Really Right Stuff (gotta love that name) has long been one of the top brands in still camera accessories. A couple of years ago, they came out with a few products dedicated to the video world. One of them was the FH-350 fluid head. As far as I know, it was the first head designed for small cameras that had a variable counter balance built in. No less a shooter than Philip Bloom was a fan.
Now they are branching out into mainstream video with a head designed for large cameras, the FH-7240. I’d love to have their gear, but it looks so sexy that I’d be afraid to mar its beauty by bashing it around out in the field! They told me that these are still prototypes and they’re not quite ready to launch, but they looked pretty sussed out and I got the impression that they’ll hit the market soon.
Why is variable counter balance important? I think from talking to some shooters that they use counter balance as a way for the head to “pull the camera back up” to the non-tilted flat position. That’s not how counter balance works. A properly set counter balance should allow you to take yours hands off the camera at any point in the tilt range, and the camera should stay tilted where you left it. Since the weight of some rigs might fall in between the preset counterbalances of some heads, a variable counter balance is ideal.