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Thread: New Tripod - HELP!!

  1. #1

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    New Tripod - HELP!!

    Hi Everyone

    Now that I've played enough with my DSLR, shot around 9,000 pictures with it, got a second lens, it is time for me to get a new toy to play with.

    TRIPOD

    I don't have a clear idea what I'm supposed to aim for. I want something portable, not too heavy, but sturdy enough to keep my camera steady and safe. Something I can get inside the cabin of a Ryanair flight would be great.

    I've been visiting two local stores in my town, one a small retailer and other place more like a BestBuy kind of store and have played with some of the tripods they are exhibiting there. Some of them look like if they are going to break just by staring at them. Around 20 euros.

    I saw one more, looked a little better, but the finishing was not really good. That made me wonder how long will it last. It was 32 euros. I saw one more, about the same size. It was 169 euros. Of course it looked a lot better, but I'm not sure if it is really necessary to spend 5 times more on the thing.

    I want to get a good tripod, but since the price range is so big I'm kind of lost now.

    For example they had the Velbon DF-60 at 45 euros. it seems decent, a little bigger that what I have in mind, but I think it could do the job.

    Is the GorillaPod a good option?

    I need (want ) to get one really fast, so any help will be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Toņo

  2. #2
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Good tripods are expensive and often less than good tripods are miserable to work with.

    Rather than suggest a specific tripod, here are some of the things I look for...

    1. I don't want a tripod which has braces connecting the legs and the center post. I like the legs to be adjusted separately.

    2. I want a tripod which will handle the heaviest weight I will place on it. I don't trust the manufacturer's specifications and usually opt for a tripod that the manufacturers say will support twice the weight I will mount...

    3. I like a Swiss Arca Compatible quick release system but, usually A/C systems are fairly expensive.

    4. Most often the best tripods are sold without heads. You select the legs package and then select the head you want.

    5. You need a tripod solid enough to hold your heaviest gear but, if it is too heavy you will be reluctant to carry it. The best tripod, left at home, does you no good.

    6. I like a tripod that can be articulated to place the camera in various positions, rather than simply above the apex of the legs. Here is what I mean:
    http://www.giottos.com/ See professonal series twist lock tripods for illustration

    7. The choice between a pan/tilt and a ball head is personal. Frankly, I prefer a ball head for most of my tripod work. Here are the two ball heads I use. One for my full size Giottos MT8180 tripod and the smaller for my Slik Pro 330DX travel and boonie tromping tripod. I switched the heavy Slik pan/tilt head for this Adorama F-1 Magnesium ball head and use a shorter center column to reduce the total weight to under 2 pounds (1-kilogram)
    New Tripod - HELP!!

    8. Whether a tripod is made of aluminum, an alloy of aluminium or composite graphite has a bearing on the weight, price and the tendency of the triod to transmit vibations. Carbon fiber are the lightest, have the least tendency to transmit vibrations and are the most expensive.

    9. I can live with a travel/boonie tromping tripod which is actually too short for my 6'1" height because my modified Slik is so wonderfully light in weight.
    New Tripod - HELP!!
    I am willing to bend a bit and or use a right angle finder to help me with viewing the camera from this lower angle. I do his because I woud often leave a heavier tripod at home but, carry this one because it is so light in weight. But, many people want a tripod which is taller. Don't rely on the center column for gaining additional height because you do so by sacrificing stability. You don't need a tripod which is as tall as you are, simply one which will bring the viewfinder of the camera at eye level or close to your eye level.

    What about twist lock or lever lock adjustments? I frankly have no preference. My full size Giottos MT8180 has twist locks which my modified SLIK Pro 300DX boonie-tromping and travel tripod has lever locks...
    New Tripod - HELP!!

    Finally, if you have any expecation of traveling on an airline with your tripod. Get one that folds down short enough to fit in your checked aboard suitcase. Tripods and monopods are sometimes problematic as carry on baggage when traveling by air. Thay can be considered "weapon-like" implements...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 16th August 2012 at 10:34 PM.

  3. #3

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  4. #4
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Hi Toņo,

    I am also looking for a tripod. From what I have researched, there is a direct correlation between price and quality. The more you invest in your tripod, the better results you might get. Most people I know recommend buying a Manfrotto (mid-price) or Gitzo (high-price) tripod. They also suggest buying the ball head for easier manipulation of your camera.

    I plan to buy mine over this weekend.

    Saludos,

    Clemente

  5. #5
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Richard has covered off pretty well all the points I had planned to make. So let me add a couple more thoughts.

    Two nice features to look for are a hook on the bottom of your column. This allows you to hang your camera bag or some other weight on it to keep it stable, especially in windy conditions. The second feature is spiked legs (either integral or add-on). The rubber feet are find for use indoors or on a hard surface, but spikes are great outdoors in grass or sand.

    If you plan to do a fair bit of travelling, I would highly recommend looking at a carbon fibre unit. The lower weight is really important if you are carrying the tripod around all day long.

    I agree with Clemente on the Manfrotto tripod as being a good entry level unit; they have their own custom quick release plate that I personally don't like that much. Gitzo tripods are virtually indestructible and their prices match their quality (both companies are owned by Vitec, who also own Sachtler and Vinten who make high end video tripods and heads).

    Another tripod worth considering is a Chinese company that makes the Benro and Induro tripods. They make Gitzo style units, are getting great reviews and are very cost effective (and use Arca-Swiss quick release plates). I have two of their units (carbon fibre) and highly recommend them for value. Their legs are great and their heads are good, but not great.

    Like Richard, for most of my shooting, I prefer the ball head. The only time I found a 3-axis head to be better than a ball head was in a studio setting doing some product shots. There the three independent axis adjustments worked well.

  6. #6
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    After using an old Bell and Howell tripod from the 1970's onward (it was a Christmas present from my parents during high school), I finally opted for a new tripod around the year 2005. I picked up a Slik Pro 814 Carbon Fiber model and am I ever glad that I did!

    You won't want one of those - it was pretty expensive, but I use it a lot - so I am just going to mention a few of the things I really like about it, for your consideration:

    1) It is very simple, with no 'extra' thingies to gum up or break down. Twist lock leg segments, pull lock hinging to set the legs wider, a twist lock on the center column and a twist friction adjustment on the center column. No gears, levers, braces or anything like that - very simple and very dependable.

    2) The legs spread very wide, and the center column is in two parts that can be unscrewed to shorten it; so the tripod can be set up very close to the ground for wildflowers and such.

    3) Still not close enough to the ground? The center column also reverses with ease: pull it out, turn it upside down, put it back in; now you are right at the ground if you need to be. I don't use that a lot but when I need it, there is no substitute.

    4) There is nothing on my tripod that can't be tightened with a wrench or a small screwdriver, or glued back together if it comes apart: another up side of simple is 'easy to fix.'

    I have a second tripod that I bought just because it looked like such a nice one and the price was really reasonable. It's an Induro A012; it's really small, what I call my 'table top' model because I bought it to use in bars and restaurants when photographing bands. I don' use a flash when photographing musicians while they are playing, and in some venues it is best to pick a table nearby and just set up there (so that you are not in the way of other patrons). Anyway, this little Induro is really well made (and that is a rarity for such a small tripod) and the price was really good so you might want to have a look at what that company offers. It even came with its own little padded carry bag!

    I have ball heads on both tripods: a Monfrotto on the Iduro and a Gitzo on the Slik. The Gitzo ball head was pretty expensive, because it has four different spirit levels in it and I guess that they have to be set up and fine tuned by hand; but I do a lot of landscape work with a perspective control lens (shift/tilt) so it is very useful to me (for getting my horizon straight and the camera parallel to the ground). I also have a three-axis Monfrotto head which is really nice but it weighs a lot and that kind of defeats the weight advantage of a carbon fiber tripod so I don't use it anymore.

    The main thing, as others have noted, is to make sure that your tripod and head are sturdy enough to hold your camera, a big lens, and a flash because that is a lot of weight. Most DSLRs can be surprisingly heavy, and my old 35mm camera (an Olympus OM-4 T with a titanium body) was as light as a feather compared to my current camera, a Nikon D700. I think it would be all too easy to find a tripod designed for a 35mm system that simply would not be capable of supporting a DSLR, so if you were taking a vertical shot for instance the camera might start to 'sag' and slowly move away from where you had set it up just because the weight of the camera would be too much for the tripod head to hold in place.

  7. #7

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Thanks for your comments.

    Richard, thanks for your explanation. Your pictures are most helpful. Andrew, it was a very good article to read. I enjoyed it very much and made it clear for me what kind of features I have to look for.

    Clemente, Manfrotto is a very popular brand indeed. I didn't want to get into it just because it is trendy, but they certainly seem to be producing good equipment. Good luck with your purchase.

    Manfred, thanks for the tip on cheaper options, I'll take a look at them. John, thanks a lot for sharing what you like about your own tripod. I'll try to find one like yours, with the minimum possible number of elements that can do the job.

    Has anyone had experience with Vanguard tripods? they seem to be popular around here.

  8. #8

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Hi there, Toņo,

    You answered your own question when you wrote "I don't have a clear idea what I'm supposed to aim for" - which makes it hard to choose the right tools for the job. But adding that it must be suitable for airline cabin baggage makes the choice a lot easier.

    I bought a Giottos MT9240B Tripod because it was light and compact, and have found it good of its type, so here is a quote from its marketing literature:

    The Giottos MT9240B Tripod has been designed to comply with the restrictions on the amount and size of luggage that can be carried when traveling, particularly by air. Many photographers find themselves with a problem as tripods are usually too large only (47cm )and bulky so end up being left at home. Though with the MT9240B Tripod Giotto's has created a range of tripods that will meet the needs of the travelling photographer.

    This tripod has all the features of the MTL series tripods but is designed using smaller diameter tubing and a smaller twist collar leg lock system, these MT series tripods will offer you the stability you need without taking up too much space in your luggage.

    Material - Aluminium
    Folded Height - 47cm
    Min Height - 35cm
    Max Height without centre column - 117cm
    Max Height with centre column - 139cm
    Weight - 1.2kg
    Weight Capacity - 3kg
    Leg Sections - 4


    I should add that tripod choice is always a compromise between weight and stability, so that a compact light-weight tripod suited to airline cabin baggage will not be suitable for long exposures with long lenses in windy places, for example.

  9. #9

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Hi Tono,I got a Vanguard Alta Pro 263 about six months ago and I find it great.It came with a ball head and carry case but I did get it cheap in a sale---50 Euros!!!!! A bargain,couldn't refuse it.The retail price was about 150 Euros but is now reduced as they supply a better ball head.
    As for the functionality,it does everything I need it to do.It has a spirit level,three section clic release leg sections,spiked and rubber feet (the rubber screws up to reveal the spikes).I never go out without it but you will not get it on a Ryanair flight because of the reason explained in a reply above.Better off putting it in the luggage hold.
    Check out the Vanguard web site.

    Des

  10. #10

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Tono: two makers of tripods and heads that I have found very good are as the following links: both are excellent to deal with, and sell direct, one only that way "Really Right Stuff" the other "Feisol" one store here in Canada said that they could order in. Why pay store mark up when you can get from the manufacture. Also the items they sell are only top of the line. Most people to not think that a tripod is really that important and go cheap and as time goes by end up buying a number of tripods, paying as much or more than if they would have gotten higher end tripod.

    http://www.feisol.com/index1.html

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/Index.aspx?code=46&key=fr

    Cheers:

    Allan

  11. #11
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Tono,

    Lots of good advice here. I'll just add a couple of points.

    First, I would not buy yet. Instead, look at lots of them (even if just online) to get an idea of the range of features available. Then try to decide what is useful for you, given how you shoot. For example, here are some of the features I wanted (you may want something different):

    --reasonably tall (I'm quite tall and don't want to stoop)
    --light weight
    --no braces
    --reversing center post (allows me to have the camera at ground level--although upside down--for some macros)
    --a hook for weight (important in windy conditions, especially if the tripod is light)
    --carbon fiber rather than aluminum (less vibration)
    --ball head rather than panning head.

    I don't have the full list any more, but you will see the idea. Then line up competing brands and see which has the most of what you want. None will have everything.

    Re this advice:

    . Most people I know recommend buying a Manfrotto (mid-price) or Gitzo (high-price) tripod.
    I disagree with this. I agree that a really cheap tripod is a mistake. I made that mistake, and like many others, I ended up selling my first one and replacing it. However, for many people, including me, a mid-priced tripod is just fine. If you go with a mid-priced tripod, there there are a lot of well-made choices in addition to Manfrotto, and often cheaper. For example, there are numerous well-made carbon fiber tripods between $200 and $300 from brands including Induro, Benro, & Oben (B&H's store brand, which I own). For a professional landscape photographer, these may not be the right choice, but I and a number of my friends use tripods of this sort with no problems at all. I would suggest selecting a number of well-reviewed choices from this middle range and then comparing features and price.

    Re quick release--this is a matter of your choice of head, not the tripod. I think it is worth standardizing on one. I didn't, and as a result, if I want to switch from my tripod to my monopod, I have to unscrew the plate from the bottom of the camera. In the future, I intend to standardize. I'm going to standardize on Arca Swiss. It is true that many of the companies that make AS compatible heads are very expensive, but you can get AS without paying a lot. For example, Induro and Benro heads are AS compatible, and you can buy extra AS plates under their brand names inexpensively from good stores.

  12. #12
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Hi Toņo, if you have photographer friends, see if you can borrow for a shooting, a different tripod each time you go out. You should soon be able to determine exactly what features and price range will work best for you and why.

  13. #13

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    If your friends don't have tripods, consider renting some for a weekend for the reason that Frank mentioned.

  14. #14

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Thanks all again for your comments. They are very helpful.

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    I just bought a new tripod on Friday because the last tripod I had was something I had paid about $30 (Cdn) for and was basically garbage. In my defence I had bought it before I had a clue what I was doing, but the thing would not hold a feather steady. So on Friday I bought not my forever tripod but a "cheap" one that will do for the time being until I SAVE enough money to buy the best tripod for me (I already know which one I want) but I still paid over $200 for this one (it is a Manfrotto) and I have to tell you - I have never been as happy with an equipment purchase other than when I bought my camera. It is essential to spend more and buy the best quality you can. It makes a huge difference. I left my other tripod by the side of the road and when I drove past again someone had obviously picked it up. I feel sorry for whoever is trying to use it, but I guess we all have to start somewhere.

  16. #16

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    I bought a Slik Master some forty years ago and it still serves me well... it has been used for LF and Movie cameras. It was not the best but all I could afford at the time and while not so hot with the centre column extended, works good with just the three legs with the heavier cameras. To save money you can consider the stronger mini-tripods as there is often something to sit them on or hold them against ... I have a Slik [8555] version of them but it may not be strong enough for your camera, particularly if that second lens is heavy. Organising a collar for a long lens to balance the rig at its centre of balance can be a good move too.

  17. #17
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    My favourite blurb on tripods:

    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

    It's a bit funny, but sadly it's too often true.

    Glenn

  18. #18
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    I'm after a tripod and I've narrowed my spec down to:

    Price: No more than Ģ150
    Load: No more than my 550D + 70-300 - so I've been looking at 5-10kg load capacity
    Weight: No more than the Manfrotto 055 with a decent pan/tilt head that I used to borrow, so around 2kgs (No carbon fibre stuff in budget)
    Height: Not overly concerned as I think I'm happy to compromise and bend down. I would prefer less sections and no centre column.
    Size: Packable into a decent rucksack so no longer than 50 cm
    Head: Ball head, ideally with Arca-Swiss compatible plate.

    Is there anything that isn't sensible about this spec that anyone can think of?

    Currently I'm inclining towards this:
    http://www.microglobe.co.uk/benro-a2...it-p-8857.html

    but still looking.

  19. #19

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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Quote Originally Posted by RichB View Post
    I'm after a tripod and I've narrowed my spec down to:

    Price: No more than Ģ150
    Load: No more than my 550D + 70-300 - so I've been looking at 5-10kg load capacity
    Weight: No more than the Manfrotto 055 with a decent pan/tilt head that I used to borrow, so around 2kgs (No carbon fibre stuff in budget)
    Height: Not overly concerned as I think I'm happy to compromise and bend down. I would prefer less sections and no centre column.
    Size: Packable into a decent rucksack so no longer than 50 cm
    Head: Ball head, ideally with Arca-Swiss compatible plate.

    Is there anything that isn't sensible about this spec that anyone can think of?

    Currently I'm inclining towards this:
    http://www.microglobe.co.uk/benro-a2...it-p-8857.html

    but still looking.
    The load capacity figure looks exaggerated.

  20. #20
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: New Tripod - HELP!!

    Quote Originally Posted by RichB View Post
    I'm after a tripod and I've narrowed my spec down to:

    Price: No more than Ģ150
    Load: No more than my 550D + 70-300 - so I've been looking at 5-10kg load capacity
    Weight: No more than the Manfrotto 055 with a decent pan/tilt head that I used to borrow, so around 2kgs (No carbon fibre stuff in budget)
    Height: Not overly concerned as I think I'm happy to compromise and bend down. I would prefer less sections and no centre column.
    Size: Packable into a decent rucksack so no longer than 50 cm
    Head: Ball head, ideally with Arca-Swiss compatible plate.

    Is there anything that isn't sensible about this spec that anyone can think of?

    Currently I'm inclining towards this:
    http://www.microglobe.co.uk/benro-a2...it-p-8857.html

    but still looking.

    I have the Benro C1691T with the B0 head. This is the carbon fibre version that is one model down from the one you are looking at getting. I use it with my D800 and f/2.8 70 - 200mm lens and it is plenty strong and stable; the tripod and head are rated at 8kg and my gear weighs around 2.5kg max. You are planning to use a much lighter camera and lens than I do, so personally, I suspect it might be a bit of overkill. That tripod is targeted at medium format and large DSLR cameras.

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