NITSAN SIMANTOV. PHOTOGRAPHER. FILMMAKER.

East Grinstead photographer and filmmaker Nitsan Simantov. Wedding photography and commercial video production in London and West Sussex.

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Update about video heads comparison.

UPDATE 1: Before I wrote this, a local store who sell these high-end DSLR-suitable tripod heads told me will get them in stock for me to view but when I called two weeks later they said something like, "Ermm.. Yeah, we can't be bothered.." so I'll have to find another way to test all these.

UPDATE 2:
I bought a Sachtler FSB4 and the review is finished. More heads will be reviewed when I can.

I have a passion for good fluid heads.
I will be comparing these four 75mm bowl heads, all of which are severely lacking in reviews, tests and even simple comments about how they compare.

Sachtler FSB4

  • 0-4kg counterbalance in 5 steps
  • 5-step drag control
  • Built-in flat mount by removing bowl screw
  • £465.

Looks like a clear winner if you use a bear-bones camera setup like i do, but only a real test will tell.

Libec RH25R

  • 1.8-5kg stepless counterbalance
  • 2-step drag control
  • No info about screw
  • £432.

Almost no info online about this guy, but apart from the limited drag control this seems like a decent value option.

Miller Compass 15

  • 2-10kg counterbalance in 4 steps
  • 5 steps drag control
  • No info about screw
  • £1033

A steep price, but Phillip Bloom's recommendation is enough to make me try it.

Vinten Vision Blue

  • 2.1-5kg stepless counterbalance
  • Stepless drag control
  • No info about screw
  • £594

This is a very strong contender, and just lacks the FSB4's ability to shoot with lighter systems.

Stay tuned. www.youtube.com/nitsanpictures

How was it shot? - Dave Press album art shoot

These are the 14 completed shots for the album-art photography shoot I did for Dave Press's new album "Breaking out". The shoot took approximately half a day and another couple of days of editing.

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Lighting:
● Shot using 3 video lights (AL-528S, AL-528C, R-300 - You can also use much cheaper lights like the YN-160 for the same effect, just remember that weaker lights are harder to balance with sunlight or other lights), a big silver umbrella, a reflector and two stands. I LOOVE using video lights for photography, I only have one photography flash (YN-560) for live events. ● There were no standard lighting setups, I just make it up as I shoot. The F&V R-300 spent most of it's time on the floor as a bit of a fill, this can be important when working with dark floors and doing full body shots.

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● Also, be careful with LED lights, they're not that fragile but the NP-f batteries break open even from mild drops, and then they are dangerous! (If wires inside touch each other there is a risk of fire/explosion)

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Camera:
● 5D Mark III (You can use much cheaper cameras for the same effect, for example, an NEX-3 with a Lens turbo or a 5D mkI if you really want full frame for cheap, but also most crop-sensor DSLR/Mirrorless cameras will be very similar)

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Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 21.55.50

● Don't be afraid to get close to the subject. Close ups can be very powerful, but remember you may need to clean up skin a lot more. Luckily for me both Dave and Emily have great skin so that wasn't a problem on this shoot.

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● If shooting for something like album art, remember to shoot with enough space for square cropping. (usually this means just shooting a tiny bit wider to ensure you can get nice composition in your square crop.)

● Remember that symmetry (same on left and right) can look very nice if done right. Also correct amount of head-room in photos/videos is extremely important. In close ups, don't be afraid to hide foreheads but avoid cutting off chins. ● Shoot RAW - I wish I had started shooting raw a lot sooner, I spent about 3 years shooting JPEGs, which means i didn't have as much room to play with the shots in editing.

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Lenses:

● I used the same lenses I use for video - the Samyang 14mm (Didn't use any shots from that) Samyang 85mm f1.4, Samyang 35mm f1.4 and Nikon 50mm f1.2 AI-s. (Used lots of shots from the last two) - These lenses are all relatively low cost because they're manual focus, however, you can get much cheaper alternatives that will do a similar job, for example, Jupiter 9 (85mm f2), Nikon 35mm f1.8 or Fujian 35mm f1.7, almost any 50mm ever made, etc.

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● If using manual focus lenses, it's important to get lots of practice (I sometimes I tell the talent to stand still too).

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● When choosing a lens for photography or video, I find that chromatic aberration (Google it if unsure) is far more important than sharpness, so I would recommend looking at that first.

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Editing:
● This is an important part of almost all creative work, and helps to create images that communicate more to the viewer, or maybe just look nicer, etc.

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● I used Lightroom for the basic adjustments (I much prefer the results I get from lightroom for this) and Photoshop for all the main stuff: 1. Mild skin cleanups 2. Removing unwanted objects 3. Adding text (in the wanted poster) 4. Adding a watercolor effect and desert background (in the train tracks shot) 5. Adding sunglasses reflection (in Dave's portrait) 6. Fake tilt/shift effect in the wanted poster.

● I'd recommend starting with lightroom because it's cheaper and easier. I don't use presets anymore, but I highly recommend downloading some free Lightroom presets, they're very helpful in learning what you like in editing, and also getting a fast job done. ● Don't be afraid to push white balance when needed.

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Remember that all of this stuff requires practice, then some more practice, then maybe a bit more. Any questions, just ask.

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How I got my terminated Youtube channel back

I'M BACK BABY!
www.youtube.com/nitsanpictures As you may have read in THIS POST (LINK) my Youtube account was deleted. After 12 long days I now have my channel back.

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Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 23.51.59

What I've learned My experience has been extremely important, and now that it's done I am way better off, because I have learned some extremely important things. First of all, never put all your eggs in one basket. I didn't think they were, but when I lost my Youtube channel I realized that was one of my biggest sources of income and promotion. I am now changing the way I work. I will spend an equal amount of time on my eBay shop, Vimeo channel, this blog and my own film/photography work.

The next thing I learned is that you can never follow the rules too closely. Even though I had read youtube's rules, I somehow maybe missed something, so I will be even more careful now. Tomorrow morning I'm hiring someone to help me scan over the entire channel and fix anything that could be an issue. And I'm taking this lesson with my to other parts of my life too, my eBay shop, my Vimeo channel, etc.

Lastly, I have learned to listen more to complaints. I was recently posting too many links on some facebook groups, most people were happy with the posts but a few were not and it's possible one or two of those people caused the account to be deleted in the first place. So from now on I will be much more careful not to to annoy people, even if in my mind the thing I'm doing is perfectly okay.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8Rhy-2PDEI]

My parents always taught me to look at my own actions first, so my reaction was not to find someone to blame, but rather, I looked at myself to try to see what my mistake was, so that I could hopefully fix it or at the very least learn from it. So what was my mistake? I don't know, but I will be extremely careful from now on.

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Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 02.30.30

(The above image was edited to remove the 'reset password' part of the email)

"So, what was the reason?" This is what you guys have been asking me. I wish I knew. Youtube never gave me a reason. It's possible it was 'deleted' just temporarily while it was in line to be reviewed. But it's also possible that without the community's support I wouldn't have got it back. One thing is for sure, I'm glad I made the effort. The 'offending' video was a about a Konova product. I don't remember which video because it was 4am when I found the Google page that said which video it was, and I forgot. If I ever figure out which video it was I'll update this post, but as far as I know there was nothing wrong with it, like all my review videos, it's just me talking about a product.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukRWHwtlhKc]

What I did

  • First of all, I wrote on facebook asking for advice.
  • Next, a blog post, which you can see HERE (LINK). I kept this post updated as I gathered more information. One thing that is important is to keep your emotions on the more positive side. As an example, if I was to get angry and decide to write an angry post saying negative opinions about Google, it would not give anyone at Google a reason to help me. When I was writing it, my focus was on giving as much detail as possible while also keeping it short and to the point.
  • I then posted the link to the blog post all over facebook. On Facebook groups and also on my friend's walls (mostly just closer friends' walls, asking them to help send it to others).
  • I also emailed people in my industry who I thought might be willing to help spread the word.
  • I tweeted at people. Influential people and people in my industry, bloggers, etc.
  • I even sent out emails to some media, two replied with a 'no thanks', the others didn't get back to me.
  • My dad sent out an email (A list of some thousands), although this only got a very small response because they didn't know me and are not related to this industry.
  • I also kept submitting the form that asks Youtube what the problem was.
  • There are also some numbers you can call, Youtube +1 650 2530000 and Google London
 +44 (0)20-7031-3000. I did not try this, but was actually the next step on my to do list, I heard this did work for someone else.
  • Eventually, we got someone's attention at google and I got the channel back. I hope this helps someone else in the future. Sorry this isn't more detailed, it's 3am so I'll have to come back another time.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEMGSILaDP8]

THANK YOU! I would like to give an insanely massive thanks to everyone who helped! You guys are freakin superheros! I'm trying to think of a way to thank everyone. Send me ideas please. A super special thanks to Nino Leitner, Sebastian Wöber and Johnnie Behiri from Cinema5D (LINK) and Anthony Thurston from SLR Lounge (LINK).

More Nitsan I will do my best to post daily reviews or tutorials. Subscribe to me at http://www.youtube.com/nitsanpictures, Vimeo.com/nitsan and on the right side of this blog post. You can also check out my eBay shop http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/nitsanphotography/m.html, I have around 200 new products on the way, they should all be posted in the next 30 days or so.

Please help! - Nitsan's filmmaking tutorials Youtube channel has been deleted!

[UPDATE:I got it back! You can read about it HERE (LINK). I am leaving this article here for others to learn from.]

My name is Nitsan, I am a very hard working 24 year old filmmaker (see my work below). I came home from a shoot to find emails from my viewers telling me my channel has been terminated. Unfortunately, without any warnings or explanation from Youtube. This is most likely some sort of mistake, but because Youtube is so huge, I need your help to get noticed (see bottom of article for what you can do).

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Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 15.09.55

I have spent 3 years shooting over 200 reviews and tutorials, totaling over half a million views and 3000+ subscribers. My Youtube channel was a huge part of my life and my business, without it I will be loosing a lot of money, yup, the money that pays for my rent and bills. PLEASE NOTE: I have only made money from the eBay and Amazon links below my reviews, and from clients finding me for film/photography work through Youtube. I have NEVER been paid for any product review! 

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Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 06.17.02
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Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 21.59.16

Here is a screenshot of my Youtube channel not long ago, and me featured on the Official Youtube Creators Blog: http://youtubecreatorbloguk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/youtube-partner-november.html

The possible causes? Maybe I have broken the rules somewhere without knowing? If I had known, I would have immediately corrected it, I am always extremely careful with these things. Never being abusive or spamming and never posting any copyrighted material. This could have also been caused on purpose by someone (This has been known to happen. There were some people very angry at me recently for posing too many posts in a filmmaking group on facebook, I definitely won't be doing that again.) or it could just be something automatic in the Youtube system. I believe it was one these specific things:

  1. PRODUCT PLACEMENT! - It has just been brought to my attention that Google might think I have been paid for my reviews - IF I did, I would have had to select the option 'this video contains a paid product placement' in the advertising options - I totally understand this, but I HAVE NEVER BEEN PAID FOR ANY REVIEW, EVER! - I have received free review units, that is all! Any company I reviewed items for will confirm this! Most my review items were bought with my own money, but some companies sent me free review items too.
  2. Some hacking into my account?
  3. False 'flagging' (in simple words: untrue complaints) on my videos.
  4. The 10,000 extra views i got in the past few days, it's a known method of getting accounts closed, sending someone fake views so google thinks the youtuber himself bought himself fake views (which is obviously not allowed).
  5. I had eBay and Amazon affiliate links below my videos (links I make money from if people buy the item I reviewed), but the videos were never spam, always real video reviews filmed by myself about real products (This is done by many youtubers), and every single video had an annotation that read exactly this: "Thank you for watching! If you found this helpful, please support me by using the links below!". I read the youtube rules and it doesn't say anywhere this is not allowed, I found online that some people got accounts deleted, but mainly for spammy, useless videos, not REAL content like mine.
  6. I've been posting two videos per day for a few days, maybe that triggered something.

One thing is for sure, it's very hard for one guy to get his voice heard by Youtube, which is why I'm asking for help from my viewers, fans, friends, fellow bloggers and good people of the world. Some people in my situation have recovered their accounts, but from what I have found online, mostly only those who had some community support.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 19.23.20
Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 19.23.20

My very short open letter to Youtube I have to share things here which I would much rather be kept private, because at this point I will do anything to get my channel back. 

"Dear Youtube staff, I am a hard working, helpful and honest person. My Youtube channel is what gets me enough work to pay my rent, which is not easy, my family is all living abroad and my mother has recently passed away. Please allow me the opportunity to fix any mistake I have done. Let me know what the issue is and I will be sure to fix it. Here are links showing the big support I am getting. Please find it in your heart to help me. - Thank you, Nitsan Simantov." LINKS:SLR Lounge, Cinema5D, FB 1, FB 2, FB 3, FB 4, FB 5,Twitter 1, Twitter 2, and also see the bottom of this article for number of shares and comments.

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 18.52.54
Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 18.52.54

How you can help Please show Youtube that you support me by doing one or more of the things below. It can be as simple as "Please help us bring back the 'NitsanPictures' deleted channel!" - Feel free to share your thoughts, but please don't be abusive towards the Youtube staff.

  1. Please help me find ways to contact a real person at Youtube/Google. I'll update this post. All other ideas welcome too!
  2. RE-TWEET THIS (LINK) and share THIS POST (LINK) or THIS POST (LINK) on facebook. Also comment on the post that brought you here and on this article. No email needed, just type in your name.
  3. Tweet to @YTCreators, @mattcuttsand other Youtubers or influential people who might want to help. The more tweets, the better. Are there other people from Youtube/Google we can tweet to? I don't know much about Twitter, so any advice or help here will be great.
  4. Send this to bloggers! - Photo/video/tech related blogs are most likely to help but any other blog will be great too!
  5. Google Plus? I don't know how it works or who's page to post on. Any advice here would be appreciated.
  6. Email: adsense-support@google.com,service@youtube.com,accounts-support@google.com,editor@youtube.com,partner-support@youtube.com,ukcopyright@youtube.com,ukpartner-support@youtube.com,suggestions@youtube.com,press@youtube.com,security@youtube.com.

A huge thanks to everyone who is helping! Here's one of my tutorials (lots of technical jargon in this one, so non-film people can just mute it and enjoy the imagery), and below that my filmmaking showreel. See more of my work at www.nitsan.co.uk - After many requests, I am uploading most my videos to vimeo (I will soon try to find time to add descriptions, links and keywords.), but this doesn't help me much since Vimeo has very few visitors in comparison. For those that would like to follow me in the future, you can subscribe to this blog and my Vimeo channel. [vimeo 67854317 w=500 h=281]

[vimeo 59758917 w=500 h=281]

More screenshots of my videos

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Expensive lens VS expensive camera

Just a thought i wanted to share, which mostly applies to the video side of things. Someone today asked me if he should get the (£1300) Canon 24-70 f2.8L II USM for his (£200) 500D because people kept telling him that the lens is much more important than the camera, but it's not fully true, especially not for video. The camera is much more important than the lens IF you choose a good cheap lens, not a crappy cheap lens. You can get a lovely 50mm f1.8 lens for £30 on ebay and pair it with a camera from £300+ (for example, a Sony NEX-5n or Panasonic GH2) and get great results... The other way around doesn't work. This is similar on any price range. For example a £200 Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens with a £2000 5D Mark III will get decent results (not even counting the new raw video hack from Magic Lantern) compared to a £200 Canon 500D with any £2000 Canon L-Series lens, which will still just produce a moire-filled 720p image.

Here is a video I shot on a £200 Canon 500D with mostly a £400 Olympus OM 55mm f1.2:

 Compare that to this video I shot on the 5D Mark III, and mostly the £200 Samyang 85mm f1.4: (Sorry, I couldn't find an example with a more expensive lens.)

These examples are in the extremes, this does not apply to every situation and finding the right balance is important. It will differ from person to person depending on your shooting needs.

Here is this theory in action on a wedding I shot with the £800 Sony NEX-6 with it's 16-50mm kit lens and a £30 Fujian 35mm f1.7 lens doing most of the work:

Photo of the little Fujian and NEX-6:

282982_10151377214432603_54229816_n.jpg

Here are some images from the Fujian, unedited:

Fujian 35mm f1.7 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/Z4XhqF

Tips for wedding films

Here are some tips regarding shooting wedding videos in a way that allows you to move around freely, without tripods and without many heavy bags, maybe a backpack at most. This was shot on the lovely NEX-6 camera, and the same tips could apply to mostly any decent camera, but remember that the lighter the weight, the easier your day will be and the more you will be able to get great shots. This is a major factor for me when choosing a camera for a shoot like this. Shooting this way, with each camera operator having his own specific job, was a really great way to work, and unfortunately I don't have footage from the other camera operators to show you, because I was only hired as a camera operator for this wedding. Glidecam's HD series (LINK) is highly recommended, and so far has been my stabilizer of choice, but there are many other options. Generally, I would not advise to go for the cheap stuff unless you've seen some great footage from it. Remember, when watching tests and reviews on youtube, that many people will only post the usable footage they got with stabilizers, when you're shooting something live, you aren't able to stop and re-shoot, so having a great stabilizer is an absolute must. I would say that for live shoots, either use a great stabilizer (with lots of practice), or none at all.

The Laing P-03 is also recommended. (LINK)

Professional £300 / $500 shoulder rig setup

This is a really great rig design, by far the best I've used. I highly recommend this setup for those that have the budget for it. For those that don't I recommend looking at something like the $95 FC-10 rig from FilmCity (LINK) or maybe even something like my £15 DIY 'pocket rig' (LINK). These are obviously not as good, but they are good for their cost.

Stability tests:As a shoulder rig - LINKAs a fig rig / action cam - LINK

Parts list:

Rails: I use two 18" rails and two 9" rails, but currently it's much cheaper to get two sets of 13" rails which is not ideal but should work just fine. UK linkUS link

Adjustable base-plate: UK linkUS link

Giottos quick release system: UK linkUS link

Railblock x4 connector: (NOTE: Items not available until after Xmas from this seller. Alternative option: LINK.) UK linkUS link

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Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 6.43.00.PM

Weights: The image above is from my own eBay store, but you can choose whatever weights you prefer. UK link US link

Handles: (NOTE: Items from this seller not available until after Christmas. Alternatives: LINK, LINK.) UK linkUS link

Top handle: UK linkUS link

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Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 6.47.24.PM

Shoulder pad: The image above is from my own eBay store, but you can choose whatever pad you prefer. UK linkUS link

Rear weight clamp/railblock: UK linkUS link

Carry case: The 650mm one should be enough but I would go with the slightly larger one. From my measurements this bag should fit the rig relly easily, but I have not bought this exact one so I cannot say for sure. UK linkUS link

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.