Advances have been made in every
area of video production, and tripods
are not excluded from that
list. At the top of Libec's line of the RS
Series of camera support is the RS-450, or
RS-450M package, which is comprised of
the RH45 fluid head, RT40B tripod legs,
BR-4B mid-level spreader, along with FP-2B foot pads or a SP-2B floor spreader
option, and Libec's RC-40 carrying case.
Libec's RS-450M professional tripod system in use
The RH45 fluid head weighs less than
six pounds and can support a camera
payload of up to 26 pounds. It features a
sliding plate, three-step drag adjustment,
continuous counterbalance, LED-illuminated
level, a large camera counterbalance
control knob, and solid pan and tilt
The RT40B two-stage aluminum tripod
weighs about seven pounds and extends
out to slightly less than five feet.
This model has a mid-level spreader to
help support the camera's weight more
evenly, and each section locks with a
twist of a knob. Each leg ends in a rubber
foot, so floor surfaces won't be damaged
when moving the tripod. When collapsed
for travel, the legs lock together
with a retractable "hook."
The SP-2B spreader extends to keep
the tripod's feet firmly in place. I should
note that the rubber feet weigh an additional
two pounds and need to be removed
before using the spreader.
Many tripods list amazing features,
but it is the actual use in the field which
separates the good from the mediocre.
This tripod weighs more than some of
Libec's other offerings, but if you have
a larger camera that needs more support
(like a "mini" jib arm), a smaller
tripod just won't do. I prefer using the
FP-2B feet, as this allows the tripod to
be moved easily and shortens the setup
time. If you prefer the SP-2B spreader,
you should realize that it takes some
amount of strength to get each end into
the correct opening and to pull the strap
over it to lock it in place. When using
our mini jib arm with a camera on one
end and 15 pounds of weight at the other
end of the eight-foot bar, the spreader
added the needed stability. Once the
spreader is mounted, you will not have
to remove it constantly because it folds
easily. However, attaching it the first time
does take a little extra strength.
The legs raise and lower easily and our
students here found the locking mechanism
easy to use, while still providing
locking security for an expensive camera
perched on top. It's hard to really fall in
love with tripod legs, but our school's TV
and film department has been using Libec
tripods for years and we've never experienced
an issue with any of them.
Of course, when the RS-450M arrived,
the line of persons who wanted to use
it wrapped around the building. I've not
seen a tripod getting this much attention
before. However, students had been reading
about the head's counterbalancing
feature and wanted to experience it firsthand.
Located directly under the camera
plate on the business end of the RH45
is a large counterbalancing adjustment.
Twisting this knob allows you to stop
the camera at any angle without having
it slam into the legs or knock the tripod
over. With the school's collection of various
sized cameras (including all-metal
16mm behemoths), we found that the
head would spring back with any camera
in its weight class.
The smaller knob on the head has
four numbered (zero through three)
settings for controlling the drag of the
head. I really prefer having a number setting
for a drag adjustment rather than arbitrarily
turning a dial until I believe the
drag is acceptable.
And finally the addition of an illuminated
bubble level elevates this head
from one where a "flashlight in mouth"
is necessary to see if the bubble is centered
in the black hole that surrounds
it. The adjustment under the head has a
large enough knob to securely tighten
the payload but also easily enough to
undo for minor adjustments.
Libec has a real winner with their
RS-450M professional tripod system. It's
versatile in that it accommodates a multitude
of cameras, can be used with or
without the spreader, is easily leveled in
all lighting conditions, and gives you the
peace of mind that the counterbalance
will keep your camera where it belongs.
The next step is to check back in two
years to see if it still functions after being
used weekly by hundreds of students—I'll bet it will.
Chuck Gloman is an Associate Professor
and Chair of the TV/Film Department
at DeSales University. He may be