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Thread: Tri-pod; details of usage

  1. #1
    crisscross's Avatar
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    Tri-pod; details of usage

    Having at last come round to the idea that a tripod is worth humping around, I realise there is more to it!

    Question 1: is it practical on a walking trip on rough ground to keep changing from hand-held to tri-pod and back?

    Question 2: My 1st few test shots suggest that with VR (IS) off, it is possible to be heavier handed with unsharp later. Is VR (Nikon original) just mechanical or does it also trigger an electronic wizardry in the camera impossible to undo in PP? (I use Nikon Capture NX2 which embodies a pretty complete analog of the camera settings)

    The kit: Nikon D80, Nikkor 80-400VR, Slik 340DX with 705E 3 way head. The pod just has to go into my Low Alpine bag and with the cover on on the rare occasions it rains in UK , I am also old, hence no 2kg+ kit for me. It is however far more robust and stable than I had expected from reviews and centre column is reversible for travel (with head still on) or grovelling in front of minute plants and bugs. The 80-400 has OEM rotating tripod clip so camera can be on its side without tilt head contortions.

    There is no mirror lock-up as such on a D80, but Peter (Proseak) put me right pointing out the 0.4 sec shutter delay which does the same thing Mirror (lock) up. The self-timer is adjustable.

    So to use the tripod:

    1 set up tripod and mount camera (QR plate fixed to lens mount)
    2 set shutter delay to on
    3 turn VR off
    4 decide if point for focus is central, or more usually on landscapes, well off centre, so
    5 use auto focus and then disengage it
    6 set self-timer on (or find remote)
    7 final composition, tighten and shoot

    Then a bird sits provocatively 3M away, so reverse all that for the bird, which by then is probably in flight so also change to continuous focus as well as different zoom, speed, ISO, F no...etc

    In fact does one have to say eg on the way out its hand-held birds and the way back tripod landscapes? Or am I missing something? The D80 does not have pre-set packages (unless someone knows yet another obscure menu item)

  2. #2
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Tri-pod; details of usage

    Chris...

    I can relate to being old and not having the stamina that I once had. However, as it is often said, growing old beats the heck out of the alternative!

    I use a modified SLIK Pro 330DX (similar to your SLIK 340DX) for my travel and boonie tromping tripod. I recommend modifying the SLIK by installing the optional shorter center column. I don't use the center column to any great degree so the shorter column simply saves weight. I also switched the heavy, pan-tilt head with a much lighter, and IMO much more efficient Adorama Flashpoint F-1 Arca compatible ball head. Here is my modified SLIK 330DX next to my full size Giottos MT-8180 tripod which dwarfs the SLIK and is several times as heavy.

    Tri-pod; details of usage

    The result is a very compact tripod which weighs only about two pounds (about 1 Kilo) or so, yet supports my Canon 40D camera and 70-200mm f/4L IS lens quite well.

    Tri-pod; details of usage

    As I said, I use this tripod for travel and hiking. It is used to provide a solid support for my camera and lens. I don't use it as my main tripod because I like the way my bigger Giottos can articulate and the Giottos can support a heavier load. The SLIK is fairly short when extended without raising the center column to any great degree. However, I can live with its height because it is so lightweight. I sometimes use a 90 degree finder to assist in framing my images. I cut my photographic teeth using a twin lens reflex camera and I am quite comfortable looking down to frame the image.

    Tri-pod; details of usage

    There is another advantage to using an Arca Compatible ball head over a standard ball head or a pan-tilt head such as the SLIK is supplied with. When shooting with a non Arca Compatible head and using a non tripod ring equipped lens, you need to hang your camera cantilevered over to the side when shooting in the portrait position. With the A/C quick release system, I use a Really Right Stuff L bracket which keeps the camera centered over the tripod head and thus, I can use a lighter weight outfit. The L bracket also keeps your camera centered on where you were framing the image while in the landscape position. This increased setup speed even more.

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=80

    The A/C gear is more expensive than standard tripod plates but, once you use it, IMO, you will not want to go back to a non A/C setup. I purchased my L bracket used on eBay and have recently noticed that there are less expensive Chinese knock-off L brackets available on eBay at a lesser price.

    My outfit is extremely quick to set up. I always have my L bracket mounted on my camera. It conforms to the shape of the camera and I never notice that it is there. I also use an A/C quick release on my monopod (Kirk MPA-1).

    By the way, I don't know about Nikon, but some Canon lenses with older IS (Canon's VR) systems require that the IS be turned off when the camera/lens is tripod mounted. But, my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the newer version of IS has a tripod sensing system so I don't need to turn off the IS when shooting on a tripod. Some folks are "old-school" and turn off their IS whenever the camera/lens is tripod mounted. I never do that with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens but I do shut off the IS when I am using a lenses with a more antiquated IS function such as my 300mm f/4L IS.

    My Canon 40D has a 10-second and a 30-second delay. I choose the 10-second delay when I am shooting at low speeds. The 40D has a set of user selected modes in which the photographer can set up the shooting parameters for various venues, register these parameters and then select them with a twist of the mode dial. I will set up my camera for tripod shooting and select the parameters using that mode. The new (and improved?????) Canon 60D camera has reduced the user selected modes to a single one. This is IMO a step backward in the evolution of camera controls.

    Using a timer delay DOES NOT do the same thing as mirror lock-up. Using the timed delay will dampen the camera motion which can be caused by tripping the shutter button with your finger and is a good idea whenever shooting tripod mounted unless you are covering moving subjects. Mirror lock-up prevents camera shake from the mirror bounce which will occur whether you trip the shutter button with your finger, use a self-timer or trip the shutter using a remote release. On the other hand, mirror lock-up is only critical when using extremely slow (long) shutter speeds.

    However, when shooting at reasonable shutter speeds, I simply trip the shutter with the shutter button. I have shot using my 40D camera and 70-200mm f/4L IS lens at the rim of Bryce Canyon in Utah during some fairly stiff breezes. The tripod and head supported my equipment just fine. My SLIK came with a tripod bag and I will usually carry the tripod in the bag when I am not shooting with it. The SLIK is a quick tripod to set up and the F-1 head makes it even quicker.

    When I am doing most of my shooting using the tripod, I simply carry my camera attached to the tripod. I make sure that the camera/lens is resting on my shoulder when doing this, rather than just being supported by the ball head.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 4th March 2011 at 03:52 PM.

  3. #3
    mythlady's Avatar
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    Elise

    Re: Tri-pod; details of usage

    I was going to suggest you add that to your checklist: Turn off the IS, which is something I always forget. Does your camera mount have a quick-release plate, or could you get one? That makes things easier, because you can just pop the camera in and out, so you might be able to do both landscapes and birds going in one direction I'm not sure that quick-release plates are available for every tripod, because I think they may not be as stable as the screw-type ones. But then I probably don't know what I'm talking about (I usually don't). You might put on your wish list for the future (that endless list) a monopod, which I find extremely useful for things like birds and crowded flower shows where I can't set up a tripod -- it gives you a little stability (at my age, my hands are not so steady), but they are very lightweight (at least mine is) and you can securely carry it with the camera attached.

  4. #4

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    Re: Tri-pod; details of usage

    I use one of those heavy Manfrotto tripods which gets strapped outside my Mini Trekker backpack when walking any distance. So the most time consuming part is actually setting up the tripod and attaching the camera.

    Then for quick handheld shots, if I don't want to unclip the release plate, I close up the tripod legs and grab the tripod just underneath the camera, which makes a firm gripping handle. If the legs are adjusted to a short length, I sometimes tuck one leg onto my trouser belt and use this as a semi tripod/hand held arrangement. But I can still 'manage to see my feet' when looking down so this method doesn't become too much of a strain.

    Remembering to reset all of the camera/lens settings for a quick shot is however a bit of a mental strain.

    While I normally turn off the lens stabilisation (if I remember it) for tripod shots I have found that when using a long lens on windy days it does sometimes work better if the stabilisation is switched on.

    I do, however, have one very bad habit when using a tripod on a big lens which is attached to the tripod with a lens mount bracket. Too often, when taking wildlife shots etc and the tripod legs are set to a suitable working length, I move the whole kit around by grabbing the camera. So the whole weight of the lens plus tripod is straining on the lens/camera mount, instead of picking up everything up by the tripod. Fortunately the 40D is robustly constructed!

  5. #5
    crisscross's Avatar
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    Re: Tri-pod; details of usage

    Thank you so far. BTW VR is Nikonspeak for IS, so am turning it off but might turn back on in strong winds if I don't want to grovel with only 1 section of leg extended. I just loathe monopod.

    Richard - (a) I am not sure if the Adorama head you mention is available in UK, but in view of US price worth searching for further. I backtracked to the Slik after trying to get Benro B0 head seperately or on a Travel Angel pod, but the price was way over the top for something I may not end up using that much.(b) my 80-400 has an integrated ring clip so camera can be rotated without using plate adjustments or cantilevering camera.(c) I am talking about D80 equivalent of MUP, which is to split the mirror action so the shutter doesn't run until after vibration from mirror action has died down (d) I dearly wish there were custom settings recorded as modes, but the D80 is a stripped down D200 and much smaller than D200, 300 or your equivalent 40D 60D, in fact digital rebel sized. Not sure if they have squeezed it into successor D7000...for now there just aren't

    Elise: the Slik system includes quick release plate

    Geoff: I think leaving some of the tripod on the camera, perhaps the centre column and head is a good idea and finding a 'flag support' in ones clothing good too. I can often manage the memory bit, but it takes an age

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