Sachtler Flowtech 75 Introduced – Reinventing the Tripod

September 5th, 2017

A while ago, I found myself in a nondescript office building in the East of England, attending a press event of what Sachtler’s and Vinten’s mother company Vitec called “a revolution”. That’s quite a statement for something as “boring” as a tripod – but I think it’s fair to say that we all were in for a ride. It was clear from the start that they must have had something good up their sleeve considering all the buzz of the event and the sheer cost of flying everyone out.

And then they revealed it. Yep, the trip was worth it.

Repositioning the quick deploy levers

The Sachtler Flowtech 75 tripod (also sold as a Vinten Flowtech 75 version with black instead of red levers on top) is a three-stage tripod that looks very unlike any tripod legs I’ve seen before. The legs are unusually shaped with a very wide profile, doing away with the standard round profile we’ve come to expect from tripods since forever. They are made of carbon fibre and notably feature three quick-deployment levers right next to each other at the top of the legs, situated right around the 75mm bowl, making it easy to open with two hands in one go while holding the tripod head.

It’s something that really needs no further explanation once you’ve seen it in its brilliance. They still had a whole day of press briefings to fill after the big reveal, but I thought right then and there that it’s great for them that any further explanation was completely unnecessary. Every camera person who ever worked with a camera tripod will understand in an instant how much time the repositioning would save them in everyday scenarios. The speed of deployment is significantly faster with the Flowtech tripods than with anything I’ve seen before, except maybe a monopod.

Very high and very low, rigidity and stiffness, weight

When removing the (optional) mid or floor spreader, the Flowtech 75 can go as low as 26 cm (10 inches) and as high as 157 cm (60 inches), which is extremely versatile. Similar to the Sachtler or Manfrotto telescopic tripod legs, there are brakes at the top of each leg that allow for adjustment to the different height stages of the tripod.

Because of the shape of the tubes, the tripod has a very solid stand, much better than any standard round-tube tripod. The increased use of carbon fibre material also means that it’s heavier than some other carbon tripods, but at around 3kg for the legs it’s still totally okay to carry around.

Other changes

The rubber feet are much easier to add and remove than on previous Sachtler tripods. Also, the legs have drainage holes – if water gets into the tripod because, say, you put it in a river (like they did for their demo video), it runs right out again. This also makes it easy to clean with normal water.

The tripod legs stick together magnetically, which makes them very easy to carry. They seemed to have found the ideal resistance for that purpose, so they don’t come apart accidentally.

Carbon fibre production

Another big reason why they flew us out was that Vitec very proudly wanted to show us their own carbon fibre production process. Until now, like all other manufacturers, they bought standard round tubes of carbon fibre for their tripods. For the Flowtech 75, they have made a significant investment and bought their own carbon fibre weaver, a huge Stargate-looking machine that weaves the individual strings of fibre automatically into its unusual-looking shape. This manufacturing process and the shape of the sections truly makes the entire tripod much more stable and rigid than others.

It was fascinating to see the machine in action, and how a soft “sock” weave comes out of it at the end. Using epoxy resin and other processes, the fibre is hardened and made into the individual stages of the tripod which are consequently put together. It’s also nice to see that by investing into their UK plant, they don’t ship off more production to the Far East or elsewhere, but really add some rare manufacturing jobs back in Europe.

Conclusion

The Sachtler / Vinten Flowtech 75 tripod indeed is a mini revolution in a field where everyone thought that everything had already been done. I can’t wait to try it out in practice, but the demonstration surely left me convinced that the time savings alone on a normal shooting day will be significant, which is mainly due to the repositioning of the quick release levers. The shape of the profile makes so much sense for the improved stiffness of the tripod as well. Time will tell how people will like this new tripod, but I think it’s almost guaranteed that they have a winner on their hands with this one.

 

Full disclosure: Vitec Videocom paid transport and accommodation for a one-day roundtrip to this press event together with other media to their Bury St. Edmonds site in the UK to show me their new tripod. There was no other payment involved whatsoever. I personally worked for the Sachtler brand many years ago explaining their products in videos, but there has been no  compensation for this press trip other than the flight and accommodation cost. 

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David ChaytorRobert FrankEric DarlingPhilip Coccari Recent comment authors
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Jewan Abdi
Jewan Abdi
GuestSeptember 5th, 2017

Moose you might be interested!

Hal Staniloff
Hal Staniloff
GuestSeptember 5th, 2017

Philip Coccari I really like this tripod.

Philip Coccari
Philip Coccari
GuestSeptember 6th, 2017

Lol!! for a grand it BETTER be nice! I do like it tho

Eric Darling
Eric Darling
MemberSeptember 6th, 2017

Nice tripods cost money. This one’s actually cheap, relatively speaking.

Jeremy Hugues Dit Ciles
MemberSeptember 5th, 2017

Looks that is what is gonna’ replace the old Manfrotto 525 with my FSB8.

Chase Carlsen Bauer
Chase Carlsen Bauer
GuestSeptember 5th, 2017

Holy shit sign me the feck up

Chase Carlsen Bauer
Chase Carlsen Bauer
GuestSeptember 5th, 2017

Seriously one of the most useful and practical innovations I’ve seen in a minute. It looks like a dream

Timmy Philip
Timmy Philip
GuestSeptember 5th, 2017

Finally! Always baffled me on how three sticks can be worth more than 3k

Bjørnar Posse Sandboe
Bjørnar Posse Sandboe
GuestSeptember 5th, 2017

I’ve spent the last 8 hours thinking about a tripod. I need to see someone

Robert Frank
Robert Frank
GuestSeptember 7th, 2017

Maybe a Sachtler dealer could help! :)

Eric Darling
Eric Darling
MemberSeptember 5th, 2017

Interesting. Wake me up when they develop a 100mm version.

Tim Naylor
MemberSeptember 5th, 2017

Brilliant. Now let’s make it 100mm and I’ll be the first to line up for one. Currently using E-Image legs with a Miller Arrow 25. They’re great as it’s one lever per leg for two stages. But I love how Sachtler moved the lever as high as possible. I have a pair a Miller VJ spreader less legs and they’re a real POA to use but are often the only legs I can get into certain spots. Sachtler solved everything I hate about them.

Robert Frank
Robert Frank
GuestSeptember 7th, 2017

Nice! I want this!

Christopher Dobey
MemberSeptember 11th, 2017

I was going to buy the Sachtler ACE XL Carbon Fiber Tripod System and then saw this. Thoughts?

 David Chaytor
David Chaytor
MemberSeptember 11th, 2017

Definitely my next new tripod. When they come out with the 100mm ball one.

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