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Thread: Advise on Tripods

  1. #1

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    Advise on Tripods

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm thinking of getting a tripod but if I'm honest, I have no idea what to look for or the differences in features between them...they seem to vary alot in price.

    Probably important things for you to know about me is a) I'm a newbie! b) I have a Canon 500D (not sure if thats important?!)

    If anyone can recommend a style or make or just tell me what I should be looking for, I'd be really grateful.

    Sara

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    Sara

    All boils down to - 'How much money have you got to spend?' - as everything seems to do.

    Carbon fibre tripods are the top of the tree ... but expensive.

    The other key question you have to answer is - what weight will you be putting onto the tripod (and head); i.e. combined weight of camera and lens? There are different tripod/head combinations depending on how big a cameras and lens you'll be putting onto it.

    The problem of course, is that you musn't only think about the here-and-now. You've got to project into the future and judge where you think you'll be, photographically, in, say, 2 to 3 years from now. Because you don't want to spend money on something now and then find that you've got to replace it in a couple of years.

    You need to do research not only into the tripod itself, but also the head that you put onto the top that the camera attaches to - they are generally sold seperately. So, you choose your tripod and then you choose your head and you put the two together ... and then you're ready to go.

    I use a Manfrotto tripod and head. Manfrotto is, I think, a very good middle-of-the-road manufacturer and you'll find that a lot of people on here use their products. I am not suggesting that you should purchase one of their products, as there are many to choose from. But they do have a useful website on which you can learn much more about choosing what's right for you. Click here for their site.
    Last edited by Donald; 21st November 2010 at 10:48 PM.

  3. #3
    John C's Avatar
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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    Donald gives some good advice above, but in addition I want to emphasize that buying a tripod is one of those purchases where going cheap will cost you more in the long run -at least it did for me. Its somewhat like buying really inexpensive paper towels - the ones that sell for 1/2 the price but require three times as many to accomplish any task. I have three more or less useless tripods laying around here- one is too short and weak for my current camera, the other two are rickety and I would not trust my camera on them. I probably paid somewhere between $60 and $90 for each - at the time, I thought I was buying a tripod but it was actually money spent toward my education. Once I graduated from tripod buying school, I finally bought a good quality tripod after doing quite a bit of research. The one I now use is very solid and can easily be configured to stand over 6 feet tall (I'm tall) or close to the ground for macro shots. I bought a Giottos MT-8361 Professional carbon-fiber tripod and MT-1301 Pro Series II ballhead. I have had it for about 2 years and still no disappointments.

  4. #4
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    There has been a previous discussion on tripods. You might get soem further advice here.

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    Donald, John and Peter,

    Thank you very much for your comments and suggestions...I really appreciate it.

    I'll have a think about what I'm doing now, and what I want to be doing in the future and go from there!

    Thank you again.

    Sara

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    Hi Sara,

    You might find some good info in this thread here too.

    Possibly something we don't mention about tripods often is the length of the exposure that it's required for; something "light and tasty" may be all that's needed for holding the camera whilst one takes a shot at, say, 1/15th sec - but it's a different story when if has to support one of the heavier lenses - perhaps in a bit of a breeze - for perhaps many minutes (like I do). The one I use (that you can see in the photo at the link) is solid as a rock, but it's heavy and expensive whereas cheaper and lighter alternatives may be all that's needed in other circumstances.

    If you deploy it often then things like how quickly and easily it is to extend the legs can be important - as is other things like "is ut suitable for use in salt water" (which is something else I seem to end up doing a lot).

    Hope this helps

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    For serious work, Sara, I also use one of those heavy and expensive Manfrotto tripods. But besides being heavy it is a bit cumbersome to carry around. I strap it to the outside of my camera equipment backpack; a bit like a Samurai Sword.

    But for lightweight general easy carry use, I purchased a Velbon Luxi L which is quite a bit cheaper (a little under 100) and folds up into 4 sections instead of the more usual 3 sections. This means that it will close up to a more realistic 14 ins long which will fit inside my backpack.

    I have successfully used it with heavy equipment (Canon 40D with Sigma 150-500 lens) and with the legs fully extended, but with the centre column retracted; however, when you get to this sort of equipment weight I prefer to use the Manfrotto if possible.

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    Hello Sara,

    All of the previous advice is good. However, I would agree with the advice to look ahead at your future needs since a good tripod is a long-term investment, but I don't see or can justify the ridiculous cost of some brands.

    My advice is to spend your money first on a good ball head, which you can use on a lesser tripod at first and/or switch around on other tripods. You definitely want a bubble level or two on this one.

    I have two tripods, a lighter more portable one, a ProMaster 6200 that cost around $80, and, surprisingly, a Bosch Heavy Duty Elevator Tripod that is made for construction/surveying work, which is virtually bullet proof but much heavier (16-lb). On top of both of these I use interchangeably a Gitzo GS3760C ball head with leveling bubbles for about $90. I also have a Gitzo fluid head that I use for video ~ much more expensive!

    The Bosch tripod has been to hell and back but it just works fine all the time in all terrain and in water, salt and fresh. It is unbeatable and absolutely necessary in my view for long exposures. The lighter tripod is nice for a quickie when the wind is calm, or as a mono-pod (don't spread the legs).

    If you get a tripod with a quick release adapter ~ most of them come with now days ~ you will be well advised to get a spare QR adapter or two, especially if you have more than one camera. (I dropped the only one I had into the raging Tuolumne River in Yosemite once and spoiled my whole photography expedition!)

    Don't be shy about shopping around or asking questions. It is very good idea to go to your local camera shop to look at these things first hand.

    Good luck,
    D.

  9. #9
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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    I decided I needed a new, good quality tripod a few months ago. I initially thought that I was going to spend in the region of around 150 for the tripod and head and thought that this was going to get me something that I'd be happy with.

    After reading many, many forum threads and product reviews and going to various camera shops and getting a feel for them I have decided to spend quite a bit more.

    The reason for this basically boils down to what Donald has said in his first reply. I have read this story so many times from so many different people. I therefore decided to wait a couple of months and save up the extra and get something that I think I will be very happy with.

  10. #10

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    More excellent advise, thank you

    I think I have come to a similar conclusion as Tommy - wait and save up a little more to get something that really suits me and what I want to do in the future.

    I'm definitely going to go to various shops and try things out...though I seem incapable of 'just looking' so maybe I'll do the saving bit first and then investigate further

    Thank you again,

    Sara

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    The ideal tripod depends on the photos that you want to take, as well as the weight of your camera and lens that you may want to use. For macro photos, a tripod that allows you to get close to the ground is essential, and for landscape one that is sturdy, and tall enough so that you don't have to raise the centre column, when standing. The tripod head should allow you to quickly release the camera, and must be able to accurately frame your image. Some have a hook that allows you to hang the camera bag underneath to stop movement.
    Carbon fibre tripods are somewhat lighter, but you pay more for them.
    Happy shopping!

  12. #12
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    I don't know whereabouts you are in Surrey, but there is a pretty good shop just next door to you in Sussex (Burgess Hill).

    http://www.parkcameras.com/

    They have a fair old selection of tripods to look at Might be worth a visit one day!

  13. #13

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    Re: Advise on Tripods

    Ken - Carbon fibre sounds like a good idea...I'm not particularly tall or strong so definitely need something light but sturdy.

    Tommy - thank you for the link...Burgess Hill isn't too far from me so will definitely be giving them a visit...

    Thanks!

    Sara

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