The Compound Head

This head solves some problems involving long lens work. It makes small accurate moves possible and provides better support for heavy lens/camera combinations. It also allows you to use a fluid head that you already have the "feel" of.

If you are shooting with an 800-mm lens a smooth slow pan is difficult. With this head you can make a one-degree camera move with a 3 to 6 degree move of the panhandle. This ratio is adjustable. The higher the ratio, the less total move is possible. If you are making large, faster moves you don't have the need for fine adjustments and you can use your regular tripod head.

It is important to orient this head so that the pan and tilt ability includes the whole possible field of action. Remember, the higher the ratio the less the range of possible view.

This head also provides two points of suspension and helps reduce disturbances from wind, camera motor vibration, and movement from the operator's body.

With this head I suggest using only heavy weight legs. The braced aluminum center post TV style are excellent. The additional size and weight of this head make it more top heavy on standard Mitchell legs. As with other heavy camera I would recommend not moving it as a whole unit. Remove the camera.

As with any new piece of equipment, I suggest that you practice setting up and using the head before you are on a job under the pressure to make a shot.

I've used the prototype to this for about 10 years. It takes a little longer to set up, but it is really worth the time for the really long lenses.

The front head that the camera is supported on can be an old friction head or even home made as long as it is strong enough and has no play. The panhandle, dove tail or extension from the front head is moved by a second fluid head that the operator has the feel of. The linkage between the two is shown. Please send in your solutions so we can share them with others.

The linkage shown can be replaces with a hinge to the top plate in line with the two heads to replace the two upper Heim joints. Small heads can be coupled with a rubber connector such as a rubber ski pole basket.

I put this head together out of parts I still have. Think carefully about what you have available and design a "PROFESSIONAL" looking one for your self.

Compound Head With O'Connor and Arri Friction Heads for Big Cameras

Close Up Above

Heim Joint Connectors

Compound Head with Bogan and Arri 16 Heads for small cameras

Rear View Above

Heim Joint Linkage for Above

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.