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New Sachtler or Used O’Connor

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Posted (edited)

I’m considering get a new Sachtler Video 15 tripod head or a used O’Connor 1030HD. Has anyone used either of those heads before? I really like the Sachtler Speedlevel clamp that they make. Seems like it would be an awesome addition to the Flowtech sticks (which I have). The O’Connor head, which is almost 10 years old, is still in great condition though and has the continuously variable drag and counterbalance that makes O’Connor heads so nice. I haven’t gotten to try either out so I’m flying blind a little bit. Has anyone used those systems before? Thoughts? 

 

Edited by DcD

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I own a Satchler Video 15SB... my sticks are the ones that are slightly lighter than those that come with the 18 and 20 too. I opted for this option as it handles the weight of my kit, and is lighter/easier to carry around.

The 15 head, like the 18 and 20 is excellent. Robust, reliable, smooth.

But it's strange to compare it to the 1030HD... that's a far superior head IMO, and much more expensive too, and rightly so. I've used it with rentals a few times, and it's a noticeable step up from the 15 (and better for heavier payloads too).

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Yeah, I realize they are very different heads. I guess I am comparing them because when the OConnor is purchased used and the Sachtler new, they are somewhat comparable in price.  I keep reading that the 1030HD is not really a run-n-gun head. That it takes longer to balance and that it's much, much larger and bulkier.

I kind of do a variety of shooting. I shoot docs and editorial one day, and then I'm off shooting commercials/music videos/shorts the other. Sometimes I've got large crews and sometimes it's me +1.  Sometimes I'm using a C200 (or now a C300 III) and other times I'm using an Amira or a loaded Mini. The Sachtler appeals to me due to the quick counterbalancing, the SpeedLevel and the weight. The OConnor appeals to me because it's an Oconnor, will last forever, has their patented continuous drag and buttery smooth operation. I can get either of them for just about the same price.

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For day to day fast paced work I’d get the Video 15SB. I’ve had mine for 7 years I think, and bought it used (but in mint condition) and it’s still working just as it always was - perfectly. I love that it’s lighter that the 18 and 20 - makes a big difference when carrying it around on the shoulder!

I use this with an F5 + Fujinon XK6 and have had accessories such as follow focus, 5” monitor; zoom demand; double stacked batteries.... and it’s been fine.

However, I have put a fully rigged Alexa Mini on it too, with big Cooke lenses, big matte box, etc... and it was starting to become too heavy for the 15SB. I had to be really careful.

I’ve used the same on the 1030HD though, and it was perfect.

I recall once renting a 1030HD to use with my F5 and with certain lenses it was actually too light for it: the counter balance overpowered the weight of the camera.

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I'd consider stepping up to the Sachtler 18 if you're putting heavier loads on it from time to time. 

As Nezih says, the OConnor is the superior system, it's just is. But the Sachtler is a solid choice and an industry standard in broadcast for a reason. Buying a new system also gives you some peace of mind in some ways.

Personally I would go with a Sachtler that can take most of the loads you're working with. I tend to rent a bigger Oconnor head (2575) for those jobs that require that.

 

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Posted (edited)

O'Connor.  While Sachtler's are solid, smooth heads, their drag and counterbalance are not continuously variable.  Being able to adjust your drag on-the-fly without "free wheeling" is very important, especially if you shoot sports, but it's very useful even on interviews and other similar things.  And I consider the 15 kind of a small head.  If I was buying a Sachtler, I wouldn't get anything below an 18.

As far as the SpeedLevel Clamp, check the threads on the O'Connor, it should work as long as they're the same.  I was actually debating having the stud swapped out of one of my Vinten's so that I could use the SLC, but changed my mind.  I have a buddy with a SpeedLevel Clamp on one of his Sachtler's and it's kind of nice, but it also can be a hinderance, depending on how you move, work and carry your tripod.  I pick mine up directly under the head, palm on the leveling clamp a lot while I'm actually shooting, so the SLC would prevent me from doing that.

Edited by Run&Gun

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2 hours ago, Run&Gun said:

And I consider the 15 kind of a small head.  If I was buying a Sachtler, I wouldn't get anything below an 18.

Surely it depends on the camera?

2 hours ago, Run&Gun said:

I pick mine up directly under the head, palm on the leveling clamp a lot while I'm actually shooting, so the SLC would prevent me from doing that.

I do the same.

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2 hours ago, Run&Gun said:

I pick mine up directly under the head, palm on the leveling clamp a lot while I'm actually shooting, so the SLC would prevent me from doing that.

That’s a very good point about the SpeedLevel. I never thought about that, but I do the same thing. I’m guessing it would require retraining some muscle memory when it comes to moving the rig. The Flowtech 100’s have that nice handle, so I would probably just start using that. 

2 hours ago, Run&Gun said:

As far as the SpeedLevel Clamp, check the threads on the O'Connor, it should work as long as they're the same. 

I currently have a Miller and it doesn’t work with my head. I just assumed Sachtler uses their own, unique thread size since I have never seen a SpeedLevel on anything but a Sachtler. But you’re right, might as well check. Maybe I’d get lucky. 

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7 hours ago, Nezih said:

I recall once renting a 1030HD to use with my F5 and with certain lenses it was actually too light for it: the counter balance overpowered the weight of the camera.

OConnor rates the 1030HD with a minimum payload of 0 pounds. But I’ve read that cameras below 10 pounds, such as mirrorless, don’t do very well on it, which your post kind of verifies. I think that’s where my hesitation with getting a 1030HD might lie. I just got a C300 III and I’ve got a bunch of shoots lined up with it (which is weird since the United States is utterly falling apart at the seams). Much like the C500 II, the C300 III can be stripped down to nothing or built up into an Amira/V-Lock type system. I kind of see myself shooting with it somewhere in the middle right now. Camera body, rear EVF, 4” touch screen for focus and scopes, a 7” smallhd touch for a clean image, and the larger BPA 60 batteries. Lenses could range anywhere from small EF to big ol’ Tokina Vistas. 

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10 hours ago, Nezih said:

Surely it depends on the camera?

I do the same.

True.  I was applying my criteria for my cameras.  The OP may have a rig that fits easily within the payload capacity window of the 15.  I like to have a fair amount of headroom and I'm typically between 25lbs-35lbs.  Probably less if I'm shooting with a prime on my 55 or 300 and more if I have a Varicam rigged out for a live show.

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10 hours ago, DcD said:

That’s a very good point about the SpeedLevel. I never thought about that, but I do the same thing. I’m guessing it would require retraining some muscle memory when it comes to moving the rig. The Flowtech 100’s have that nice handle, so I would probably just start using that. 

I currently have a Miller and it doesn’t work with my head. I just assumed Sachtler uses their own, unique thread size since I have never seen a SpeedLevel on anything but a Sachtler. But you’re right, might as well check. Maybe I’d get lucky. 

I never thought about the SLC being "in the way" either, until I got a chance to try the one on my buddy's rig.

I have no idea about the the threading on the Sachtler's vs. the O'Connor's.  You can probably call them and ask.  Maybe...  Vinten has this super weird(double thread) threading that NO ONE else uses.  I had some custom super low-profile tie-down knobs/clamps made years ago for a hi-hat and I called Vinten to get the specs for the machine shop and their techs couldn't even give me the correct info.  I ended up having to leave one of my heads with them for like a week so they could figure it out.  They ended up having to special order the tap and die tools to make them.  Cost me a boat load by the time it was said and done and then I ended up never using them.

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I bought a used older model of the 1030 O'Connor. I love that tripod head but you got to make sure its in good condition if you are buying used. Mine was in average condition when I bought it, I ended up breaking a part in it and whilst servicing it they discovered that most of the fluid had leaked out over time. It cost well over a $1k to get serviced and repaired.

Saying that it's good as new now. O'connors are a pleasure to use, to me its the only tripod system with all the controls in the right place and they are silky smooth, honestly I hate going back to other brands.  It might be a bit overkill for a c300mkii but just depends what run and gun means to you and how much weight you want to carry as they aren't particularly light. 

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2 hours ago, Michael L said:

It might be a bit overkill for a c300mkii but just depends what run and gun means to you and how much weight you want to carry as they aren't particularly light. 

Yeah, that's one of my hesitations with the 1030. My current Miller Compass 25 weighs 6.3 pounds and the Oconnor sits at 8.2 pounds. So it's about 1.9 pounds heavier, though it is much larger in size. But that doesn't seem like a huge weight difference to me. I think it more has to do with whether the 1030HD head is just too beefy for a camera the size of the C300 III. I like the compact size of my current Miller, but the counterbalance sucks on it, and I've never been able to dial it in properly. It's only got 4 positions of counterbalance and it always drifts up.
 

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That is one of the beautiful things with Vinten's and O'Connor's, their infinitely/continuously variable counterbalance and drag.  It makes operating so much easier and better when you can get it all dialed in EXACTLY where you want it, not just close.

And if it makes you feel any better, my primary Run & Gun set-up (pun intended) is a Vinten 100 and Sachtler Flowtech 100 which together weigh in a little over 16 lbs.

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Counter balance is awesome on O'Connors, most rental houses have those heads I would try and test one with your camera. If you don't take it anywhere they'll usually let you do it for free. 

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So I went and rented a 1030HD today just to try it out. It's a bit banged up and it definitely needs some servicing. But it cost $50 to rent for the day, so I figured what the hell, I'll try it out, even if it is a bit rough around the edges. 

In retrospect, I kind of wish I'd just rented one in pristine condition. The euro plate was a little sticky on this unit. And it was not confidence-inspiring. The plate didn't snap into place effortlessly with the first try. It took some wiggling and multiple attempts. That kind of soured me. Many times it would appear to be locked, but upon further inspection it would only be halfway in. Scary stuff with a cinema camera and pretty unacceptable for a rental item. I will be speaking to the rental house about this. But I also have to wonder if Oconnor's euro plates all get like this after some abuse. Maybe their euro plate mechanism is a little janky by design?

I also didn't like the large plastic cylinder covering the internal components on the rear (see attached photo). I didn't expect that to be made of thin plastic and be so flimsy. In all the photos it looks like it's metal or something, so that surprised me.

Lastly, the tie down on the 1030HD needs to be ratcheted down with a lot more muscle than I'm used to with my other heads. The metal dome on the Oconnor seems to like to slip inside the Flowtech's bowl a bit when pressure is applied. But that may also be due to the head just being bigger and bulkier, and therefore it has a taller center of gravity. 

Now, having said all that, I get what everyone says about OConnor's motion. It really is like butter. It moves better than any tripod head I've ever used in my life. All the starts and stops are completely effortless. It's subtle but it's addictive. 

Gonna try to find a Sachtler to play around with next. 

1030HD Head.png

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