can't take a single thing away from this head because I knew it was underrated for my application and I am still very impressed with the quality, especially when I'm just supporting my rod system without the crane.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

        Share this review

         
        5.0

        Love it!!!!

        By Pang

        from Ohio

        Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

        Love it! Vary smooth. I use it for a outdoor hunting show. It's worth it's weight in gold

        Share this review

        (1 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

         
        1.0

        Problem after problem

        By JPL

        from San Francisco, CA

        About Me Professional Artist

        Pros

        • Cheap

        Cons

        • Lacks Functionality
        • Limited Compatibility
        • Poor Design
        • Poor Performance

        Best Uses

          Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

          One time the grip handle which separates the fluid head from the tripod got so tight it wouldn't come off for over a year. Then one day it just came off. Now that same grip wont tighten through the ball mount to the fluid head and there is no way to fix it because of its flawed design. I will never buy Davis and Sanford fluid heads again because of this. They make sub par products and it hurts any professional with unfixable problems from their lack luster designs. There is a reason why their tripods are SO CHEAP!

          • Was this a gift?:
          • Yes

          Share this review

          (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Very Fluid

          By Movie fan

          from Dayton, OH

          About Me Aspiring Film Maker

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Fluid

          Cons

          • Heavy

          Best Uses

            Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

            This tripod head is everything I need it to be.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

            (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            great head for the price

            By Matt

            from New Orleans, LA

            About Me Film Professional

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Good Stability

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Movies
              • Stabilization

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              great head, great price, highly recommended!

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              3.0

              Curious...

              By Media Rebel

              from Tulsa, OK

              About Me Tech Savvy

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Heavy Duty
              • Well Buit

              Cons

              • No Manual
              • Not Intuitive

              Best Uses

              • Movies

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              Bought this head for use in our creative media department. It arrived undamaged, but without a user manual or any documentation at all. I have looked on the web for online documentation, but to no avail. The drag settings are very heavy... so heavy, in fact, that it tilts the entire tripod. I can find no fluid or friction settings, and with no documentation, have no clue where to find the settings.

              The head is quite stable, and very smooth.... but it is too stiff for use.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Overall great product

              By J aaron

              from Madison, NJ

              About Me Aspiring Film Maker

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Good Stability
              • Sturdy

              Cons

              • NONE

              Best Uses

              • Slider
              • Tripod

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              Mounts on My tripod, and Slider, Overall great study equipment, smooth and study movements.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              solid fluid head

              By Shaw

              from Strasbourg, France

              About Me Aspiring Film Maker

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Comparatively Inexpensive
              • Good Stability
              • Heavy Duty
              • Solid
              • Unfolds Quickly

              Cons

              • Cumbersome

              Best Uses

              • Movies
              • Stabilization

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              A really impressive piece of equipment for the price, of solid construction. It's heavy, but that's what I wanted as my dslr, cage rig and monitor weigh about 11lbs all together and the FM18 can support an 18lb load while most of the cheaper heads available here in Europe are not up to the job or are not real fluid heads. The quick release plate functions well and includes a safety catch and a ratchet-style mechanism for locking the plate in place. A replacement top plate is also included. The FM18 has a 3/8" screw so I had to purchase a 1/4" adaptor to attach it to the tripod, but it wasn't expensive and works fine. The head itself has good fluidity.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Good fluid head action, mediocre quality

              By ACutadean

              from Lexington, KY

              About Me Film Professional, Professional Videographer

              See all my reviews

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Economical
              • Inexpensive
              • Smooth action

              Cons

              • Weak Construction

              Best Uses

              • ENG
              • Pans
              • Stabilization

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              For the price this is one of the best heads you can get. I prefer it to our Manfrotto 501 head that is suited for the similar cameras, yet it is pricier and does not have the same smooth action as the FM18 when starting or stopping pans and tilts.

              That being said, the build quality on the FM18 could be improved. Most of the connections do not feel sturdy, and while trying to adjust the tilt lock for the first time a piece of plastic broke off the handle making that adjustment inoperation without toting a separate piece with you. Luckily we were able to procure the all metal tilt lock hardware from our older FM18 that we were also replacing due to broken parts.

              I don't think this head is intended to have variable drag, but some tension can be added without completely tightening the locks. That being said, even with the locks fully open the drag is too great for the mounting points for the arms. When operating the unit with both arms spread wide it feels sturdy, but if you need one hand to operated controls while using a single arm it will flex slightly at the joint, which can be irritating and can potentially mees up a shot.

              All in all, if you're looking to get great moving shots on a budget this is the best head I have found, but that can come at the cost of reliability.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              FM18 Fluid Head

              By eternallion

              from Queens, NY

              About Me Aspiring Film Maker, Photographer, Tech Savvy

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Carry Heavy Loads
              • Good Stability
              • Lightweight
              • Unfolds Quickly

              Cons

              • Locking Knobs

              Best Uses

              • Cranes
              • Movies
              • Rigs
              • Stabilization

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              I purchased this fluid head with the purpose of carrying heavier loads. It works well with my 8 foot crane and I'm able to use it with heavier camera rigs. The two handles are very useful when creating smooth pans and tilts. The design and structure is very solid. The only thing I dislike is the knob used to lock the sliding quick release plate. It tends to hit or get in the way of wide-body cameras/gear when locking and unlocking the quick release plate.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Good head for the money

              By Dan

              from Hillsboro, Or

              Verified Buyer

              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

              this fluid head is great and it is very smooth......

              Share this review

              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Perfect balance of Quality and Price

              By JTown

              from San Jose CA

              About Me Film Professional, Tech Savvy

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                    This head delivers as promised. Perfect balance of quality and price. Good finishes, simple engineering (you'll love this in the field) and an amazing fluidity both in pan and tilt considering the price-point. A winner in my book I would suggest it to anyone looking for great quality while mindful of budget!

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

                    Share this review

                    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    A great product for the money.

                    By Larry

                    from central IL

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • High Quality

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                        This product is well worth the money.

                        • Primary use:
                        • Business
                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

                        Share this review

                        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        4.0

                        Solid and dependable.

                        By Jake

                        from New York, NY

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                              Needed something that would support a slider setup without breaking the bank. Nice fluid movement, stiff like I prefer it. Comes with two handles, but the right handle is largely useless due to how the tilt knob is configured. Definitely a good budget or second head.

                              • Primary use:
                              • Business
                              • Was this a gift?:
                              • No

                              Share this review

                              (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                               
                              4.0

                              A little stiff to begin with!

                              By ICEMAN

                              from San Diego

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • High Quality

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                • Video

                                Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                                It is definitely a quality video head. It is a little stiff though which takes a little getting use to.

                                • Primary use:
                                • Personal
                                • Was this a gift?:
                                • No

                                Share this review

                                (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Better than the photo

                                By Nadman

                                from Ontario, Canada

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • High Quality

                                Cons

                                  Best Uses

                                    Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                                    It doesn't look impressive in the photo, but this is a very sturdy, high quality head! Good buy.

                                    • Primary use:
                                    • Business
                                    • Was this a gift?:
                                    • No

                                    Share this review

                                    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                     
                                    5.0

                                    Rock Solid, Super Price Point

                                    By Big Glass Dave

                                    from Nashville, TN

                                    About Me Tech Savvy

                                    Verified Buyer

                                    Pros

                                    • Good Stability
                                    • Quality feel

                                    Cons

                                    • Heavy

                                    Best Uses

                                    • High mag terrestrial view

                                    Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                                    The FM18 was mated with a Giotto tripod and a Meade 80mm refractor to create a travel telescope kit. My viewing interest, which include terrestrial and sky objects, pulled me towards a fluid head instead of an AZ mount. The FM18 has no problem carrying the 7 lb scope along with a heavy 2" diagonal and 2" eyepiece. Movement is smooth enough to allow the small nudges needed when following a celestial object. The head is not lightweight, but mass is an asset for stable viewing/photography. Other reviews mention the interference between locking levers. While true, the ratchet feature provides a workaround. I'm very pleased with the product.

                                    • Was this a gift?:
                                    • No

                                    Share this review

                                    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                                     
                                    4.0

                                    Great Head!

                                    By Rogan

                                    from Oklahoma

                                    About Me Film Professional

                                    Verified Reviewer

                                    Pros

                                    • Good quality
                                    • Good Stability
                                    • Smooth action
                                    • Unfolds Quickly

                                    Cons

                                      Best Uses

                                      • Dolly Shots
                                      • Field
                                      • JibCrane
                                      • Studio

                                      Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                                      I bought one of these heads to beta-test it against a Bogen 3063, and wound up fitting all three of my 3035 tripods with FM18's! This head has good balance, actions are smooth, and the quick release plate is a good size for any of my cameras. I use this head in the field, on live shoots outside, in a studio, on a jib-crane, and sometimes on a dolly. Occassionally I forget that the QR plate tightening screw lever is spring loaded, so other than that, a great overall head for the price! On my three heads, there is only one plastic part: the pan lever. Every other knob is metal! Great build.

                                      • Was this a gift?:
                                      • No

                                      Share this review

                                      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                       
                                      5.0

                                      Best [$] head on the market

                                      By Brap

                                      from Dartmouth, MA

                                      About Me Aspiring Film Maker

                                      Verified Buyer

                                      Pros

                                        Cons

                                          Best Uses

                                            Comments about Davis & Sanford FM18 Fluid Head:

                                            I now have two of these, one word SMOOTH

                                            • Was this a gift?:
                                            • No

                                            Share this review

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                                            Quick Release Plates

                                            Davis & Sanford - Quick Release Mounting Plate for FM18
                                            • You Pay: $12.98
                                             
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