July 25, 2014, 06:49:06 AM

Author Topic: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice  (Read 10757 times)

RC

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 607
    • View Profile
Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« on: April 15, 2013, 01:21:15 AM »
I’m upgrading my tripod and head.  I have narrowed down my choice of tripods but I am struggling with heads.  I’ve been looking at Manfrotto and Gitzo heads (plus a few others) but after reading reviews (mostly B&H user reviews) I have become more confused and uncertain.  I have also searched CR for a tripods and heads which is an overwhelming task with the 100s of links. 

I don’t have a hard budget but I don’t have an unlimited budget either.   I was hoping to keep it inside $600 but that doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.   Primary use is landscape, must be carbon fiber,  also want to be able to mount a 5D with 70-200 2.8.   

Short list of tripods:
Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 (supports 17.6 lbs) - $400
Gitzo GT-1531 -Series 1 (supports 17.6 lbs) - $620
Gitzo GT-2531- Series 2 (supports 26.4 lbs)- $700

Ball Heads

Manfrotto 468MGRC2 Magnesium Hydrostatic (Supports 22 lbs) - $260

Questions:
1.   Gitzo has “Centered” and “Off Centered” ballheads.  What are the pros and cons of each? 
2.   In general what are your opinions of Gitzo heads?  Online reviews range from excellent to do not buy.
3.   Right now I’m leaning towards the Gitzo GT-2531 Series 2 tripod.  What would be an appropriate head for that tripod.  In other words I don’t want to put a wimpy head on sturdy set of legs or a rock solid head on flimsy set of legs.

I'm open to all suggestions for tripods and heads. 
Thanks all
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 09:22:02 AM by RC »

canon rumors FORUM

Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« on: April 15, 2013, 01:21:15 AM »

Rienzphotoz

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 3320
  • Peace unto all ye Canon, Nikon & Sony shooters
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 05:56:19 AM »
I use Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber (pretty much same like the 055CXPRO3) and it is sturdy yet relatively light (to carry) tripod I use it with a 468MGRC2 ball head (the best ball head I've ever owned and real joy to use) ... together they (055CXPRO3 + 468MGRC2) will give you a very sturdy set up for your 5D + 70-200 f/2.8 ... I also use it for supporting my 5D MK III + 150-500 OS (which is heavier than the 70-200) and I highly recommend that combo (055CXPRO3 + 468MGRC2).
I've never used Gitzo, so can't be much help there.
I was hoping to keep it inside $600 but that doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.   

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 (supports 17.6 lbs) - $400

Manfrotto 468MGRC2 Magnesium Hydrostatic (Supports 22 lbs) - $260
by the way currently B&H is having a $65 Mail-in-Rebate on each of those 2 items ... so you should be able to get them for under $530 ($335 for tripod & $195 for Ballhead)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 07:16:56 AM by Rienzphotoz »
Canon 5DMK3 70D | Nikon D610 | Sony a7 a6000 | RX100M3 | 16-35/2.8LII | 70-200/2.8LISII | 100/2.8LIS | 100-400LIS | 40/2.8 | 50/1.4 | 85/1.8 | 600EX-RTx2 | ST-E3-RT | 24/3.5 T-S | 10-18/4 OSS 16-50 | 24-70/4OSS | 55/1.8 | 55-210 OSS | 70-200/4 OSS | 28-300VR | HVL-F43M | GoPro Black 3+ & DJI Phantom

tron

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1775
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 06:26:36 AM »
I have a Systematic Series 3 Gitzo (3541LS) but I use it for more than 200mm lenses too. It is 1.7Kg   :)

I am very happy with it (Stability, usability and weight). If you have to choose between the ones you mentioned get the Series 2 Gitzo.

I use the Markins M20 head which is now obsolete (There is the Q20 I think).
Q10 would be the one matching for a Series 2 Gitzo.

If I had to choose a head again though, I would look seriously at an elliptical Arca Swiss head  (I think Z1?)

neuroanatomist

  • CR GEEK
  • ********
  • Posts: 13539
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 07:02:57 AM »
Legs:  Gitzo or Really Right Stuff.  The latter is more expensive, but the quality can't be beat.  I have their travel tripod setup (TQC-14 and BH-30 LR), leg diameters and support rating are equivalent to the Gitzo 25xx, and even though it's rated for 25 lbs, I can (and have) personally suspended myself (180 lbs) holding two of the legs and swinging under the tripod.  The RRS TVC Series 2 is similar to the Gitzo 3-series.  IMO, the build quality of RRS is slightly higher than Gitzo (anodized vs. painted aluminum parts and easier-to-hold legs locks, for example). But really, you can't go wrong with either Gitzo or RRS.

Head: RRS, Kirk, or Markins.  I'd avoid both Gitzo and Manfrotto.  The Gitzo heads have a generally bad reputation for a reason - they're kludgy and relatively heavy, and use a non-standard plate.  There's a guy on my local Craigslist that's been trying to offload a Gitzo head for over two years now - no takers.  Whether you get the Gitzo 25xx or an RRS Series 2 set of legs, I'd get the RRS BH-40 head.

I used a Manfrotto 468MG ballhead for a few years - the poster who commented it's a joy to use is correct.  The head is a joy to use.  The RC2 plate/clamp system is not a joy, IMO - it's the weak point in an otherwise quite decent system.  While it locks down securely (thanks to the secondary pin, there's no risk of it slipping out), even with it 'locked down' there's still play - and that means vibration, and also makes it difficult to precisely position the load.  Fortunately, the clamp can be switched. I removed the Manfrotto clamp and replaced it with a Wimberley C-12, an Arca-Swiss type clamp. 

I highly recommend going with the AS system - the clamps are secure and it's as close to a standard as you'll find (used by RRS, Kirk, Markins, Acratech, Arca Swiss, and others).  You can get excellent Kirk or RRS L-brackets, specific or generic lens plates, a variety of pano systems, etc. 

When you add the cost of the 468MG (you can get just the head without a clamp) to the cost of the Wimberley C-12 ($80), you might as well just get the RRS BH-40...
EOS 1D X, EOS M, and lots of lenses
______________________________
Flickr | TDP Profile/Gear List

K3nt

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 269
  • "No good photo goes unnoticed!"
    • View Profile
    • Flickr
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 07:42:11 AM »
I have the Manfrotto you're looking at. I am very happy with it. It had been through snow, rain, sand and high and low temps and works good. I paired it with Manfrottos 327 (or 324) RC, whichever's the sturdier one,  (joystick head) and it has served me well.

I am seriously considering to get a 3leggedthing.com carbon fiber one as well, but no pressing need at the moment. Lenses first. :)

RRS are very, very good, but very, very expensive... at least where I come from.
Flickr

Canon EOS 7D * 10-22mm EF-S * 50mm f/1.4 * 70-20mm f/2.8L IS USM MkII * Nissin 866Di MkII * 430EXII + accessories


docsmith

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 250
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 09:57:38 AM »
You haven't really said what use you are trying to build your tripod for, so I'll assume general purpose.  But if you have big lenses, you need to think bigger tripods/ballheads.  If you are trying to build a travel/hiking tripod, then you would be concerned about size and weight.

For general purpose, I'd go with the GT2541 or the GT2531 for tripods (if you don't go up to RRS).  For ballheads, look at the RRS BH-40 or the Markins QT3 or Q10.  Your next decision is which plates to buy.  If you buy a ballhead with a quick-release lever, you should stick to one brand.  I use RRS plates.

 A long write up on this is here:
  http://community.the-digital-picture.com/showthread.php?t=7067&page=4

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 09:57:38 AM »

Canon 14-24

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 74
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 10:23:18 AM »
http://www.nikonians.org/tripods/tripods_5.html

I found this link very helpful in my tripod selection between Gitzo's Mountaineer and Systematic.

I at one time had a Manfrotto CXPRO3 with 488RC4 ballhead. The flip lever on the top plate of the ballhead got really jammed/stuck that at times it was hard to lock that I decided to just replace it with a RRS. I did swap out the top plate for a RRS plate and the screw didn't 100% secure in. I was at the RRS headquarters in San Luis Obispo and they kinda glued the bolt to secure the plate to the Manfrotto ballhead. In sum, it was fine for what as a cheaper alternative for 1-2 years until I finally upgraded and got a RRS BH-55. It may be overkill, but the large surface area of the ballhead I found welcome in composing the image, not to mention on my series 3 Mountaineer tripod the BH-40 is just too puny. Typically a BH-40 will serve you fine or a BH-30 if you want to go Gitzo traveler and fold up the legs.

Now my experience with the Manfrotto tripod was painful. The rubber covers caps at the end of the legs would get loose and come off compared to the Gitzo's that would screw in at the bottom. Additionally after numerous trips to the beach, desert, or other sandy areas bits and grains would get stuck in the flip lock joints and it'd be a pain to disassemble and clean compared to the Gitzo's twist/screw.

In sum my lesson learned, tripods depreciate in value significantly compared to lenses. If I could do it all over again, I would just wait and save and go with the best out there over upgrading a little bit to what my budget at the time could spare. I have carried my Series 3 Tripod which is a bit more sturdier/solid than the series 2 for up to 2 mile distance/hikes and I would push for that if you don't plan to do a whole lot of walking with it. Otherwise go with the Series 2 and a quality ballhead like a Markins, RRS, or AcraTech (you will probably need to budget around $1100).

Another ballhead brand to look at is the Acratech ballheads: http://acratech.net/

They are cheaper than the RRS, super easier to clean (don't have to take it apart or ship it back to RRS to clean), and one of the lightest on the market.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 10:40:20 AM by Canon 14-24 »

vuilang

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2013, 01:31:09 PM »
i would go with Gitzo 2541 & RRS bh40.
i regret skimping on $ by going 2531 instead of 2541

brad-man

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 679
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 04:57:45 PM »
Before going any further, follow neuro's advice on using an arca type clamp/plate system. You will be thankful down the road. As for the head, I can't recommend Markins enough. Like PBD above, my favorite head was an Acratech GP. It's an amazingly versatile tool. However, it has rather a large footprint and is costly. I am now solidly in the Markins camp. For the same cost as the Manfrotto or Gitzo, you can pick up a Markins Q3 which is much better in every way. Stronger, lighter, smoother and prettier. To future proof, you may want to go for a Q10. I use one on a Gitzo 3542XLS systematic tripod and it easily holds anything I have. They make a Q20, but honestly if you need that much strength, you probably should be using a gimbal setup. For performance to weight ratio, Markins is king. My 2 cents...




http://www.ebay.com/itm/180648692673?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Markins-M10-Ball-Head-Q10-Tripod-Ballhead-Q-10-BK-NEW-/170508846235?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27b31e849b

yogi

  • Guest
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 07:43:16 PM »
I have been very satisfied with my acratech gp, though after reading this and other posts i would consider a markins or rrs if ever buying another. Dont have a carbon-fiber yet, but was considering a gitzo. But again, having seen many good reviews of rrs i will seriously consider that brand when i am ready to get a cf tripod. I would definitely recommend an arca-swiss type mounting plate whatever brand you decide to get.

RC

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 607
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 08:18:28 PM »
Very impressive responses, thank you everybody!  I continue to be impressed with the wealth of knowledge and experience I find here at CR.  You've given me lots more to investigate.

So I started checking into some of your recommendations and I am sold on the AS system.  Definitely going that route.

You haven't really said what use you are trying to build your tripod for, so I'll assume general purpose....
Yes, more general purpose, some backpacking but nothing outrageous, mostly landscape work.  Don't have any big lenses, largest is a 70-200 2.8.


Today's attack in Boston certainly puts things in perspective.  My prayers and thoughts are with the victims and families.  Boston is my favorite city in America to visit.

MCL

  • Power Shot G16
  • **
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 11:38:48 PM »
Would the Kirk ballheads not also be a consideration along these lines?

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 11:38:48 PM »

RC

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 607
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 11:09:54 AM »
i would go with Gitzo 2541 & RRS bh40.
i regret skimping on $ by going 2531 instead of 2541

I've been favoring the 2531 over the 2541 because of the max height with center column down.  This will allow me to stand up straight and look thru the the view finder without slouching over.  Why do you prefer the 2541 that much over the 2531?  I do like the  smaller folded length of the 2541

                                                       2531                   2541
Max support Weight                   26.46 lbs            26.46. lbs
Max height column down          54.33"                 51.18"
Max height column up               63.39"                 60.24"
Weight                                          3.02 lbs              3.0 lbs
Folded height                             25.59"                 21.85"
Leg sections                                3                        4

RC

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 607
    • View Profile
Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 11:50:01 AM »
That would be my guess, and is the reason for my 055CXPRO3 vs 055CXPRO4 comment earlier. The differences are almost exactly the same between the Gitzo and Manfrottos, I have the 3 and it is good for the traveling I do and I wanted the height, but if I traveled with it more, particularly on planes, I sell it and get the 4.

All in I use the height more than I can't work with the folded length. But there is a big difference between a specced height and where your camera ends up after the head and a plate.

For instance my viewfinder is over 9" above the top of the tripod.

I planning on buying a grip for my 5D3 but debating whether or not I'll leave in permanently mounted on my body or not.  I've never used a grip so I just don't know yet.  Right now I'm calculating an extra 6" above the tripod for for the ball head and camera without grip.  I hope to have it all figured out by the end of the week.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 11:50:01 AM »