Fancier FC-370 tripod review (and notes about the FC-270A)
I've been needing a new tripod for a while. I have simply outgrown my Fancier/Weifeng EI-717/WF-717 (or whatever the hell it's called). I've been considering tripods like the Manfrotto 504HD, (which has very mixed reviews, and comes in at around £500 with legs) the Sachtler Ace or the Vinten Vision Blue (both of which have outstanding reviews and come in at around £500 and £720 respectively).
The Vinten (See video below) has an infinitely variable counterbalance, this means that the counterbalance spring (which pushes the camera forward or backward depending on which direction you tilt it) can be finely tuned to your camera's weight. This should allow the camera to stay pointing in any direction even if you let go. There is a demonstration of this in Vinten's promotional video for the Vision Blue (below). The Fancier FC-370 is the first tripod to try to imitate this feature. However, the FC-370 does so pretty poorly and even if used with a very heavy DSLR setup will still cause movement in your shot if you let go of the pan bar. (See update below) On another note, both tripods have far too much counterbalance for a DSLR alone, it must be used with a very, very large rig. (I have not tried the Vinten Vision Blue but its rated for an even higher minimum weight than the Fancier, )
There were almost no reviews online for the Fancier FC-370, especially none written with any good knowledge of professional tripods so I decided to bite the bullet and just order one to see what it's like. A weekend later and here it is. Well, ok then, how is it you ask? There is really only one way I can say this: It's the best piece of s*** you can get for £200.. Let me explain:
The head's fluidity is absolutely phenomenal! Kicks the butt of a £600 Vinten Pro Touch 6. (Not sure of exact price) It's built really well (feels much better than the 717, which is already pretty okay) and has a lot of drag - which is fantastic for most uses (except 'whip' pans, which are very quick pans usually used to create a transition between two shots). However, the counterbalance performance is pretty poor and means that no matter what the weight of the camera is, you must never let go of the handle or your camera will move from the tension of the spring which makes this less than ideal for live stuff. (I will get the slightly smaller FC-270 and see if it's head is any better.) If I don't let go of the pan bar I can get some fantastic start/stop moves looking perfect even when shooting at 300mm. Far, far better than I would be able to get with something like the Vinten Pro touch 5/6, both of which I have used.
The legs Have some extreme design faults. I'm going to need more play time with this tripod but first impressions aren't good at all. Plasticky and thinner than 717, (even though a little longer) and the feet are really loose which makes the entire tripod more unstable than I've ever seen any video tripod. Ever. The single bar legs from an £80 Velbon DV-7000 are far superior in sturdiness.
The case is far thicker than the WF-717 but designed by an absolute moron! There is really thick padding where it's not really needed and no padding whatsoever in most of the corners. Not to mention a massive 2" hole at the top right above where the head is, perfect for when you simply must have some dust and water on the head of your tripod. :/
The QR system is also completely backwards-assed (no pun intended) in that you can't slide the camera on backwards. This means some configurations will not be able to even get on this tripod without completely removing the safety system by unscrewing the little stopper (like my shoulder rig which cannot be slid forwards due to it's handles). Removing this little bolt will almost certainly mean the camera dropping to the ground at some point or another.
I need a little more use with this tripod but it is most likely heading straight back to be replaced by something else. Most likely the smaller FC-270 model, which has the same legs and hopefully a head just as smooth (which is rated for a lower weight, which means less counterbalance.). As a final note, I would like to mention that the tripod plate already has bits of the rubber grip falling off it (after the first time taking it off the camera). :/
I will have a full video review of this or the 270 sometime soon on my Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/nitsanpictures Subscribe for updates.
(UPDATE) I have sent this back, NetGadgets were very good about this and gave me a full refund. I would wholeheartedly recommend them. I purchased the FC-270A from their Amazon store and it arrived within 2 days. There will be a full review but for now let me just say this, and I mean this very honestly, the Fancier FC-270A is by far the best tripod (under £2000) I've ever used. Everything, and I mean everything, is an improvement from the FC-370. Better legs, better counterbalance (Zero or 1.2KG - unlike the CF-370 which didn't seem to adjust at all), better bag, much lower price (Amazon link) and the same incredible pan and tilt drag that the FC-370 has (A little less drag than the FC-370, which is perfect for DSLRs).
(UPDATE) I have posted three very quick videos that explain the above. Please excused the crap quality, had to shoot and upload quickly.