How Fast Is the New Sachtler aktiv Tripod Head Mounting System?

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Always looking for ways to innovate and improve its products, Sachtler's new aktiv tripod systems incorporate innovations that will bring actual time saving to your production, and make working with your fluid head easier, less painful, and provide more flexibility to working with your gear. The system features new and different hardware for mounting a ball level fluid head on a set of tripod legs or other support platform. Sachtler refers to this new technology as SpeedLevel, and it is built into the new SpeedSwap base integrated into these new heads. It is fast to work with, secure, and allows all the leveling adjustment you favor in a traditional system without the time-consuming removing and then retightening of the tie-down knob. In short, you sacrifice nothing, but gain speed and security.

The aktiv system is available as complete kits with flowtech 75mm legs and a padded carry bag in three ranges with spreader options: the aktiv 6 with mid-level spreader, the aktiv 6 with ground spreader, the aktiv 8 with mid-level spreader, the aktiv 8 with ground spreader, the aktiv 8T with mid-level spreader, and the aktiv 8T with ground spreader. The difference is the weight capacity of the heads—the "T" designation indicates that the head uses a Touch-and-Go plate and not a Sideload plate. The aktiv system is also available with flowtech 100mm legs for handling cameras and rigs up to 26.5 pounds and is available as the aktiv 10 with mid-level spreader, aktiv 10 with ground spreader, and aktiv 10 without spreader.

The aktiv systems reimagine how your fluid head mounts on your tripod legs. It replaces the time-honored threaded tie-down screw that protrudes through the bottom of the bowl and uses a tie-down knob to tighten the head in place. Instead, the new system uses a strong clamp built into the bowl of the head that locks onto a stud that is mounted on your tripod legs or other mounting platform, such as a slider. It is as simple to use as lifting the reclining lever on your chair, as you grasp the large SpeedLevel lever on the head and pull it up to release the clamping mechanism in the SpeedSwap base and then press the lever down to lock your head in place. Partially lifting the lever allows you to level the head. The time savings, ease, and increased safety make this a huge advance in tripod mounting technology. The majority of the release system technology is built into the head, with a simple metal mounting stud attached to your platform. The stud or bowl connector 75mm, as Sachtler refers to it, is included with every head, so you can update your flowtech legs if you are just getting a new head, and it is preattached to your legs with every complete system. The stud is also available separately, so you can upgrade additional pairs of legs.

It is worth mentioning that with the aktiv series of fluid heads, the aktiv 6, aktiv 8, aktiv 8T, and aktiv 10 (with Sideload plate), the mounting mechanism isn't the only improvement. Small details have been addressed, which, from a daily production standpoint, will make for a much less stressful workday. The bubble level illumination system now offers two options: press once for the bubble level to be illuminated; two presses light up the bubble level and the drag settings, making it much easier to work with in dark environments without firing up a flashlight. As useful as that is, the bubble level has a prism incorporated into it, which allows you not only to set the head's level when you are looking down onto it, but also now when the legs are at maximum height—and, thanks to the prism system, you can still see the bubble to set your level without having to climb on a ladder.

One of the benefits of the new mounting system is that when used with flowtech legs, you can spread it flat and get as low as your head will take you without having a tie-down knob get in the way. Another advantage is that you can now mount your head directly on a slider using an available aktiv system stud that screws onto any support system with a 3/8"-16 threaded stud—no more needing to swap heads or add a high hat to the slide to use your bowl base head. Please note: the mounting stud for the aktiv system is specialized, with a specific shape, machined to exacting tolerances, to which the head's locking clamp attaches. Rounding out the system is a slider mount that will allow you to mount a slider, or virtually any support, on an aktiv system stud. This slider mount sits low on the mount and incorporates the same leveling adjustability that the heads feature and comes with a Sideload plate for mounting.

The new active tripod systems from Sachtler are an impressive and useful change to the way we've been mounting our heads on tripod legs, and well worth checking out.

For more information on Sachtler, visit the B&H Photo Website or if you're in New York City, visit The Studio at the B&H Photo SuperStore.

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