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Thread: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

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    Steve H's Avatar
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    Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Hi there,

    I am after a bit of advice in the tripod department, don't worry I have searched and read these threads:
    Tripods & Ballheads
    Opinion sought on Benro Tripods
    Best Tripod and head for stability

    All good reads however I need a bit more info. I actually currently have a Feisol carbon fibre tripod which is very good i.e. lightweight and great for throwing in the pack and walking up a hill however, it has a centre column (which I would like to eliminate) and the ball head and associated camera attaching plate (which is circular) is quite light weight. I actually get camera creep/droop when the camera is rotated to 'portrait' alignment.

    I really want stability for long exposures (nature/landscapes/water/astro etc).

    So I would like a heavy goliath to compliment the (easily transported) carbon fibre. The heavier the better, so I would like:
    a) aluminium
    b) 3 legs
    c) no centre column

    I have visited gitzo and benro sites but find them quite bewildering and very hard to choose the 'right tripod'. I live in a remote part of New Zealand so popping down to local photographic store is not an option.

    I will probably put a RSS ball head with panning base on it too.

    So my question is:

    Does anybody have some real world experience with a good, heavy, aluminium, non centre column tripod that they could recommend?

    I am about 174cm (5'7") and use a D90 with 18-200 and Tokina 11-16

    Thanks very much (in advance)

    Steve
    http://teanautourist.zenfolio.com/

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Hi Steve,

    Greeting from the other end of the Mainland

    Firstly a question - why aluminium? Carbon fibre is more stable and far better resistance to corrosion (mine ends up partially submerged in salt water 1/2 the time).

  3. #3
    Steve H's Avatar
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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Steve,

    Greeting from the other end of the Mainland

    Firstly a question - why aluminium? Carbon fibre is more stable and far better resistance to corrosion (mine ends up partially submerged in salt water 1/2 the time).
    G'day Colin,
    (I'll be up your way in a couple of weeks - doing a lap of the island in the camper van )

    I just thought aluminium for extra weight? I'm after stability not portablity. However, am open to all suggestions, not averse to CF (apart from the price) and I hear what you're saying about ally and salt water corrosion (although there's not a lot of salt water around where I live )

    So carbon fibre is actually more stable than Aluminium in tripods? Is it because of the tighter tolerances in the tubes? These are the things I want to learn about.

    I know you're a Gitzo man - where do you buy your gear from here in NZ?

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Hi Steve,

    Be sure to pop around when you get to Nelson - always good to meet a fellow photographer (my cell phone number is on my website).

    As a rule, carbon fiber tripods do a better job of damping out vibrations - have a look at mine when you get here (perhaps it's time for another photo of someone swinging from it!). I've got a GT1548 which has now been replaced (I forget with which model), easiest to pick it though - just go to the Gitzo website - carbon fibre section and pick the one with 3 stage legs - no centre column - and the highest weight rating, and that'll be it.

    I got mine from an ebay reseller who's since gone out of business, but in general I get all of my gear from a variety of sources (depending on who'd going to play nice price wise).

    I suspect that Gitzo would still be a ridiculous price here in NZ - probably far cheaper to have one sent over from the likes of B&H. I think I paid something like 2.5k for both the tripod and head (inc freight), but that was when the NZ dollar was much lower against the greenback). On the plus side, once you have it they're pretty bullet proof, and don't require much maintenance.

    For what it's worth, I also use a BH55 panning head from Really Right Stuff, although to be honest, the panning base can introduce a bit of instability if you don't lock it tightly ... often it's easier to just level the tripod and use the bigger swivel at the base of the head. I often shoot multi-minute exposures in light to moderate breezes without any problems.

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Another Gitzo user here. Gitzos are pretty much the creme de la creme of tripods and monopods for landscape and wildlife photography (anything outdoors really). They're really built like a tank and a "really good investment" though they're expensive.

    I own two models, the GT2531 Series 2 Mountaineer 6X for my all day hiking and mountaineering. For everyday and city use, I recommend the GT1541 which is very light weight and compact. Both have removable center columns, and the legs have "extra low" which you can unlock the legs to go down to ground level. The retractable hook on the column is really handy for sandbags for added stability. My husband is your height and he could use both of these pods easily.

    This is a very good website for comparison, uses, and info on Gitzos. http://www.naturescapes.net/store/home.php?cat=19

    If you can considering buying a Gitzo, I recommend the Mountaineering series 2 and up models for landscape. Why? You can get spike footings accessory which comes in handy on soft terrain (heavy rubber caps covers them when not in use). Try to afford one that's a little taller taller than what you need, if you're planning on sinking them in snow, water, or sand (which is something I am not afraid of doing). Series 3 comes without center columns and you can now get a safety plate for them thru the link above.

    I just use a camera hotshoe level to level everything which you can also order from the website. BH is also a good place to buy.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 27th November 2009 at 05:23 PM.

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Thanks for the info Amberglass, much appreciated.
    This is what I'm using at the moment:

    Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    It's a Feisol CT-3441 with a CB-30 ball head, probably a couple of years old now(?). It's ok but as I mentioned before I get camera creep when in 'portrait mode' and a bit of droop when setting up in 'landscape'. The problem is the circular camera mount, I think they have changed it on the newer models.

    The actual legs are not too bad, although have to raise centre column to get really low, so, ok for a travel pod but would like something more substantial for long exposure night/landscape/astro/water etc.

    Had a look at the Gitzo's and yes would love one but they are quite pricey here in NZ (as is everything - you don't know how lucky you are in the States with all your online buying avenues ). But having said that I don't mind paying for quality so haven't totally ruled it out.

    Would like to hear from some Benro owners too. I am still curious about the carbon vs aluminium debate too. I know carbon has finer tolerance etc but thought the weight of aluminium would provide the same stability with lower ($) cost albeit with a portability cost (that I'm not worried about).

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Hi Steve,

    I'd suggest a little "googling" on aluminium -v- carbon fiber stability.

    For me, your current tripod would be a major issue when shooting agressive-perspective landscapes - there's be no way I could get the camera close enough to the ground with that centre column

    As I mentioned before, if you have the tripod sent over from overseas you'll probably get it for around 1/2 to 2/3 of the NZ price - sadly it's become a bit of a trend with a lot of items in NZ.

    If you're going to be up my way in the next couple of weeks then why not just wait until you get here and I can show you all that I use, and you can judge the stability and torsional rigidity (my "big words" of the day!) for yourself? (along with the industry standard heavyweight ball head) the RRS BH-55, and assocuated RRS camera brackets.

    Heavy/stable tripod advice sought Heavy/stable tripod advice sought Heavy/stable tripod advice sought Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Hey Colin,

    Did a bit of 'googlin' and yeah probably go the carbon track again.

    Thanks for the invite too, we will endeavor to make time to see you for an hour or two, if the planets are aligned and the navigator concurs, might be around the 12th/13thish .

    Will most likely purchase online overseas (have a lens coming in from Hong Kong as we speak). Even though you get hit with duty and GST etc it still works out cheaper than a bricks and mortar store on our shores. I don't know how they (retail shops) survive these days, with internet buying. I would like to support a local distributor but until they drop their prices I'll buy online. Never had a problem thus far (touch wood), and have bought a LOT of stuff online (even bought a brand new car once!).

    I'm still exploring all options and even looking at the new larger models of the Feisol that I currently own - 3 section legs, no centre column, down to 8cm off the ground, and they have a nifty leveling base. They do make a quality product (looking at the CT-3372):

    http://www.feisol.com/english/feisolen.htm

    and a good review here (though he may be biased because he's the UK rep )

    http://www.eos-images.com/product-re...-tripod-review

    Well my brain hurts from thinking about this too much, so am off to take some photo's

    Have a good Sunday!
    Regards

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Hi Steve,

    Well I checked my diary and I am around on the 12/13th (also the 14th, 15th, 16, 17th, 18th, and 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th) (etc) - so you're welcome to pop in and relax on a leather couch in an air-conditioned office

    Yes, you'll (probably) have to pay GST on any imported item (unless it's under NZD $400), but I wouldn't have thought that you'd have to pay any duty (we don't manufacture tripods here, so there's no industry that needs protecting). I like to purchase local too (makes it a lot easier for me), but at the end of the day they just don't meet my needs in that (a) often they don't have the high-end products that I want (often they've never even heard of them) (b) if they get it in for me then they seem to take forever (and can never give me accurate time estimates), and (c) they try to justify the 60% margin by telling me all about their "awesome service & support" (on the product that takes them twice as long to get as I can get myself, and that I know more about than them).

    Had a good example the other day - I was asking about the new Sandisk 64GB CF Card - one of my suppliers told me that I could have it at HIS buy price of around $1200 + GST - and yet a TradeMe supplier can supply it for $950 inc GST (and yes it is genuine) - go figure!

    Can't say I've ever heard of Feisol - my only thought was "make sure that it's resistant to twisting" so you don't get horizontal oscillations on windy days. I'd be happy to give it the "swing test" and "step test" for you if you get it before you come up (all care, absolutely no responsibility though!)

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve H View Post
    Would like to hear from some Benro owners too.
    Benro makes nice tripods too and a favorite amongst nature macro photographers. I have a couple of friends who owns this model (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...C_Flexpod.html). Other brands you should consider are Giottos and Manfrotto Bogen.

    A favorite for the do all tripod is the Gitzo GT2541EX Series 2 6x Carbon Fiber 4 Section G-Lock Tripod. I also own this tripod which you can literally "put anywhere terrain" and can give you very interesting perspectives. I didn't mention this model before because it does requires some fiddling. The legs are free moving (until locked down) unlike regular tripods that you just pull open then stops. Also the column is lateral mounted not center if you're considering something like this.

    A better ballhead would help with the camera creep. RRS, Gitzo, and Manfrotto are my recommendations.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Here is a tip...

    For added stability, replace the head on your Feisol tripod with a Arca compatible ball head. Then you can use an "L" plate (from RRS or Kirk).

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/QR/05.html

    The L-plate allows increased stability with light tripods because the camera does not need to be cantilevered over to the side when in the portrait position. I use the L-plate with non tripod ring equipped lenses and use a standard plate for tripod ring equipped lenses like the 70-200mm f/4L IS.

    I use an extremely light weight Flashpoint F-1 Arca Compatible ball head on a small travel tripod and it does an excellent job supporting my 40D with 70-200mm f/4L IS lens.

    See images of camera/lens on tripod head and F-1 next to full-size Giottos MH-1300 head.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Re: Here is a tip...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    For added stability, replace the head on your Feisol tripod with a Arca compatible ball head. Then you can use an "L" plate (from RRS or Kirk).
    Hey thanks for the info - really got me thinking. The actual Feisol tripod legs are very good, it's just the head that is letting me down. So your proposed option could give me a very good travel tripod option and time to explore (read "save") for a full monty heavy/stable gitzo/benro/RSS setup etc.

    So all I would need is an L plate from RSS or Kirk (both about the same price $140) and a say a flashpoint F1 for 50 bucks (plus astronomical shipping because I evidently live on another planet) and I'd be set?

    Sounds good. I'll look into it. Thanks very much

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    For me, your current tripod would be a major issue when shooting agressive-perspective landscapes - there's be no way I could get the camera close enough to the ground with that centre column
    A center/centre column does not necessarily disable the tripod from going down all the way to the ground. My center-column Manfrotto 0x55PROB goes all the way down, as in the legs splay parallel to the ground. When I do this, the only problem is me getting off the ground after I've shot a few.

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by eNo View Post
    A center/centre column does not necessarily disable the tripod from going down all the way to the ground. My center-column Manfrotto 0x55PROB goes all the way down, as in the legs splay parallel to the ground.

    When I do this, the only problem is me getting off the ground after I've shot a few.
    Hi eNo,

    An intriguing thought - if the legs splay, doesn't the centre column hit the ground, keeping the head at the same level (the length of the column), above the ground? Or is it like ...

    My ancient Cullman has a jointed column, which I now appreciate won't aid rigidity, but this means I can unscrew 3/4 of it and leave just a stub to fix the head to the legs, so when my legs splay, I can "do the splits" until the hingey bit touches the ground getting a nice low angle.

    I am of course, talking about the tripod here, as I too would have difficulty getting up again afterwards

    Cheers,

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Dave

    I too have the 55XPROB and I think you interpret what eNo's saying correctly. The column can swing through to the horizontal, thus allowing you to get down to ground level. Ok, the rigidity may be affected. But so long as you don't have the horizontal column at full extended distance out from the centre point, the the stability remains good, particularly if you have the legs splayed.

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Dave

    I too have the 55XPROB and I think you interpret what eNo's saying correctly. The column can swing through to the horizontal, thus allowing you to get down to ground level. Ok, the rigidity may be affected. But so long as you don't have the horizontal column at full extended distance out from the centre point, the the stability remains good, particularly if you have the legs splayed.
    Hi Donald,

    Ahh, the penny drops, and I was being slightly silly, it has to be admitted

    Thanks for clarifying - I have often thought a tripod with one of those horizontal columns might be useful on occasion; e.g. when, for a given height, requiring a certain leg spread, with an imovable object at ground level, you can't get close enough. Although obviously, with a weighty camera off centre cantilevered towards the edge of the base area, things could get unstable.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Heavy/stable tripod advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by eNo View Post
    When I do this, the only problem is me getting off the ground after I've shot a few.
    I know the problem well I get these issues with many of the seascapes I shoot - wet boulders and jagged rocks do not a good matress make.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th December 2009 at 04:52 AM.

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