Is the Miller Solo Carbon Fiber Tripod the Best All Around Tripod?

by Barry Andersson5 Comments

Tripods are a basic tool that all videographers need to have in their tool kit. On that note it is one of the most common questions I get asked- What is the best all around tripod? or What Tripod should I buy?

“There is also no such thing as one tripod that will be perfect for every shoot.”

Check out this great post from Alister Chapman about a great all around tripod for a variety of different shoots.

Miller Solo Carbon Fiber Tripod

Here are some highlights:

– The most important thing to consider when choosing a tripod is the payload that it will need to carry
– You don’t want too big a tripod
– A big tripod is hard to lug around (note if you fly a lot will cost a lot in excess baggage fees)
– The Solo's (unlike most professional video tripods) legs are of the single tube, telescoping variety as opposed to the more traditional double tube variety.
– They are made from Carbon Fiber (they are very light, yet they can extend very heigh – over 6 feet with the legs alone)

What I like is his case study for his post. He spent 6-8 weeks throughout the south shooting mega storms as part of a storm chasing team. There was a lot of travel and he had to haul all his own equipment. If the equipment can hold up under these circumstances then who are we to argue?

Read the article and watch the 4K Supercell video where this tripod was used. Incredible.

The best all around tripod?

Via Alister Chapman:

I travel a lot, so I was looking for a lightweight tripod that could carry my PMW-F5 kit. The main use for this tripod was for my self funded storm chasing and natural extremes stock footage shoots as well as for the many film making workshops I run all over the world. A tripod I have had my eye on for a while is the Miller Solo – Compass 15 tripod package, so I decided to give one a try.

The Solo is unlike most professional video tripods as the legs are of the single tube, telescoping variety as opposed to the more traditional double tube variety.

Rainbow under a severe thunderstorm. Best all around tripod

Rainbow under a severe thunderstorm. Miller Tripod

They are constructed from Carbon Fiber, so they are very light, yet they can extend very high (1.87m for the legs alone), which is a great thing to have on news shoots or at an event or conference where you need to get the camera up above the heads of an audience. There is no mid level or floor spreader with this tripod, the spread of the legs is governed by latches at the tops of the legs that have 3 different positions, each one restricting the maximum leg spread by a different amount. At the same time as being able to go very tall by lifting a latch at the top of each tripod leg the legs extend outwards almost flat to the ground and this allows you to get very low down at a height similar to a Hi-Hat yet the tripod remains very stable and solid.

Miller Solo tripod standing tall. it’s almost 2m to the top of the head

Miller Solo tripod standing tall. it’s almost 2m to the top of the head

The Compass 15 head is a middle weight fluid head with a 75mm bowl for levelling. The drag for the pan and tilt is varied using click stop rings, each with 6 settings from zero to 5. The drag range is very good with position 5 giving considerable drag, something useful when you working with a long lens or trying to do very slow pans. For counterbalance there is another click stop ring, this time with 4 different counterbalance settings. The difference between the minimum and maximum counterbalance settings isn’t huge, but adequate provided you camera is within the heads payload range.

Miller Compass 15 head tilt drag and balance controls. The levelling bubble is illuminated.

Miller Compass 15 head tilt drag and balance controls. The levelling bubble is illuminated.

SUPERCELL 4K. Severe Storms and Tornadoes in 4K

Via Youtube Description:

This is a compilation of storm and tornado clips shot during May 2013. The name of the clip “Supercell” comes from the special type of severe thunderstorms that are responsible for the majority of major tornadoes. These Supercell storms spin and rotate and this helps them become stronger and last longer than normal thunderstorms. The tornadoes were in the town of Bennington, Kansas. The larger one was over half a mile across and rated EF4, a strong and violent tornado.

Shot in 4K raw with a Sony PMW-F5. Edited with Premiere Pro and finished in DaVinci Resolve on a MacBook Pro. For stock footage licensing please contact me via xdcam-user.com

Continue reading Alister Chapman's article “Miller Solo Tripod and Compass 15 Head”

What's your opinion on the best all around tripod? Sound off below in the comments

   
 Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before 
   

(cover photo credit: snap from Alister Chapman)

Barry Andersson

Barry Andersson is an award-winning director and cinematographer. Mr Andersson takes his real world experiences and shares those images and lessons with everyone from the US Marine Corp combat camera teams, many of the leading teams of the four major sports leagues, leading universities around the US as well as leading productions looking to take advantage of the latest technology.

Latest posts by Barry Andersson (see all)

Comments

  1. I have the Miller Solo DV legs and really love them for this type of work. You can’t beat its flexibility. 

    However, when working narrative style (or on docs where you’re constantly adjusting the setup height of shots such as when shooting b-roll), I find I work MUCH faster and with less frustration when using traditional 2-stage sticks such as my Vinten Pozi-Loc legs. The Miller’s twist-lock legs require a lot of screwing to tighten and release them, and a height adjustment requires more awkward bending and takes longer. I have the older version, though, and the newer Rapid Lock version hopefully addresses this issue.

  2. Can I say how much I HATE those legs ? They are such a total PITA to use – they are way slower to deploy, require too much time and effort, and if you don’t make them tight enough, slip. then if you over tighten them not everyone can loosen them back up. I have never used a worse set of legs. then they really don’t like dust…. just run away from them.

    if its not lever lock, don’t waste your time. there are many other sets of legs which are far better – faster, simpler, more reliable.

  3. I hate those legs. they are a complete total utter PITA to work with. slow, annoying, don’t always tighten 100% and slide, over tighten and not every one can loosen them, don’t like dust, and are just such misery in general.  anything with a lever lock over these any day.

  4. I’ve owned a pair for five years and love them especially for travel work. But you have to work with them differently. First, if you don’t start with the bottom sections first, you’ll find yourself bending over a lot. I often keep the legs together, loosen the bottom risers, then the second, and so on. Gravity extends them. No bending over if you start with the bottom tie downs. When I have the height I want, I spread them. It’s actually a relatively fast technique. Any other way, is  a pain.

    What I love the most about these legs is the weight and ability to set up a camera in the most difficult of places: over streams, behind narrow bars, sides of steep rocky hills, etc. Also, the ability to go from 8″ to 72″ is priceless.

    For someone who’s never used this system and haven’t figured out an efficient method, they can be frustrating. My AC’s unanimously hate them. But I take them on any doc job I have and use them over the production’s more common Sachtlers. I’ve even shot a feature on these legs with an Epic. Though once it gets to bigger rigs, for narrative I prefer Mitchell base O’Connors. I still take them on narrative work because I’ve been able to get them in places no other system would fit.

  5. SteveOakley I have the Manfrotto version of these legs. They have lever locks. Otherwise they are identical and  a joy to work with.

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