Vinten is a well-known manufacturer
of tripods and pan-and-tilt heads,
with a reputation for high-quality
products. The range of camera support systems that the company builds is remarkable,
from lightweight systems for field use
with small cameras, to heavy remote-controlled
studio systems that move around
automatically by computer command.
I received for evauation the company’s
new Vision Blue 5 pan-and-tilt head,
coupled with a model 3819-3 75 mm twostage
aluminum tripod. It is an elegant and
lightweight system that uses a new Vinten
development called “Perfect Balance.”
The big new thing here is the Vinten Vision
Blue 5 fluid pan-and-tilt head, so I will
spend some time describing it. The Vision
Blue 5 is for medium-sized cameras, with a
capacity ranging from 12 to 26.5 pounds.
The Vision Blue 5 has the usual controls
for pan-and-tilt drag. These controls
are infinitely adjustable instead of having
discrete amounts of drag dialed in.
Where a more basic product might
have settings of 1-2-3-4 and so forth, the
Vision Blue 5 has adjustments that you
can set to somewhere between two and
three (for example), if that’s what works
best for you.
In addition to infinitely adjustable panand-
tilt drag, the Vision Blue 5 camera
head has a sliding quick-disconnect plate that is used to balance the weight on
top of the head. Vinten suggests balancing
the weight so that it just starts to tilt
down, then adjusting the head’s “Perfect
Balance” counterbalance control so that
the head’s payload can be tilted at any
angle and remain in that position without
the user needing to adjust the tilt drag or
This Perfect Balance feature is what is
really new with the Vision Blue 5. With the
camera properly balanced and the Perfect
Balance control dialed in properly, you
can tilt the camera through a 180-degree
arc and have it stay in whatever position
you leave it. All with the drag controls adjusted
for your preference and without using
the tilt lock.
The Vision Blue 5 head came with a
lightweight pan arm that can be attached on either side of the head. The only other
thing included with the pan-and-tilt head
was a sheet of instructions on how to
properly adjust the Perfect Balance feature.
The model 3819-3 tripod is made
from aluminum and has a floor spreader.
The tripod has two stages, with a minimum
height of 28 inches to the pan-andtilt
head’s top platform and a maximum
height of 66.5 inches. The stages are
locked in place with triangular knobs that
Vinten calls “Pozi-Loc” leg clamps.
The floor spreader is fastened with
strong rubber loops that double as feet for
the tripod. When you remove the loops
and take the spreader off, it exposes steel
spikes on the bottom of the tripod for use
on soft surfaces.
The Vision Blue 5 head and 3819-3 tripod
arrived in a sturdy and padded cloth
bag, suitable for shipping as baggage or
just tossing into the trunk of a car.
The Vinten Vision Blue 5 and 3819-3
head seemed a perfect combination to me.
I should note however, that although the
components look relatively small and the
entire system is reasonably lightweight,
this setup requires a camera with some
heft in order to get the Perfect Balance
counterbalance adjustment dialed in properly.
I found out that you really do need
a camera/equipment payload that weighs
at least 10 pounds to set the pan-and-tilt
head up properly.
With its ball mount and heavy leveling
knob, it’s easy to get the head level. Vinten
says that the cool blue light on the bubble
level enhances the viewability of the indication
in both darkness and daylight.
Once set up and leveled, I used the sliding
quick-disconnect plate to balance the
camera as Vinten recommends, then set
the Perfect Balance counterbalance adjustment.
With the tilt drag setting where
I liked it, the tilt stayed wherever I put
it—in fact, it could be tilted straight up
or down, and stayed in place without any
backlash or drift. I did observe that the
Perfect Balance knob was stiff at the ends
of its range, which was the only downside
to its function.
Everything about the Vision Blue 5
whispered “high-quality,” including the
silky pan-and-tilt drag controls. Lesser panand-
tilt heads click into definite settings
for pan-and-tilt drag; then there is a lurch
as the head finds the new settings. The Vision
Blue 5 operation was simply smooth
wherever I set it, and the only thing that
changed was the amount of drag. I have
to admit that it was a really classy performance,
if such a thing can be said about a
I decided to take the Vision Blue 5 and
3819-3 combination to a nearby park to
get some shots of spring flowers and associated
wildlife. With a combined weight
of around 13 pounds, the system was easy
to carry the half-mile or so I needed to the
Once set up, I panned smoothly to follow
insects and birds as they visited flowers.
Much of this was at maximum zoom,
and the Vinten system kept the shots
steady and smooth. There was no backlash
or twisting torque from pans with this
combination—everything was steady and
Some of the birds returned to a large
bird house, where they hopped around
seemingly at random. Although the bird house was above my position, the counterbalance
feature of the Vision Blue 5
head let me set the drag controls for fairly
light settings and once again the system
held the tilt without drifting. That’s a great
feature to have for keeping a camera on
The 3819-3 tripod that Vinten supplied
worked well with the Vision Blue 5 head.
The two-stage legs can be locked at any
height, so setting up for shooting on an
inclined surface should never be an issue.
The bottom locking knob on each leg is
close to the rubber locking loop for the
spreader, so working that knob with my
fat fingers was just a bit tricky to accomplish.
Vinten says that the Vision Blue 5 panand-
tilt head will work over a significant
range of temperatures. However, I couldn’t
confirm that, as I had it for only a few days
and the weather was fine at that time.
However, I was impressed with its features
and overall level of quality.
Vinten’s Perfect Balance feature is new
to me and I was really impressed at how
it will hold a camera in exactly the position
you want it to be. Normally, I tilt my
camera and then dial in just enough tilt
lock to hold the camera in that position,
which then means that I have to fight the
lock a bit when I inevitably have to move
The Vision Blue 5 eliminates that annoying
pan-and-tilt head problem, something
that will be a major selling point for
many shooters. And let’s not forget the
Vinten 3819-3 tripod, which is a pretty
fine set of sticks. I was a little sad to see
this system go back to Vinten, but such is
the lot of the reviewer.
Bob Kovacs is a video engineer and
video producer/director. He may be contacted