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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review and Video: Vinten Vision Blue

Click here for more information about the Vinten Vision Blue
The Vinten Vision Blue

Vinten Fulmar pedestal
A few years ago I got a chance of buying a Vinten Fulmar pedestal with MK-7 head mounted on top, to support the 132 lbs weighting LDK-6, which was part of my TV camera collection. Although this pedestal has been used and abused in studios over the last couple of years to capture many of UK's television history, it still works perfectly smooth like it was build only yesterday.

And there's a good reason why Vinten products are being used for creating television productions all over the world. Their equipment is build to last, is extremely reliable and they belong at the top of camera support.

Given my history with Vinten, I got interested in the Vinten Vision Blue tripod when I first heard about it. I came in contact with Peter Harman, Vinten's Product Manager and he was very kind to me and agreed on sending me a Vinten Vision Blue for reviewing purposes. A couple of days later I received the Vinten Vision Blue on my doorstep!

First Impressions

The Vinten Vision Blue tripod comes with a nice blue rounded soft case. When I opened it up I was actually very surprised to see the size of the Vision Blue. It was larger then I thought it would be. I took it out of its case and was expecting it to be heavier then it actually was. Even without a camera mounted on top, I noticed the quality and fluid motion of the head while panning and tilting. The Vinten Vision Blue comes in two versions, one with a mid-level spreader and one with a floor spreader. I received the mid-level spreader version, which happened to be the one I was hoping for. For indoor use and outdoor use on a flat surface, the floor spreader would be perfect, but the mid-level spreader is more versatile and can be used on all sorts of terrain.

Soft Padded Carrying Case

The Vision Blue comes with a very nice durable weather resistant rounded soft case (Vinten Soft Tripod Case) which is designed to protect the tripod during transport. Balance instructions are nicely stored inside one of the interior clear pockets. There's also a large pocket on the outside of the case for document storage. There are four way's in which you can easily carry the case. The soft case is a perfect fit for the Vision Blue. Some tripod cases I've owned were actually to small for quickly putting the tripod back in it's case. The Vinten soft case doesn't have this problem and I noticed that I was already using it more often then I did before.

The Vision Blue Head

The Vinten Vision Blue head is actually a reborn Vinten Vision 6 head, the next model up from the widely adopted Vision 3 head. The former Vision production line had a grey color and this new Vision Blue head has a nice black finish, which better fits today's cameras. I liked the grey on the former Vision heads, but more as a signature style for Vinten. Black is the new grey and it certainly looks good, especially with the blue logo on it. But I'm not here to talk about it from a designer's point of view, so let's move on and talk about performance.

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The Vinten Vision Blue head
The Vision Blue head can balance cameras weighting between 4.6 - 11 lbs (2.1 - 5 kg) which is perfect for today's professional lightweight camcorders (like the FS100, EX1R, AF101, etc.) and DSLRs accessorised for filming. The Vision Blue head incorporates the award winning Vinten Perfect Balance technology. Without counterbalance your camera will tip forward or backwards, depending on the center of gravity when you let go of the pan bar and this can ruin your shot or even cause accidents to happen. Please, don't ask...

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Perfect Balance dial (center) on the back of the Vision Blue head
The counterbalance of the Vision Blue can be perfectly dialed in for the camera you're using. Most tripod heads have a fixed counterbalance system or use predetermined fixed steps to 'push' the camera back up when you're tilting up or down. With fixed settings you are likely to have a counterbalance that is either inefficient of holding the camera's position, or it's pushing the camera back until it's level again. This is were the Perfect Balance technology comes into play. On the back of the Vision Blue head is a big dial to exactly determine the amount of counterbalance you'll need for your camera. With a perfectly balanced camera, you can let go at any given moment and the camera will hold its position! I've never experienced this with any of my tripods before, so this is really nice to have. It's also something that you quickly get used to and not want to be without anymore. So don't say I didn't warn you!

There's only one thing you'll need to know about this counterbalance system. When you have a camera weighting almost the maximum of what the Vision Blue is designed for and you are using the maximum counterbalance setting, your tilt range will be limited somewhat. I don't think this is a real problem since you probably never have to shoot down in a 90 degree angle. And you will always have the option to dial back the counterbalance for a short amount of time, until your done pointing your camera at the spreader and increase the counterbalance again afterwards.

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Illuminated spirit level bubble
The Vision Blue has infinite variable drag settings for both pan and tilt, so you can dial in the exact amount of drag you'll need for your particular shots. It's also equipped with the Vinten lubricated friction (LF) technology (read more about LF drag here: Vinten technology guide PDF), for silky smooth movement and precise framing. So you have complete control at any level of movement. On the left side of the head you'll find two lock-off brake levers for pan and tilt. At the back you'll find a spirit level bubble which can be illuminated for about 10 seconds with a fantastic bright blue color in low-light situations by pressing a small blue button above the pan drag dial. Use at your own discretion, since it's nice seeing the blue light on...

The legs (or sticks) and mid-level spreader

This actually surprised me the most. The two-stage aluminum Pozi-Loc tripod legs (I don't like calling them sticks, because it sounds cheap... like chopsticks) are extremely sturdy. Especially compared to the carbon fibre Sachtler legs I've used before. The big disadvantage of carbon fibre legs is that they are so light, that all the weight is on the head and camera, making the tripod more sensitive to unwanted movement. For example, when I lock the pan and tilt on the Sachtler head and try to move the pan bar, there's some room to wiggle the head. The Vinten Vision Blue on the other hand is much more rigid, thanks to better weight distribution over the entire setup. It stands firmly on the ground even when using a lighter camera which ensures smooth camera movement.

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The legs provide a very rigid base for ensuring smooth camera movement
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Pozi-Loc clamp system ensures that the legs will never slip down
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Twisting this knob prevents the legs from opening to their full radius
Different height options (lowest to highest) of the Vinten Vision Blue
The two-stage aluminum legs provide a wide height range and incorporate Vinten's well known Pozi-Loc clamp system for quick and easy operation. The picture above is showing some of the different height options. On the far right you can see the mid-level spreader's hidden feature at work. There's a knob you can twist on the spreader to prevent the legs from opening to their full radius, to squeeze out a little bit of extra height. However, it does make the tripod a bit unstable. The mid-level spreader can be quickly installed or detached from the legs with the Spread-Loc feature. There are also three lock knobs on the mid-level spreader which can be individually extended and provide a large spreader radius. One thing I still have to get used to, is that the spreader is very easy to fold (when putting the legs together for transport). With the Sachtler this takes some force, but the Vinten mid-level spreader seems to be more flexible, resulting in legs sometimes wanting to free themselves from my grip when carrying it from one location to the next. There's a leg lock strap you can pull out of one of the legs for easier carrying and preventing this to happen.

Video demonstrating the Vinten Vision Blue

I decided to make a short demonstration video to test and more importantly show, the capabilities of the Vinten Vision Blue. I decided to go with a theme: "A Day with the Vinten Vision Blue". You'll see the Vision Blue in action from early morning till night.

Everything was filmed using the Sony NEX-FS100 on the Vision Blue, except for the 'Behind the Scenes' footage. That was captured using the NEX-5N.

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Filming at night for "A Day with the Vinten Vision Blue


When it comes to video tripods, I've always been really picky. On top of my wish list I alway put: silky smooth pan and tilt movement. The Vision Blue really delivers in this area and Vinten also added some delightful bonuses. Perfect Balance technology, infinite variable drag for both pan and tilt with Vinten's lubricated friction (LF) technology and rigid two-stage aluminum legs with Pozi-Loc clamp system for quick and easy operation, just to name a few! And everything for a price that can't be beaten in it's class. There's also a Vinten Vision Blue 5 head, which can work with heavier cameras weighting from 12.1 to 26.5 lb (5.5 to 12 kg). I'm really glad Vinten decided to make such a fantastic tripod to provide camera operators with professional support for today's popular lightweight camcorders and DSLR's. I'm completely convinced that this is the perfect tripod for my Sony NEX-FS100 and I'm definitely getting one!

Buy the Vinten Vision Blue system 4.6 - 11 lbs / 2.1 - 5 kg :

Buy the Vinten Vision Blue 5 system 12.1 to 26.5 lb / 5.5 to 12 kg :

About Vinten
Vinten® is a global market leader in camera support technology for broadcast professionals, as well as corporate, education and government applications. The range covers manual heads, tripods and pedestals suitable for studio, outside broadcast, ENG and EFP. Central to the Vinten look and feel is Perfect Balance: whatever the position, angle or elevation the camera stays where it is set – always.
Founded in 1910, Vinten has amost 100 years’ experience to bring to its programme of continuous innovation and improvement, developing the most intuitive supports available by working closely with today's camera professionals to understand their real needs.
®Vinten is a registered trademark of The Vitec Group plc

About The Vitec Group plc
The Vitec Group plc is acknowledged as a global leader in the supply of equipment and services to the broadcasting, entertainment and photographic industries and has established a reputation for technical excellence and superior engineering along with an astute business strategy which has seen it grow by acquisition. Innovation is a cornerstone of the Group’s activities and the organization is committed to a policy of continuous product development. With revenues (2007) of $546m (£274m) and over 2200 employees worldwide, its products are distributed in almost 100 countries, through a strong, fully-resourced distribution network or direct to the end user or corporate customer.
More information can be found at


  1. Think you my have found a new niche for your talents, definitly a reviewer in there wanting to bust out.

    Well done, I'm jealous.


    Chris Soucy

  2. There are a few Vinten Vision Blue System reviews on the net. I bought my VB about a year ago and haven't looked back. This is a very well constructed piece that tells you all you want to know about the product without being too long winded. Nice job.