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Thread: Best Tripod and head for stability

  1. #1

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    Best Tripod and head for stability

    I have struggled with tripod vibration and am looking for a stable one. I currently use a manfroto but am not really satisfied with the results I get. I have followed the suggestions in the HDR conversations but feel there is still some room for improvement in the tripod. Are there any recommendations for a stable but affordable tripod?

    I shoot with a nikon D300, use mirror lock up and a cable release but still struggle with a good quality HDR and feel the tripod has to be having an impact.

    Theron

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    If it helps, I use a Gitzo 1548 with a Reall Right Stuff 55mm Ballhead. Can be used for photography, or for propping up a section of a house whilst you change the piles!

    Not sure of current pricings (here in NZ we pay an arm and a leg for stuff that comes from the USA by the time they account for the exchange rate / add freight & GST

    www.reallyrightstuff.com is an excellent place to start - unbeatable quality.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Thanks Colin,

    I have heard that Gitzo are good. I like the idea of propping up the house. I don't mind the weight at all. I have been through three manfrotos and really don't like them to much. I like the way they work but have a difficult time with a sharp photo some of the times. The slightest wind or movement and you loose. I looked at a gitzo once but don't remember the part number. I'll google this one and see what I can find. I believe they wanted $700.00 or something like that for the one I was looking at. I just wanted a second opinion before I bite the bullet.

    I'm not familiar with the real right stuff ballhead but have heard that some heads have a better ability to dampen the vibration. I'm not flush but realize the importance of good equipment if you want to do the job right you just have to pay the price.

    Theron
    Last edited by McQ; 12th July 2009 at 10:50 PM.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    You're welcome Theron.

    Really Right Stuff and Wimberley products (www.tripodhead.com) are generally regarded by all as "top shelf" products; expensive, but built to last (even if you don't look after them!). Same for Gitzo - I've lost count of the number of times I've had mine 1/2 submerged in salt water, and it's still as good as new.

    If you get a chance, pop on to the RRS website and download their PDF catalog. Not sure if Gitzo still make a G1548 - if you can't find it, try taking a closer look at the Carbon Fibre range, especially whichever has the highest load rating.
    Last edited by McQ; 12th July 2009 at 10:51 PM.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Just a few thoughts that might be helpful.

    I recently decided to buy a new tripod and head for a treking holiday where weight was a premium but without the loss of too much stability. I tried numerous makes and models, with a preference for carbon fibre. Either the price was too high (Gitzo and Manfrotto) or the stability was too low on various also-ran makes for my liking.

    Checked on eBay and eventually took the risk and ordered a tripod directly from the Chinese manufacturers, a make called Triopo, not available in the UK. The cost was £112 incl carriage, and it proved its worth to my total satisfaction. In appearance, it looks and handles like a Gitzo with twist-lock legs ...

    I recognised very early on that the head is the critical item for both stability and user-speed. I eventually matched the tripod with a ball head from Giotto that has a friction control (very useful). The ball head is well oversized for the duty - my choice - but essential in my view. Triopo also sell a similar head, but I wanted to test it in my hands before committing so didn't buy from them.

    Whilst on the trek, I met a Chinese man who had a very stable professional carbon fibre tripod, called a Benro (not Benbo). I had looked at this tripod in my searching, but decided against it on weight and price grounds. I strongly suggest you look at this make - it impressed me by its stability and structure, and the price is less than anything equivalent from other manufacturers.

    Hope this is helpful.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Hi Theron,
    I also recommend looking at the Really Right Stuff ball heads.I use a BH-25,the light weight version, and am very happy with it's performance.Solid build and smooth action.I also use a Bogen 410 geared head for macro and landscape photos.For the price,it's a great head.I agree with you on the Bogen tripods.I use a 3021BN.It is fairly stable as long as you don't need to raise the center column too much.For me,it's stable enough,but if I were to look at any other tripods,Giotto would be my pick.
    Jim

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    I did some research on the Gitzo and this is what I found. The G1548 is still out there in a few places but has been replaced with the GT5530S. The price then changed from $699 (G1548) to $825 (GT5530S). The reviews were great -- all five stars. The price is workable but higher than I would really like.

    Also the load capacity has increased from aprox. 33 lbs to 55 Lbs. while at the same time dropping just slightly in tripod weight..

    ____________________________


    The Gitzo G1548 Carbon Fiber Tripod extends to 58 3/4" and can be positioned as low as 5 3/4" (no, I didn't miss a digit). Retracted, the G1548 measures 23.25". Total weight is 6.75 lbs. The Gitzo G1548 Carbon Fiber Tripod has 4 sections and rubber feet.

    Note: The Gitzo G1548 Carbon Fiber Tripod has been replaced by the Gitzo GT-5530S Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod. It looks like its capacity is aprox. 33 lbs


    Specifications of Gitzo Series 5 Carbon 6x Systematic Tripod - 3 Section G-lock GT5530S:
    ALR (Anti Leg Rotation): yes
    attachment: 3/8'' screw attachment type
    bubble spirit level (no.): 1 number
    center column: no center column
    closed length: 24.80 in
    leg angles: 24į. 55į
    leg sections: 3 number
    load capacity: 55.11 lbs
    material: carbon fiber 6X
    maximum height: 52.36 in
    minimum height: 6.30 in
    series: 5
    weight: 5.93 lbs


    My first tripod was a 3001BPRO which is shorter and lighter than the one I now use. I struggled with that for some time and then changed to my current tripod. That definitely helped but I still have those moments when I would like to scream because of the results. I now use a manfrotto3021BPRO and will come home after a shoot and be completely disappointed some times. Itís almost as if the camera didnít focus correctly some times. I struggled with that and finally decided it has to be the tripod.


    The chinese tripod sounds like a good possibility but this is probably the last one I want to buy so I find myself uncertain as to the correct direction to go.

    I might take a look at the Chinese tripod. Do you think it would compete with the Gitzo. My goal is to have an extremely sturdy tripod that will work for night photography and time exposures. I really like HDR photography and want to systematically eliminate anything that will keep me from getting as sharp a photo as possible.

    DECISIONS!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks for your input on this question
    Theron

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Hi Theron

    The Benro would certainly qualify as a candidate. It also has one of those rotatable columns that can be turned horizontally, like the Manfrotto.

    I have an old Manfrotto 055 (built of scaffold poles) with a heavy 114RC head I used in my old MF days, still in use at home. If I were to replace this I would certainly look again at the Benro. I chose the Triopo for its light weight for long treks and relative sturdiness and was not disappointed.

    Try:http://stores.ebay.co.uk/digitalooks...QQftidZ2QQtZkm

    The Triopo range might be too light for you - go on eBay and search by name, they are there with full specs.

    Good luck

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipstick View Post
    The Benro would certainly qualify as a candidate. It also has one of those rotatable columns that can be turned horizontally, like the Manfrotto.
    Just a wee "heads up" with regards to centre column tripods ...

    Really handy - really convenient - but when the going gets tough (eg stability needed on a windy day), they can introduce a fair amount of movement.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Just a wee "heads up" with regards to centre column tripods ...

    Really handy - really convenient - but when the going gets tough (eg stability needed on a windy day), they can introduce a fair amount of movement.
    Colin I believe that has been part of my problem. When I first started with tripods I would raise the center up to get a comfortable height. After a while I realized what I was doing to the end product. I missed some great wildlife shots because of that. I mean I got the picture but it was blurry.

    Then enters the ten pound rock hanging from the bottom of the tripod. Some improvement but still not good. So I'm thinking I'll eliminate that part of the tripod all together.

    I don't use that with my larger bogen but I believe it is part of the problem instead of the solution. I think I am narrowing down the options. I went through the junk drawer and started to pull out all the stuff I don't use anymore like a Kenwood 520ST ham radio and 7 CB radios. When I became a ham I gave up on CB radios. Then I think I will sell two of my manfrotos. A mono pod and my first tripod. That should put me closer to my $ needs for the purchase. Also a mint condition D200 with the 18 to 200mm lens that I used as a backup on a trip to Kauai.

    I guess if you don't use it why store it? I'll have to get photos taken and put them on ebay.

  11. #11

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    To Theron,

    I don't have an advice for you because i am also being annoyed with camerashake on tripod.
    So, i want to use this topic to add a question wich is on my mind.

    I 've got a Manfrotto 055xprob and 488 rc2 ballhead.
    When i connect a telephoto lens in slight wind i see e.g. vessels shake like crazy in the viewfinder and i switch on image-stabilisation.
    I don't know what exactly cause this shake and wonder if it's (for a part) caused by the rubber feet at the end of the legs.
    When you take a close look inside the rubber feet you see the alloy pipe goes in until 8 mm from the end.
    So the tripod is on 8 mm rubber cushions.

    What do you guys think ?
    Do spike-feets make an improvement or make it even worse?
    Why does Manfrotto ship tripods standard with rubber feet?
    To protect the floor for indoor use or am i wrong and instead rubber feets solve shake?

    Best Tripod and head for stability

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    I might be the wrong guy to talk to. But my personal belief is that the feet aren't as much a problem if they are at all. I believe it is the rigidity of the rest of the tripod and where the camera sits. How is it fastened to the tripod. I believe the more you can eliminate as far as variables the better off you are. I have agonized over this for some time. I have ruined to many good shots myself.

    I know I have decided to eliminate the center piece and fasten straight to the top of the tripod. There are others here more qualified to discuss this with you than me. But good luck with your quest. Like you I hope I can solve this problem and move on.

    The only problem I have had with manfrottos rubber feet is that they come off. I was in Kauai taking photos below Waimea Falls and when I picked up the tripod I didn't realize one of the feet was caught in the brush. So when I picked it up it stayed there. The next day out on the beach I got sand up in the leg. That was not a good thing. I went to Checker Auto Parts and purchased a rubber end cap for automotive use and it fit just fine.

    Best of Luck
    Theron
    Last edited by McQ; 12th July 2009 at 10:52 PM.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    OK - enough of the featherweight girls sitting on the imitation tripods - lets bring out the "heavy weights"! (200 lbs "+" ...

    Best Tripod and head for stability

    Gitzo - THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE

    Best Tripod and head for stability

    How low can you go ...

    Best Tripod and head for stability

    And finally, a closeup of the Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head with optional panning base on the Gitzo 1548 ...

    Best Tripod and head for stability
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th February 2009 at 10:58 AM.

  14. #14

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    That tripod is amazin Colin

    However I am always a bit surprised about people having alignment problems using a tripod. Mine is a cheap 55 EUR Velbon tripod, but once the camera is set, mirror lockup and remote shutter used, ALL my RAWs become perfectly aligned at pixel precision.

    I wonder if my camera (Canon 350D) has a specially soft shutter, or if those having problems are talking about shooting in a windy environment.

    BR
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th February 2009 at 07:31 PM.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Man I didn't think they made tripods to take that weight, I presume it wasn't a "just about manage it" situation gauged by your pose and your confidence to actually do that, since potentially breaking a tripod to prove a point (and thereby not proving the point by breaking it) is foolish and more importantly broken coccyx hurt.

    I use a cheap velbon 540 (sh for £10.46 I think it was with £2 p&p) but it does shake in light/medium winds especially with the column extended on long exposure (I always use 2 sec timer and don't touch cam/tripod). I have no real intention of buying a new tripod yet (for a long while at least) but in future I might invest in decent heavier one. The thing I have wondered is about the alignment thing as mentioned and as much as ball head might give increased flexibility I wonder if it's harder to align shots especially at high zoom / distance where small miniscule change could affect the outcome.

    Since my tripod only pans x/y (althought the quick release plate rotates 90 degrees) if I'm on level ground locked so only pans in x dimension then alignment is always fine. More through curiosity than need since not planning a purchase, if you align the head with level/etched graduations or whatever can you lock movement in all but one plane? I notice you have a panning head too colin but forgetting about that just with regard to the ball head is it possible to move in just 1 plane, and is there movement other planes? I personally like the 3 separate single plane adjustment system (but never tried anythign else) as although takes longer to compose I guess, it seems less prone to potential alignment issues (a complete guess hence I ask). Obviously heavier is always more stable in many cases, and to get centre of gravity down I've been thinking of weighting the inside of the lower leg extensions on mine since they are hollow aluminium (with free lead courtesy of the neighbours roof, only kidding I wouldn't do that).

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Quote Originally Posted by _GUI_ View Post
    That tripod is amazin Colin
    I wonder if my camera (Canon 350D) has a specially soft shutter, or if those having problems are talking about shooting in a windy environment.
    BR
    Yeah - wind is the real killer. With a short lens it's usually manageable (although sometimes I'm pulling down on the camera as well) (or hang a lens bag off it), but with a stiff breese and long lens it's very difficult, although IS and a higher shutterspeed helps.

    MLU (Mirror Lockup) is standard practice with any tripod shooting for me (it works in well with Liveview, so no big deal) (which is essential when shooting with an external timer > 30 sec as the timer can only simulate 1 actuation each cycle, and MLU times out after 30 seconds --- Are you listening Canon!!!)

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Colin,

    You made me laugh tell my sides hurt. Thanks for the fun. That has got to be a keeper!!!!

    Well I took your recommendation and laid down the green. I just came home with a new Gitzo GT5540LS. I can see I need to mail it to your testing plant.. What do you charge?

    It is rated at 55 lbs. If this will do what yours just did I am astounded. I surely hope it will. I like the looks of that ball head. Do you know what the weight rating is?

    Thanks to all of you who joined this thread and helped with ideas.

    Again thanks Colin for all the fun. I'm still laughing. You need to contact Gitzo and sell them the photos.

    Theron
    Last edited by Theron; 5th February 2009 at 07:47 PM.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Theron you laid down the green, I am green. Those things go for around A$1600.00, and I lust after one just as much as I lust for a Nikon 200-400. Good one mate.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    Man I didn't think they made tripods to take that weight, I presume it wasn't a "just about manage it" situation gauged by your pose and your confidence to actually do that, since potentially breaking a tripod to prove a point (and thereby not proving the point by breaking it) is foolish and more importantly broken coccyx hurt.
    Nah - tripod was fine. I had to tighten the releases pretty firmly for when the legs were extended, but apart from that no problems. Keep in mind that the legs can be splayed to several intermediate positions, and they're probably what they determine the "maximum weight" at. Closest thing to breaking were my fingers!

    I use a cheap velbon 540 (sh for £10.46 I think it was with £2 p&p) but it does shake in light/medium winds especially with the column extended on long exposure
    I have a couple of Velbons too - they're great for holding my flashes & umbrellas

    The thing I have wondered is about the alignment thing as mentioned and as much as ball head might give increased flexibility I wonder if it's harder to align shots especially at high zoom / distance where small miniscule change could affect the outcome.

    Since my tripod only pans x/y (althought the quick release plate rotates 90 degrees) if I'm on level ground locked so only pans in x dimension then alignment is always fine. More through curiosity than need since not planning a purchase, if you align the head with level/etched graduations or whatever can you lock movement in all but one plane? I notice you have a panning head too colin but forgetting about that just with regard to the ball head is it possible to move in just 1 plane, and is there movement other planes?
    Ballheads by themselves are a PITA for work requiring panning because the centre of gravity is above the ball. Pitching is easy enough to control, but roll can be a problem when you're trying to make fine adjustments (and then you have to level it all over again). I normally use a hot shoe level and spend a few minutes getting it right in 2 axis by swinging it through the full range of arc required for the shot, double-checking through the viewfinder - it makes the actual capture much easier (getting the right amount of overlap is easy - I just use one of the AF points as a reference). The head pans in 2 places - I use the one at the base of the head as the panning head has a wee bit of "slop" in it which annoys me.

    I suspect that a better solution would be to use something like a Wimberley head (www.tripodhead.com) on a panning base for longer lenses.

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    Re: Best Tripod and head for stability

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill44 View Post
    Theron you laid down the green, I am green. Those things go for around A$1600.00, and I lust after one just as much as I lust for a Nikon 200-400. Good one mate.
    It didn't come with out a sacrifice. I looked at what I wasn't using and decided what I wanted the most. I did shop around and come up with one for a total cost including local taxes for $800.48. So there are things that have to go. One is a backup camera I have had on the shelf but didn't use. The D200 with an 18 to 200mm lens was one such item. It's going on ebay this week.

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