I believe Larry nailed it above -- an impurities problem that caused the defect. If the tripod had taken a tumble (hard to imagine on Miller's own rolling casters/dolly system and we never leave cameras mounted), there would be indentations on our soft wood floors. Even a slight drop from a grip caliper has left a mark. Further, the arm itself would show marks and the missing bit of the fluid head would not be found directly underneath.
No, I do not believe this is a case of "being used incorrectly" which has been suggested a couple times now.
Nothing on your reputation at all Steve -- you recommended a good product and I'm glad I bought it. It will be an even better product if the manufacturer steps up and resolves the problem without a hitch. I look forward to reporting that as being the case here. Hardly a case of jumping the gun or being trigger happy. I'm only reporting on the experience thus far and I'll continue to do so.
Yep it works great with movement. For perfectly still shot where the camera is locked down or with the tripod on a moving dolly and you have starts and stops etc is where I have noticed the flex cause more care needed to not have unwanted movement. I guess my point is if you put the RED one/large lense on and lock it down then nudge either end of the camera the head/legs will flex a lot more then with a larger head.
I'm sure you'll get this situation solved quickly and then be able to move ahead with your work...
I understand. If you haven't tried this, especially with long lenses, use a lot of drag on both the pan and tilt head setup. The added pressure needed on the handle makes for smoother pans/tilts, and helps the starts/stops of camera movement be smoother. Too light of drag tends to leave slight shakes when a pan or tilt is started and stopped. There's no doubt that bigger tripod heads are more stable platforms - but when we gain something we give something up. Bigger heads are less mobile but more stable - smaller heads are more mobile but less stable. That's one of the reasons why for Red One especially I've used the Miller 55 head - its an all around head, medium sized, quite stable, good action, and lightweight (thus highly mobile). For EFP stationary big camera setup work, and for cine style big camera setup work, a much bigger head can be a good choice. I also think the flex you're talking about can also because by the type of sticks used, how rigid they are, and how far apart the spreader allows you to get them. Solid sticks, spread far apart, stabilize the entire tripod combo - thus the heavier the head load, the more solid and farther apart the legs need to be to keep head action smooth. With a heavier head itself, and heavier legs its not so critical - but then you lose a lot of your mobility with the rig.
Did not receive a call back from my website inquiry but I spoke with Miller support today and they were friendly and receptive. Advised me to ship the fluid head back to them for inspection and review and they will evaluate for a warranty replacement. All sounds good and fair so far. I'll have the head on a carrier truck tomorrow and the ETA for turn around is 6 days.
Realized I neglected to update this thread with the outcome. I shipped the head to Miller and 2 days later received a part replacement quote of $240.42. That included a slight discount for parts and labor. I was surprised to get the quote, although the price seemed very reasonable for this kind of repair work. I followed up with an email asking why the head would not be covered under warranty as it seemed to be a simple matter of a materials impurity or defect of some kind. The response stated they inspected the break and did not detect, "Any air bubbles or contaminates in the metal." Ok. Not sure how to assess that.
I guess my final outcome is Miller fixed and repaired the head at a reasonable price, although would not cover the work under warranty. A little disappointed by that. Had I incurred the damage through a drop or some kind of extreme use (not sure what else could happen), or if the head was simply well worn and aged, I would have certainly understood the price and probably would be pleasantly surprised by the quote. As-is, I feel like I got tagged a weird tax and temporary loss of use.
In the end, not sure I can suggest these heads be used for rental houses. "Built like a tank" definitely doesn't apply here. But for the private user, knowing the repair costs are very reasonable, I think your overall upfront savings make up for any potential defects or later-found problems.
I'd personally buy Miller again, but I don't think I'll let this kit get borrowed.
My opinion of the situation you described is that its an anomaly, a one-off exception to the normal quality and dependability of Miller products. Sorry you had this experience, but readers here should clearly understand that problems of any kind with Miller equipment are extremely unusual.
Me and my crews have been using miller heads and legs extensively for over a decade now in the most demanding mobile environments on earth - desert, mountains, tropics - and we've had zero problems with any of the heads or legs. No defects, no breakage, no problems whatsoever. None of the multiple business associates of mine who use Miller products have mentioned to me any kind of problems with their equipment either. The type of mobile work we do - adventure travel, alternative sports, nature, music, documentaries - pushes equipment to the maximum, involving a continuous sequence of setups, take downs, and transports. It is way more demanding than any rental situation someone would face by renting their equipment out.
I recently returned from three weeks of intensive mobile action sports and adventure travel production in the Austrian Alps using one of my Epic cameras on one of my Miller tripod setups - an Arrow 55 head on Miller Sprinter II, 2-stage, mid-spreader CF legs. The work involved a seemingly endless sequence of setups, takedowns, and transports high in the brutal alpine environment - and as usual I had zero issues with the Miller equipment (see pic attached).
For a recent 3D shoot me and the crew tortured beyond belief one of my Miller tripod setups with a super heavy Epic 3D setup - a 41 pound head load on a Miller Compass 25/Miller Solo CF legs combo, though Miller's published maximum head load should be 31 pounds - and the head performed flawlessly under the over-gross load through several days of setups, take downs, and transports (see pics attached).
I've also attached a shot of me working in Hawaii a few years ago with one of my earlier Miller 55 heads - with a 58 pound head load package consisting of an accessorized Red One and Angenieux 24-290 zoom, on Miller 1-stage alloy legs. The head/legs combo performed perfectly under that giant load in tropical heat and rain for two weeks of intense mobile, multiple setup work.
We've found Miller equipment to be fantastically dependable under the most demanding conditions for over a decade now. Beyond the dependability, the head and leg performance has been exactly what we needed and expected. Again, sorry you had the bad experience you noted, but something like that is highly unusual for Miller equipment.
Hey Steve, I am picking up the miller compass 25, can you suggest a set of sticks to match that wont break the bank? I am not so into telescoping. Thanks for any tips, I am pulling trigger tomorrow from BnH. C
I think you'll really be stoked with the Compass 25 head. It has a 100mm bowl so you have a wide range of legs to choose from. Here are the B&H links to the two Miller leg types I use with the Compass 25:
Compass 25/Solo CF 1505 spreaderless:
Compass 25/Sprinter II CF 2-stage mid-spreader:
The first three attached photos in my last post on this thread show the Compass 25/Solo CF 1505 in use with one of our Epic 3D rigs setups. The legs allow you to set up the head as low as 8" above the ground, or all the way up to 72" above the ground. The legs themselves are inexpensive - under $1k. If you're going to do a lot of real mobile work with medium or light weight Epic head loads the Compass 25/Solo CF combo is a very good choice.
The Compass 25/Sprinter II CF combo is more expensive, but its also a great package for mobile work with medium or light weight Epic head loads, whether it be cine style, hybrid style, or EFP style. The Sprinter II legs have what Miller calls Quik-Loks in each leg. With the snap of a separate lever for each of the two stages you can easily and quickly change the elevation of the tripod.
The Solo legs weigh about 6.5 pounds, and the Sprinter II legs weigh about 8 pounds. The Compass 25 head weighs around 7 pounds. No matter which way you go the tripod combo is lightweight and thus very mobile. The Compass 25 head is rated to support a max of 31 pounds, but as you can see from the photos in my previous post where I used it with a 41 pound head load, the head is very strong.
I have a pretty good feel for the type of production you do, so my recommendation if you can is for you to get the Sprinter I CF legs with mid-spreader for your work. If cash is scarce right now then the Solo CF legs would also serve you well - then you could simply add in the Sprinter II legs when you have the extra funds to do so. I love having both the Sprinter II CF and Solo CF legs available to mix and match with my Comass 25 and Arrow 55 heads - that makes for lots of head/legs combinations for any production scenario I may face.
Let me know what you end up getting and how it works out for you!
Many thanks to the OP and Steve for their feedback and follow-though on this post. The Miller 55 kit mentioned (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...55_Tripod.html) was exactly the one I've been looking at. Very pleasantly surprised by the glowing reviews.
Thanks Nathaniel...I'm glad the info helped you. As I've previously posted, for about 10 years now me and my crews have had great performance and dependability from my Miller 55 head/legs combos, and my other model Miller head/legs combos. So has basically everyone I know, or know of who has used or bought Miller head/legs combos - except this unusual problem posted by one person on this thread.
Over my career I've also owned and used extensively head/tripod combos from every other major manufacturer - Sachtler, O'Connor, Vinten, etc. All these manufacturers make quality head/legs combos, but for the past decade when its came down to buying my own equipment, its all been Miller for the reasons I've posted in this thread.
I'd say really focus in on the overwhelming number of satisfied owner and user posts about Miller heads and legs which you'll find here on Red User and on tons of other online forums. If you test out a Miller Arrow 55 head with either the Sprinter II CF 2-stage mid spreader legs, or the Solo 1505 CF spreader-less legs, my guess is you will be super happy with the performance, and also the reasonable price compared to other top end head/legs manufacturers. In my opinion Miller's performance to price ratio is the best ratio you'll find in the head/leg manufacturing industry. The dual bottom lines are that the proof is in the testing...and in the check book ;)
I haven't had to deal with Miller's Customer Service department because I've never had any problems of any kind with their products, to where I even had a need to contact them for assistance. But I have met their staff at NAB and chatted with them at length - and they're a great bunch of people.