Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

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robedge

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Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 3:43 pm

Two questions...

Is Manfrotto the only company that makes flat base video heads that don’t cost thousands of dollars? A Google search doesn’t turn up much in the way of Manfrotto alternatives, and nothing by well-known companies.

Alternatively, if one wants to use a tripod with a flat top, who makes a good adapter to use a standard 75mm fluid head? I mean an actual adapter, not, as can be done with Gitzo Systematic tripods, using a bowl that replaces the flat top. As far as I know, the ability to change out the top of a Gitzo Systematic tripod is uncommon in tripod systems.

Thanks
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Howard Roll

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:01 pm

The vast majojrity of tripod heads are already flat base, the ball is removable.

Good Luck
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robedge

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:08 pm

Howard Roll wrote:The vast majojrity of tripod heads are already flat base, the ball is removable.


Thanks, that’s certainly good to know. Do you know if the changeout is usually an easy, quick operation?
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Frank Engel

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:14 pm

How much weight do you need to handle?

If it is just a lightweight camera there are a bunch around...


I personally have this one, which for my purposes works just fine - it is pictured with a bowl adapter, but is actually a flat-base head which happens to include the adapter:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NH0AZV8


I use it with this tripod, which happens to have the ability to swap out a flat base, bowl, or column (which in turn has a flat base):

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B079KNWZPS




A few other flat-base head options which are out there, after a quick search, with various capacities and price points:

https://smile.amazon.com/V501-Olympus-P ... B07LCF9JLN

https://smile.amazon.com/Benro-S8-Video ... B00VYAM1G6

https://smile.amazon.com/Sirui-VH-15-Pr ... B00JLHK8EG
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Frank Engel

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:17 pm

robedge wrote:
Howard Roll wrote:The vast majojrity of tripod heads are already flat base, the ball is removable.


Thanks, that’s certainly good to know. Do you know if the changeout is usually an easy, quick operation?


The adapter just screws on, but after it has been on for a while, they can be difficult to unscrew (at least mine is) - they seem to get stuck. If I remember correctly, when I got the one I have, the adapter and head were not attached when shipped.
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Howard Roll

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:29 pm

robedge wrote:
Howard Roll wrote:The vast majojrity of tripod heads are already flat base, the ball is removable.


Thanks, that’s certainly good to know. Do you know if the changeout is usually an easy, quick operation?

Literally seconds, it's usually a single 3/8-16. Incidentally, the adapter you're looking for is a riser or a hi-hat, a straight adapter per-se is difficult because of the location of the clamp.

Good Luck

Hi-Hat.jpeg
Hi-Hat.jpeg (33.6 KiB) Viewed 429 times


Riser.jpg
Riser.jpg (27.1 KiB) Viewed 429 times
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robedge

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:30 pm

Frank Engel wrote:How much weight do you need to handle?

If it is just a lightweight camera there are a bunch around...


I personally have this one, which for my purposes works just fine - it is pictured with a bowl adapter, but is actually a flat-base head which happens to include the adapter:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NH0AZV8


I use it with this tripod, which happens to have the ability to swap out a flat base, bowl, or column (which in turn has a flat base):

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B079KNWZPS




A few other flat-base head options which are out there, after a quick search, with various capacities and price points:

https://smile.amazon.com/V501-Olympus-P ... B07LCF9JLN

https://smile.amazon.com/Benro-S8-Video ... B00VYAM1G6

https://smile.amazon.com/Sirui-VH-15-Pr ... B00JLHK8EG


Thanks Frank,

The description of the tripod you have says that it is compatible with Gitzo Systematic Series 5 tripods, which explains the ease of swap.

I’m currently using a Manfrotto MVH500AH, but am considering a standard fluid head. I have a Gitzo Systematic, but I also have a Ries J100 tripod that I would like a new head to work with. The Ries is at a residence 1800 miles from New York and using it would save me carting a tripod around.

I was looking at Sachtler, etc. If Howard Roll is right that these can be converted, great, but a couple of filmmaking forum threads suggest that the changeout may not be a quick, simple operation.
Video: Pocket 4K, Fujinon MK 18-55mm, Leica primes 35-135mm, Nikkor 55mm macro/180mm telephoto

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John Griffin

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:35 pm

robedge wrote:Two questions...

Is Manfrotto the only company that makes flat base video heads that don’t cost thousands of dollars? A Google search doesn’t turn up much in the way of Manfrotto alternatives, and nothing by well-known companies.

Alternatively, if one wants to use a tripod with a flat top, who makes a good adapter to use a standard 75mm fluid head? I mean an actual adapter, not, as can be done with Gitzo Systematic tripods, using a bowl that replaces the flat top. As far as I know, the ability to change out the top of a Gitzo Systematic tripod is uncommon in tripod systems.

Thanks

Manfrotto make a ball to flat head adapter - 325N
Some ball fluid heads have a small flat portion on the base so they can be attached to a flat plate ( My Sachtler FSB4 had )
AFAIK Feisol and Benro do copies of the Gitzo systematic system.
There are not many companies that make flat based fluid heads for video as they are pretty awkward to use without the ability to quickly level and lock.
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robedge

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:35 pm

Howard Roll wrote:
robedge wrote:
Thanks, that’s certainly good to know. Do you know if the changeout is usually an easy, quick operation?

Literally seconds, it's usually a single 3/8-16. Incidentally, the adapter you're looking for is a riser or a hi-hat, a straight adapter per-se is difficult because of the location of the clamp.


Thanks, I’ll look further into ease of changeout.

Yes, I know what the adapter is. B&H sells several of them. What I hope to find out is if someone is using one that they are happy with.
Video: Pocket 4K, Fujinon MK 18-55mm, Leica primes 35-135mm, Nikkor 55mm macro/180mm telephoto

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robedge

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 4:48 pm

John Griffin wrote:Manfrotto make a ball to flat head adapter - 325N
Some ball fluid heads have a small flat portion on the base so they can be attached to a flat plate ( My Sachtler FSB4 had )
AFAIK Feisol and Benro do copies of the Gitzo systematic system.
There are not many companies that make flat based fluid heads for video as they are pretty awkward to use without the ability to quickly level and lock.


Thanks John. Your post and Frank’s means that at least three companies are copying the Gitzo Systematic Series system, which I didn’t know.

I use my Gitzo with a leveling base, and if I purchase a standard fluid head the whole top can be changed out. For me, the issue is figuring out how to use a standard fluid head with a Ries J100. That tripod has a head that is easy to level and lock, what Ries calls a J250: https://www.riestripod.com/product/the-j250-head I mostly use that tripod for 8x10 and 4x5, but I also want to use it with a Pocket 4K.

Good to know about the Sachtler FSB heads, which is one of the options I’m interested in.

Thanks again.

EDIT: corrected model name of/link to Ries head
Last edited by robedge on Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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John Griffin

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 5:09 pm

Manfrotto also do a 75mm ball (520) with a flat top so you can convert a bowl head tripod to a flat base for conventional heads. I'm always switching between the 2 on my Systematic 5 and 3 series tripods for stills and video. The trouble with looking for a fluid head with a flat base is that it may not be the best fluid head for the money. I sold my FSB4 for an E-Image GH-06 as although the later was cheaper the fluid action is a lot better for doing smooth movements.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 5:31 pm

If an FSB is stored upside down all the grease will leak out. The up side is that your 20 year old head is still serviceable today if you want to repack it.

Good Luck
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 5:37 pm

Much obliged to Howard, Frank and John for posts that really help in sorting this out. Also good to see a positive recommendation for the Ikan E-image GH-06, which is featured in a ProAV TV/Philip Bloom video that I happened to see yesterday.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 6:01 pm

Howard Roll wrote:If an FSB is stored upside down all the grease will leak out. The up side is that your 20 year old head is still serviceable today if you want to repack it.

Good Luck

Never heard of that.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 6:49 pm

Next stop, B&H’s video department on Sunday to look at standard fluid heads.

Thanks guys.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 8:09 pm

Rob, thanks for starting yet another thread dovetailing with my interests. I've been doing a bunch of fluid head research because I would like something that truly balances unlike my Manfrotto (I think the earlier version of the head that you are currently using.) One of the tricky parts besides the plate issue (I have a Gitzo 3541XLS) is the weight issue with using smaller cameras. I like that the Ikan has a plate adapter. I too, was looking at Sachtler (and Miller and Vinten) and was trying to determine my options for a single tripod operation since I'm always shooting 4x5 concurrent with my video work but was concerned about the lighter load. I would prefer to spend money on something that will last a long time. I've had my Gitzo for ten years.

I'll be looking forward to your next visit to B&H!
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 8:59 pm

Although the GH-06 has better fluid motion than the Satchler it doesn’t have the latters ability to work with light camera setups as the lightest CW setting is quite strong.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 10:12 pm

Hi Chris,

I’m using two tripods and a monopod.

The Gitzo is a Systematic Series 3 called a G1325 Mk. 2. It hasn’t been made in at least a decade, but mine is going strong. It’s only three sections and shorter than yours. I can use it with a leveling base and a flat base video head, or with a 75mm bowl and standard fluid head.

I’m also using a Ries J100 and J250 head. The J250 head provides a leveling function. As a child of the carbon fiber era, I used to think that wooden tripods were for Ansel Adam wannabes. Then a friend lent me a Ries for a day and I was hooked. I have yet to see video tripod legs that I think would do a better job, and the weight is in fact not far off alternatives. The issue is that the video head options are either a flat base video head or a bowl adapter. This is the Ries site for anyone interested: https://www.riestripod.com/

As you know, I’m using a Pocket 4K and a Fujinon MK 18mm-55mm lens. The use of a Sachtler Ace Base Plate has fully addressed the balance issue that this combination creates. I can now mount the camera and lens even on a monopod and have no need to fiddle with the position of a plate to achieve balance. Indeed, I can mount the camera/lens directly on my monopod, with no video head, and it balances nicely.

The Manfrotto MVH500AH flat base video head that I have weighs 980g (2lbs). The weight of available 75mm video heads is something I’ll be paying close attention to when I check out these heads later this week. It’s going to be a question of weight vs whatever benefit there is over the MVH500AH on the camera movements of pan and tilt.

Even for still photography, I commonly mount a camera directly on the Gitzo with leveling base, no head at all, and the Ries head is a unique design that is similar to a leveling base. I am not a fan of tripod heads in the first place - I haven’t used a ball head in years - and I’m not looking to complicate my life or add weight unless there’s a very clear benefit :)
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 10:31 pm

John Griffin wrote:Although the GH-06 has better fluid motion than the Satchler it doesn’t have the latters ability to work with light camera setups as the lightest CW setting is quite strong.


Thanks for this post.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostWed Feb 12, 2020 11:42 pm

There’s a story behind the following that Chris Leutger might enjoy:

robedge wrote:I am not a fan of tripod heads in the first place - I haven’t used a ball head in years - and I’m not looking to complicate my life or add weight unless there’s a very clear benefit :)


Some years ago, there was a participant in the LFP.info forum who was an American living in Rome. He kept a low profile, saying little but occasionally uploading extraordinarily beautiful 5x7 photographs. Curious, I figured out that he was a commercial photographer who was doing campaigns for some of Italy’s most important brands. In a digital age, he shot 5x7 for personal enjoyment. We exchanged a few messages, and he gave me two pieces of advice that pretty much flew in the face of common practice:

First, put a leveling base on my tripod and ditch my Manfrotto pan and tilt head and Arca-Swiss ball head.

Secondly, when making a portrait, choose a lens that puts me at roughly conversation distance from my subject.

Shortly after, I saw the PBS American Masters programme Darkness and Light about Richard Avedon. Toward the end, Avedon photographs the theatre and film director Andre Gregory (the Andre of My Dinner with Andre) with a Rollie/standard lens from a distance of maybe three feet.

I’ve followed both pieces of advice ever since. On the first item, willing to make a bit of an exception, when there’s a good reason to, for video :)
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 2:47 am

Rob, decades ago I saw the conclusion of a study on the optimum distance to have the camera from a subject as determined by what distance people are most comfortable being seen. The preferred distance was five feet. I’ve generally followed that guideline. That conclusion was also confirmed as the typical distance a small group of people, standing at a party, like to maintain when they’re talking to someone. Not talking about an intimate tête-a-tête of course.

It’s a guideline as there are reasons for exceptions. For example Quentin Tarantino will get considerably closer when the story calls for it. The example was players around a poker table. He wants to put the camera in the scene as if the viewer is a player at the table. That could be less than five feet.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 3:09 am

hi Rick,

I was setting out the spirit of an idea, not suggesting that one get out a tape measure. If you ever see the PBS film on Avedon, there’s a point in the sequence where Avedon is practically on top of Andre Gregory. In fact, I was expecting anyone who’s read this thread and seen the film to point that out :)
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 3:20 am

Rick,

Coincidentally, Daniel Norton talked about this on his YouTube channel last month. Norton does Adorama’s live sessions on studio photography, which are excellent, but also has a channel of his own. I have a lot of time for him. Having met him, I also think that he’s a nice guy. He’s with the gentleman in Rome and with Avedon. Indeed, he talks about 3’-3.5’.

Note his reference to the Rollie, which as I say earlier was what Avedon was using. He also makes an interesting observation about the impact of smartphones.


“50mm vs 85mm for Portraits”

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 3:56 am

The Avedon film may be available on PBS’s site, and I have it as a DVD, but someone has also uploaded it to YouTube. Maybe not the best copy, but it is really worth watching, indeed it’s inspirational:

Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light
PBS American Masters, 1996

Video: Pocket 4K, Fujinon MK 18-55mm, Leica primes 35-135mm, Nikkor 55mm macro/180mm telephoto

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 4:32 am

Watching this again, the sequence in the film above in which Avedon photographs Andre Gregory is earlier than I remembered. It’s at the 28 minute mark, although there may be more later. He and Gregory talk again much later in the film.

Daniel Norton, in the video two posts up, doesn’t mention Avedon or this film, but this is very much what he’s talking about.

I’d forgotten the sequence, which is a bit earlier, about photographing Natasha Kinski and the snake :)

The Gregory clip marks sort of a transition from a film about Avedon’s fashion photography to his later work and approach/philosophy as an artist.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 5:31 am

I realise that this is supposed to be a technical forum focused on video, so my apologies for straying in these posts from the remit. I’m just not good at separating technical from these kinds of issues, or film from still photography. I’ve been spending some time with La jetée lately, which probably shows how confused I am :)

P.S. If anyone knows where I can get La jetée in the original French, I’d love to get a message saying where. Thanks.
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Robert Niessner

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 6:16 am

Rob, I am using the Sirui VH-15 flatbase head together with their strongest monopod P-424SR. For leveling I am using the Novoflex MagicBalance 75, which is the only leveling head I've found to be strong enough for a fully rigged PCC4K.
The setup works very well.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostThu Feb 13, 2020 8:16 am

robedge wrote:P.S. If anyone knows where I can get La jetée in the original French, I’d love to get a message saying where. Thanks.


You can get if from Criterion with Marker's masterful Sans Soleil:

https://www.criterion.com/films/329-la-jet-e It has both English and French versions of La Jetee.

I'm a huge Chris Marker fan and his work has been inspirational in terms of the kind of film making I aspire to. He and Tacita Dean are what inspired me to take up Super 8 initially, then I got an Eclair ACL. Then the Blackmagic Pocket came out and I got that. I realized that if I was going to continue to do film photography, I wouldn't have time for shooting 16mm film with the work and expense that would entail. Around that time all the editing places shut down in town as well. I thought the images out of the Pocket were along the lines of what I would have working towards with 16mm. And so it goes.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 2:51 am

Chris Leutger wrote:Rob, thanks for starting yet another thread dovetailing with my interests. ... I'll be looking forward to your next visit to B&H!


Follow-up here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=105319&start=50#p594199

My understanding from internet comments is that the Criterion version of La jetée does not include the original French and is dubbed in English. Not true?
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 4:06 am

Robert Niessner wrote:Rob, I am using the Sirui VH-15 flatbase head together with their strongest monopod P-424SR. For leveling I am using the Novoflex MagicBalance 75, which is the only leveling head I've found to be strong enough for a fully rigged PCC4K.
The setup works very well.


Thanks very much Robert, I’ll check out the Sirui. Gitzo’s leveling base works fine on my Gitzo tripod, including with my 8x10 camera. When it comes to leveling, Ries’s tripod heads are on a different level from everything else on the market. Here’s the Ries leveling base for the Ries J100 tripod that I mentioned earlier: https://www.riestripod.com/product/the-j250-head

That one’s 4”, they also make one that’s 6” :)
Video: Pocket 4K, Fujinon MK 18-55mm, Leica primes 35-135mm, Nikkor 55mm macro/180mm telephoto

Stills: Leica M3/M6/M240; Mamiya 7II; Arca Swiss 4x5/8x10

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 6:02 am

robedge wrote:
Chris Leutger wrote:Rob, thanks for starting yet another thread dovetailing with my interests. ... I'll be looking forward to your next visit to B&H!


Follow-up here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=105319&start=50#p594199

My understanding from internet comments is that the Criterion version of La jetée does not include the original French and is dubbed in English. Not true?


The Criterion DVD has both English and French versions. I'm watching it right now, in French with no subtitles. But to access that, after choosing La Jetee, you have to navigate and choose Languages and not "Play the Movie", then it will let you setup French Soundtrack and choose no subtitles. Once again, the internet is fake news!
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robedge

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 6:17 am

Chris Leutger wrote:
robedge wrote:
Chris Leutger wrote:Rob, thanks for starting yet another thread dovetailing with my interests. ... I'll be looking forward to your next visit to B&H!


Follow-up here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=105319&start=50#p594199

My understanding from internet comments is that the Criterion version of La jetée does not include the original French and is dubbed in English. Not true?


The Criterion DVD has both English and French versions. I'm watching it right now, in French with no subtitles. But to access that, after choosing La Jetee, you have to navigate and choose Languages and not "Play the Movie", then it will let you setup French Soundtrack and choose no subtitles. Once again, the internet is fake news!


Thanks Chris, that’s what I needed to know. In fairness to “the internet”, Criterion’s own technical statement on its site, and on iTunes in particular, suggests that what it’s selling does not include the original French. Good to know that it is, because I’d like a better copy than what I’m using.

Thanks.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 6:39 am

Yes, it may be that what's streaming (iTunes) isn't the same as what's on the DVD. Which is what I have. I actually have two DVD's because I had the French DVD that was released prior to the Criterion disc which is a superior release, Criterion did great work with the image. The French disc only had the English because that's what Marker liked best.
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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 7:05 am

Chris Leutger wrote:Yes, it may be that what's streaming (iTunes) isn't the same as what's on the DVD. Which is what I have. I actually have two DVD's because I had the French DVD that was released prior to the Criterion disc which is a superior release, Criterion did great work with the image. The French disc only had the English because that's what Marker liked best.


Thanks. I’m going to contact Criterion and ask about this. There’s pretty good reason to believe, based on Criterion’s own technical description and internet complaints, that the download version does not include the original French. Speaking both languages, and having seen both versions, I personally want the French version.That said, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Criterion’s download and DVD would be different. I’m going to give them a shout.
Video: Pocket 4K, Fujinon MK 18-55mm, Leica primes 35-135mm, Nikkor 55mm macro/180mm telephoto

Stills: Leica M3/M6/M240; Mamiya 7II; Arca Swiss 4x5/8x10

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Chris Leutger

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Re: Flat base video heads and bowl adapters

PostFri Feb 14, 2020 10:34 pm

robedge wrote:
Thanks. I’m going to contact Criterion and ask about this. There’s pretty good reason to believe, based on Criterion’s own technical description and internet complaints, that the download version does not include the original French. Speaking both languages, and having seen both versions, I personally want the French version.That said, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Criterion’s download and DVD would be different. I’m going to give them a shout.


I think you might be conflating iTunes (or Amazon) with Criterion at that point. It does make sense to me that a streaming service would pick one to not confuse the lowest common denominator.
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