Making the Case for an Unsung Hero Tripod

Reviewing the Sachtler FSB10

Published on in Equipment / Tech Reviews

Making the Case for an Unsung Hero Tripod

By Mark J. Foley, Technology Editor, ProductionHUB

The first thing I noticed when opening the Sachtler tripod box, believe it or not, was the soft sided travel bag for the FSB 10. I can’t make that kind of stuff up. It's sturdy as all get out, padded, along with snap together handles, and cut to make transporting and protecting the tripod head job one.

Inside the travel bag are pockets for the tripod handle and other “stuff” got my attention, because you have to love companies that pay attention to the details. Don’t you think if you are going to invest serious dollars you want to protect your investment? I would. So that said, we started off on the right track even before we started shooting.

It All Starts At the Top

So where do we start? Right at the top of course! Loved the Touch-n-Go plate, although it took me a few tries to figure out the latch to get the plate out.

Once I figured it out it, then I could mount the plate to the camera. The head itself is rated at 5.95 lbs and connecting the adapter plate with the supplied screw was a straight forward process. For this set up test we were using the Panasonic Varicam LT.  

Once we balanced the camera, we could see it was going to be a good fit.

The next two details that busy shooters would appreciate are the ball and claw for attaching the head to the tripod itself.

The next detail that made a difference was an illuminated level. Have you ever tried to level a tripod head in the dark of a music hall or with the flashlight or cell cradled between your shoulder and head as a press conference gets under way? Not an easy thing to do, so hats off to Satchler for addressing this small, yet important detail.

More Control Equals Shooting Confidence

The pan and tilt drags and locks controls for the tilt and pan were well marked and had a solid feel to them. When adjusting for the various shots we wanted the controls were easy to use and drag markings gave me confidence that I could go back to my settings should the need arise. One thing though I thought was a little odd, until we got comfortable with the settings, was that the tilt seemed a little springy. Additionally (this is very important), I wanted to see what would happen when I cranked (tilted) the camera all the way forward head down to get one particular shot. After a little (some) hesitation I carefully released the handle. The camera stayed right where I put it.

Coming back up I was able to start very smoothly and glide to a neutral position and release the handle again. That was cool, because as I was taught if you set up the tripod and hence the camera correctly, you should be able to control the camera/head with just your fingertips. There should be just minimal pressure and just enough resistance to produce smooth shots. The FSB 10 passed that test in my opinion, with room to spare.

Making for a Solid Foundation

So we got through what many might think is the most important part of the tripod set up in pretty good shape. But taking time to look at the “sticks” (Model 5386) I could see we still had a lot of ground to cover. I noticed right away the attention to detail. Smooth and secure contact points with those pressure latches to keep ther legs at the height you wanted. Then another little detail was the “leg keeper."

Mounted on a retractable string, this little hook wrapped around the legs to keep them from flopping all over the place in transit to avoid needless banging and possible damage. I wasn't a big fan of the spreaders that much though. They were not as sturdy to me as the rest of the tripod and getting them to collapse along with the legs at the same time was a pain. Not a deal killer, mind you, but certainly not the strongest part of the whole set up. Additionally, the rubberized handle used to keep the spreader on was really hard to get over the hook. But, I did like the fact that if you took the spreader off you could spike the legs into a secure position. You just have to remember to put them back on.

Quick Specs:

FSB 10 Touch & Go S Weight as tested: 2.7 kg (5.95 lb.)
Sachtler 0364 Touch & Go Quick Release Plate: $76.50

Pros:
Easy to Set Up
Light Weight Construction
Great Travel Bag
Very smooth pan and tilt functions
Illuminated Level

Cons:
Plate latch a little tricky to get used to
Spreaders not as sturdy as the rest of the unit
Rubberized spreader handles hard to lift over into secure position
High initial cost

It’s A Wrap

During the course of the shoot and review period, the Satchler FSB 10 performed without a flaw, minus that pesky spreader. Easy to set up and move around, we had a great shoot that day because the FSB 10 did what all good tripods do. It worked like a charm with out us having to think about, "Hey we gotta do this or that to make it work." It just worked. As a shooter, what else could you ask for? Is it the least expensive tripod in its range? No. Are you gonna take a $45,000 RED or ARRI and put it on a crappy tripod? No.

Bottom line: Even if you spend the list price on the FSB 10 it would be worth every penny. It's a good investment for you and your career that is bound to pay dividends over many shoots and years ahead.

About Mark J. Foley

Mark J. Foley, MBA, BA, is the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB. Foley brings an extensive production background to his role as Technology Editor, having produced and directed award-winning, live college and professional sports, broadcast and documentaries to his credit.

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