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Sachtler Flowtech 100 Hands-on Review

Sachtler Flowtech 100 Hands-on Review

Simply over a yr in the past Sachtler introduced the Flowtech 75. The tripod was a direct consequence of having the ability to consider what trendy supplies can do and the way these capabilities ought to affect what a tripod truly appears like. Altering the very design that has been so profitable for Sachtler over many many years was a dangerous endeavour. You don’t need to change the design simply because you’ll be able to, you solely do it if you find yourself with a product that’s higher than what was already obtainable. Considering outdoors the field paid off for Sachtler and the Flowtech 75 has been very properly acquired by shooters around the globe.

Virtually instantly after the Flowtrech 75 was introduced got here the query “When can I get a 100mm model?“. Properly, now you possibly can. At the moment Sachtler formally introduced the Flowtech 100, which is actually a bigger model of the Flowtech 75, with some enhancements.

How lengthy has it been in improvement?

I used to be first proven a prototype of the Flowtech 100 greater than three and a half years in the past and my preliminary response was considered one of shock. Evaluating the Flowtech prototype to a standard tripod was a bit just like the change concerned from FCP 7 to FCP X – totally different in some methods, improved in some methods however maybe to not everybody’s style. I gave my trustworthy suggestions about what I favored and didn’t like, as did many different cinematographers who have been proven prototypes. I’ve seen quite a few prototypes over the previous few years and the design continued to enhance.

Sachtler advised me that they designed the 75mm Flowtech with the 100mm model in thoughts, and the general design and optimization has been ongoing for greater than 2 years. Sachtler began work on finalizing the design of the 100mm model after the 75mm model was launched at IBC 2017. The work during the last yr has included the finalization of the tripod design and a brand new Flowtech 100 midlevel spreader.  A Flowtech flooring spreader can be out there later this yr.

Once I requested Sachtler why the Flowtech 75 was launched earlier than the Flowtech 100 they informed me that the primary purpose is that they consider that they’ve developed a greater, extra optimized set of merchandise due to this strategy. To optimize each designs for weight and measurement Sachtler needed to be meticulous about each design element,  so beginning with the tripod that was smaller and lighter made probably the most sense. If Sachtler had of determined to start out with the 100mm they might in all probability have made some early selections that may have inherently made the 75mm model tripod a bit greater and a bit heavier.

I feel Sachtler made the fitting transfer releasing the Flowtech 75 earlier than the 100mm model because it gave them an opportunity to gauge the market to see what shooters favored and didn’t like concerning the design. I prefer it when corporations seek the advice of with finish customers on how merchandise could be improved as a result of finally the top consumer is the one shopping for your product.

Sachtler informed me that they’ve bought hundreds of Flowtech 75 tripods, and the numbers bought have exceeded their expectations by greater than 50%.

Who’s the Flowtech 100 aimed toward?

The core goal phase is TV networks and freelance cameramen/camerawomen working in ENG and EFP.  As well as, all typical 100mm purposes, like wildlife, business and documentary productions are additionally potential customers of the Flowtech 100. TV networks, information crews, and EFP operators extensively use 100mm tripods. These are robust clients who need to purchase a tripod that may final them at the least a decade in lots of instances.

Are there any design variations between the Flowtech 75 and the Flowtech 100?

If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it, simply make it higher. Sachtler intentionally made positive that they stored all the issues individuals beloved concerning the Flowtech 75 when finishing the design of the 100mm tripod. Sachtler didn’t wreck any of the small print that make the Flowtech 75 work so properly, and at first look, it does look very comparable. However, beneath the tripod, there have been some vital modifications to permit it to carry out on the larger payloads which are anticipated of any 100mm tripod. The leg-clamping mechanism has been improved considerably so that every leg holds in extra of 30kg. The fast-release levers on the prime of every leg are utterly new and bigger with new inner forged elements to make them stronger. All the castings on the prime of the legs upwards are utterly new and bigger so they’re stronger to cater for the upper payloads and larger heads, a number of moldings are additionally utterly new and it has the identical peak. In complete, roughly 30% of the primary elements have been redesigned and are new on the Flowtech 100.

Constructed to final

 

Sachtler says that the Flowtech tripods are “the most widely tested, robust product” they’ve launched. They’ve been put by way of their paces from -40°C to 60°C and examined in water, salt water and swamps, each on the manufacturing unit and on location. The truth is, the Flowtech 100 was being examined and used throughout this yr’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Filming in Afghanistan

Tripods, particularly 100mm bowl head variations utilized by information, and documentary shooters must be extraordinarily strong and work in nearly any climate or circumstances. Tripods usually are not one thing you substitute fairly often and they should final you for an extended time period. Typically tripods are thrown behind automobiles, transported on planes in smooth instances, and utilized in deserts, saltwater, and snow.

If water will get into the nested legs the interior design is optimized to eliminate water by way of drainage holes. The entire tripod is screwed and clipped collectively to assist repairs within the subject.

Tripods have to face up to much more abuse and put on and tear than simply about some other product you employ. I’ve used my Sachtler tripod everywhere in the world in warfare zones, pure disasters, snow, rain, excessive warmth, and nearly another setting you’ll be able to consider. We’d take it as a right, however a superb tripod by no means allows you to down and may deal with something you throw at it.

The Flowtech 100 (even the prototypes I’ve examined within the area) have been very solidly made and as much as the requirements I might anticipate from knowledgeable tripod. The weave of the carbon fibre has been designed to not damage if it suffers a tear or crack. The tripod legs are much more inflexible and stronger than the Sachtler Velocity Lock CF.  When Sachtler launched the Flowtech 75 they stated that it was 265% stiffer than the Speedlock 75 legs. In line with Sachtler the brand new Flowtech 100 is 75% stiffer than the ENG 2 CF and 25% stiffer than the Speedlock 100.

Measurement and weight

I weighed within the in style Sachtler Velocity Lock CF  at four.4kg (9.7 lb). The Flowtech 100 weighs in at four.2kg (with the carry deal with hooked up) in accordance with my scales. The Flowtech 100’s carbon fibre legs usually are not almost as large because the Sachtler Velocity Lock CF. The Sachtler Velocity Lock CF’s legs are 11cm (four.33″) vast on the prime. As compared, the Flowtech 100’s legs are solely 6.5cm (2.55″) extensive on the prime.

Above you possibly can see the distinction between the highest of the Flowtech 100 (on the left) and the Sachtler Velocity Lock CF (on the best). That is the place the Flowtech 100 is much more inflexible and also you don’t get any flexing between the legs and the highest of the tripod. That is for my part, the most effective design modifications. I don’t need my tripod flexing beneath heavy payloads.

Hit the brakes

Deploying the levels is just a little totally different to a standard tripod. Brake handles sit on the prime of every leg, and when loosened you possibly can increase and decrease the peak of the tripod. They’re meant for single-operator use so there are not any controls on the backside of the tripod: all the things is the place your arms would naturally fall whereas working a digital camera.

The legs all lock with one lever, situated on the prime of the tripod on all three sides. This technique could be very intelligent and it’s definitely so much faster approach of creating peak changes to your tripod. As soon as you employ this technique it’s very exhausting to return to an older tripod.

When the legs are folded they stick collectively because of magnets embedded close to the tripod ft. I really like the magnets. There’s nothing worse than choosing up a tripod to hold it and having the legs spawling round all over the place. The magnets make it a lot simpler for carrying and transporting the tripod. The profile of the legs additionally supply a pleasant flat floor and this makes it much more snug for carrying the legs in your shoulder. These may sound like minor issues, however take it from somebody who typically works on documentaries as a one-man band and has to hold his personal tripod lengthy distances, this makes an enormous distinction.

Hinge lock mechanism

That is in all probability one of the crucial dramatic modifications to Sachtler tripods. With the addition of a hinge lock mechanism, you’ll be able to simply (nicely perhaps not so simply) regulate your tripod to go between high and low photographs. The hinge lock mechanism has two positions. In a single place it’s unlocked, and within the different, it’s locked.

 

Within the default locked place, the legs gained’t exit additional than a sure level. If you wish to go decrease, you push down on the hinge to unlock the mechanism. This lets you regulate the leg additional out to 3 pre-set positions, 20º, 46º, and 72º  Now, this technique does take some getting used to and the primary few occasions you employ it chances are you’ll discover it a bit of complicated.

I’ll now try to elucidate this in additional technical phrases. When you aren’t utilizing the spreader when the hinge lock is within the engaged place (pushed upwards) the legs will cease at pre-set positions if you end up shifting them out. These positions are  20º, 46º, and 72º.  Now as an example, if we need to open the tripod legs out (previous the traditional 20º place), we have to disengage the locking hinge by shifting it to the downward place whereas the legs are pretty shut collectively. Then we interact the locking mechanism (I do know that is sounding complicated, however bear with me) and begin pulling the leg outwards. On this locked place the leg will cease on the 46º, and 72º.

I feel a far simpler strategy to do it, is to unlock the hinge launch (downward place) and pull the leg all the best way out until it’s at 90º. As soon as it’s at 90º you then lock the hinge lever (upwards place) and begin shifting the leg in till you get it on the desired place. Each time you attain a place level (72º, 46º, or 20º) you’ll hear an audible “click” sound. Many stills tripods use this mechanism with preset positions.

Ensure you watch the video on the prime of the evaluate because it’s simpler to understand how the hinge lock system works than making an attempt to elucidate it with phrases.

 

I additionally assume it’s far simpler to make the hinge lock changes, notably if you wish to put the tripod out at 72º to get a low shot for those who take away the digital camera first. Making an attempt to do it with a heavy digital camera payload on prime of your tripod isn’t straightforward.

All three legs may be adjusted independently, which makes it very nice in case you are utilizing the tripod on a slope or uneven terrain the place one leg must be unfold out additional than the others.

This technique is mechanically very intelligent, nevertheless it’s not probably the most intuitive for the operator. Sadly, the one method you’ll get conversant in it’s to repeat these steps time and again. Ultimately, you’ll get snug with it, however be ready to be annoyed for a minimum of the primary few days.

On yet one more observe, if you will put your Flowtech 100 on a dolly, it’s essential to ensure that the hinge lock is about to the off place (down) to keep away from the danger of injury.

Ft

Altering from spikes to ft is now quite a bit simpler.  In the event you personal a Sachtler tripod you may be properly conscious of simply how a lot drive is required to take away the ft. Now it’s potential (properly, nearly) to take them off with one finger. The one drawback with the ft being simpler to take off is that they’re extra susceptible to being misplaced in the event that they get snagged on one thing. On one of many prototypes, I ended up dropping two ft after capturing in a forest. The ft received caught within the undergrowth and got here off with out me realizing (I assume this was the rationale the unique plastic ft have been so onerous to take away). Sachtler did take suggestions, as I wasn’t the one one experiencing this drawback and redesigned the ft to be a bit of stiffer, whereas nonetheless remaining straightforward sufficient to take off.

My colleague Taro Irei got here up with a intelligent answer on his Flowtech 75 to stop you from dropping the rubber ft. With only a easy piece of string, you’ll be able to connect the ft to allow them to nonetheless be eliminated, however keep hooked up to the precise tripod. I did the identical factor with the Flowtech 100 as an added measure of safety.

I’m nonetheless not 100% positive that I just like the design of the brand new ft. They’re rather a lot smaller than the ft that include different Sachtler 100mm tripods. The Flowtech 100 ft are the very same ones that come on the Flowtech 75. In all honesty, I feel these ft are too small for the Flowtech 100. Sachtler has executed this so the Flowtech ft are suitable with each the 75 and 100 variations.  I’m nonetheless not 100% positive why they have to be suitable, finally I assume it saves on manufacturing prices.

I did discover that sometimes (particularly when utilizing the tripod at 72º) the ft didn’t flatten down appropriately and I needed to push them down with my ft or palms.

I’m additionally barely apprehensive about their long-term sturdiness because the ft aren’t almost as thick as the prevailing Sachtler 100mm tripod ft, and the rubber on the older design is lots thicker. Once I requested Sachtler about this I used to be advised, “The primary reason for the size reduction is weight saving, the previous feet were quite heavy so we took the opportunity to reduce the weight overall. The feet have been extensively tested and pass all of the rigorous internal tests that we have put them through. We are happy that with the new materials we are using and the new lever mechanism we have introduced the feet are now lighter, easier to fit and remove and at least as robust as the previous feet.”

The tread design on the underside of the ft has additionally modified. It’s not round rings, as an alternative, Sachtler has gone with a curved line design. Once I requested Sachtler concerning the new tread design I used to be informed “The shape of the foot is to optimize the collapsed size of the tripod on the 75mm version – if they were round they would contact each other and get in the way. The tread pattern is to help manufacture the component more efficiently so we get a more consistent rubber part with no imperfections.”

Carrying deal with

The carry deal with can also be extraordinarily helpful and I discovered it was not solely good for carrying the tripod, but in addition for supplying you with some additional leverage and help if you end up adjusting the peak. In case you are utilizing a heavy digital cinema digital camera or ENG digital camera then the deal with makes an enormous distinction. There are two separate spots the place you’ll be able to mount the carrying deal with. This deal with comes commonplace with the Flowtech 100.

SpeedLevel Clamp

The Flowtech 100 works rather well at the side of the non-compulsory SpeedLevel Clamp. This is among the issues I didn’t like concerning the Flowtech 75. Due to the bodily measurement of the Flowtech 75, you couldn’t use it with a SpeedLevel Clamp. The SpeedLevel clamp, for my part, is a type of must-have gadgets. It’s far faster and simpler for making tripod head changes. I might have favored to have seen Sachtler embrace a SpeedLevel clamp with the Flowtech 100.

So how does it differ to present Sachtler 100mm bowl head tripod legs?

Nicely regardless of the apparent look distinction and operation, the Flowtech 100 provides you quite a few benefits over say a Sachtler Velocity Lock CF.  The primary main benefit is peak. The Flowtech 100 can go lots larger and rather a lot decrease. Under you’ll be able to see the variations (from my very own measurements):

Sachtler Velocity Lock CF

Max. peak:
139cm / 54.72″ (mid spreader flat)
155cm / 61″  (with spreader collapsed)

Min. peak:
66cm / 25.98″ (mid spreader flat)
49cm / 19.29″ (with spreader prolonged)

Transportable size:
71cm (legs closed collectively and no tripod head)

Flowtech 100

Max. peak:
145cm / 57.08″  (mid spreader flat)
161cm / 63.38″  (with spreader collapsed)

Min. peak:
62cm / 24.40″ (mid spreader flat)
54cm / 21.25″  (with spreader prolonged)

Transportable size:

68cm (legs closed collectively and no tripod head)

Now, these are the measurements when the Flowtech 100 is getting used within the default place with out taking the mid spreader off and unlocking the hinge lock mechanism. In case you take the spreader off and unlock the hinge lock mechanism the Flowtech 100 can actually go as little as 25cm (9.84″). In saying that in case you don’t thoughts the hinge lock mechanism not being engaged you possibly can truly go decrease.

When you’ve got the carrying deal with hooked up, you’ll be able to truly use it to help the tripod when you go actually, actually low. Whereas that is one thing I’m positive Sachtler doesn’t advocate (in reality they warning towards utilizing the tripod at positions larger than 72º), I discovered it labored nicely for that odd shot that you must do.

There’s a brand new sheriff on the town

Within the wild west, velocity was key. The quickest gunslingers all the time had a bonus (until you have been shot within the again if you weren’t wanting!). For a totally totally different sort of shooter- information or documentary cameraman/camerawoman, the identical is true.  Velocity is the second largest benefit the Flowtech 100 has. Every little thing on the tripod has been designed with the idea of letting you make changes as shortly as attainable. Till you will have used the Flowtech 100 you gained’t respect simply how a lot quicker it’s in comparison with say the Sachtler Velocity Lock CF. If you find yourself capturing information or documentaries you typically want to maneuver shortly and the very last thing you need to be doing is messing round with a tripod and probably lacking a shot that solely occurs as soon as.

When it comes to elevating or decreasing your tripod shortly, nothing is as quick because the Flowtech. No different tripod that I do know of can come shut.

The brand new mid spreaders are very fast to regulate when it comes to spreading them out. All you do is press in a button and transfer the spreader additional out.

The mid spreaders are additionally so much quicker to take off and put again on the Flowtech 100 than they’re on the Sachtler Velocity Lock CF.

The middle of the mid spreader additionally has clear instructions as to which method you flip the knob to both flatten or increase the spreader. That is far more intuitive than the design on the mid spreaders on the Sachtler Velocity Lock CF. Once more it’s all about simplicity and velocity. You need to make changes shortly and get on with capturing.

The great factor concerning the Flowtech 100 is you possibly can truly use it generally with out the spreader. Due to the locking hinge system, the legs could be locked in a sure place when they’re unfold out. With present Sachtler 100mm tripods, in the event you don’t use the spreader the legs will proceed to maneuver out and slip when you get previous a sure level.

For those who do need to hold the spreader on, you possibly can nonetheless get comparatively low photographs. By retaining the locking hinge mechanism disengaged you possibly can regulate the spreaders all the best way out after which use the middle dial on the mid spreader to regulate the peak. Under you possibly can see 4 examples of how this appears.

 

Upkeep

The important thing to the lengthy lifetime of any tripod, no matter how properly constructed it’s, is common upkeep. Tripods are sometimes a type of items of package that we take as a right and simply overlook about. Identical to we clear our cameras and lenses, we also needs to clear our tripods (I do know, what a overseas idea!).

Sachtler recommends you repeatedly wipe the tripod down with a lint-free material. In case you use it in excessive circumstances you may get sand or filth and mud getting into the tripod. On this case, it is best to flush the tripod (I don’t imply take it to the bathroom). The advisable approach to do that is to put the tripod in a bucket of unpolluted water that’s at the very least 30cm deep after which launch the brake levers and absolutely prolong the tripod.  You then repeatedly collapse and lift the legs so water is pressured up by way of the leg sections.

There have been many situations the place I’ve cleaned my tripod with a hose or in a bathe or tub. I feel so long as it will get the job accomplished, do no matter works for you.

Studying curve

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The Flowtech 100 does have a studying curve and I discovered that it took me a number of days of utilizing it earlier than I turned accustomed to the way it operates. The inbuilt muscle reminiscence you get from capturing with a tripod for therefore a few years is a tough factor to vary. Sure, it’s nonetheless a tripod, however as a result of it has been designed in a barely totally different method it’s essential to construct that muscle reminiscence familiarity again up. If you find yourself utilizing a tripod you do issues instinctively and also you don’t want to consider it, however for the primary few days with the Flowtech 100, you do.

To be utterly trustworthy, I did get a bit of annoyed the primary few occasions I used the Flowtech 100. This was no fault of the tripod, however extra my fault for not being extra conversant in it earlier than I took it out on a shoot. Like all new product, you need to all the time get used to it earlier than taking it out on a correct job. That is particularly the case when making an attempt to get your head round how the hinge locking mechanisms work.

Issues I don’t like

I’m nonetheless not the most important fan of how the hinge locking mechanism operates. Whereas technically there’s nothing mistaken with it, I nonetheless don’t discover it to be very intuitive and I typically discover myself making errors when utilizing it. In saying that, I don’t use the perform that always, and perhaps if I did, I might develop into extra conversant in the operation. However the fixed locking and unlocking of the hinge mechanism nonetheless appear a bit counter-intuitive to me.

With the mid spreader hooked up to the Flowtech 100, it rattles round a bit when you could have the tripod collapsed and are carrying it. This can be a small factor, however it’s one thing I undoubtedly observed. One other minor concern I’ve with the Flowtech 100 is that the locking brake handles could make numerous noise if you end up making changes shortly. Additionally, as a result of the decrease a part of the legs sits inside, once you decrease the legs down in a short time they will make loads of noise. In case you are utilizing the tripod at say a press convention, an occasion, or for instance on a wildlife shoot, that noise may be very distracting.

The opposite drawback with the Flowtech 100 is that if the floor of the tripod legs will get moist. Due to all of the carbon fibre, if it will get moist the floor turns into extremely slippery. Should you attempt to decide up the tripod in a rush your arms will slip straight off it. A method round that is to make use of the elective carry deal with, however that’s not the best way I all the time carry the tripod. Typically if I’ve my digital camera on the tripod, and I need to transfer a really brief distance, I’ll decide the tripod up with the digital camera hooked up and carry it. That is probably harmful within the moist. I raised this difficulty a number of occasions after testing out prototypes and made ideas that maybe some nonstick rubber might be put in a couple of locations.

Worth and availability

The Sachtler Flowtech 100 tripods can be found to pre-order from right now and they’ll begin delivery on October 1st. The pricing will probably be:

US: $three,450 USD (AbelCine has it listed for $three,277.50 USD)
Europe: €2,900
UK: £2,550
Japan: ¥414000

The Flowtech 100 is slightly bit costlier than another Sachtler 100mm  bowl tripod legs, such because the Sachtler CF-100ENG HD 2CF Carbon Fiber HD Tripod Legs ($3049.50 USD) with a mid-spreader and ft, in addition to the Sachtler Velocity-Lock CF Carbon Fiber 2-Stage Tripod Legs  ($2797.75 USD) with the mid-spreader and ft.

The worth for the Sachtler and Vinten variations would be the similar.

Sachtler and Vinten will even be promoting numerous Flowtech 100 and tripod head mixtures.

Conclusion

A very good tripod is likely one of the greatest investments you’ll ever make. Once I transitioned from working full time for broadcasters to turning into freelance, the very first thing I purchased was a tripod. A nicely made and strong tripod will final you many years should you take care of it appropriately. The Flowtech 100 definitely appears like it’s constructed to take something you possibly can throw at it. The issue with earlier Sachtler tripod legs is that they weren’t all the time versatile sufficient, as they couldn’t go low sufficient. The Flowtech 100 solves that drawback.

Regardless of the few niggling points I’ve with the Flowtech 100 I nonetheless discover it quite a bit simpler and faster to make use of than another tripod I’ve owned. For me velocity, rigidity and adaptability are all issues I search for in a tripod. A very good tripod ought to by no means get in the best way if you find yourself capturing. It ought to be dependable and straightforward to make use of, and for probably the most half, the Flowtech 100 is. Having used prototypes and the manufacturing model I discovered it troublesome to return to one thing else. Is there nonetheless room for enchancment? Completely. It’s nonetheless removed from an ideal product, however for my part, it’s nonetheless one of the best set of tripod legs I’ve used for information and documentary work.