Vinten 100 Tripod Review

Vinten 100 Tripod Head

I’m a long time Vinten user. My first true, pro tripod was a Vinten 5 with alloy legs that I purchased in 1989 (I think). 22 years on I still have that tripod and it is still perfectly useable. Since then I’ve been the very happy owner of a fabulous set of Vinten FibreTec legs (still have them, still love them) and a new model Vinten Vision 5AS. All of these have been excellent, reliable and virtually indestructible. I’ve taken them up into the Arctic where it’s been -36c. I’ve taken them to the Arizona desert, into Hurricanes, Sand Storms and all kinds of extreme weather. I’ve even used them stood waist deep in the sea (not really recommended). Anyway, I’m waffling… When I needed a bigger tripod to support my Hurricane 3D rig I obtained a Vinten Vision 100.

The Vision 100 is not a new model, but it has a reputation for being able to take a quite remarkable payload for it’s size. You see the Vision 100 head is not much bigger or heavier than my Vinten 5, yet it can take double the payload (20kg). This means that I can still pack it in to my luggage when I’m travelling without getting crippled by high excess baggage charges.

Vinten 100 Counter Balance Adjuster

One of the features that has made it particularly useful for 3D is the digital counterbalance readout that tells you exactly where you are within the heads very generous and continuously adjustable counter balance range. When swapping between the 3D rig and a conventional camera I can simply dial in the numbers that I know give me optimum balance and off I go. One minute I can have a 3D rig with a pair of F3 etc, weighing over 15kg, then after a few turns of the counterbalance knob I can mount just a single F3 weighing only 3kg and the tripod works beautifully well with either payload. The continuously adjustable drag adjustments for pan and tilt are easy to set and if you want you can get a lot of drag. I find this very useful when shooting air shows with long lenses as I like to have quite a bit of drag to work against to keep things smooth. The smoothness of this head is lovely with no sudden slips or tight spots, it’s a pleasure to use.

In the Arizona desert shooting thunderstorms

The legs I have been using with the Vision 100 head are the Vinten 3 stage carbon fibre Pozi-Loc legs. Even though these are nice and light, they are remarkably stiff. I also have one of Vinten’s clever ┬áSpread Loc mid level spreaders. I first got one of these with my FibreTec legs and I’ve never looked back. You can lock the spreader at almost any spread position with a quick turn of the single locking knob. If you need to get the legs down low there is a little button on each arm of the spreader that allows the arm to extend to up to twice it’s original length. The end result is the ability to get very low, even when using standard legs.

Tripods are pretty boring things really. Not as glamourous as a camera, but an essential piece of kit anyway. Get the right tripod and it will last you many, many years, almost certainly out lasting those glamourous cameras. All the Vintens I have owned have been superb. The Vinten 100 is a solid, well made piece of kit that I don’t even really think about when I’m using it. And that is after all what you want, gear that just gets on with its job.

4 thoughts on “Vinten 100 Tripod Review”

  1. I would like to ask a question that is strictly connected with Vinten friction based drag system.
    According to your post:
    “The LF system uses a special kind of grease that thick and sticky, kind of like a thick glue that never sets. The grease is between clutch plates and you can adjust the presure between the plates to adjust the drag. It is not a true fluid system that actually moves a fluid from one chamber to another like a car damper but it is a very effective system that gives a very smooth action with a “fluid” feel. It is a simpler system so it is cheaper to produce and simpler maintain. True fluid heads are very rare these days, most manufacturers use either the sticky grease system or cams and gears”
    I would like to know (and I searched everywhere with no result) how that system differs form a fluid based system used in Sachtler which “use a slightly different system that relies on cams to set the drag in fixed steps”


    I would really appreciate if you’d explain the differences between them – is Sachtler truly fluid head? I am afraid you are the only person in the whole world that knows the difference.
    Thank you.

    1. Well it depends on your definition of a “Fluid Head”. A fluid is anything that is not a solid, so using a grease between plates could be regarded as fluid system. Well designed sticky grease/clutch system can work extremely well.

      The key difference between the Sachtler system and Vinten system is the way the friction/damping is adjusted. I’m not a complete expert, but as far as I know, both use a grease between clutch plate system. Vinten have a single large clutch with fully variable spring loaded pressure. Sachtler use a series of smaller fixed clutches which can be used singly (minimum resistance) or by adding several together (more resistance).

      A true fluid head has a chamber with a piston that moves a fluid through a restriction, by changing the size of the restriction you change the fluid flow and thus the tension. These are much more complex as any air pockets will result in poor damping and the system has to be leak-proof (sadly many are not fully leak proof).

  2. If a very good cameraperson can’t do excellent work with a Sachtler, that person can’t do it with a Vinten, either. They are both (in general) great tools, with their own feel. I do prefer Vinten, always have, but if the world suddenly only had Sachtler, I’d figure out how to cope!

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