A long, long time ago, a tripod company called Vinten made a particular type of tripod, which at the time was unique, unusual and certainly unlike anything else on the market.
It was called the Fibertec. Released back in 2002, as this old article explains, it…
…gets its strength from unique “channel” sections of a carbon/glass composite that enables these legs to out-perform the traditional twin tube design.
That it certainly does. At the time of writing that article back in 2002, the Fibertec set of legs combined with a Vinten Vision 100 head cost around £9000. Being unique has its price.
Vinten is, and always was a tripod and grip company, but as part of their global ambitions, they renamed themselves to Vitec. They went on a bit of a takeover push in the 1980s and into the 2000s, taking in huge names like Manfrotto (1989), Sachtler (1995), Anton/Bauer (1997) and Litepanels. (2008) Source: Waybackmachine
I honestly had no idea they were such a large company. Virtually any camera operator in this age has undoubtedly used a Vitec brand piece of equipment even if they didn’t know it at the time.
What does being such a large company mean when you have so many brands?
Evidently, maintaining all the brands and types of individual equipment types you hold. When you have three different brands as part of your stable all making the same product, you’ve got many pieces, for many tripods for many operators.
Who has the space to store every spare part for every tripod for every brand? Not Vitec it seems. Because, scouring the internet trying to find some information about Vinten 3498-3 (The official part number for the Vinten Fibertec two stage legs) turns up exactly nothing except dead links, old forum posts and actually the old page from B&H where they were once sold, but now long discontinued.
Unless you know a decent engineer who has years of experience repairing Vinten Fibertec tripods, you’re pretty much on your own. Which is a shame, because the tripods are still celebrated today, and have been rock solid for me, despite me buying a “used” Fibertec tripod from a colleague in 2015. There are no spare parts anymore that are easy to find, and if you did, they’d be a higher price now than before. Example being the levers, which while the tripod was supported, cost £50 each.
Thankfully, for me at least, I know someone here in London who has repaired hundreds of these tripods in his role as a logistics manager at a major international news network. They used the Fibertec tripod since it’s inception, and only very recently began to replace them with Sachtler Flowtech tripods, which some crew members aren’t as impressed by, and have asked to go back to the Fibertec!
Joe is his name, and frankly is a bit of a genius when it comes to repairing things that seem massively complicated to us. He took me through the process for answering the question most Fibertec owners will, at some point, ask:
I still enjoy using this tripod, and it is even more than capable of taking on heavy payloads in this day and age, seventeen years after coming to the market.
With repairs and maintenance like this about once or twice a year depending on use, you should get plenty more years out of them yet.