Getting to Know Sachtler Tripods
Cameraman Wendelin Sachtler developed a tripod with a gyroscopic head, in a garage in
Sachtler tripods have been used by professional camera teams around the world for more than half a century. Film and television crews regularly rely on Sachtler equipment to get the job done, whether they're shooting in the blazing deserts of North Africa or the frozen expanses of the Antarctic.
Sachtler’s fluid heads are virtually friction-free. They don’t contain any hydraulic fluid, and therefore are not affected by temperature extremes. Fluid heads are available for tripods with 75mm, 100mm, and 150mm bowls as well as flat bases. Lightweight camcorders typically use 75mm bowls, heavier ones use 100mm bowls, and film and television cameras require 150mm bowls or flat bases.
Sachtler tripods are made of aluminum and carbon fiber. Both materials are very strong, but the lighter weight of carbon fiber is much better suited to mobile use. A quick look at the Sachtler products available from B&H reveals a lineup that starts at about $500 and tops out at more than $14,000. Let’s cruise through some of the models at various price points in the Sachtler lineup.
At entry level, the Sachtler 4183 DA 75 tripod is ideal for Mini-DV camcorders. The tripod combines single-extension aluminum legs, a 75mm bowl, and quick-release mounting system. It will support up to 33 pounds, and costs $479.95.
Sachtler’s 0475 FSB-6 carbon-fiber tripod system combines an FSB-6 fluid head, a 2-stage carbon-fiber tripod, mid-level spreader, and a carry case. The head supports up to about 13 pounds, with leak-proof fluid damping and three levels of drag for smooth panning, both horizontally and vertically; drag can be disengaged for fast panning. A dynamic counterbalancing system prevents cameras from tipping, regardless of tilt angle. This tripod system costs $ 1,694.95.
Some of the Sachtler tripods include FSB power cells. An FSB power cell is a battery pack that mounts between the camcorder and the fluid head, with brand-specific electrical contacts. The Sachtler 0775B-788 tripod system is a good example. This kit includes Sachtler’s 4588 Speed Lock 75 carbon-fiber tripod with a 75mm leveling bowl, an FSB-8 fluid head, and an FSB power cell with a Panasonic power connector. Supporting up to 20 pounds, the FSB-8 fluid head features Sachtler's Snap & Go side-load mechanism with a 120mm sliding range and 10-step counterbalance. This particular kit costs $2,439.50, but B&H carries similar kits with FSB power cells for all popular camcorder brands.
Operators of heavy equipment will be happy to know that the Sachtler OB-2000 tripod supports up to 309 pounds! The flat-base tripod has a built-in stabilizer and rotating rubber feet. A built-in bubble and tripod leg scaling allow for simple and precise leveling. It supports all common flat-base heads, including Mitchell video fittings. A hand-crank column is optional. This brute costs $2,794.95.
Sachtler’s 1062 DV-10SB tripod system includes a DV-10SB fluid head and CF 100 ENG 2CF two-stage tripod. The DV-10SB fluid head has a 12-step counterbalance, Touch & Go quick release, and 100mm half-ball base. The CF 100 ENG 2CF carbon-fiber tripod supports up to 26.5 pounds. A floor spreader and carry case are included. This kit costs $4,299.99.
The Sachtler System 18/1863 includes a Video 18 SB fluid head with Speed Balance, an ENG 2 CF tripod with rubber feet, and a padded transport bag. The Video 18 fluid head has five levels of drag, and the ENG 2CF two-stage tripod features a 10mm bowl and a mid-level spreader. A 10-step dynamic counterbalancing system uses torsion springs to compensate for torque to prevent tipping as the camera tilts. The springs can be adjusted individually, independent of the damping system. A 120mm sliding balance plate can compensate for a variety of configuration weights. Included with this package is a free Birns & Sawyer 116025 MB-130 two-stage matte box with 19mm rod support. This fancy bundle supports up to 40 pounds and costs $6,979.95.
The most expensive Sachtler product that B&H carries is the System 75 PLUS OB-2000 tripod system. This consists of the aforementioned OB-2000 tripod with a Video 75 Plus EFP fluid head and dolly. The Video 75 Plus head features a 24-step counterbalance, a 120mm sliding balance plate and Touch & Go quick release. The tripod itself can support up to 309 pounds, but the fluid head maxes out at 165 pounds, so that’s the most weight that can be supported when using this particular head. This top-of-the-line kit costs $14,888.50.
B&H carries hundreds of different Sachtler products, so no matter how specific your tripod needs are, there’s a Sachtler product that can meet them. Your only problem will be to figure out which product best suits your needs, but B&H’s knowledgeable sales staff, made up largely of industry professionals, can certainly help you figure it all out.