Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ravelli Tripods

A good fluid head video tripod can be expensive; very expensive. Which is why I was intrigued by the Ravelli Tripods offered on Amazon. There are two "video" models; the Ravelli AVT Video Camera Tripod [$78.39] and the Ravelli AVTP Professional 75mm Video Camera Tripod [$146.89].

Even at that price, I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money without seeing one, but a friend just bought the Professional model, and I got to play with it for a bit.

First impressions were quite positive. It seems to be solidly built; the legs are sturdy, and it's nicely machined and finished. The battleship gray finish is a little 50's in style, but it still looks nice. I guess I'd describe it as basic looking, but not cheap looking. There's some nice touches with dual handles and the quick release mounting plate has a lock and a latch. The bottom of the feet have an interesting rubber cover that adjusts to the surface it's placed on.

The tripod comes in a light canvas bag. It's not padded, and not very heavy construction, but if you aren't too rough with it, it should last a while.

The up-and-down tilt motion of the tripod head was good, and could be firmed up using a large plastic handle on the side. However the left-right pan of the tripod head was the one disappointment; it seemed to drag a little unevenly, and couldn't be entirely loosened. This is a complaint that several people have made about these models; that the movement isn't as smooth you might desire. They also seem to be a bit inconsistent - some people love them, some have problems tilt, while others the pan - though that could be a result of the different expectations of the users.

A range of solutions have been suggested; from moving it back and forth multiple times to loosen it up, to disassembling it:
As stated in prior reviews, the pan is stiff. Take care if you disassemble the head to adjust the slip ring, as there are steel screws into cast aluminum, which makes it easy to strip out the screw holes. The tilt is fine for still photography. The bowl – leveling knob turns easily and tightens fast and tight easily. The tilt adjustment lever was in an odd place as shipped, it takes about 45 seconds to move, so no biggy. The bubble – and – ring level is adequate. For stills, it’s important that errant vibration settle down quickly and this tripod dampens vibration quite nicely. It does weigh 14 pounds.
- The Tech Gadget Blog
I'm not sure I want to start doing that kind of work.

I like the look of this tripod, and I'm seriously thinking of getting one. I think it'll be excellent for use with a larger camera - or a DSLR with a big lens on it - that is locked down. As a tripod I think it works great. As a fluid head I'm not as excited by it; I think it's better than many "regular" inexpensive tripod heads, but it's not a great "fluid" head. I'm not sure I'd count on using it for a lot of actual camera motion shots.

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