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Gear Talk => Software & Accessories => Topic started by: igbass on December 01, 2013, 10:26:38 AM

Title: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: igbass on December 01, 2013, 10:26:38 AM
So I've been shooting with a Canon 5D and a few basic lenses for a long time now, sort of recreationally, selling photos when I can, but never doing the whole professional thing. Never carried a flash, or a tripod, or anything else. Just upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark III (amazon has a good deal today, for $2699), and thought, with the money I saved, I should get a tripod.

Problem is I don't know where to start. I've heard Carbon Fibre is better than aluminum, at least as far as weight is concerned (big issue for me), so I think I'd like to go that route. But I see tripods from as little as $100 to as much as $500, or more, then the ball head, which is sometimes included and sometimes isn't, which can add hundreds more. In other words, I have no idea what to buy.

What I want to do is more low-light photography and, now that I have video capabilities, high-def video as well. Things like time lapse, etc. Do I "need" the best tripod? Or will a cheaper one do?
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on December 01, 2013, 11:36:59 AM
For time lapse and other specialized types of photography like that you'll likely need something solid. If you don't mind the weight you can get a pretty decent aluminium one for around $200, maybe less. I use a Manfrotto 055XPROB which gets the job done. Doesn't have a hook for the centre column though but it's heavy enough that you might not need to weigh it down. If you can afford a Carbon Fibre one go for a Gitzo tripod. They make tripods from all kinds of space age materials I've never heard of but are super light.

Whatever you get the ball head will be the most crucial element. You'll want to also make sure you have good clamps and plates. Thats what attaches the camera to the ballhead. Depends also on how much flexibility you want. You might want L plates to easily switch orientation.

For video you might want something else completely. I know nothing of video sorry. I think a 3 way panning type head might be better. (They suck for anything other than smooth panning though).

There is no magic "one tripod" solution really. You'll just have to figure out what you want the tripod to do for you and buy that particular attachment.

Don't buy a cheap one. You are trusting the tripod to hold very high value equipment, get something reliable.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eldar on December 01, 2013, 12:05:02 PM
If you are going to use the tripod and are concerned with weight, there are no alternatives to carbon. I have spent lots of money on tripods and ball heads over the years, because I thought the Gitzos and Really Right Stuff were to expensive. But today my only regret is that I didm´t go for the real thing right away.

Save up for either Gitzo or RRS (no center column), with a leveling base and a good ball head. You´ll never regret it. It will cost you, but it is well worth it. Make sure you get an arcs swiss compatible head. RRS BH-40 and BH-55 are both great.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 01, 2013, 12:33:22 PM
A cheap tripod will frustrate you and be money wasted.  Consider legs and head separately.

For legs, top quality is Gitzo and Really Right Stuff. They're tops in cost, too.  Induro and Benro are Gitzo knock-offs, I've heard good things but no experience.   Manfrotto is a good compromise between quality and value, IMO. I was happy with my Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 for gear up to a gripped body with white zoom (70-200/2.8, 28-300, 100-400), it's light and easy to carry, strong enough for stability. The 055 series is beefier. 

For heads, get something Arca Swiss compatible. That's as close to a universal quick release system out there.  Gitzo heads aren't very good, and they and Manfrotto use proprietary plates (Manfrotto plates aren't even compatible across their lines).  Really Right Stuff, Kirk, Markins, Arca Swiss and Acratech are brands to look at for ballheads. For video heads, fluid heads are the way to go. I don't shoot video, but I've heard good things about Satchler.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: scottkinfw on December 01, 2013, 01:03:53 PM
I agree with all of the above.  Don't waste time with cheap stuff.  A tripod needs to hold up over time, be transportable, and most important, keep the camera stable during the shoot.

There are different ways to extend the legs (latches, rings and the like).  Next you have 3 or 4 segments, with more segments usually less stable, but smaller when collapsed.  You need to consider how tall you are and how tall you need the tripod to be.  Really Right Stuff web site has a nice chart on its front page you can look at for this.  No center column greatly enhances stability, and decreases the weight of this element.

Some tripods have a hook to hang additional weight to stabilize the unit- helpful during windy conditions.  Some either come with, or have optional "accessories" that you may later purchase.  These may not be important now, but keep an eye toward the future- like the leveling plate as mentioned by Neuro-  it may not make sense to you now, but as you expand, the ability to use these items may become essential.

I totally agree that your head should be a separate purchase.  This is a personal decision as the tripod legs.  A lot of things go into this decision.  One very important thing is the plate- Arca Swiss is my vote.  Another thing is the layout of the tightening knobs.  Be sure that they work for you, and be sure the head will carry the camera/lens load.  Play around with it for a while to be sure you like it.  I have a collection that look pretty but I hate.

I have a Manfrotto 190CXPro3 and it is a great tripod.  I am going to get a RRS TVC-33 when I get my big white lens

So, be sure that the combo is easy to carry, easy to set up, and stable.

Cheers

Scott
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on December 01, 2013, 01:15:01 PM
It really depends on your usage, there is no single tripod that does it all, and those that try fall short on everything.
For video, you will want a tripod and head designed for video
 
For backpacking, you want light, and will sacrifice strength for weight
 
For lenses up to about 3-4 lbs, a middle of the road unit with ball head will work
For big whites, a heavy duty set of legs and a gimbal head work best
For Macro's, there are designs that allow a horizontal top bar, and legs that let you lower it to ground level.  There are special heads that allow the camera and lens to move toward or away from the subject on a rack and pinion, or even bellows.
For Panoramas, there are heads that can adjust to allow the camera to rotate around the nodal point of the lens.
 
Beginning to get the picture?
 
True pro video tripods and heads can cost well over $10K, so you are going to compromise severely for video.
 
So, do like the rest of us, get the best you can afford, and learn to work around any defencies.
 
Don't overlook Monopods, for light weight needs, they work well and cost less.  A cheap head works fine for one.
 
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: surapon on December 01, 2013, 01:44:39 PM
If you are going to use the tripod and are concerned with weight, there are no alternatives to carbon. I have spent lots of money on tripods and ball heads over the years, because I thought the Gitzos and Really Right Stuff were to expensive. But today my only regret is that I didm´t go for the real thing right away.

Save up for either Gitzo or RRS (no center column), with a leveling base and a good ball head. You´ll never regret it. It will cost you, but it is well worth it. Make sure you get an arcs swiss compatible head. RRS BH-40 and BH-55 are both great.


Yes Sir,  + 100 , to dear Mr. Eldar and Dear Mr. neuroanatomist.
Yes, Please get Best of the Best and you will be very happy, But Buy the Cheap one, and The Cheapo stick with you in the Closet, You will never use again.
Surapon
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: igbass on December 01, 2013, 01:50:00 PM
Much appreciated, all! Tripods are apparently way more complicated than I thought :) Thankfully all the lenses I use now are light weight (50mm f1.4, 24-105mm f4, sigma 12-24mm), and my next purchases (I think) will be the 70-200mm and the 16-35mm, so I won't be shooting with heavy gear any time soon.

Quick question: as far as plates are concerned, is it just Gitzo and Manfrotto that are proprietary? And does that mean if I get an Arca swiss plate I couldn't use it on a Gitzo or Manfrotto head? But I could get an Arca swiss plate and Arca swiss head and attach that do a Gitzo or Manfrotto set of legs?

Sorry for all the basic questions. Your help is appreciated.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: dswtan on December 01, 2013, 02:08:39 PM
A classic"right of passage" question! :-) This famous link doesn't seem to have been posted yet, and while getting dated, remains great for many of the general principles also mentioned in this thread: http://www.bythom.com/support.htm (http://www.bythom.com/support.htm)

Quick question: as far as plates are concerned, is it just Gitzo and Manfrotto that are proprietary? And does that mean if I get an Arca swiss plate I couldn't use it on a Gitzo or Manfrotto head? But I could get an Arca swiss plate and Arca swiss head and attach that do a Gitzo or Manfrotto set of legs?
Yes you can attach Arca-compatible heads to Gitzo/Manfrotto/RRS or whatever legs -- the connection between head and legs will either be a 1/4" or 3/8" thread, which are the industry standards -- sometimes both are options depending on the combination but do double-check for the combination you choose.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: brad-man on December 01, 2013, 02:13:20 PM
Much appreciated, all! Tripods are apparently way more complicated than I thought :) Thankfully all the lenses I use now are light weight (50mm f1.4, 24-105mm f4, sigma 12-24mm), and my next purchases (I think) will be the 70-200mm and the 16-35mm, so I won't be shooting with heavy gear any time soon.

Quick question: as far as plates are concerned, is it just Gitzo and Manfrotto that are proprietary? And does that mean if I get an Arca swiss plate I couldn't use it on a Gitzo or Manfrotto head? But I could get an Arca swiss plate and Arca swiss head and attach that do a Gitzo or Manfrotto set of legs?

Sorry for all the basic questions. Your help is appreciated.

As Neuro said, buy the legs and head separately. Buy a ball head that is already Arca-Swiss compatible. Gitzo and Manfrotto make excellent legs, but their heads are average and not worth the trouble of modifying. Any head will mount on any set of legs, so no compatibility issues there. I would suggest having a look at Sirui products. Both their heads and legs are well made and reasonably priced (particularly on ebay). You will want a camera plate that is custom made for your model of camera, but lens plates are universal and can be had at very reasonable prices (again, particularly on ebay).
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: dgatwood on December 01, 2013, 02:45:07 PM
For video you might want something else completely. I know nothing of video sorry. I think a 3 way panning type head might be better. (They suck for anything other than smooth panning though).

For video, you want pretty much the opposite of what you want for stills.

For stills, you want a tripod to be lightweight, and you want to be able to quickly pan and tilt to an exact position and then lock it there.  You also probably want to be able to rotate it 90 degrees for portrait shooting.

For video, you want a tripod that is heavy enough and thick enough that it doesn't flex when you pan or tilt it, and you want a fair amount of drag while panning and tilting so the motion is smooth rather than jerky.  And if you tilt the thing 90 degrees for portrait shooting, we reserve the right to bludgeon you repeatedly with your Manfrotto.  :D

As for the third direction (pedestal, i.e. raising the thing up higher), it can be handy at times, particularly if you are working in close quarters, but it isn't strictly necessary so long as the tripod allows you to change the amount of leg spread.  Sadly, most don't.   ???
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: winglet on December 01, 2013, 03:00:24 PM
Next to lenses, I think spending as high as your budget will allow on a good tripod is probably the best money you will put out. The cheap tripods just wear out so fast. Many years ago I got by with department store tripods, and they're certainly better than nothing. But I've had a Gitzo GT1450 Traveler (think there's a newer model now?) for a number of years years now that has travelled many, many times around the globe and never let me down. Weighs about two pounds I think?

When I went to look for a beefier tripod to use mostly in studio to support a tethered laptop and ball head at the same time, I considered Gitzo again but actually went to a Manfrotto (057 CF) which I now much prefer over the Gitzo for the Manfrotto's lever-locks versus the Gitzo's twisting locks. It weighs about seven pounds but supports up to 40 pounds and raises to 80 inches, which is nice for shooting horse racing over a fence! It's all a matter of preference. (Incidentally, Manfrotto and Gitzo are owned by the same conglomerate.)

For a ball head I definitely would recommend something Arca-Swiss compatible, it'll make your life easier in the long run. I have a couple of Acratech GV2 ball heads that have been rock stable for me as well. I've got some RRS stuff too, pano-gimbal and L plate etc but their stuff is pretty pricey. Like, crazy-pricey. Beautifully made though.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: surapon on December 01, 2013, 03:06:04 PM
Much appreciated, all! Tripods are apparently way more complicated than I thought :) Thankfully all the lenses I use now are light weight (50mm f1.4, 24-105mm f4, sigma 12-24mm), and my next purchases (I think) will be the 70-200mm and the 16-35mm, so I won't be shooting with heavy gear any time soon.

Quick question: as far as plates are concerned, is it just Gitzo and Manfrotto that are proprietary? And does that mean if I get an Arca swiss plate I couldn't use it on a Gitzo or Manfrotto head? But I could get an Arca swiss plate and Arca swiss head and attach that do a Gitzo or Manfrotto set of legs?

Sorry for all the basic questions. Your help is appreciated.


Dear Mr. igbass
If you do not want to spend $ 1000 US Dollars or more for the super heavy duty for your Light weight Lens,  I highly Recommend  The GREAT AND CHEAP, Made in China Super Tripods/ Monopod = $ 143 US Dollars( CowboyStudio BK-586 Trans-Functional Travel Angle Carbon Fiber Tripod with Monopod for DSLR Camera Nikon Canon ) , which can use Arca Swiss Plate too, Yes, I have for 2 years, Just For Airplane Traveling, And This Super Tripod can carry up to 20 Pounds Weight of my Canon EF 600 MM Lens too ( 12 Pounds).

Yes, I am the Cheapo, who try to  buy and use the Best and the Cheapest One---Yes, I already have 10 Tripods From The Smallest one to The Biggest One. No, If Not good products, I never recommend to my Friends in CR.
Enjoy
Surapon

http://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-BK-586-Trans-Functional-Monopod-Olympus/dp/B0082XM8F2/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_6 (http://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-BK-586-Trans-Functional-Monopod-Olympus/dp/B0082XM8F2/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_6)
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Joynt Inspirations on December 01, 2013, 03:09:55 PM
While it's a knock off, I have a friend who had this ordered and delivered to my house. It's a fantastic tripod though.

http://www.linkdelight.com/P0006568-FCS-285-Carbon-Fiber-Portable-Tripod-Monopod.html (http://www.linkdelight.com/P0006568-FCS-285-Carbon-Fiber-Portable-Tripod-Monopod.html)
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: wayno on December 01, 2013, 03:48:22 PM
For time lapse and other specialized types of photography like that you'll likely need something solid. If you don't mind the weight you can get a pretty decent aluminium one for around $200, maybe less. I use a Manfrotto 055XPROB which gets the job done. Doesn't have a hook for the centre column though but it's heavy enough that you might not need to weigh it down. If you can afford a Carbon Fibre one go for a Gitzo tripod. They make tripods from all kinds of space age materials I've never heard of but are super light.

Whatever you get the ball head will be the most crucial element. You'll want to also make sure you have good clamps and plates. Thats what attaches the camera to the ballhead. Depends also on how much flexibility you want. You might want L plates to easily switch orientation.

For video you might want something else completely. I know nothing of video sorry. I think a 3 way panning type head might be better. (They suck for anything other than smooth panning though).

There is no magic "one tripod" solution really. You'll just have to figure out what you want the tripod to do for you and buy that particular attachment.

Don't buy a cheap one. You are trusting the tripod to hold very high value equipment, get something reliable.

+1 for the 055. But only because I'm tall. If not, get the 190xprob
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eli on December 01, 2013, 04:16:34 PM
http://www.3leggedthing.com/tripods/travel-tripods/brianevo2black.html (http://www.3leggedthing.com/tripods/travel-tripods/brianevo2black.html)

3LTs are pretty good, I like them much more than the Manfrottos that I've had.
You can also get them as a kit, with the ballhead (which is of great quality), and a release plate that's compatible with black rapids, they also come with a nice carry bag, not just a cheapy one, and some tools.
They're also detachable monopods for you to use for video.

I've had one for over a year now, used with my 5d mkiii and haven't had any problems with it, I like it a lot actually! Especially for the price, and the 3LTs are superb quality and reliable, and they look awesome, :P
If it's your first tripod I suggest looking at getting one of them, you won't have to look at all the million types of ballheads, release plates, what's compatible with what, or spend a heap on a really expensive one.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: RC on December 01, 2013, 06:12:55 PM
I learned the hard way by buying a mediocre tripod/head combo and became very frustrated with it.  Luckily I was able to sell it on Craig's List and recoup some of my loss.  Definitely buy the very best tripod / head you can afford--even if it takes a while to save up.

After seeking advice here on CR, I went with the following:

- Gitzo GT-2531, Series 2 Tripod
- Really Right Stuff BH-40 w/LR (Lever release) plate
- Arca Swiss plates for my bodies and 70-200 II ring

My tripod-head combo is a mid-size making it sturdy enough for a xD body with a 70-200 II, and light enough for backpacking and travel.

Without a doubt, make sure your head is Arca Swiss compatible.  I leave AS plates on my bodies permanently and use the RRS AS mini clamp (link below) on my Black Rapid strap to quickly connect/disconnect my bodies.

http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=B2-FAB-F&type=0&eq=&desc=B2-FAB-F-38mm-clamp-with-flat-back&key=it (http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=B2-FAB-F&type=0&eq=&desc=B2-FAB-F-38mm-clamp-with-flat-back&key=it)




Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: MrFotoFool on December 01, 2013, 07:53:03 PM
I agree 100 percent with Winglet about lever locks over twist locks.  If you do not know what this means, most Gitzos (and a few other brand models) use twist locks to release the leg sections for opening or closing.  This means you twist a circular collar several times to open and again to lock.  This is a major pain IMO and I do not understand how anyone puts up with them.  A lot of pros and advanced photographers use Gitzo, so maybe I am just wierd about it, but it twist locks would drive me nuts.  Definitely try before you buy.

Most Manfrotto (and a lot of other brand models) use a flip lock.  Flip a lever once to open and again to close.  So much faster and easier.

I switched from a Manfrotto aluminum to the same class of Manfrotto carbon fiber a couple years ago and it was one of the best photo purchases ever.  Go carbon fiber if you can afford it.  I use a Manfrotto ball head also - with their proprietary plates - and it is no issue for me.  Unless you plan on sharing tripods with a group of people, why do you need a "universal" mounting plate???  (However, Arca Swiss is the industry standard so I am sure they are quite good and perhaps better than my Manfrotto head).
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on December 01, 2013, 08:05:00 PM
I agree 100 percent with Winglet about lever locks over twist locks.  If you do not know what this means, most Gitzos (and a few other brand models) use twist locks to release the leg sections for opening or closing.  This means you twist a circular collar several times to open and again to lock.  This is a major pain IMO and I do not understand how anyone puts up with them.  A lot of pros and advanced photographers use Gitzo, so maybe I am just wierd about it, but it twist locks would drive me nuts.  Definitely try before you buy.

Most Manfrotto (and a lot of other brand models) use a flip lock.  Flip a lever once to open and again to close.  So much faster and easier.

I switched from a Manfrotto aluminum to the same class of Manfrotto carbon fiber a couple years ago and it was one of the best photo purchases ever.  Go carbon fiber if you can afford it.  I use a Manfrotto ball head also - with their proprietary plates - and it is no issue for me.  Unless you plan on sharing tripods with a group of people, why do you need a "universal" mounting plate???  (However, Arca Swiss is the industry standard so I am sure they are quite good and perhaps better than my Manfrotto head).

I much prefer the Redged Twist lock to the Manfroto lever locks.  They only require about 1/3-1/2 turn, you can twist them all with one hand at the same time to loosen, and tighten them finger tight and they will hold the weight.  they are not a big name brand, but you get a lot for the price.
 
Redged RMC 532 Monopod Tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaiN24e1mQ8#ws)
 
I've dumped my Manfroto lever lock stuff long ago.
 
 
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: scottkinfw on December 01, 2013, 08:59:39 PM
The plate goes with the head.

Scott

Much appreciated, all! Tripods are apparently way more complicated than I thought :) Thankfully all the lenses I use now are light weight (50mm f1.4, 24-105mm f4, sigma 12-24mm), and my next purchases (I think) will be the 70-200mm and the 16-35mm, so I won't be shooting with heavy gear any time soon.

Quick question: as far as plates are concerned, is it just Gitzo and Manfrotto that are proprietary? And does that mean if I get an Arca swiss plate I couldn't use it on a Gitzo or Manfrotto head? But I could get an Arca swiss plate and Arca swiss head and attach that do a Gitzo or Manfrotto set of legs?

Sorry for all the basic questions. Your help is appreciated.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: igbass on December 01, 2013, 09:36:44 PM
Assuming I have the money for either a nice ball head OR a nice set of carbon fiber tripod legs, but not both, am I correct in wanting to pay more for the ball head and settling for a cheaper pair of aluminum legs? I mean I know it'll be heavier and I'll have to lug it around, but once the legs are where they are, it's really the ball head that does the bulk of the work. Right?

The real problem is I have to buy tomorrow and I don't have time to go into town, test different setups, and sort of have to go on faith. (I'll be ordering on the internet, shipping to a different state, where I'm headed for 3 weeks of tromping through the snow for a perfect photo.)

This will teach me to put everything off until the last minute.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 01, 2013, 10:22:39 PM
I agree 100 percent with Winglet about lever locks over twist locks.  If you do not know what this means, most Gitzos (and a few other brand models) use twist locks to release the leg sections for opening or closing.  This means you twist a circular collar several times to open and again to lock.  This is a major pain IMO and I do not understand how anyone puts up with them.  A lot of pros and advanced photographers use Gitzo, so maybe I am just wierd about it, but it twist locks would drive me nuts.  Definitely try before you buy.

Most Manfrotto (and a lot of other brand models) use a flip lock.  Flip a lever once to open and again to close.  So much faster and easier.

Couldn't disagree more, except agree with try before buy.  Had Manfrotto flip locks, have RRS twist locks. The twist locks are much faster.  "Twist several times," have you used good (Gitzo, RRS) twist locks?  It takes 1/4 to 1/3 turn to loosen/tighten.  Twist the whole stack when opening a leg, and I don't even have to let go of the leg when closing it.  The flip locks are hard on your fingers, harder when it's cold, and harder to operate with gloves.

There's another problem with Manfrotto legs and most others with lever locks - maintenance.  If you use your tripod at the beach, in a river, etc., the legs will get water/salt/sand/silt in them.  The twist locks on good tripods can be easily disassembled without tools, in the field if necessary.  Lever locks need tools (minimally nut drivers and/or hex keys, some Manfrotto locks have a center pin that must be driven out with a hammer and awl).

I use a Manfrotto ball head also - with their proprietary plates - and it is no issue for me.  Unless you plan on sharing tripods with a group of people, why do you need a "universal" mounting plate???  (However, Arca Swiss is the industry standard so I am sure they are quite good and perhaps better than my Manfrotto head).

I had a couple of Manfrotto ballheads. The 'standard' ones (498RC2, etc) have a bit of both 'settle' and 'drift'.  Settle is when the head droops a bit immediately after you lock it down.  The 488/498 can settle by up to ~5°, depending on load.  It makes precise positioning a challenge.  Drift is when the head droops over time, and the 488/498 do that a bit, as well.  I had the Manfrotto 468MG hydrostatic head for a while - that's a much better head.  It still settled, but much less - only 1-2° at most, and no drift.  By comparison, my small RRS head (BH-30) has <0.5° of settle with a moderate unbalanced load (70-200/2.8 with 2x or extended 28-300L, for example) and no drift, and my full size RRS BH-55 simply doesn't move after locking it down, even with a 1D X + 600 II.

As for plates, there are issues with both some plates themselves, and with compatibility.  I find with the common RC2 there is that there is some play in the clamp/plate junction.  It has a secondary locking pin, so there's no risk of it coming out, but 'locked down' isn't - the plate can be shifted in the clamp when it's locked.  That further complicates precise positioning, and is likely a source of vibration.  Manfrotto does have better plates/clamps - both the hexagonal RC0 and the large, rectangular RC4 clamp much more firmly. But both of those designs are larger than the bottom of even a large dSLR and thus they stick out, and putting them on a tripod collar is even worse. The Arca Swiss-type clamp locks onto the plates like a vice.  Also, none of the Manfrotto plates have dedicated anti-rotation features (other than friction, meaning you've got to really crank the plates tight, and sometimes they still twist under the camera).  Most AS-type body and lens plates have engineered anti-twist.

Why a 'universal' mounting plate?  For a lot more reasons than 'sharing with friends'...  Say you get into macro photography and want a macro rail - you can use the built-in Arca dovetail that almost all of them have directly with your AS-type clamp...or screw in another Manfrotto plate (and Manfrotto's rail is kludgy, plus you'd have to screw in a plate anyway).  Say you want to do proper panoramic shots (not just pan your ballhead, but actually rotate around the nodal point to avoid parallax) - Manfrotto's pano heads are decent...and they use the RC0 hexagonal plates.  If you're using RC2 or RC4, they don't fit.  Same story for other accessories (flash brackets, etc.), where the good ones directly mount to an AS clamp.

Probably the biggest reason to choose Arca Swiss type heads over Manfrotto is to use an L-bracket.  If you shoot in portrait orientation, having the load balanced over the head is much more stable than using the drop-notch.  Manfrotto's relatively recent attempt at designing an L-bracket was pretty much a failure, the functional ones are all AS-type.

Personally, I got fed up with the RC2 plates and lack of L-bracket first, swapped a Wimberley C-12 clamp onto my 468MGRC2, and replaced the 234RC on my monopod with a 234 + Wimberley C-12.  I subsequently went all RRS, and couldn't be happier.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: JPAZ on December 02, 2013, 12:12:07 AM

I much prefer the Redged Twist lock to the Manfroto lever locks.  They only require about 1/3-1/2 turn, you can twist them all with one hand at the same time to loosen, and tighten them finger tight and they will hold the weight.  they are not a big name brand, but you get a lot for the price.
 
I've dumped my Manfroto lever lock stuff long ago.

+1 on Redged legs.  I really like my CF legs and their twist locks.  I put an Induro head on that with Arca type clamp and I am good to go.  I've supported my 5diii with the 300 f/2.8 and a 2xiii without any issue.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on December 02, 2013, 12:48:27 AM
Totally agree with Neuro on the drift and settle issue with the 498RC2 ballhead. This caused me manor headaches when lining up the Reikan Focal target. You have to take the settle into account then you're always worried about how much it's moved and if you need to realign.  :(

I expected better from Manfrotto ballheads. Guess I shoulda listened to more CR advice! Will be replacing the ballhead soon.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: kkelis on December 02, 2013, 06:12:53 AM
Hello everyone
I thought i should join the conversation here instead of starting a new thread. I am currently looking for a ball head to match my 190CXPRO3. I was looking at the manfrotto MH054-Q2 or the MH054-Q6, same head but the Q6 is Arca mount. Has anyone got experience with these 2 heads? They seem quite popular.

  I did read some negative reviews for the MH054-Q2, where the plate gets loose over time and now after reading some disappointing comments about drift on manfrotto heads, it got me thinking about it.

I plan to use the tripod for timelapse video so the camera has to stay still for hours, definitely i would want any drift!

My heaviest set up would be 5Dii+70-200 is II + 2x TC

Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 02, 2013, 07:03:34 AM
I was looking at the manfrotto MH054-Q2 or the MH054-Q6, same head but the Q6 is Arca mount. Has anyone got experience with these 2 heads? They seem quite popular.

Neither, IMO.  I'd pass on the -Q2 (aka RC2) version for the reasons I listed above.  I'd absolutely pass on the Q6, because Manfrotto lies by calling it "Arca-Swiss compatible."  Well, it's not a total lie - the Q6 plate can be used in other manufacturers' clamps.  But Manfrotto managed to make their 'Arca-compatible' clamp proprietary - it cannot be used with other manufacturers' plates (see this link (http://www.scvphotoideas.com/2013/08/manfrotto-q6-top-lock-qr-adaptor.html?m=1) for details and pics). That means no RRS/Kirk L-brackets, no Wimberley/RRS/Kirk lens plates, no connecting your Blackrapid strap with a small Kirk/RRS clamp, etc., and you're stuck buying Manfrotto's Q6 plates for everything.

Budget permitting, I'd consider an RRS BH-40 LR.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: igbass on December 02, 2013, 09:35:11 AM
Last question for y'all. This is the ball head I'm thinking of getting, and attaching it to some yet chosen set of carbon fiber legs: http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=BH-40-LR-II&type=3&eq=&desc=BH-40-LR-II%3a-Mid-sized-ballhead-w%2f-AS-II&key=it. (http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=BH-40-LR-II&type=3&eq=&desc=BH-40-LR-II%3a-Mid-sized-ballhead-w%2f-AS-II&key=it.) That's the BH-40 LR II: Mid-sized ballhead w/ AS II.

Now the thing I still don't quite understand, gear wise, is the whole panorama/nodal slide thing. It appears like nodal slides are separate attachments, but the BH-40 PCLR, which is about $150 more than the BH-40 LR specifically notes it's for panorama. Does that mean that only the BH-40 PCLR accepts the nodal slide, or that it's got something built into the head that means I don't need a nodal slide?
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eldar on December 02, 2013, 10:08:02 AM
Last question for y'all. This is the ball head I'm thinking of getting, and attaching it to some yet chosen set of carbon fiber legs: http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=BH-40-LR-II&type=3&eq=&desc=BH-40-LR-II%3a-Mid-sized-ballhead-w%2f-AS-II&key=it. (http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=BH-40-LR-II&type=3&eq=&desc=BH-40-LR-II%3a-Mid-sized-ballhead-w%2f-AS-II&key=it.) That's the BH-40 LR II: Mid-sized ballhead w/ AS II.

Now the thing I still don't quite understand, gear wise, is the whole panorama/nodal slide thing. It appears like nodal slides are separate attachments, but the BH-40 PCLR, which is about $150 more than the BH-40 LR specifically notes it's for panorama. Does that mean that only the BH-40 PCLR accepts the nodal slide, or that it's got something built into the head that means I don't need a nodal slide?
With the PCLR, you can have a fully leveled panorama, since it has a panorama function integrated in the clamp. This is easily adjusted with the ball head itself. I have that on my BH-55, which is very convenient.
The alternative is either to have a leveling base on your tripod, to pretty much do the same thing, or make sure that you have the tripod totally leveled, which is a bit tricky sometimes.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: MrFotoFool on December 02, 2013, 10:41:50 AM
Or just leave enough overlap on top and bottom that you can crop out the top and bottom parts where there one shot is slightly higher or lower than the next.  I do this with a regular ballhead (a much maligned on this thread Manfrotto ballhead) and it works fine.  Attached photo is five verticals stitched together.

Of course if you plan to do A LOT of panoramas then a dedicated head makes sense, but if you only do it occasionally as I do, then any head should work.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 02, 2013, 11:01:00 AM
Last question for y'all. This is the ball head I'm thinking of getting, and attaching it to some yet chosen set of carbon fiber legs: http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=BH-40-LR-II&type=3&eq=&desc=BH-40-LR-II%3a-Mid-sized-ballhead-w%2f-AS-II&key=it. (http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=BH-40-LR-II&type=3&eq=&desc=BH-40-LR-II%3a-Mid-sized-ballhead-w%2f-AS-II&key=it.) That's the BH-40 LR II: Mid-sized ballhead w/ AS II.

Now the thing I still don't quite understand, gear wise, is the whole panorama/nodal slide thing. It appears like nodal slides are separate attachments, but the BH-40 PCLR, which is about $150 more than the BH-40 LR specifically notes it's for panorama. Does that mean that only the BH-40 PCLR accepts the nodal slide, or that it's got something built into the head that means I don't need a nodal slide?

The two 'tricks' for a proper single-row pano are having the camera rotate on a level platform, and having the camera rotate around the lens' entrance pupil to avoid parallax.  Normally, you achieve those separately.

As Eldar stated, the PCLR has a rotating pano clamp on top of the ballhead, allowing you to shoot level pano shots.  I have a leveling base on my tripod, which accomplishes the same thing in a different way.  As MrFotoFool points out, you can also frame more loosely and crop a level final image from the tilted pano you'll get if the camera isn't level through the rotation.

But having a level platform around which the camera rotates doesn't address parallax - that's where the nodal slide comes in. Parallax is the phenomenon that results when looking at the same object from different viewing angles, such as when you hold your finger in front of your face and alternate viewing through each eye, the relative position of your finger appears to shift.  To avoid that error, you need to rotate around the lens' entrance pupil (often erroneously referred to as the nodal point) when you pan.  For that, you'd need a 'nodal slide', so you can slide the camera back in the clamp to find the right position - more on that from RRS on this linked page (http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=85) (I use the MPR-CL II). The nodal slides will work in any AS clamp, such as the AS II clamp.   Alternatively, with a collared lens the lens plate is usually long enough to function as a nodal slide.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: igbass on December 02, 2013, 11:06:30 AM
Excellent. Thanks for the info! Think I'm finally getting my head around it all. Cheers!
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: kkelis on December 02, 2013, 11:20:50 AM
I was looking at the manfrotto MH054-Q2 or the MH054-Q6, same head but the Q6 is Arca mount. Has anyone got experience with these 2 heads? They seem quite popular.

Neither, IMO.  I'd pass on the -Q2 (aka RC2) version for the reasons I listed above.  I'd absolutely pass on the Q6, because Manfrotto lies by calling it "Arca-Swiss compatible."  Well, it's not a total lie - the Q6 plate can be used in other manufacturers' clamps.  But Manfrotto managed to make their 'Arca-compatible' clamp proprietary - it cannot be used with other manufacturers' plates (see this link (http://www.scvphotoideas.com/2013/08/manfrotto-q6-top-lock-qr-adaptor.html?m=1) for details and pics). That means no RRS/Kirk L-brackets, no Wimberley/RRS/Kirk lens plates, no connecting your Blackrapid strap with a small Kirk/RRS clamp, etc., and you're stuck buying Manfrotto's Q6 plates for everything.

Budget permitting, I'd consider an RRS BH-40 LR.

Thanks neuro but this is out of my budget... :(
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: lilmsmaggie on December 02, 2013, 12:52:35 PM
I've had a Manfrotto 055XPROB with 488RC4 head and added a 410 jr. primarily for a 4x5 setup but with a DSLR in mind for the past 3-4 years.  This setup served me well although; I should add that my view camera setup even with lenses mounted was lighter than my DSLR gear.  My Chamonix 45n-1 was built from Teak and carbon-fiber.

I now have a RRS TQC-14/BH-40 combo for travel and general purpose.

I'll mention this only in the context of those who have already advised on getting the best tripod you can afford. 

key: Arca-swiss compatibility   ;D
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 02, 2013, 01:27:59 PM
I was looking at the manfrotto MH054-Q2 or the MH054-Q6, same head but the Q6 is Arca mount. Has anyone got experience with these 2 heads? They seem quite popular.

Neither, IMO.  I'd pass on the -Q2 (aka RC2) version for the reasons I listed above.  I'd absolutely pass on the Q6, because Manfrotto lies by calling it "Arca-Swiss compatible."  Well, it's not a total lie - the Q6 plate can be used in other manufacturers' clamps.  But Manfrotto managed to make their 'Arca-compatible' clamp proprietary - it cannot be used with other manufacturers' plates (see this link (http://www.scvphotoideas.com/2013/08/manfrotto-q6-top-lock-qr-adaptor.html?m=1) for details and pics). That means no RRS/Kirk L-brackets, no Wimberley/RRS/Kirk lens plates, no connecting your Blackrapid strap with a small Kirk/RRS clamp, etc., and you're stuck buying Manfrotto's Q6 plates for everything.

Budget permitting, I'd consider an RRS BH-40 LR.

Thanks neuro but this is out of my budget... :(

Since you seem attracted to the Manfrotto MH054, I suspect it can be converted for use with an AS clamp like the Wimberley C-12.  If you get the MH054 (note: platform only, no -Q#), the platform looks just like the basic 498, and Wimberley provides conversion instructions (http://www.tripodhead.com/c12-manfrotto498.cfm).  Might want to give Wimberley a call, they may have confirmed MH054 compatibility (their list is not recent).  The plain MH054 is $150-175 (Amazon/eBay), and the Wimberley clamp is $80, bringing you in at under the MH-054-Q6 cost.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: sagittariansrock on December 03, 2013, 06:24:05 PM
I did a bit of research re Arca-Swiss conversion for the Manfrotto issues stated above (ballhead instability, plate allows movement, flip-locks are easy to use but get dirty fast). Sharing some insight from personal experience:
I went for the Arca-Swiss Z and very happy with it. Excellent control, with the one potential issue with lens plates due to the double decker system- you cannot utilize the safety stops. I recommend getting the Z without the QR, and using a Wimberley C-12 or something similar. My QR isn't detachable, so I'll stick it out. I really like their lever system, by the way, but I can see how that might not work for everyone.
Manfrotto CF tripods are way heavier than their Gitzo counterparts. The 190 series is too short without center column unless you're less than 5'2" tall (or are okay to bend). And raising the center column is better avoided. The 055 is too heavy even in carbon fiber. The 190L would have been the perfect balance, but they don't offer it in carbon fiber. Pros of Manfrotto: the 90 degree turning of center column is great for macro, and the system of legs locking at different angles is faster and better designed that Gitzo's. Also cheaper. In all other counts Gitzo wins. Didn't consider RRS for the cost.
3LT tripods are not very sturdy. I tried both the Adrian and the Dave, and they both felt flimsy, the leg hinges were way too stiff (and apparently become way too loose afterwards), and the ballhead allowed movement when forced (not too hard).
Among Gitzo, I found the GT1531 or GT1541 to be the right one for me (heaviest lens 70-200 2.8). The GT2xxx series is more sturdy but you lose a few inches of height. The explorer series is less stable and wasn't recommended, and apparently because the legs don't have preset lock positions it takes longer to set it up. I am on the lookout for a used GT1531/41 and using my 190Pro (alluminium) at the moment.
Hope this helps someone :)
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on December 05, 2013, 01:50:57 AM
I have a question about AS plates. So, according to RRS they recommend using their own QR plates or Wimberley ones with their BH clamps. I noticed a couple of folk mention they were using universal AS plates. Did you have any issues? Is it best to stick to their advice and get the RRS custom plates? I'm just wondering because down the line I might want to upgrade my 5D2 and a universal plate makes more sense.

Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eldar on December 05, 2013, 02:24:14 AM
I have a question about AS plates. So, according to RRS they recommend using their own QR plates or Wimberley ones with their BH clamps. I noticed a couple of folk mention they were using universal AS plates. Did you have any issues? Is it best to stick to their advice and get the RRS custom plates? I'm just wondering because down the line I might want to upgrade my 5D2 and a universal plate makes more sense.

Thanks in advance.
One thing about the universal plates is that they are flat. And those with only one screw may twist (unless extremely tight) and the camera or lens may be out of position. The RRS plates are made to fit the body, so they are totally stable.
I had several universal plates, but I have replaced all of them with RRS plates. For camera bodies I strongly recommend their L-plates. I have not tried the alternatives to RRS, so it might be that they are just as good.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on December 05, 2013, 02:36:48 AM
I have a question about AS plates. So, according to RRS they recommend using their own QR plates or Wimberley ones with their BH clamps. I noticed a couple of folk mention they were using universal AS plates. Did you have any issues? Is it best to stick to their advice and get the RRS custom plates? I'm just wondering because down the line I might want to upgrade my 5D2 and a universal plate makes more sense.

Thanks in advance.
One thing about the universal plates is that they are flat. And those with only one screw may twist (unless extremely tight) and the camera or lens may be out of position. The RRS plates are made to fit the body, so they are totally stable.
I had several universal plates, but I have replaced all of them with RRS plates. For camera bodies I strongly recommend their L-plates. I have not tried the alternatives to RRS, so it might be that they are just as good.

Cool. That's what I figured. The RRS plates are about the same price as the AS universal ones anyway. My crappy manfrotto ones twist and slip all over the place. Time to change.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eldar on December 05, 2013, 03:42:15 AM
I have just received the RRS TVC-34L and the PG-02 gimbal head. I really didn´t need it, but Neuro and Elm58 talked me into it ;)

In the image you see the Gitzo GT3542LS with the Wimberley Gimbal II head, fully erected. The RRS has only 3 of 4 legs extended, so it can be significantly taller. I am 6 ft and can stand straight behind both as they stand.

From a stability perspective, I have to give an additional point to RRS. It feels more sturdy. But I have used the 600mm f4L IS II, with the 2xIII extender on a 7D body, equivalent to 1920mm, on this rig. And it works (the actual problem is finding the subject in the viewfinder).

The Gitzo has a handy quick head base release function integrated in the head. For the same function on the RRS you need tools. But by using an additional QR clamp, you get the same with RRS. I know Neuro is using this. It tilts the cost issue further in favor of the Gitzo though. But if you are using a leveling base, which i strongly recommend with a gimbal head, there is no difference.

The RRS is a bit longer when collapsed. But the head base diameter is smaller, so from a transport perspective I believe they can be viewed as equals.

They can both use the same leveling base. I use the RRS TA-3-LB-HK leveling base on both (on the RRS in the image).

As for the Gimbal heads, it is difficult to vote in favor of any of them. Functionally they are both great and I can live happily with both. The RRS looks more exclusive and it packs a bit more compact (not much). I actually thought the RRS would have been smaller.

The votes of the Norwegian jury?
From a functional perspective: Slightly in favor of the RRS tripod, for a bit more stability and the extra height. For the gimbal heads, it is a draw.
From a look and feel perspective: I have to give it to RRS for both tripod and head. Every aspect of their products radiates quality. But you are paying for it.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 05, 2013, 08:11:33 AM
I have a question about AS plates. So, according to RRS they recommend using their own QR plates or Wimberley ones with their BH clamps. I noticed a couple of folk mention they were using universal AS plates. Did you have any issues? Is it best to stick to their advice and get the RRS custom plates? I'm just wondering because down the line I might want to upgrade my 5D2 and a universal plate makes more sense.

FWIW, the Wimberley P-5 is a 'universal' camera plate that works fine in RRS clamps, and mine didn't twist.  Can come in handy for early adopters (if you buy a new model of camera before dedicated plates are available).  There's no good universal L-bracket.

Also, note that RRS' recommendation to use RRS/Wimberley plates applies only to their lever clamps, not their screw knob clamps.

I have just received the RRS TVC-34L and the PG-02 gimbal head. I really didn´t need it, but Neuro and Elm58 talked me into it ;)

I'm not going to apologize.  ;)

The RRS looks more exclusive and it packs a bit more compact (not much). I actually thought the RRS would have been smaller.

Yes, the PG-02 LLR was bigger than I expected, too.  When I got it, I also got the LensCoat PG Pouch for transport.  Protects the head very well...and the loaded pouch turns out to be the size of a 300/2.8!!  I found that a Lowepro Lens Exchange 200 AW makes a very effective case for the PG-02 LLR (pics in this linked thread (http://community.the-digital-picture.com/showthread.php?t=7018)), and it easily attaches to my Lowepro bags.

Besides a slightly smaller transport size (and a more convenient shape), the RRS gimbal has a couple other advantages.  If you have an L-bracket, you can lock the upright portion into the LLR clamp, and shoot with a standard (non-collared) lens. With the Wimberley II, you need to change heads.  Also, it's a pano-gimbal head - if you add an MPR-CL or -CL II rail, you have a complete multi-row pano head.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eldar on December 05, 2013, 09:51:22 AM
Besides a slightly smaller transport size (and a more convenient shape), the RRS gimbal has a couple other advantages.  If you have an L-bracket, you can lock the upright portion into the LLR clamp, and shoot with a standard (non-collared) lens. With the Wimberley II, you need to change heads.  Also, it's a pano-gimbal head - if you add an MPR-CL or -CL II rail, you have a complete multi-row pano head.
These are good points.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: igbass on December 05, 2013, 11:00:44 AM
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 05, 2013, 11:04:51 AM
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Excellent choices!
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Eldar on December 05, 2013, 11:06:41 AM
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Excellent choices!
Congratulations. You´ll be very happy with your choices!
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Badger on February 09, 2014, 08:10:31 PM
Quote
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Are you happy with your choices a few months out? Thinking about tripods myself and trying to learn from your research :-)
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on February 10, 2014, 05:05:25 AM
Quote
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Are you happy with your choices a few months out? Thinking about tripods myself and trying to learn from your research :-)

I recently bought the same combo and it's been amazing so far. The tripod isn't as light as I thought it would be but the extra heft adds some stability. 
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: gferdinandsen on February 10, 2014, 06:27:51 AM
I agree with all of the above.  Don't waste time with cheap stuff.  A tripod needs to hold up over time, be transportable, and most important, keep the camera stable during the shoot.

There are different ways to extend the legs (latches, rings and the like).  Next you have 3 or 4 segments, with more segments usually less stable, but smaller when collapsed.  You need to consider how tall you are and how tall you need the tripod to be.  Really Right Stuff web site has a nice chart on its front page you can look at for this.  No center column greatly enhances stability, and decreases the weight of this element.

Some tripods have a hook to hang additional weight to stabilize the unit- helpful during windy conditions.  Some either come with, or have optional "accessories" that you may later purchase.  These may not be important now, but keep an eye toward the future- like the leveling plate as mentioned by Neuro-  it may not make sense to you now, but as you expand, the ability to use these items may become essential.

I totally agree that your head should be a separate purchase.  This is a personal decision as the tripod legs.  A lot of things go into this decision.  One very important thing is the plate- Arca Swiss is my vote.  Another thing is the layout of the tightening knobs.  Be sure that they work for you, and be sure the head will carry the camera/lens load.  Play around with it for a while to be sure you like it.  I have a collection that look pretty but I hate.

I have a Manfrotto 190CXPro3 and it is a great tripod.  I am going to get a RRS TVC-33 when I get my big white lens

So, be sure that the combo is easy to carry, easy to set up, and stable.

Cheers

Scott

I have a stupid question, I have a Manfrotto 055CX3 and it came with a hook attachment; however, I'll be damned if I can figure out how/where this hook attaches to. 
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: ClayStevens on February 10, 2014, 10:00:54 PM
Also looking for my first tripod. This post is really helpful to me. Thanks for all guys. Handshake
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on February 11, 2014, 03:11:07 AM
I agree with all of the above.  Don't waste time with cheap stuff.  A tripod needs to hold up over time, be transportable, and most important, keep the camera stable during the shoot.

There are different ways to extend the legs (latches, rings and the like).  Next you have 3 or 4 segments, with more segments usually less stable, but smaller when collapsed.  You need to consider how tall you are and how tall you need the tripod to be.  Really Right Stuff web site has a nice chart on its front page you can look at for this.  No center column greatly enhances stability, and decreases the weight of this element.

Some tripods have a hook to hang additional weight to stabilize the unit- helpful during windy conditions.  Some either come with, or have optional "accessories" that you may later purchase.  These may not be important now, but keep an eye toward the future- like the leveling plate as mentioned by Neuro-  it may not make sense to you now, but as you expand, the ability to use these items may become essential.

I totally agree that your head should be a separate purchase.  This is a personal decision as the tripod legs.  A lot of things go into this decision.  One very important thing is the plate- Arca Swiss is my vote.  Another thing is the layout of the tightening knobs.  Be sure that they work for you, and be sure the head will carry the camera/lens load.  Play around with it for a while to be sure you like it.  I have a collection that look pretty but I hate.

I have a Manfrotto 190CXPro3 and it is a great tripod.  I am going to get a RRS TVC-33 when I get my big white lens

So, be sure that the combo is easy to carry, easy to set up, and stable.

Cheers

Scott

I have a stupid question, I have a Manfrotto 055CX3 and it came with a hook attachment; however, I'll be damned if I can figure out how/where this hook attaches to.

Not quite sure what you mean. Can you take a picture of the attachment and also one of the tripd base and center column?
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: gferdinandsen on February 11, 2014, 05:33:26 AM
The first photo is of the center leg to the tripod; the second photo is of the hook thingee.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Badger on February 11, 2014, 07:43:58 PM
Quote
A classic"right of passage" question! :-) This famous link doesn't seem to have been posted yet, and while getting dated, remains great for many of the general principles also mentioned in this thread: http://www.bythom.com/support.htm (http://www.bythom.com/support.htm)

Thanks so much dswtan, I found that link most helpful! Also, took a bit, but finally figured out that RRS was Really Right Stuff ;)
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: sagittariansrock on February 11, 2014, 08:49:04 PM
Quote
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Are you happy with your choices a few months out? Thinking about tripods myself and trying to learn from your research :-)

I recently bought the same combo and it's been amazing so far. The tripod isn't as light as I thought it would be but the extra heft adds some stability.

The Manfrotto carbon fiber tripods are considerably heavier than their Gitzo counterparts.
@Badger: If you are going carbon fiber, I'd definitely recommend Gitzo. It's light and still very sturdy (I got the GT2541). An expensive tripod that I can carry beats a cheap tripod staying home, any day. The RRS ones don't collapse as compactly (not talking about travel tripods).
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: Zv on February 11, 2014, 10:21:36 PM
Quote
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Are you happy with your choices a few months out? Thinking about tripods myself and trying to learn from your research :-)

I recently bought the same combo and it's been amazing so far. The tripod isn't as light as I thought it would be but the extra heft adds some stability.

The Manfrotto carbon fiber tripods are considerably heavier than their Gitzo counterparts.
@Badger: If you are going carbon fiber, I'd definitely recommend Gitzo. It's light and still very sturdy (I got the GT2541). An expensive tripod that I can carry beats a cheap tripod staying home, any day. The RRS ones don't collapse as compactly (not talking about travel tripods).

I was initially gonna buy the GT2531 but when I played about with it in a camera store one of the legs came off in my hand and I couldn't get it back on. Left me with a unfavorable impression (sure it was my fault but still I took it as an omen!). The metal manfrotto was good to me in the past and I was already used to the layout. And the $200 saved also helped my decision!  ;)

I don't use a tripod that often so even that combo I bought was hard to justify.

Anyway, I'm more than happy with it.

If I ever do upgrade it'll be to an all RRS setup.
Title: Re: Tripod for someone who's never used one?
Post by: sagittariansrock on February 12, 2014, 01:17:26 AM
Quote
Thought I'd post what I ended up getting, after considering all the fine advice:

RRS BH-40, with lever release and panning clamp, an RSS L plate, and for the tripod legs I decided to go with carbon fiber, but compromised on the price, since I got the expensive ball head, and went with Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 instead of Gitzo or RSS.

Even though my heaviest lens is only a 24-105mm, I thought I'd go with the BH-40 in case I get heavier lenses in the future and because I wanted the independent drag on the ball head. I went with the panning clamp so I didn't have to worry about leveling the legs first when shooting panoramas. The only thing I didn't get was the nodal slide, but I can always pick that up in the future.

Are you happy with your choices a few months out? Thinking about tripods myself and trying to learn from your research :-)

I recently bought the same combo and it's been amazing so far. The tripod isn't as light as I thought it would be but the extra heft adds some stability.

The Manfrotto carbon fiber tripods are considerably heavier than their Gitzo counterparts.
@Badger: If you are going carbon fiber, I'd definitely recommend Gitzo. It's light and still very sturdy (I got the GT2541). An expensive tripod that I can carry beats a cheap tripod staying home, any day. The RRS ones don't collapse as compactly (not talking about travel tripods).

I was initially gonna buy the GT2531 but when I played about with it in a camera store one of the legs came off in my hand and I couldn't get it back on. Left me with a unfavorable impression (sure it was my fault but still I took it as an omen!). The metal manfrotto was good to me in the past and I was already used to the layout. And the $200 saved also helped my decision!  ;)

I don't use a tripod that often so even that combo I bought was hard to justify.

Anyway, I'm more than happy with it.

If I ever do upgrade it'll be to an all RRS setup.

LOL! I am sure I would have heeded to such an omen as well. In my case, the omen was a $ 190 (25%) discount on the GT2541.

Requirements differ for different individuals. I was upgrading from a 3001XProB (earlier version of the 190XProB) which wasn't going anywhere with me due to the weight and the length. So "upgrading" to an almost equally heavy (200 gm difference) tripod wouldn't have been worthwhile. OTOH, the 055 tripods are very highly regarded and a good buy for those who aren't so worried about portability.