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Author Topic: Choosing the right tripod  (Read 5133 times)

Eldar

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Choosing the right tripod
« on: September 21, 2013, 05:56:23 PM »
I have a siste who has become a really enthusiastic photographer. And, a consequence of that is that, she´s asking me for advice. And I realize that I have different thresholds in almost any department compared to most others.

At the moment she has a 6D, with a 24-105 f4L IS. She is looking for a portrait lens and she will (probably) get a 70-300L. Then she asked me, what tripod should I buy. And I thought of the very nice Gitzo, RRS and so forth alternatives out there. But in all fairness, that is overkill. So the question I´d like some help with is, what is a good tripod/head package for a newbie, which may last (!)

Benro, Manfrotto, Slik ... I know there are lots of alternatives, but I would like some good tip.
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Choosing the right tripod
« on: September 21, 2013, 05:56:23 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2013, 06:59:19 PM »
Personally, I think Manfrotto offers the best compromise between quality and value.  Even more so now that they have some Arca-Swiss compatible clamps, meaning a good (RRS/Kirk) L-bracket is feasible.

I had a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 with 488RC2, very good legs, the RC2 plate/clamp is a weak point.  Replaced the head with a 468MG with a Wimberley C-12 clamp (AS-type), that setup was great up to a gripped body with white zoom (70-200/2.8, 100-400, 28-300).  Likewise, I had a Manfrotto 694CX monopod with 234 tilt head and C-12 clamp, easily supported the same gear.

I'm all RRS now, though.  When I got the 600 II, I added a TVC-33, BH-55 and PG-02 LLR gimbal, and replaced the monopod and head, both to deal with the heavier load.  But the main reason I replaced the Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 + 468MG with the RRS TQC-14 + BH-30 was the former was too long to fit in my carry-on hard case. 

Bottom line, I'd recommend Manfrotto CF legs and one of their new AS-compatible heads.
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Don Haines

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2013, 07:15:49 PM »
Personally, I think Manfrotto offers the best compromise between quality and value.  Even more so now that they have some Arca-Swiss compatible clamps, meaning a good (RRS/Kirk) L-bracket is feasible.

I had a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 with 488RC2, very good legs, the RC2 plate/clamp is a weak point.  Replaced the head with a 468MG with a Wimberley C-12 clamp (AS-type), that setup was great up to a gripped body with white zoom (70-200/2.8, 100-400, 28-300).  Likewise, I had a Manfrotto 694CX monopod with 234 tilt head and C-12 clamp, easily supported the same gear.

I'm all RRS now, though.  When I got the 600 II, I added a TVC-33, BH-55 and PG-02 LLR gimbal, and replaced the monopod and head, both to deal with the heavier load.  But the main reason I replaced the Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 + 468MG with the RRS TQC-14 + BH-30 was the former was too long to fit in my carry-on hard case. 

Bottom line, I'd recommend Manfrotto CF legs and one of their new AS-compatible heads.

I agree, but would like to add a comment about weight....

If you are going to be carrying the tripod a lot, the lighter weight of carbon fibre tripods is nice. Many of them seem to be as sturdy or sturdier than their aluminum counterparts, but beware the light weight in windy conditions.. sometimes you need weight to be stable. You can increase the stability of lightweight tripods by tensioning the center column to a weight (camera bag... backpack...) with a small piece of rope.
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Twostones

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2013, 07:19:06 PM »
After buying several tripods priced from the $200 to $800 range I find my go-to tripod is the Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs. They are light weight very ridged and very versatile. I recommend you look at its features.

dave

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 07:32:56 PM »
After buying several tripods priced from the $200 to $800 range I find my go-to tripod is the Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs. They are light weight very ridged and very versatile. I recommend you look at its features.

+1 for the price the 055CXPRO3 is just about perfect. They do a four section version CXPRO4which is shorter when closed but is a little less stable due to the thinner leg section at the bottom.

I really like the Acratech GP ballhead. it is really nifty and much lighter than most of the alternative manfrotto heads at only 450 grams or so. This combo should last years and be easy to lug around.

dickgrafixstop

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 08:37:47 PM »
Any tripod that will support the weight is fine - and various manufacturers make dozens of models that are
adequate.  I'd recommend the Leitz Tilt-all - mine's 40+ years old and works like a champ.  It's a little heavier
and a lot cheaper that some of the high tech carbon/graphite models available today. 

Halfrack

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 12:01:33 AM »
Since it's price sensitive, I'm pretty happy with my Sirui (I think it's the M-3004).  The catch is that a tripod is an easy place to go cheap and works, while at the same time paying for it every time you take it out (added weight).  How tall or short will determine a lot of it, as will pack size.

Spending the money on a carbon fiber one may sound like a bad idea, but it's my next upgrade.  Honestly, a used set of legs works great as a starting point - that way she can decide what direction from there to go (taller, shorter, lighter, etc).

So ask yourself, do you need an upgrade?
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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 12:01:33 AM »

Jim O

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 10:57:46 AM »
I believe that carbon fiber tripods pay for themselves in convenience, unless you're not carrying them more than a very short distance at a time.

For her needs, as photographer but with plans to grow, I would consider Sirui. They offer short, lightweight legs and also legs/head combos that are (I think) A-S compatible.

Induro is another brand that comes to mind as a cheaper alternative to Gitzo and the the other "name brands". There are pro and con reviews on them all over the internet, probably even here.
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wsheldon

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 11:20:48 AM »
I believe that carbon fiber tripods pay for themselves in convenience, unless you're not carrying them more than a very short distance at a time.

For her needs, as photographer but with plans to grow, I would consider Sirui. They offer short, lightweight legs and also legs/head combos that are (I think) A-S compatible.

Induro is another brand that comes to mind as a cheaper alternative to Gitzo and the the other "name brands". There are pro and con reviews on them all over the internet, probably even here.

+1 

Although I have (and really like) Gitzo 2531 legs, I recently bought a light weight aluminum Induro for a M43 system and a nice CF monopod for my 100-400L. The quality of the legs, grip and twist locks on the monopod definitely rival Gitzo for less money, and you get really nice cases with Induro as a side benefit. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to save a few $$.
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tron

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2013, 11:28:48 AM »
I moved from a Manfrotto 055PROB + 410 Junior Gear Head (total ~3.7Kg) to a Gitzo 3541LS + Markins M20 head (total ~ 2.3Kg)

This proved to be a night and day difference in weight for me. It cost a lot but now I am able to take it with me more often.

I believe this is overkill for you. You should try to focus on a Carbon Fiber solution though. A rather expensive but light tripod that you take with you is better than a cheaper heavy tripod that stays at home.

Keep in mind that for tripods you can have only 2 out of the following 3 characteristics: Cheap, Light and Stable.

Rockets95

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2013, 12:30:33 PM »
After buying several tripods priced from the $200 to $800 range I find my go-to tripod is the Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs. They are light weight very ridged and very versatile. I recommend you look at its features.

Agree on the 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs. Also had the non-CF (055XPRO3) version for a while - both very sturdy and durable for a reasonable (relatively speeking) price. The drawback for me is it's too short (I'm almost 6'-2) and it's hard to justify buying a Gitzo being a hobbiest.
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cayenne

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2013, 01:47:28 PM »
A thought occured to me, do ya'll have separate tripod/head combos for stills vs video?

I've gotten my manfrotto sticks that came with a cheaper video head that I updated with another manfrotto video head, but now that and my manfroto monopod and slider all have the same QR system (509 I think?).

Anyway, that brings me to my next question...this is all good for video and swapping around quickly, but what about for shooting stills and the need for a different head that can shot portrait as well as landscapes...do y'all get 2 separate systems for stills vs video?

Does this girl want to shoot both stills and video? Is there a head that can be used well for both?


Thanks in advance,

cayenne

Eldar

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 01:57:02 PM »
Thanks for the tips guys, I´ll check out the Manfrottos.

She is just doing stills and is probably not even aware that her 6D can do video, so a ball head would be preferred. An alternative I´ve been looking at is Benro. Seems to be good value for money and she can get a carbon fiber tripod combo, with a seemingly decent ball head to fit her budget. Their heads are arcs-swiss compatible, which I think is an advantage and it is fairly light and compact. You can also remove one of the legs, combine it with the center pin and voila, you have a monopod.
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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 01:57:02 PM »

JPAZ

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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 03:00:23 PM »
Agree that CF lightens the load.  I've been happy with my Redged legs.  They are very light (pros and cons as mentioned above) but sturdy and the twist locks are a pleasure.  I used a Redged ball head (RT-3) that was adequate but the weak spot in my system.  It works with my 5Diii and 100-400 but I don't trust it with that weight load.  It has a QR system that is not standardized and does not pan well.  So, I am keeping the legs but just ordered the Sirui K20x with Arca-Swiss type QR plates. 
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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2013, 03:15:01 PM »
I am really rough on my tripods (carbon fiber does shatter - don't ask) and highly recommend the aluminum Manfrotto 055XPROB if she's looking for a "final" tripod to do it all, assuming the weight and size aren't too high.  It's the best value out there for a set of legs. I replaced the center column with the compact center column which works better.  As for heads, Neuro is spot on with his recommendations.
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Re: Choosing the right tripod
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2013, 03:15:01 PM »