This review will be short and sweet, just like its subject: Induro's Hi-Hat is a stubby little tripod that brings your camera down to earth with more flexibility and versatility than a traditional hi-hat or low-hat can offer, while still allowing the traditional mount-it-on-a-board use that filmmakers are familiar with.
A quick introduction: hi-hats and low-hats are used to get a camera mounted as low to the ground as possible; typically they're cast metal items designed simply to mount a pan/tilt tripod head on a board, which is then placed on the ground for a low-angle shot.
A board-mounted hi-hat supporting an Akeley gyro head, on a railcar speeder for "The Canyon"
Basic hi-hats and low-hats are single-purpose devices: they have fixed, closely-spaced legs, so they really need to be mounted to a board to provide a broad enough platform that a heavy camera or a whack on the pan handle won't tip 'em over. They work perfectly well in that role, but a board-mounted hi-hat isn't very adaptable to uneven terrain, and it won't exactly pop into your carry-on bag for a remote shoot.
Filmtools has a nice selection of these things.
Manfrotto has the 529b, a micro-baby-legs tripod with a 100mm bowl base, but it's not a huge advancement beyond a traditional hi-hat. It only offers heights from 14.5-19.5 cm / 5.7-7.7 inches through a slight variation in the angle of its single-stage legs. It's rated for 20 kg / 44 lbs, though it looks like it'll carry a higher load.
The US$280 (street price) Induro LFB100S Hi-Hat takes this idea to the next step: it's a full-fledged tripod with two-stage legs and a 100mm ball base, and it includes a half-ball base adapter with a flat top and 3/8" mounting screw for mounting flat-base heads.
The LFB100S Hi-Hat accepts 100mm ball bases and comes with a half-ball adapter, the HB100.
A $250 LFB75S model with a 75mm bowl and a flat-base adapter is due out later this year.
The Induro's legs have pull-out limit stops letting them pivot to any of three angles, and the legs can extend 5.7 cm / 2.25 inches, giving both additional height and a wider stance for better stability. The angle adjustments and leg extensions also aid in dealing with the vagaries of real-world locations.
The pop-out stop allows three different leg positions.
Varying leg angle and extension accommodates uneven terrain.
The legs have rubber feet attached with ball-and-socket joints so they can rotate to any angle necessary, and the feet have holes so you can bolt 'em to a board if you want to be old-school about it.
The rubber foot has a ball-and-socket joint, and a bolt-down hole.
With the legs splayed out as far as possible, the top of the bowl is only 7.2 cm / 2.8 inches off the ground; the top of the half-ball adapter is a mere 9.5 cm / 3.7 inches high. The feet wind up being 46 cm / 18 inches apart for a stable stance. Want more? Extend the stubby little legs to their maximum length, and the stance expands to 55 cm / 21.5 inches on a side, yet the altitude only increases by 8mm or about 1/3 of an inch. The wide stance gives you plenty of stability without the bulk and bother of a board, even while the camera is kept about as low as it can go.
How low can you go? Mighty low!
Pulling the legs inwards, you can get the top of the bowl a lofty 26.7 cm / 10.5 inches up; the half-ball base winds up 29 cm / 11.4 inches in the air.
Induro LFB100S Hi-Hat with legs extended in widest/lowest stance.
Hi-Hat in medium stance, Miller Super8 head, Panasonic DVX100 camera.
Legs retracted, and at their narrowest stance.
The top casting of the Hi-Hat and its half-ball base both have bubble levels.
Bubble levels in tripod and adapter make leveling easier.
The half-ball adapter provides considerable leveling adjustment.
The legs' extension collars have rubbery grips making adjustment easy.
Leg extended with its fat, rubberized locking collar.
Each side of the top casting has a hex-keyed 1/4" screw in it; these can be removed to reveal 1/4" tapped adapters that can be themselves removed to open up 3/8" sockets, just in case you want to attach any 1/4" or 3/8" accessories, such as a magic arm to hold a small monitor.
Each side has a 3/8" accessory mount with 1/4" adapter and filler screw.
The whole thing collapses down to a compact handful for travel.
The Induro folds up compactly.
The Hi-Hat is rated for a 90 kg / 200 pound load. I extended the legs, spread 'em out as far as possible, and stood my 160 pound self on the Hi-Hat. It just sat there. Next, I bounced up and down on it (don't tell Induro). The Hi-Hat absorbed my abuse stoically, without a wiggle, wobble, creak, or groan, and it was none the worse for wear afterwards. Solid.
I don't have a head with a 100mm ball base, but the half-ball adapter let me mount my small Miller Super8 and larger Bogen/Manfrotto 3066 fluid heads with no problems. The half-ball adapter worked perfectly well as a leveling base, and its bubble level was especially welcome when using the Miller head, which lacks a bubble.
With the Bogen/Manfrotto 3066 head, and the latest in retro analog tech.
The only problem I encountered was that the Hi-Hat gets so low, it was tricky to properly tighten the half-ball's clamping knob: it was mere millimeters from the ground beneath it, so I had to pick the whole assembly up to get my hand 'round it. That's a problem I can live with.
I should also mention that it is possible to pull the rubber feet off of their mounting balls (it's also possible to push them back on, but that turns out to be rather a bit harder than pulling 'em off). Normally it's not something to worry about, but if you're in the habit of hard-mounting a hi-hat on a vertical or near-vertical surface and then hanging a heavy camera off of it, the Induro may not be the best hi-hat for that particular job, since it's the feet that the mounting bolts go through. I know, I know: I'm reaching for problems here, but that's my job, isn't it?
If you have a head with a flat base and 3/8" socket, a 75mm bowl base, or a 100mm bowl base, and you're in the market for a hi-hat, the Induro is well worth a look. It's light and compact, yet it can stably hold the heaviest camera, and it gets mighty low.
You can bolt it to a board like any other hi-hat, but that misses the point: it's really a micro-baby-legs tripod, with all the flexibility that entails; it can go anywhere you want on any sort of surface, level or sloped, and put your camera any place you need—as long as you don't need to be more than eleven inches up.
There's simply nothing more versatile and more flexible... when you get down to it.
- Rock-solid stable and very strong.
- Three different leg angles, individually adjustable.
- Legs can be extended two and a quarter inches.
- Bowl heights as low as 2.8 inches and as high as 10.5 inches.
- Supplied half-ball adapter allows mounting and leveling of flat-base heads.
- Bubble levels on both tripod and half-ball adapter.
- Pivoting rubber feet provide a sure grip on all sorts of surfaces.
- No models available with 150mm ball base or Mitchell base.
- Rubber feet can be pulled off of their ball mounts.
No article on the Internet is truly complete without a cat picture.
Disclosure: Induro sent me a hi-hat for review and paid shipping both ways.
This is a "sponsored review" in that Induro's US distributor paid me (through PVC) to look at their products; normally, I pick what I review, and am compensated only based on the number of page views the review gets. Payment was not contingent on the review being favorable; I wrote what I think of the product, plain and simple.
Aside from that, no material connection exists between me and Induro, FilmTools, Manfrotto, or Miller. No one has offered any payments, freebies, or other blandishments in return for a mention or a favorable review.