August 27, 2014, 05:32:03 PM

Author Topic: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice  (Read 11247 times)

neuroanatomist

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2013, 12:17:58 PM »
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.

FWIW, a battery grip does add a bit of flex to the system (as an accessory, not when integrated as on the 1-series).  For example, FoCal states, "If you are using a battery grip, it is best to remove this as it can cause extra vibration when the camera is mounted on a tripod."

I definitely agree that you should not include the center column in your height calculations (my TQC-14 has a center column, but I would rather lean over a bit than extend it).  Generally speaking, even a non-extended center column adds a point of instability - the bare platform with the head attached is the most stable configuration (which is likely why the RRS 2- and 3-series and many of the Gitzo 3-series and higher legs do not even come with a center column, although you can buy one separately if desired).
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jocau

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2013, 12:23:53 PM »
Quite easy.

1) Tripod: Gitzo or RRS
2) Ballhead: Arca-Swiss (Monoball Z1 sp or dp) or RRS (BH-55)

I have a Gitzo GT3541XLS tripod and an Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 sp ballhead. The ballhead feels like it's bulletproof. Just by holding it you immediately notice that you're dealing with a top quality product.
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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2013, 12:45:42 PM »
Have you considered at the Manfrotto  322RC2 Grip Action Ballheads ? I've had for many years now and love the fact that one hand is free to support the lens while the other controls the position

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=303591&Q=&is=REG&A=details
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jocau

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2013, 01:19:14 PM »
Quite easy.

1) Tripod: Gitzo or RRS
..............
Why?

What additional functionality do you get from the $700 Gitzo or the $900 RRS that a $400 Manfrotto doesn't give you?

I am all for quality engineering, and there will always be customers for Rolls Royce, but if the object is to safely drive around surely a Mercedes "will do" for most people, especially when cost was mentioned originally by RC.

After trying Gitzos, I just don't see the cost/function equation approaching that of the Manfrottos. I have never owned a RRS tripod, but clearly I do value their brackets and plates, but again, whilst you might get a fraction more stability sometimes for your $900, unless you have nothing better to spend $500 on, or you truly do NEED that last fraction of performance, or if you have requirements RC doesn't, then the far cheaper options are more than up to the simple task of holding an average weight camera and short tele lens a few feet off the floor.

If the OP said "I have a 600 f4" then the added cost of the beefier tripods is a small supertele tax, but in this instance is just not needed. I use the Manfrotto fine with a 300 f2.8, 2xTC and 1 series body, way over the stated requirements of RC.

A great tripod/ballhead setup is one that you can keep for a lifetime (as a matter of speaking). The added cost doesn't really matter then. A good or mediocre one is one that you'll upgrade sooner or later and in the end it will cost as much or more as the great one mentioned in my first sentence. I made that mistake once with my first tripod... With longer exposures every tiny bit of extra vibration is seen in your final image. But if it has to be cheaper I'd probably go for a Feisol or Benro tripod with a Sirui ballhead or something like that.
550D | 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS | 50mm F/1.8 II | 70-200mm F/4L IS | Speedlite 580EX II | LumoPro LP180 | Gitzo GT3541XLS | Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 SP

neuroanatomist

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2013, 01:49:07 PM »
What additional functionality do you get from the $700 Gitzo or the $900 RRS that a $400 Manfrotto doesn't give you?

I am all for quality engineering, and there will always be customers for Rolls Royce, but if the object is to safely drive around surely a Mercedes "will do" for most people, especially when cost was mentioned originally by RC.

After trying Gitzos, I just don't see the cost/function equation approaching that of the Manfrottos. I have never owned a RRS tripod, but clearly I do value their brackets and plates, but again, whilst you might get a fraction more stability sometimes for your $900, unless you have nothing better to spend $500 on, or you truly do NEED that last fraction of performance, or if you have requirements RC doesn't, then the far cheaper options are more than up to the simple task of holding an average weight camera and short tele lens a few feet off the floor.

From an in-use perspective, Manfrotto is very good, Gitzo/RRS are just a bit better.  Higher load capacity means greater stability, something as simple as a hook to hang a weight is lacking from the Manfrotto legs.  But it's a dimishing return to some extent.

However...have you ever had to disassemble your Manfrotto legs to clean them after use in sand or salt water? My RRS legs take about 1 minute to completely tear down, with no tools required (where did that little clip-on hex thingy go when it fell off the Manfrotto leg?  :P ), and after they're rinsed and air dried, reassembly is just as fast. 
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2013, 02:29:01 PM »
As an aside, the Manfottos do have a "hook" for ballast, it is cast in the side of the main housing and is very strong, the hook is hook shaped, and it also has a slot in it, great for tying a bit of string to to make a more substantial mount if needed. It is mounted on the main casting so that you can use it to maximum effect and weight when you use the column off axis. It also has a strap eye.

Thanks for that - I had completely forgotten about the little loop/tab on the side of my 190CXPRO4 platform!

In general, my opinion is that RRS is "the best" with Gitzo a close second.  I think Manfrotto offers the best compromise between quality and value - great gear at a good price (particularly their legs - their QR clamping systems leave something to be desired, IMO).
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Dianoda

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2013, 03:14:49 PM »
If you plan to use it for backpacking - sturdiness, compact size, and overall weight are all concerns.  I'm also a frequent backpacker (an ultralighter, too - excluding camera gear, my base weight is usually in the 10-11lbs range), and shoot with a 5D3/7D and an assortment of lenses (24mm f/1.4 II, 100mm f/2.8 IS, 40mm f/2.8 STM, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II, etc. - although in the backcountry I usually pack just the 24 f/1.4).

Given my intended use and equipment set here's what I ended up with:

For the legs I went with a gitzo GT1540F, a 4 section design which uses gitzo's ocean locks on the bottom two leg sections (about $580, the ocean locks make the tripod easier to clean in the field and give me more flexibility/less to worry about when setting up in streams, etc.).  For the head I have a RRS BH-30 ($275, plus about $50-60 per for several plates - one of the 5D3, one for the 7D, one for the 70-200 f/2.8).

The combination is exceptionally sturdy - the gitzo tripod is appreciably more solid feeling than the manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod I was using before.  And lighter - the combined weight of the head/tripod is pretty manageable at about 3lbs (which is about what the manfrotto weighs by itself). Folded, the combo is quite compact, and with all leg section fully deployed my ungripped 5D3's viewfinder is at eye-level (I'm 5'8") w/o having to extend the center column.

The RRS plate system combined with the lever release of the head itself is unequivocally better compared to the manfrotto RC2 QR plates of my previous head (a manfrotto 322RC2).  The RRS system offers a simple, sure lock, but the RRS lever release also allows for you to fine tune placement of the setup without having to fully unlock (there is a halfway point where the plate itself is free to move, but it isn't a full release so there is greatly reduced risk of your equipment taking a catastrophic fall).  Comparatively, my RC2 system would occasionally jam, placement had to be just right for it to lock, there was no adjustment available, etc. - the arca-swiss style plate systems are better in every way I can think of.

I paid twice looking for my ideal setup, hopefully others examining this thread don't have to do the same.
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Rienzphotoz

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2013, 10:53:28 AM »
I removed the Manfrotto clamp and replaced it with a Wimberley C-12, an Arca-Swiss type clamp. 
Hmm, interesting ... did not know I could replace it with the Wimberley clamp ... will have to get me one. Regarding the release plates ... I see that they are not "universal" like the RC-2 QR plates, am I missing something?
coz if I replace the clamp I need 8 release plates for 5DMK III, D7000, 70-200 f/2.8 L II, 100 L, 150-500 OS, Macro Rail and 1 or 2 spare for future lenses ... so what release plate should I be getting?
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2013, 05:03:07 PM »
Hmm, interesting ... did not know I could replace it with the Wimberley clamp ... will have to get me one. Regarding the release plates ... I see that they are not "universal" like the RC-2 QR plates, am I missing something?
coz if I replace the clamp I need 8 release plates for 5DMK III, D7000, 70-200 f/2.8 L II, 100 L, 150-500 OS, Macro Rail and 1 or 2 spare for future lenses ... so what release plate should I be getting?

No, they're not universal.  Kirk and RRS have a variety of plates for specific bodies and lenses, Wimberley has a set of lens plates (different lengths) and a universal body plate.  All three have a selection tool / compatibility list on their website. 
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RC

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2013, 01:11:34 AM »
Thanks again everyone for all the excellent suggestions and tips.  I really got some great advice and I’m sure it will be very helpful for lots of other folks too.  I looked into every single person’s suggestion and came up with the two following options:

Option 1:
Gitzo - GT-2531 (3 section, 26.46 load, CF)
RRS – BH-40 LR (mid-size 18 lb load)
RRS – B5D3A plate (AS plate for 5D3 body)

Total cost with current rebates $992


Option 2:
Manfrotto - 055CXPRO4 (4 section, 17.64 load, CF)
Manfrotto - 468MGRC2 (Magnesium Hydrostatic Ballhead, 22 lb load)

Total cost with current rebates $540


I’m going with option 1.   Is it an overkill for my needs/uses?  Probably, but I hoping this will last my lifetime.  Although option 2 is very nice gear and nothing to snarl at, I will always wish I had gone with option 1.  Later I will pick up a Wimberley P-20 plate for my 70-200 ring and a plate for my 7D.

Now the one piece of advice I’ll give back (and what so many others have already given):  Don’t buy a mediocre tripod and head.  You will become frustrated like I did and end up spending more money in the long run.  I broke my own rule and did not buy a quality item in the first place. 


A great tripod/ballhead setup is one that you can keep for a lifetime (as a matter of speaking). The added cost doesn't really matter then. A good or mediocre one is one that you'll upgrade sooner or later and in the end it will cost as much or more....


neuroanatomist

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2013, 05:58:33 AM »
Good choice, and one I think you'll be very happy with! 

One more question - have you considered the L-bracket vs. the base plate for your 5DIII?  If you only rarely shoot in portrait orientation from a tripod, the drop notch is fine. But the L-bracket gives you a more balanced load in portrait orientation, and allows you to shoot a pano that way (which you can't do effectively with the drop notch).  Trade offs are higher cost and more bulk than just the base plate.  Just a thought...
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RC

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #26 on: April 18, 2013, 08:44:30 AM »
Good choice, and one I think you'll be very happy with! 

One more question - have you considered the L-bracket vs. the base plate for your 5DIII?  If you only rarely shoot in portrait orientation from a tripod, the drop notch is fine. But the L-bracket gives you a more balanced load in portrait orientation, and allows you to shoot a pano that way (which you can't do effectively with the drop notch).  Trade offs are higher cost and more bulk than just the base plate.  Just a thought...
Yes, and another benefit of the AS system that I learned (thanks).  I was looking at those on RRS's website, I do see myself adding one later if needed.  I'm ok spending extra to own both because I'm sure there will be times I won't want the bulk of an L bracket.  Besides I see myself leaving the plate attached the majority of the time. 

neuroanatomist

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2013, 09:05:32 AM »
I was looking at those on RRS's website, I do see myself adding one later if needed.  I'm ok spending extra to own both because I'm sure there will be times I won't want the bulk of an L bracket.  Besides I see myself leaving the plate attached the majority of the time.

I really hope they release more like the L-bracket for the 1D X - it actually converts from an L-bracket to just the base plate, and the hex wrench for the conversion is stored right in the plate.  It's an awesome design, IMO.
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RC

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2013, 10:13:57 AM »
I was looking at those on RRS's website, I do see myself adding one later if needed.  I'm ok spending extra to own both because I'm sure there will be times I won't want the bulk of an L bracket.  Besides I see myself leaving the plate attached the majority of the time.

I really hope they release more like the L-bracket for the 1D X - it actually converts from an L-bracket to just the base plate, and the hex wrench for the conversion is stored right in the plate.  It's an awesome design, IMO.
Dang, that is really cool.  Just checked out the images on RRS's site.   I got to call RRS before I place my order anyway, I'm going ask them when they're going to make one for the 5D3 (I know they're not going to  :'().

RC

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Re: Help me finalize my tripod & ballhead choice
« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2013, 10:32:01 AM »
Other companies are making that modular design now too.
Anybody doing one for a 5D3?  Not in a huge rush, like to have by mid May at the latest.