Gear: Tripods and heads
Obviously a very important tool for filmmakers. This is something I rarely use without a slider, so I recommend you consider your tripod and slider system at the same time.
Varavon 815FH - £70
The king of fluid heads. It has THE best performance for DSLR sized cameras that I have seen, ever. It allows for the ultimate smoothness in precise camera moves, especially after a few seconds of warming up at the beginning of the day by tilting the head in all directions for a few seconds. It outperforms every head I have used, far better than a lot of the big names out there. There were some issues with the oil when the manufacturer (Ningbo Weifeng) stupidly decided to change the oil on this head (and on its bowl-mount identical twin brother, the Fancier FC-02h) to a thinner oil. So if you buy one, and you absolutely should, you need to insist they send you the thicker oil. Varavon have now confirmed they send current units of this head out with the thicker oil, which is the one you want, but please do message them first ensure you get the thicker oil, which should also remind them they should not allow the manufacturer to make such a dumb mistake again. For those who already have this head from the time they were shipping with the thinner oil, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and arrange to send your head to china for a free oil change. It cost me £60 total to send two heads there and back, I assume one head would cost less. The reason I recommend this head over the Fancier branded version is because the flat mount on this is easier to use and fit to what you need, like a slider or tripod, and because I worry Fancier might still be sticking to their stupid thin oil.
Velbon DV7000 - £80
Great cheap-yet-tough flat-mount (not bowl-mount) legs, and they come with a fluid head too, it's very smooth, but mainly only good for very small cameras which are center weighted.
Manfrotto MPRO 535 carbon fiber tripod legs - £450
So good they are also sold by Sachtler with their own branding. The best combination of rigidity, hight and low weight. Absolutely superb, although could do with a mid-level spreader in some situations, mainly for moving the system around without the legs folding inwards.
JieYang JY0506 fluid head - £55
A solid and smooth fluid head with a flat mount base. Up to scratch with the bigger brands but at a much lower price.
Varavon Baby T1
● The Fancier/Wiefeng/E-Image legs with the latch-locks instead of twist-lock knobs, These legs are partially plastic and unstable.
● Friction-based sliders do not have roller bearings, and they don't perform as well as a professional tripod should, especially not if you want to use a fluid head on your slider.