Review: Miller Air Solo 75 2 Stage Alloy Tripod

For some things, an image or picture (or even video) does not do it justice.

The Dipper on the racetrack at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama. A sunset off Cable Beach near Broome here in Western Australia. Jenna Coleman as Clara in Dr Who.

And recently so I found, the Miller Air Solo 55 2 Stage Alloy Tripod. And no, putting the Miller tripod in the same league as the delectable Ms Coleman does not mean I am going (or gone) barking mad!

When Mr Miller approached me with a view to giving away a couple of these new models, of course I was curious as to what they were like so, as you do, Googled the Miller website for an initial gander.

Now to be fair, one should never create an opinion on a photo. It can be very dangerous and more than a tad disappointing in the longer run. Not going there.

But I do have to say that my initial impression on viewing the image of the Air Solo 75 was, well, a little underwhelming. It didn’t look a lot different to my $200 cheapie bought locally, nor did it have the “meatiness” of my Manfrotto on the initial look.

But as I say, a photo can be very deceiving, and in this case, downright misleading when you get to see the real thing. Which I now have and played with.

Description

So what do you get for your $1000, specifications wise?

Miller invented the tripod fluid head and this one is a cracker. With my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro mounted – and this with a Canon 70-200mm zoom makes for a bit of heft – the head was as smooth as silk with little effort needed in both pans and tilt.

Provision has also been made to allow the addition of a slider, which sadly I don’t have so could not check, but going on the supporting videos, this was very easy to apply.

The 75mm bowl is actually integrated into the whole mechanism.

Whilst at present I can’t test this under extremes of cold (WA never gets THAT cold), and summer is a bit far away to check it under heat (which we get in spades), Miller says that even under extremes, the fluid head drag remains consistent.

Additionally, a 2-stage counterbalance system allows fine tuning of the balancing of the head dependent on the weight of the camera / lens combo.

The Miller specs say you can use this tripod with a payload up to 5Kg so even something like a Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro with a decent lens would sneak in.

One thing you may notice is that on this tripod there is no spreader, but I can attest to the fact these legs – on the one I have they are made of alloy, but a slightly different and lighter model uses carbon fibre – are very rigid indeed. They are two stage and are extremely quick and easy to use to get the tripod to full height (1.762m) down to minimum (0.371m) making this tripod very flexible indeed.

A really nice feature is the addition on the side of a mounting point. This allows you to add a recorder or audio recorder without resorting to adding things to the camera itself.

If you want all the specifications and technical details, you can see them here.

I have never personally owned a Miller tripod, more’s the pity as I now find. But I do have memories, and not that fond ones either if I’m honest, of being a video assist on a couple of shoots we did way back when, interviewing various people for ABC TV shows.

And the camera op had one of the original Miller wooden tripods that had certainly seen better days (and was as old as most of the kids around at the time!).

Dragging that damn thing up 4 flights of stairs was no fun. And then you had to drag it down again.

The use of alloy and carbon fibre has changed all that of course, and here in the Air Solo 75 is a tripod arguably stronger, more flexible and far more versatile and weighing in at under 5Kg.

Remarkable.

Conclusion

A tripod is one of those things you don’t want to be replacing every few years. The fact that there are 20 – 30-year-old Millers still going strong right around the world is testament to their longevity, which of course comes down to the design and the build quality.

Australia has once again punched well above its weight when it comes to video gear along with Blackmagic and RØDE.

Amortised over those years, and with the features and technology factored in, the $1000 price tag on the Air Solo 75 is fantastic value for money. They are available at Videocraft stores at present or through their website, and don’t forget we have a competition to give a couple away; simply fill out your email in the popup that appears on a web pages or if you prefer, send an email to david@auscamonline.com with the subject line being “Miller”.

PS: In the minutes since I posted this story, a number of people have contacted me to say they have a Miller older than 20 years! Let’s see who has the oldest? Approx date and model # please with a quick photo and you could win one of the Miller Aero 75 Solo as reviewed if you have the oldest!! (Australia only sorry!). You have 30 days from 2nd August 2022. So enter now!

Email me at david@auscamonline.com

 

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