I’ve had a Sachtler Soom with an FSB 8 head for several years now and it has to be one of the best investments I’ve made for video production.
In addition I often incorporate a Manfrotto Zoom Controller pan bar to give more accessibilty to my camera in the elevated position.
I also add an Ikan lcd monitor with the larger display at eye level to be able to follow the camera view. (The monitor is usually supported by a Manfrotto Magic Arm clamped to the tripod leg)
At a recent conference I took a shot of the rig in place as configured for the event. Using this gear can save the expense of a riser set and also save the space in more crowded rooms.
The system as it is provides a multitude of options. The optional center post provides a maximum height of 98.4 inches, just over 8 feet. The center “spreader” can serve as a mini tripod with a range of 21.5 – 49 cm / 8.5 – 19.3 in. The center post has a “foot” lever on it and can serve as a monopod and I’ve used it as such on several occasions with the fluid head on it and it provides some interesting camera movement as you tilt it against the resistance of the fluid dampener.
Before using a true fluid head I was ignorant of what it had to offer. My first heads were all Manfrotto friction type heads. When I acquired a Portajib the sales staff quickly pointed out I would not be able to get the most out of the jib with simple friction heads and I had no idea of exactly what they meant until I added one to the jib… where had you been all my life. The fluid head provides so much control over the basic pan and tilt along with damping controls and counter balance adjustments. Camera movements were so much smoother and easier to control. Once you’ve used one you won’t shoot without it.