In recent years, I’ve noticed something irritating about video tripods. The size and weight of cameras has been constantly dropping, but the lightweight tripods are generally all entry level kits, unsuitable for higher end production. The point of these fantastic, small cameras is almost completely defeated when you’re dragging along a boat-anchor tripod designed for broadcast shoulder mount cameras or motion picture rigs. You can see on many TCSTV episodes that we have tiny DSLRs or camcorders attached to giant, heavy tripods so I can get smooth camera movement.
Miller Tripods, one of the best regarded names in professional tripods saw the same issue and responded with lightweight, but extremely high performance tripods and fluid heads. This week, I’ve had a chance to use both the Compass 12 2- Stage Carbon Kit and the new Air Tripod System. Both of these fill a very needed niche for videographers.
The Compass 12 kit is the most flexible of the two Miller systems. If you shoot with a combination of different camera types, from DSLRs to ENG cameras and cinema cameras, this head has adjustable tension for pan, tilt, and counterbalance. It is by far the best feeling tripod and head combination I’ve used in this size and price range. The Compass 12 is rated for cameras up to to 22 lbs, so I was easily able to use a Sony F5 with perfect balance and drag control. Despite the ability to handle huge payloads, the Compass 12 still worked brilliantly with a small Canon C100.
The Miller Air is different beast, substantially lighter (11lbs vs 17) designed specifically for DSLR shooters. While it only takes half the weight of the Compass (12lbs max), this is more than enough for almost any DSLR rig. I recently used the Air to film our GH4 field test, and also support a fully outfitted Sony FS700. While there is no pan and tilt tension control, and the counterbalnce system is more basic, the Air features the same amazing feel as the Compass 12, quickly becoming an extension of your arm.
I’m a huge fan of Miller Tripods, and I’m ecstatic that we now have them at The Camera Store. If you want to know the thrill Ken experienced in the video above, swing by the store and try one yourself!