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Tripod Head Advice for Meopta Meostar S2 (1 Viewer)

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Looking to upgrade my current Promaster Pan head as it definitely is not enough for the Meostar S2 82mm Scope I’m running and need some advice. Currenty using a Slik PRO 723CF Tripod which seems up to the task but the head sometimes has difficulty remaining steady, especially when attempting to digiscope. When unlocking either axis some slop comes into play, and I need something a bit more robust, fluid and steady. Not certain about which way to go - Manfrotto 324RC2 trigger type, some kind of video or fluid head??? Not overly concerned about price - just looking for something that will be stable, repeatably accurate, and easy to use when birding and digiscoping. Ease of getting and remaining on target, while able to make minor adjustments to follow the subject. Thanks in advance as any advice is sincerely appreciated.
 

rdcny

Well-known member

 

Hermann

Well-known member
Looking to upgrade my current Promaster Pan head as it definitely is not enough for the Meostar S2 82mm Scope I’m running and need some advice. Currenty using a Slik PRO 723CF Tripod which seems up to the task but the head sometimes has difficulty remaining steady, especially when attempting to digiscope. When unlocking either axis some slop comes into play, and I need something a bit more robust, fluid and steady. Not certain about which way to go - Manfrotto 324RC2 trigger type, some kind of video or fluid head???
Manfrotto 500AH?

Hermann
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Thanks for the input. Spent some time scrubbing these and some other forums yesterday. So, now I’m looking at the Sirui VH-10, Manfrotto 500AH, Gitzo GHF2W, and Benro S6. Anyone have preferences or good/bad experiences with these?
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

I like my 500AH... very stable unless you have a 95 or 115mm monster on there... Also you can easily balance the scope with the long rail. But a bit heavier than some at 1kg.

Joachim
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
I've used the Sirui VH-10, Manfrotto 500AH and Gitzo GHF2W for an ATX95 and S2. Liked the Gitzo best. IMO the panning of Sirui and Manfrotto was too loose, and easy to accidentally move. In addition the pan lock knobs were rather small and poorly located. were I,

Currently I'm happy to run the S2 on a Manfrotto 128RC.
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Great feedback so far - thanks. Coming to the realization that I’ll likely buy more than one. Some of the pre-existing threads have also been quite informative and helpful.

Bill, I’m curious. Since you really seemed to enjoy the GHF2W, why did you move back to the 128RC?
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I like the Manfrotto 500AH fine but prefer the build of the Sirui VH-10X. Both are very capable. Depending on your needs, a lighter head such as the Sirui VA-5 might suffice. As you note, you may end with more than one set-up--a heavier tripod and head for some purposes and a lighter head and tripod for others.

--AP
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Great feedback so far - thanks. Coming to the realization that I’ll likely buy more than one. Some of the pre-existing threads have also been quite informative and helpful.

Bill, I’m curious. Since you really seemed to enjoy the GHF2W, why did you move back to the 128RC?
I prefer the 128RC since the S2 can be used on it without a plate. Like the Swaros and Vortexes, the foot is designed to fit directly into the head. I found a plate with anti-rotation pin for the GHF2W, but there still was some allowable movement. Scope-plate-head interfaces have been a major weakness of the Sport Optic industry for decades and it makes me homicidal. It could be solved by providing the ability to use 2 screws to connect the plate, but that highly advanced technology is beyond the capability of today's optics manufacturer's.

The 128RC tilt & pan dampening can't be adjusted, but it's pretty heavy. The S2 is probably the max size and weight scope I would use on it. The scope WILL flop if the tilt is left unlocked and the scope is somewhat out of level, however the movement is quite slow and the kit is not going to tip over.

FYI, I don't digiscope often, when I do its with an iPhone. I'm not sure how any of the heads mentioned above would work if a DSLR is used.

One negative about the 500AH and V-10 is that the pan handles are captive. I prefer a shorter pan handle, the 128RC and GHF2W handles can be shoved pretty far into the clamp or even removed to be cut.

The GHF2W would be my go to for the ATX95.

I see Swaro has scopes available with an Arca-Swiss type foot. I have no clue has to how well they have worked out.
 

jring

Well-known member
One negative about the 500AH and V-10 is that the pan handles are captive. I prefer a shorter pan handle, the 128RC and GHF2W handles can be shoved pretty far into the clamp or even removed to be cut.

Can't talk about the V-10 but the (indeed quite long) 500AH handle can be removed and cut/bent to taste. The one on my used example already came cut and bent to a nice and short size...

Joachim
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Thanks for the follow-up Bill, that makes perfect sense. If primarily using the S2 as a dedicated spotter, the 128RC directly connects and firmly locks, that would certainly punch the ticket.

Alexis - thanks for the input, quite helpful. On the videos I’ve seen of the VH-10 & 10X there appeared to be both a twist-lock to lengthen and shorten the arm and a small anti-rotation pin on the included plate. Is this the case? Also, pardon me for asking as I know it has been asked before but I was a bit unclear on the answer - the differrences between the VH-10 and 10X appear to be a slightly higher load rating for the 10 even though it weighs 1/2 pound less; and the only apparent advantage mentioned of the 10X over the 10 is the variabe panning drag levels vs the single drag setting of the 10. In your experience and/or opinion is the variable panning drag a significant advantage, and would you expect a significant difference in load capacity between the two (rated at 4 vs 6kg)? I don’t envision doing a ton of video (maybe some dabbling), mostly as a sturdy but easy to use platform for the spotting scope and some still digiscoping.

You also nailed it as my mind is already looking ahead to multiple steps for sturdy and portable applications.
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Thanks for the follow-up Bill, that makes perfect sense. If primarily using the S2 as a dedicated spotter, the 128RC directly connects and firmly locks, that would certainly punch the ticket.

Alexis - thanks for the input, quite helpful. On the videos I’ve seen of the VH-10 & 10X there appeared to be both a twist-lock to lengthen and shorten the arm and a small anti-rotation pin on the included plate. Is this the case? Also, pardon me for asking as I know it has been asked before but I was a bit unclear on the answer - the differrences between the VH-10 and 10X appear to be a slightly higher load rating for the 10 even though it weighs 1/2 pound less; and the only apparent advantage mentioned of the 10X over the 10 is the variabe panning drag levels vs the single drag setting of the 10. In your experience and/or opinion is the variable panning drag a significant advantage, and would you expect a significant difference in load capacity between the two (rated at 4 vs 6kg)? I don’t envision doing a ton of video (maybe some dabbling), mostly as a sturdy but easy to use platform for the spotting scope and some still digiscoping.

You also nailed it as my mind is already looking ahead to multiple steps for sturdy and portable applications.
My VH-10's handle has the twist lock and can indeed be extended to a length of 19 inches.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
Thanks for the follow-up Bill, that makes perfect sense. If primarily using the S2 as a dedicated spotter, the 128RC directly connects and firmly locks, that would certainly punch the ticket.

Alexis - thanks for the input, quite helpful. On the videos I’ve seen of the VH-10 & 10X there appeared to be both a twist-lock to lengthen and shorten the arm and a small anti-rotation pin on the included plate. Is this the case? Also, pardon me for asking as I know it has been asked before but I was a bit unclear on the answer - the differrences between the VH-10 and 10X appear to be a slightly higher load rating for the 10 even though it weighs 1/2 pound less; and the only apparent advantage mentioned of the 10X over the 10 is the variabe panning drag levels vs the single drag setting of the 10. In your experience and/or opinion is the variable panning drag a significant advantage, and would you expect a significant difference in load capacity between the two (rated at 4 vs 6kg)? I don’t envision doing a ton of video (maybe some dabbling), mostly as a sturdy but easy to use platform for the spotting scope and some still digiscoping.

You also nailed it as my mind is already looking ahead to multiple steps for sturdy and portable applications.
I've no experience w/the non-X version of the VH-10, with lacks the built-in fluid drag w/4 fixed settings. For my purposes, I like having the true fluid (panning-only) drag, which is super smooth and consistent. Helps when tracking moving targets (in my case, turtles swimming in rivers, when I photograph them for research purposes, often at 96x). The load limits of either head are much more than I need, even for my "very heavy" set-up, with which I usually use this head (on Really Right Stuff 34L mk2 legs). I use much lighter heads with my lighter set-ups, so I've not been tempted to cut weight by getting the plain VH-10.

The included plate does have an antirotation pin and it works well enough for me (on a Kowa 884 scope), but because it has some rubber at the interface I do not find it quite as secure as metal-only plates with an anti-rotation lip. In my experience, those plates remain secure whereas plates with rubber can loosen over time.

The handle on the VH-10/X has a collar to allow extension, can be rotated, is easy to remove, could be modified or replaced w/something shorter w/a tiny bit of ingenuity. I like it set to shortest length.

--AP
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Can't talk about the V-10 but the (indeed quite long) 500AH handle can be removed and cut/bent to taste. The one on my used example already came cut and bent to a nice and short size...
Removing the handle is in fact the first thing I do with any video head. They're all far too long and cumbersome for my purposes. With my Gitzo heads I don't use any handle at all, with the 500AH I cut mine to size and bent it the way I like it.

Hermann
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Removing the handle is in fact the first thing I do with any video head. They're all far too long and cumbersome for my purposes. With my Gitzo heads I don't use any handle at all, with the 500AH I cut mine to size and bent it the way I like it.

Hermann
I see that many Western US hunters use their scopes with the head handles pointed forward.
 

rpg51

Well-known member
Supporter
I am using a Kowa 883 scope. I have a good light weight tripod and fluid head set up that I use for canoe trips and such when I am packing things around a lot and need light stuff. But, it is not ideal. When I am bird and wildlife watching from the car or day hikes I want something much more stable. I have a set of good solid carbon legs and just that makes a world of difference. They are far more stable than my light weight legs. But, since weight is not a significant factor for most of my viewing experiences, I would also like to get a better fluid head for these heavy legs. I am currently using my light weight head (Sirui VA 5). Its "ok." But, I think a bigger and better fluid head would be helpful with this "heavy" set up. I'm reading about the heads you are all speaking about.

I have a question though. Do any of these heads enable you to set pan and tilt stiffness for comfortable panning and tilting with separate knobs or levers, but then lock it with a different lever or knob when you are on a stationary bird and you want it to stay put, maybe to give others a look, or to adjust zoom and focus, without risking moving the scope off the subject? I would love to be able to move the scope about with light or medium stiffness and then lock it down but then be able to unlock it and instantly return to the pan and tilt stiffness I set in the first place. I don't like having to adjust pan and tilt stiffness all over again after locking down the scope. Does this make any sense?
 
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Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
I am using a Kowa 883 scope. I have a good light weight tripod and fluid head set up that I use for canoe trips and such when I am packing things around a lot and need light stuff. But, it is not ideal. When I am bird and wildlife watching from the car or day hikes I want something much more stable. I have a set of good solid carbon legs and just that makes a world of difference. They are far more stable than my light weight legs. But, since weight is not a significant factor for most of my viewing experiences, I would also like to get a better fluid head for these heavy legs. I am currently using my light weight head (Sirui VA 5). Its "ok." But, I think a bigger and better fluid head would be helpful with this "heavy" set up. I'm reading about the heads you are all speaking about.

I have a question though. Do any of these heads enable you to set pan and tilt stiffness for comfortable panning and tilting with separate knobs or levers, but then lock it with a different lever or knob when you are on a stationary bird and you want it to stay put, maybe to give others a look, or to adjust zoom and focus, without risking moving the scope off the subject? I would love to be able to move the scope about with light or medium stiffness and then lock it down but then be able to unlock it and instantly return to the pan and tilt stiffness I set in the first place. I don't like having to adjust pan and tilt stiffness all over again after locking down the scope. Does this make any sense?
I believe the Manfrotto 502AH meets your desired needs, but it weighs about 3.5lbs
 

rpg51

Well-known member
Supporter
Thanks - I'll take a look at that one. As I said, for this set up, weight, within reason, is not a major issue. I'll check out how much more the 502AH weights vs. the 500AH and the VH/10x and do a little reading on it.
 

rpg51

Well-known member
Supporter
The 502 AH looks good as far as functionality. Its about 1.5 Lbs heavier than the 500AH for example. Honestly, I don't think the extra weight is going to bother me. But, the thing does look very beefy. Does anyone here have experience using the 502AH with a big spotter?
 

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