Need help to build the perfect tripod head for m43/mirrorless cameras.

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by sanjeevkumarsr, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. sanjeevkumarsr

    sanjeevkumarsr New to Mu-43

    Nov 2, 2012
    Hosur, India
    Sanjeev Kumar S R
    I have permission from Admin Amin Sabet to make this post.

    My fellow M43 and other mirrorless users, I need your help.

    I am a Panasonic GH2 user with Lumix 14140 and 100300 lenses and I mostly shoot nature and wildlife. I am also a firm believer in using my gitzo 3541 xls tripod whenever I can. I shoot video as well as stills. I mostly use the long lens, but do use shorter lenses sometimes as well. I hike around a lot in the jungles, always wary of elephants, so my entire set up has to be rugged, light and safe for my camera. This more or less sets the brief for the kind of tripod head I want.

    I have been working on this for the last few months. I came up with many designs (I am a mechanical engineer and own a small cnc machining set up) and set about making prototypes and testing them out. After various trials and discarding many ideas, I have pretty much narrowed down the design. I am calling it Steti Micro and it looks like this:


    It is a precision gimbal head machined from aluminium, stainless steel and brass. It has a little bit of drag for smooth panning and follow for videos. It locks down by a flick of two levers for stills. It measures 5”x 5”x 2” and weighs 350 grams. It can be fitted with a panning handle. I am working on a system to fix accessories like microphones etc.

    It has a new way of mounting and dismounting through a different kind of quick change mechanism that directly draws the camera down onto the tripod head instead of squeezing it down through dovetails. Also it does not release the camera until the knob is loosened by more than 1.5 turns to prevent accidents. There are machined stops which prevent the camera from sliding off a loose clamp. I confidently carry the tripod mounted with my camera and lens and it feels weightless and balanced.

    The Lumix 100300 lens wobbles a bit as its weight hangs off the mounting flange of the GH2 body. The new lens plate supports the objective end of the lens and is secured to the camera body, which makes the joint rigid and prevents all vibration. It also enables direct mounting in the tripod head and can be adjusted back and forth for the optimum gimbal balance. Most of all, the lens plate is slim and barely visible.

    I need your help to bring this tripod head into production. I have started a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. There is a video on the campaign page which shows features the gimbal head and a video of our dog Pepper, which shows that the Steti Micro can easily follow action while shooting video even in my novice hands.

    Here is an animation I made to illustrate the features of Steti Micro

    Do let me know what you think and follow the campaign on Indiegogo. I will be posting regular updates there to show the progress. Please back my effort and help me bring it to market. Do share the details with all those who you think will be interested and in other forums.

    Please do not forget to follow the campaign (click on the star) on Indiegogo. I will be posting regular updates there.
    Indiegogo link :

    I look forward to your suggestions and comments.
    Thank you for reading this far.
    Warm regards
    [email protected]
  2. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Hello, Sangeev. Welcome.

    I saw your post on the first day and thought you would probably get some comments. I guess not. So, here goes:

    1) It doesn't appear that you have provided any way to take vertical (portrait orientation) shots. This would be a show-stopper for me since I frequently switch between horizontal and vertical.

    2) For me, the "perfect head" must be usable on a monopod as well as a tripod. I am mainly a tourist photographer and use a monopod a lot. Your quick-release plate design with its screw clamping mechanism is the stopper here. One hand to hold the camera, one hand to hold the monopod, and one hand to tighten the screw. Oops. Only two hands available! For a monopod, IMHO, one must have a QR system where placing the plate into the clamp automatically releases a locking lever. Examples are the Gitzo GH2750QR and the Manfrotto RC2 clamps. (You are not alone in screw-clamping. As far as I know there are no latching bases for the ubiquitous Arca-Swiss system either, despite the fact that one would be technically feasible.)

    I never shoot video, so for me the "perfect" head is a ball head with an automatically latching quick release system. Sorry to say, your design would not be of interest.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. * How about including a forward and aft nodal slider into the design?

    * The horizontal panning leaver in its current position can be difficult to work in certain camera positions AND/OR obstruct the camera's body from panning vertically.

    * I also don't see tension adjustment... is this fluid based head? IMO, the head must maintain camera positioning even when the user lets go of the camera and has not yet locked everything into place.

    * I would suggest using a known plate design for easy compatibility. I would suggest Arca Swiss due to its simplicity.

    * If you have Arca Swiss compatibility, then anyone who has the standard L brackets would be solve the portrait issue brought up by the previous poster.

    * I prefer large knobs over small levers.

    * One thing I would like to see (I know its probably hard to design) is a single locking mechanism... meaning one turn of the knob locks both horizontal and vertical pan simultaneously.

    * I do use a gimbal head and I like your idea of having a smaller lightweight version tailored for ILC cameras. Mine is a bit over kill now for the system... heavy too.

    The key problem I have with micro 4/3rds telephotos is none of them include some sort of tripod collar into their design. I know of one person manufacturing (small quantity.. limited availability) collars for the 45-200. You can probably sell quite a few for the 100-300mm.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    In a static studio situation, perhaps, but when shooting portraits, animals, performers, etc., I need to quickly switch orientations. Like in a couple of seconds. So I can't be fooling with clamps and brackets.

    This one, for example, was shot off a monopod. Others in the shoot were landscape format.

    • Like Like x 1
  5. denniscloutier

    denniscloutier Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 24, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    You're Indiegogo page is in draft mode, so I can't look at it.

    For longer lenses the answer to the portrait vs landscape issue is a lens collar. Then you just rotate the camera and lens in the collar. I think this type of head would be great for landscape photography, but hopefully this one will be lighter and cheaper than the existing ones.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. jarl

    jarl Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    I would personally look for a different solution (I'm a M.E. as well) so I can't really give you suggestions about the design. I just wanted to draw your attention to your choice of materials. If you'll be using this in rugged/humid settings you may want to stay away from the aluminum+stainless combination, or make sure the SS you use doesn't create galvanic corrosion problems with AL

    Best luck!

    Sent from my GT-P3113 using Mu-43 mobile app
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Do you know of a gimbal head that has such a feature?

    My guess is that you are better served with a ball or 3 way head rather than a gimbal. Part of the reason for a gimbal head is to maintain an easy rotation around the center line or nodal point.... something that is not necessarily important in your case.
  8. Exactly... the issue is that most of the current MFT native telephotos do not use a tripod collar. Rotating around a lens collar was exactly what was done with other systems (in my case Canon).
    • Like Like x 1
  9. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Most folks using gimbal heads are using them with longer tele lenses which already have a rotating tripod mount making the switch from landscape to portrait easy. I have never seen a gimbal head with a this feature.
  10. Yes.. this was exactly my point. I was replying to "oldracer". Pretty much hinting that a gimbal head is might not be appropriate tool for his purposes.

    Yes... I use a gimbal head quite a bit since before I use MFT. For me, its the easiest to work because the system rotates around center, is damped, and holds position. But you have to understand that MFT lenses do not use a rotating tripod collar so your suggestion is kinda not applicable at the moment. I am forced to use L brackets instead.
  11. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    I have a rotating collar and it works well. Most of the time when I am using a longer lens I use a monopod with a fluid base. This gives me some stability and a dampened panning ability for tracking action. If I went to a bigger lens like the 90-250 or 300 I would likely want a gimbal head, mind you they also have a rotating tripod collar. As will the new 40-150.

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 mobile app
  12. Sorry.. I'm a little confused as to the responses...

    You have rotating collars on your lenses... good for you. (not sure where else you intend on taking this conversation).

    MFT lenses do not have rotating collars. So where does that leave us?
  13. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Your point was that unless you have a rotating collar gimballed heads make it hard to switch orientation I agree.

    I am a little confused though, several of the 4/3 lenses have rotating collars and the upcoming 40-150 will also have one. Given that the lenses most likely to be used with a gimballed head have a collar, where is the problem? Personally I wouldn't bother to mount the 50-200 or 40-150 on a gimballed head, and I wouldn't even consider it with the small 70-300 m43.

    Now the 90-250mm or 300mm I would certainly mount on a gimballed head.
  14. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Which is what I said in my post. The OP didn't say he was designing the perfect gimbal head, he said he was designing the perfect head. My point was that his design is not the perfect head for me. In fact, I would say that a gimbal head is special-purpose enough that it is probably not the perfect head for very many M43 shooters at all.
  15. I said MFT which means Micro Four Thirds not 4/3rds lenses.... Most people here are shooting with MFT lenses not FT. This includes me. I am not interested in FT lenses. Hence... mu-43 forum.
  16. Oh really...

  17. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Except the title doesn't mention gimbal at all.

    Need help to build the Perfect Tripod Head for m43/mirrorless cameras.

    I am in the same boat as oldracer, in that a gimbal head doesn't meet my needs, therefore is not the "Perfect Tripod Head" for me. If he is petitioning ideas to make a perfect gimbal head, then great. But the title and the idea don't match.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    OK so you would use a gimballed head with a 70-300 MFT? But, more to the point, all the long tele lenses with high IQ currently available with AF for the m43 platform are all 4/3 lenses. And they are the only ones with the size and weight that most need a gimballed head. There are a ton of adapted lenses that are long and heavy that could use a gimballed head too.

    Also, there will be an MFT lens with a tripod collar and it will be about the same size as the 50-200.


    Back to the OPs thread, I think a smaller lighter gimballed head is a great idea. One of the reasons I don't use one is the current ones I have found are bigger than I need. If a compact one was available It would be an interesting option.
  19. jarl

    jarl Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2012
    Je je... the whole thing is grammatical: the thread's title is "Need help to build the perfect tripod head for m43/mirrorless cameras". I guess more than one (me included) opened your message because of it.

    In any case, if what you need is a gimbal mount then this is a good solution (but you'll have to compete against other similar, albeit not-that-precise, solutions). Personally I would rather have a counterbalanced ball head, and my use for a bracket like yours would be probably for shooting multi-segmented panoramas.

    If you think about your design carefully you'll realize it's very easy to satisfy the "rotate the camera in seconds" thing, and you can probably include more requirements. Identifying them is probably the point of this thread
  20. So what? The picture and diagram is a gimbal head. The content is against the subject of the first post... a gimbal head. So we have titles that read "my first photo". We are suppose to comment to the fact its their first photo or do we comment against the actual photo itself?
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.