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Thread: Travel Tripod Search Results

  1. #1
    Dr Bob's Avatar
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    Travel Tripod Search Results

    After seeking some sage advice from this forum, I began my search for a tripod I could use for travel and on day hikes. Since I am embarking on a trip to the desert southwest (USA), I was in need of something more managable than my 6 lb Manfrotto 055XPROB. I thought I would share the information I gathered in the hopes it could help someone in a similar situation, shopping for a travel tripod.

    My target parameters for a tripod were:

    less than 3 lbs (without the head)
    less than 20 inches long folded for backpack and suitcase.
    Load capacity of camera, lens, etc more than 10 lbs
    Maximum height greater than 55 inches, including center column raised. (Preferred camera height about 65 inches but willing to compromise some to save weight)
    Price range to equal my anticipated use of this tripod of 2 -3 vacation trips a year. Besides, I have my above mentioned tripod when not far from the car.

    The brands I considered were Benro, Gitzo, Giottos, Manfrotto, and Slik as these were the brands that had positive recommendations and were available at the retailers where I shopped. The models that fit or came close to my parameters were;

    Parameter Benro C1580 Giottos MT 8250 Gitzo GT1542 Manfro 190CXPRO4 Slik PRO724

    Weight (lbs) 2.6 3.08 2.2 2.8 3.1
    Folded (inches) 19.3 20.8 16.7 19.7 18.6
    Max Height (in) 58.7 59.8 58.7 57.6 64.4
    Load (lbs) 17.6 11 15.4 11 11
    Price (USD) 290 275 550 280 270

    The Giottos and Slik were slightly beyond my parameter on weight, but not unacceptable. The Gitzo, being an excellent top of the line tripod, was a bit expensive to justify for my use. Although all good candidates, I went with the Manfrotto as it fit my needs, it had numerous excellent reviews and I am familiar with its features.

    Like I said, I hope my experience is useful to others here. I will let you know how my new tripod serves me on my upcoming trip.

    Thanks.

    Dr Bob

  2. #2
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    My details of each brand of tripod did not transfer to the Forum as designed. To read the data on each brand of tripod, the parameter values (weight, folded length, max height, etc) are in order of the way they are listed above after the word "parameter". So the weight, fold length, max height, load, and price for the Benro C1580 is the first values in the list.

    Sorry about that.

    Dr Bob

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Useful information Bob. I have added a tag to the thread so that anyone, in the future, who goes into 'Discussion Categories' and searches on 'Tripods' will find the thread.

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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Thanks for the research results, Bob. Wish I'd had them 6 months ago when I went through a similar process We came to the same conclusion, and I've used the Manfrotto regularly since and have been quite happy. Those skinny little legs can vibrate surprisingly in a stiff wind, and I have taken to turning the image stabilizing back on in those conditions, with good effect as best I can tell-certainly no ill effects from IS while on tripod (I use a Sony a77)

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    Kaye Leggett's Avatar
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Bob

    How did the tripod perform on that trip and since of course ?? I have a trip to Tanzania planned later in the summer and weight is a really big issue as I can only carry 15kgs of luggage inc. hand luggage and camera gear. Yikes ! So I'm looking for a super light tripod which still does the job.

  6. #6
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Kaye,

    By sacrificing height in a tripod, you can save quite a bit of weight.

    Additionally by using an Arca Compatible ball head and a camera L-bracket, you can also save weight because you can actually use a lighter weight tripod and head. Using a ball head with a standard quick release system (Such as a Manfrotto RC-2) you need to hang your camera cantilevered over to the side when shooting in the vertical position with a non tripod-ring equipped lens.. This is an inherrently unstable way to connect a camera to a tripod. Using an Arca Compatible quick release incorporated with an L-Plate (also called an L-Bracket), your camera is directly over the apex of the tripod whether in the horizontal or vertical position. This way of mounting a camera will allow you stability using a lighter weight tripod and head. As seen in this YouTube Video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4iOxH5vyCo

    Since I already used a Giottos MT-8180 Carbon Fiber Tripod as my main tripod, I did not want to spend a king's ransom on a travel tripod which would only be used a few times a year. However, I wanted a tripod which I could fit in my checked on airline luggage (trying to board an airplane carrying a tripod can be problematic due to security precautions). Of course my needs required an extremely light weight tripod.

    I had to decide the main uses for my travel tripod:

    1. Night shots
    2. Panos
    3. Very seldom but for the ocasional self portrait
    4. The heaviest package I would place on the tripod would be the Canon 7D with 70-200mm f/4L IS Lens. BTW: I chose this lens over the wonderful 70-200mm f/2.8 IS version (the Mk.ii was not available when I purchased my f/4L IS) as much because of the lghter weight as because of the better IQ and lower price.

    I do not do macro work when traveling and I could give up the great versatility derived from a tripod that could articulate. I would have enjoyed a tripod which could have provided ground level shooting but, I could give up that advantage.

    I was visiting my local Calumet store and they had a Slik Pro 330DX on sale for around $80 USD. I picked it up and was impressed by the light weight and stability of this titanium based tripod and I suspected that I could make it even lighter.

    I substituted an optional Slik short center column. Sawing off a porton of the stock center column would have accomplished the same weight reduction but, I decided to buy the optional column for ten dollars. This substitution reduced the weight to less than two pounds (~ 900 Grams) I also substituted a very lightweight Adorama Flashpoint F-1 Magnesium Arca Compatible ball head which weighed 11 ounces (~ 312 Grams).

    The result was a tripod which could fit in my checked-on suitcase and which weighs well a bit more than 2.5 pounds total - head and all. This rig will support my 70-200mm f/L IS on a 7D canera. I used it in some pretty windy conditions in the Canyonlands of Southern Utah with no problems. The rig cost me in the neighborhood of $140 USD.

    Travel Tripod Search Results

    Travel Tripod Search Results

    The only down-side to his rig is that it is somewhat short but, I am willing to bend a bit or use a right angle finder with a 2.5 pound tripod. BTW: I am 6'1" tall...

    Travel Tripod Search Results

  7. #7
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Did someone mention Sirui?
    http://www.siruicanada.com/tripods.htm
    Best tripod in the business. The T 025 is brilliant for travel.

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    Venser's Avatar
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    It wasn't mentioned in the original post, but the Gitzo 2541 nearly fits the criteria set out.
    It has a weight of 3lbs, folded height of 22 inches (2 longer than asked for), maximum load of 26.4 lbs, and maximum height of 61.4 inches. These are the legs I use and they're simply fantastic.

    On top I use an Acratech GP-s ballhead and couldn't be happier.

    The only downside to the above setup is price. Even getting a ridiculous deal on the legs, it still came in over four digits (CAD), so may not be for everyone.

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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    I like my 3-Legged Thing tripod for portability. I use the Tony model, and while it's no Gitzo, and a little lacking in build quality, it has plenty of good features like a reversible center column, weigh hook, removable monopod leg, and simple, rugged leg angle mechanisms. It's not perfectly stable, but it's a heck of a long way from four digits ($309). My ball head is a Manfrotto 308RC, which is an ancient, beefy steel one. Rock solid, but not recommended.

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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Another good option I've seen is one from the Feisol Travel series.

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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Bob: your choice of tripods was dictated by what could be purchased at a retail store. As Andrew states above the Feisol is an excellent choice that fits you parameter along with one from Really Right Stuff. Granted the one from RRS is expensive, they are the top of the line, the Feisol is also an excellent (I do own one) tripod that fits those parameters. Now a large number of us have purchased a number of tripods over the years, so take a full and careful looks at all the models so you do not end up buying one that is well good however you find out that it is not good enough.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  12. #12
    Kaye Leggett's Avatar
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Thanks for more ideas.....will do some background reading on all the recommendations - at least I've got until August to decide

  13. #13

    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    I just picked up a Manfrotto BeFree, I think it meets your criteria.

    http://www.manfrotto.com/befree

  14. #14
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    Update.

    The Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 served me well on my fall trip to Arches, Canyonland, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. One day, I hiked over 10 miles with it along with camera and one extra lens plus water and snacks. It was easy to handle on my pack and set up quickly. The height was good for all my shots and I am very happy with the product for hiking. I got great shots of Delicate Arch in stormy weather and it was very easy to carry attached to my pack over rough terrain and on a narrow path along a rock ledge. I am going to Yellowstone this fall and will be using it for some hikes there. I would recommend this model for others looking for a tripod for day hikes and fitting a budget of less than $300.

    Dr Bob

  15. #15
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    Re: Travel Tripod Search Results

    For what it is worth, I also researched this at the end of 2012 as I needed a travel tripod that I could lug around the arctic circle. With some long treks on snow and ice, it needed to be light. I am 6' 2" (plus boots!) so height was a factor and stability was a must as cold and windy conditions were anticipated, but with a need for long night time exposures (20 secs). I do not use a tripod on my travels that much, so not going overboard on cost was a factor, even though I was really temped by the Really Right Stuff gear!

    I ended up with the Three Legged Thing Eddie: http://www.3leggedthing.com/eddieevo2black.html

    I bought this with a blue head. It is an excellent tripod and very stable. The head is not as good as RRS / Arco, but it is a third of the price. The carbon legs are very good, but the screw locking system is prone to freeze in arctic conditions so the tripod can be a touch difficult to close. I doubt this is unique to this brand at minus 35 degrees. It could do witha quick release plate and a better system for securing the plate to the camera (a common tripod fault), but it is light and the case is good. It will pack into hold or carry on luggage fine. At 429 or thereabouts it is mid-market. I found it superior to the Manfrotto gear in terms of build quality (though Manfrotto is fine) and robustness, and better value by quite some margin than comparable Giotto.

    The head is very good (and I think looks cool in blue ;-) and will support a 5D111 and 70-200 f2.8 II (a heavy combination) in quite extreme conditions with ease. Head adjustment is good, but micro adjustment is not as easy as on, say, an Arco ball head. The tripod is extremely flexible and can be arranged easily for macro use close to the ground. It has a built in monopod that I have never used (if I am going to lug a monopod about, I may as well take the tripod...)

    Would I buy one again - yes if I was in the under 500 budget range. For long term I would spring the extra though and go with RRS legs and either a RRS or Swiss Arco ballhead, as the engineering and smoothness in use is better. I would not necessarily go lighter, as you want a tripod to be stable and there is a trade off here between stability and carryability.

    This tripod has been used in the arctic (deep snow for two weeks), in the rainforest for two weeks (where it was soaked repeatedly), and gets used a fair bit for city travel and macro. Looks brand new still.

    Adrian
    Last edited by Adrian; 4th June 2013 at 08:01 AM. Reason: typos

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