August 23, 2014, 03:35:59 AM

Author Topic: Advice requested re travel tripods  (Read 3017 times)

Vivid Color

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Advice requested re travel tripods
« on: November 16, 2013, 01:43:35 PM »
I have an almost 40-year old, very heavy but in excellent condition Velbon tripod. I plan to keep it, but I would like to get a light-weight travel tripod to take to Hawaii with me this coming summer and to have for other non-car trips as well.

I was at one of Calumet's stores yesterday and the clerk recommended the MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod.

http://www.mefoto.com/products/roadtrip.aspx

I know that MeFOTO's parent company is Benro and that Benro also makes travel tripods. I've read numerous reviews of tripods on this site, but I could not find any that focused on the MeFOTO line.

In terms of how I would use it, in addition to landscape, travel photography, I would perhaps use it for outdoor macro photography and photo workshops too. The RoadTrip model is rated to hold over 17 pounds and the heaviest body + lens I would be putting on it would be my 6D + 70-300L. (Maybe a 70-200L or 100-400L in the future, but I really don't see myself buying or even renting super-teles.)   

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and comments as to the suitability of the MeFOTO tripod for my proposed uses, including whether to go with aluminum or carbon fiber, as it might apply to my proposed uses. (CF is lighter weight, but are there any advantages, other than price, for going with aluminum?) Comments from users and non-users of MeFOTO tripods are welcome. I'm also open to suggestions about other travel tripod/head combinations that are light-weight, especially ones under $500. (If that figure is unrealistic, let me know that too.)

Vivid :)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 11:25:41 AM by Vivid Color »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 01:04:56 PM »
RE aluminum vs CF, although more expensive, CF isn't just lighter.  It's also easier to handle in cold weather, and damps vibration better than aluminum.
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Don Haines

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 01:21:44 PM »
As posted before, one of the few drawbacks of carbon fibre tripods is that they can blow over in the wind.... You can tie down the tripod from the centre column to your camera bag, a brick, or whatever, to make it more stable. Also, if it is tied to the camera bag, thieves can not walk off with it while you are distracted.
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Vivid Color

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2013, 03:42:35 PM »
Neuro and Don, thank you for your comments. CF it is. Don, thank you too for sending the picture of how you tie your bag to your tripod. In addition to the security aspect, I really like the idea of keeping the bag on the ground as I think this would add to the stability. Most photos I see of weights tied to the center column of the tripod show the weight off the ground.


neuroanatomist

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2013, 04:52:40 PM »
Definitely lower the weight so it is on the ground.  A suspended camera bag will get moved by the wind, adding vibration instead of dampening it.

Since most tripods small enough to be classified as "travel tripods" have a center column, at least make sure the center column has a hook on the bottom. Oh, and it should go without saying – don't lift the center column unless you absolutely can't avoid it.
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Vivid Color

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 03:47:59 PM »
Definitely lower the weight so it is on the ground.  A suspended camera bag will get moved by the wind, adding vibration instead of dampening it.

Since most tripods small enough to be classified as "travel tripods" have a center column, at least make sure the center column has a hook on the bottom. Oh, and it should go without saying – don't lift the center column unless you absolutely can't avoid it.

Thank you again, Neuro. It does have a hook in the center column and you can invert the center column for closer to the ground shots. I took my 6D + 70-300L with collar attached into the local Calumet store the other day and put it on the MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod. It actually seemed more solid than I expected, especially when I put the camera in portrait position. Since looking solid and being solid can be different, I took a bunch of photos in the store, without a camera cable release or a weight attached to the center column hook, and with the center column extended all the way up and down. I haven't had a chance yet to review the photos, but I will do so before buying anything.

mackguyver

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 12:22:13 PM »
I have a MeFOTO RoadTrip coming today from Amazon and will be traveling with it in the near future.  I'll report on how it works but for $189 with an Arca Swiss head, it's a great price and the reviews I've found are all very good.  Given the tripod + head costs less than half of what my RRS head costs, I'll keep my expectations realistic, but I'm tired of carrying my massive tripod/head with me on vacations where shooting is just a small part of my plans.
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mackguyver

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 11:10:20 AM »
My first impressions are very positive.  The tripod is well-built and just the size I was looking for.  The lowest leg section is tiny, but the tripod is sturdy and has no issues holding my 5DIII and 24-70II.  The head is tiny, too, but holds my RRS L-plate tight and even has the center alignment mark.  The knobs and everything are all perfect, no flaws at all.  The carry bag is nice and has spike feet and a wrench included.  When fully extended, I (at 5'10") don't have to crouch too much, and with the center column raised, it easily comes up to eye height.

The only issue so far is the short center column that I purchased as well.  It only lowers the rig by about 2-3" and the tripod won't close all the way if it's in place due to the reversible leg design.  I was hoping to ditch the long center column to save a bit more weight, but oh well.  I guess the short center column will go back.  I'll be traveling soon and will report on how it does on my trip.
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dcm

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2014, 12:55:59 PM »
I have a MeFOTO RoadTrip coming today from Amazon and will be traveling with it in the near future.  I'll report on how it works but for $189 with an Arca Swiss head, it's a great price and the reviews I've found are all very good.  Given the tripod + head costs less than half of what my RRS head costs, I'll keep my expectations realistic, but I'm tired of carrying my massive tripod/head with me on vacations where shooting is just a small part of my plans.

Interesting option - $189 for the aluminum, $329 for carbon fiber.  There isn't much difference in weight though - 3.6 lbs vs 3.1 lbs.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2014, 01:22:42 PM »
Thanks for posting your impressions.  I was at the Calumet liquidation last week, they had a whole rainbow of the MeFOTO travel tripods.  Might go back this week, try one, and if the discount is decent, I may pick one up. 
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mackguyver

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2014, 01:47:26 PM »
Thanks for posting your impressions.  I was at the Calumet liquidation last week, they had a whole rainbow of the MeFOTO travel tripods.  Might go back this week, try one, and if the discount is decent, I may pick one up.
For the money, I don't think you can beat them, especially if you want a A/S compatible head out of the box.  My primary tripod is a Manfrotto 055XPROB (I've destroyed two CF tripods, so I'm sticking with my old aluminum beast these days) and a RRS BH55 head, so it's 7.2lbs and 29.4" collapsed vs. 3.6lbs and 15.4" for the MeFoto, so it's nearly half the size and weight.  I guess I had reasonably low expectations for it, but it holds a lot more weight and is much sturdier than expected.  The reviews on Amazon and other places were almost universally positive, and I'm glad I bought it.

I'm not sure if I'll ever use the monopod feature, but that's kind of interesting and nice to have if needed, particularly for places that ban tripods but permit monopods (like many zoos and other tourist spots).  Being able to get in hot pink is a bonus, too ;), but I went with the titanium color.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2014, 02:08:02 PM »
I had a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 and 468MG with a Wimberley C-12, but the collapsed length was ~24", meaning I had to remove the head to fit the legs in my Storm carryon hard case.  I swapped that for a RRS TQC-14 with BH-30 LR, wihch is 20" when collapsed, and the tripod+head in it's quiver bag fits in my Storm case.

However, having something even smaller for backpack use would be very convenient, as long as I'm not giving up too much in the support department. 
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mackguyver

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2014, 02:16:11 PM »
I had a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 and 468MG with a Wimberley C-12, but the collapsed length was ~24", meaning I had to remove the head to fit the legs in my Storm carryon hard case.  I swapped that for a RRS TQC-14 with BH-30 LR, wihch is 20" when collapsed, and the tripod+head in it's quiver bag fits in my Storm case.

However, having something even smaller for backpack use would be very convenient, as long as I'm not giving up too much in the support department.
That's a nice travel set up, but if you can get a good price, the MeFoto is definitely a decent set up.  This is actually my first travel tripod - until now I've just hauled my big tripod around or done without.  More often that not, it was doing without one, so I'm happy to have found a small but sturdy tripod at a nice price.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2014, 02:20:35 PM »
That's a nice travel set up, but if you can get a good price, the MeFoto is definitely a decent set up.  This is actually my first travel tripod - until now I've just hauled my big tripod around or done without.  More often that not, it was doing without one, so I'm happy to have found a small but sturdy tripod at a nice price.

My daughter is starting to enjoy photography, she uses an old S95 for now, but it's never too early to start using a tripod.  Something other than basic black might facilitate that.   ;)   I have the little Hejnar AS plate for my EOS M (likely her next camera, after the DPAF version of the M comes along), that will work for the PowerShot.
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mackguyver

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Re: Advice requested re travel tripods
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2014, 02:30:19 PM »
That's a nice travel set up, but if you can get a good price, the MeFoto is definitely a decent set up.  This is actually my first travel tripod - until now I've just hauled my big tripod around or done without.  More often that not, it was doing without one, so I'm happy to have found a small but sturdy tripod at a nice price.

My daughter is starting to enjoy photography, she uses an old S95 for now, but it's never too early to start using a tripod.  Something other than basic black might facilitate that.   ;)   I have the little Hejnar AS plate for my EOS M (likely her next camera, after the DPAF version of the M comes along), that will work for the PowerShot.
For that purpose, it would be perfect.  It would support the S95 and EOS M with no issues at all and is small and light enough for a child to use.  It sounds like she might need to come along and pick out her favorite color.  I'm not sure how old she is, but you might need to get her the MeFoto SideKick360 as well for selfies ;)
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