Alot of people have messaged me recently (particularly from eBay) regarding the ProAim pan and tilt head and asking for an honest view of it. The head I'm referring to in this article is THIS ONE.
I have to say that in terms of value for money it's pretty good. If compared against something as sophisticated as a Varizoom model it probably won't even come close in terms of quality of functionality. BUT - you have to take into account that it's probably only about one sixth the price.
When mine arrived, I was keen to open it up, have a look and see exactly what my five hundred quid had bought me.
The whole unit is well packaged for travel in its own custom foam cut case, which is quite sufficient for its needs. One thing you do have to be wary of when packing though is that you dont move the head around my hand. The instructions state that damage can occur to the motors if you do. So make sure that before you power down the head, ensure it's in the correct position for packing.
The whole unit is powered by a 24v laptop power supply which terminates in an XLR plug. The manual states a lower power supply can be used, but the speed of the head will be affected if you do.
The main control unit has a clamp bracket on the 'front' end which I have to say is entirely the wrong place for it. I had to dismantle the box, drill two new holes and move it to the side, where it will clamp to my pan bar or jib and still be facing the correct way. Exiting the control box is a single XLR'd cable of decent length which splits neatly into two - one for the vertical motor, one to the horizontal motor. The cable is decent quality and plenty long enough for my Hague K12 jib.
The joystick control was another area where 'tweaking' was required. The control itse'f is a fairly basic radio control style joystick affair - and its limitations are apparent. Once my Z1 was mounted on the head, it drifted off constantly to the left. So - again, inside the box and by moving the pots left and vertical of the control I found the dead spot where no power was being sent to the motors. Irritating to have to do, but not the end of the world.
Incidentally, mounting of the head unit on my jib was a bit of a challenge too. The ProAim's mount is square. with four slots in which to my mind doesn't really match up to anything standard tripod or jib wise, so I had to fabricate another plate with four holes matching the ProAim's ones and mount on my Hague jib that way.
Once the minor irritants were dealt with I have to say I'm pretty happy. The movement is smooth (if somewhat noisy) and fine control of speed is possible - although I think some practice will be required. I can now get the shots I want and it hasn't cost me a fortune. One thing to be careful of is the gear teeth - and making sure they don't get damaged. They're open to the elements - and suseptible to being damaged if you collide the jib into the floor, or drop the head while handling.
Overall - I would recommend the head as a good, budget alternative to the pricey stuff, but if you can afford the Varizoom (or better) you probably wont have to do the tweaking I had to do to get it how I wanted.
I will be taking some pictures shortly to illustrate my points - so keep nipping back and having a look!
EDIT - I've had a bill from FedEx for £14.20 which they say is from the taxman for unpaid import duty on the head. I've been in touch with DVAccessory (who sold the head to me) and the guy there called Simer has assured me I'll get this money refunded to me via Paypal. I've just this moment emailed him with a copy of the bill, so we'll see how long the refund takes to arrive.
Edit AGAIN - Pleased to say Simer has emailed me this morning (less than 24hrs from first contact) to let me know my refund is on its way - Top Service I'd say!
IMAGE ONE - View inside the control box. I've arrowed the trim controllers on the underside of the joystick control. Careful adjustment of these was required on mine to stop the head 'slewing' away when it was meant to be at rest.
IMAGE TWO - Another view inside the control box. I found that the arrowed plug became easily detached fromn the PCB when working inside the box. Ensure if you need to access the innards that you check the plug is correctly reseated before assembling the box again.