I’ve been working with the Sachtler Ace M Fluid Head with 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod over the last few months and want to share some observations about it. So, let’s start at the top ad work our way down. The Ace M is made of a lightweight carbon fiber composite material. The camera plate is nice and long so as to accommodate just about any camera you might want to use. There is an optional camera plate for DLSRs. The head has a payload of up to 8.8 lbs. Both the plate and the top of the head have scale marks so you can find the balance you like and by noting the position on the scales you are able to quickly reposition the camera to the same balance point. The plate is held in place by a tightening knob on the side of the head just ahead of the safety release for the plate.
As we move down the head, in the back, under the balance plate is a place to store 1/4” and 3/8” camera screws which is handy. Along the left side is the tilt lock and in the center is a large tilt dial making it easy to set the tension dial with three settings of drag and 0 for no drag. Next to the tilt tension dial is a smaller counter balance dial that has 0 to 5 steps of counterbalance for just about any camera system you would put on the head. It seems like I have to tilt the camera forward or back a bit after adjusting the setting to activate the tilt drag and counterbalance to the new setting. Below the tilt tension dial is the spirit level which is clear but is not illuminated which can make it hard to use in low light situations.
Moving on to the front of the head there is a locking knob for the pan and just below that is the large pan tension adjust dial with three settings plus 0. This is nice because no matter how you position the system you are able to quickly ajust the pan drag setting. I like the that the large dials for both the tilt and pan tension settings makes setting them easy. Quick mention about the Pan Bar which is only on the right side but is adjustable for angle and tilt.
The head is supported on a 75mm ball allowing for a tilt range of +90 degrees to -75 degrees. The ball fits into the 75mm bowl in the two 2-stage aluminum tripod with a mid-level spreader and with a foot spreader version available. I find the mid-level spreader easier to deal with and still gives me the rigidity I want. The legs are the split uppers with single sticks for the bottom two sections. The system tops out at 66.5” and folders down to 33.5”. The feet are a adjustable from soft rubber to spikes depending on the terrain.
Shooting with the Ace is a pleasure; the tension adjustment range is suitable for a variety of subjects. I found the pan and tilt to be smooth from beginning to end without the jump that sometimes happens at the beginning with some heads. Equally important there is no spring back when I stop the move. The head is solid so I did not have to worry about holding it in place for the couple of beats I usually like at the end of my moves. Check out the surfing shot I just did as an example. I used the Panasonic HMC 40 recording onto a Hoodman Raw STEEL SDHC card to capture the shot.
For more information on the SachtlerACE go to http://www.sachtler.com/?id=1109/product_fluid-heads-75-mm_ace-m__description.html