September 18, 2014, 12:09:17 AM

Author Topic: Tripod: Suggestions  (Read 1992 times)

ScubaX

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 04:28:53 PM »
I will try and summarize what a tripod is, and hope you follow the links given above by Neuro and these here for information on selecting tripods.

http://blog.reallyrightstuff.com/choosing-a-tripod-part-1/

A professional level tripod consists of 3 parts. The legs, the head, and QR (quick release) plate clamp. An amateur tripod is an all in one, usually doesn't have a QR plate clamp but some do.

A professional level tripod may come as a kit - but usually you will buy the head and legs separately. The QR plate type will be determined by the head you choose.

So you will decide on legs first. They come in a variety of materials but the most common are aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum is generally cheaper, heavier but can be a good starting point. If your hiking or traveling, carbon fiber may be the best to start with and has other benefits such as stability in wind and vibration reduction. Size is also a consideration, both collapsed and extended. How tall are you? You don't want to be forced into crouching to look through your viewfinder.  Will you be traveling and need to carry it on an aircraft?  The best advice is to buy the best you can afford now, that way you don't keep spending in the future for something that you could have purchased once.

The head is next and the most common for photographer is the ball head or BH. Generally these have three controls, one for panning, one to release the ball to manipulate your camera and a third to adjust the tension. There are many particulars to the different manufacturers models but in general, its a ball within a clamp and a stem leading up to the QR clamp. They can be light weight and small for use on a monopod or very heavy and stable with even the heaviest load - and cheap to very expensive. You need to decide what weight spec's you need for your camera, lenses, accessories and future needs - this applies to the legs too.

The Quick Release Clamp and Plate will be decided by the head you chose. You should look for Arca-Swiss compatibility. Another type is Q2 from Manfrotto and they also have other forms of the QR system as they can't seem to make up their minds - and they are proprietary while Arca-Swiss is an open defacto-standard.

Why do you need a QR system? Because it is a HUGE hassle to unscrew the camera or lens off of the tripod. Some lenses have tripod collars and these too will need plates. The plate is the part that is attached to the camera and lenses and they match the QR Clamp type (Arca-Swiss). With Arca-Swiss there is generally a knob that is turned to clamp onto the plate and it keeps your equipment from an unexpected disaster. Some of these come with safety mechanisms that keep your camera with plate from sliding off when your loosening the clamp.

As you may have noticed, tripods can be very expensive or down right cheap. I like my first tripod, except for the Q2 QR system and wish I had gone Arca-Swiss. My investment was $160 for the legs and $160 for the BH. And now I'm spending money to convert it to Arca-Swiss and even more money because I want to put a heavier load on it with a Panoramic setup and better leveling.  So the $375 I've spent could have gone nicely towards an even bigger expense now. But, if your willing to pay to change in the future, you can spend a bit less now and learn my lesson that hard way too.

I kind of mentioned it, but while looking at legs and the head take note of the max weight they can handle. You don't want to cut it too close. And that is an indication of higher quality and stability. You don't want your legs flexing from the weight or the BH (ball head) giving away and allowing your camera to droop.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 06:34:46 PM by ScubaX »
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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 04:28:53 PM »

brad-man

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2014, 06:17:29 PM »
You've gotten some good advice here. My contribution would be to advise that you get a tripod that is tall enough (with ballhead attached) to bring your camera's eyepiece to eye level without raising the center column. Even on the finest tripods, using the center column should be avoided as it introduces unwanted movement. A well made and reasonably priced set of legs that will do this is the Sirui M3204X. I would also suggest you have a look at a Markins Q3 ballhead. They are simple to use, buttery smooth, small, lightweight and are solid as a rock.




http://www.amazon.com/M-3204X-Carbon-Section-Tripod-Height/dp/B004QC4TG4/ref=sr_1_1?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1393458421&sr=1-1&keywords=Sirui+M3204X

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Markins-Q-3-Emille-Ball-Head-Black-Q3-Ballhead-NEW-/180648692673?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0f804bc1

I almost got a heart attack there, just like how I almost got one when I tried looking up for 300mm F2.8's price.  ::)

So that means that I want a tall tripod, even though this usually translates to heavier tripods, right? You are also saying that a direct support from the three legs rather than having an extra section is better, right?

It's OK to have an adjustable center column, there are certain situations where they are very convenient. It is simply preferable to not use it. Here's a quick run down of the arca system being discussed. First, you have the tripod legs. The ballhead attaches to the legs. Then you need a method of connecting the ballhead to your camera. The best way to do this is to buy a ballhead that is arca-compatible. That means that the clamp on top of the ballhead is made to accept arca style plates. There are two types of arca plates. There are plates that mount to the bottom of your camera using the 1/4" screw receptacle found on all cameras. These plates should be custom fitted to whatever model of camera you are using. The best I have found are made by Kirk, Really Right Stuff or Promediagear. They will be used when you are shooting with smaller lenses such as standard zooms (24-70mm) or primes. If you are going to be shooting with larger and heavier lenses such as telephoto zooms, you will need an arca compatible plate that attaches to the lens foot on the tripod collar that came with the lens. This is necessary for proper balance. There is no need to buy expensive name-brand plates for this. Generic lens plates can be purchased on ebay for considerable savings. Just make sure the plates have some sort of anti-twist device on them. This is usually a lip at the rear of the plate that seats up against the lens foot. So stop wasting money on food and the like, and go buy some photography gear.

ahab1372

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2014, 06:28:11 PM »
You've gotten some good advice here. My contribution would be to advise that you get a tripod that is tall enough (with ballhead attached) to bring your camera's eyepiece to eye level without raising the center column. Even on the finest tripods, using the center column should be avoided as it introduces unwanted movement. A well made and reasonably priced set of legs that will do this is the Sirui M3204X. I would also suggest you have a look at a Markins Q3 ballhead. They are simple to use, buttery smooth, small, lightweight and are solid as a rock.




http://www.amazon.com/M-3204X-Carbon-Section-Tripod-Height/dp/B004QC4TG4/ref=sr_1_1?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1393458421&sr=1-1&keywords=Sirui+M3204X

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Markins-Q-3-Emille-Ball-Head-Black-Q3-Ballhead-NEW-/180648692673?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0f804bc1

I almost got a heart attack there, just like how I almost got one when I tried looking up for 300mm F2.8's price.  ::)

So that means that I want a tall tripod, even though this usually translates to heavier tripods, right? You are also saying that a direct support from the three legs rather than having an extra section is better, right?

If the Sirui M3204X is over your budget, look for the Sirui M3004X (the aluminum version - heavier but less expensive).

Maybe there is a misunderstanding about the sections:
All tripod have three legs ( :) ), but each leg can have either three or four sections. Three sections are more stable than four, but the tripod is either less tall, or doesn't fold as compact.

In addition to that, most tripods have a center column that can be extended for more hight. That is especially tempting if you have a short tripod, but the whole thing becomes wobbly. It is better not to extend it. A four-section tripod with the center column not extended is more stable than an (otherwise equivalent) three-section tripod with column center extended. I personally bought a four-section tripod for that reason.
Some tripods don't have a center column at all.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2014, 11:49:00 AM by ahab1372 »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2014, 07:18:47 PM »
RE the center column, I agree with ahab1372.  I think they need a warning label:

Raise in case of emergency only.

The larger, better tripods don't have them at all, for good reason.  Generally, I'm not sure the added height is worth the trade off in loss of stability. 

Having said that, I can see occasional utility.  A center column would have been handy when I did headshots for ~30 people in succession.  I was able to grab a pneumatic chair that was tall enough (a desk chair would have been too short, lab chairs are perfect).  But had I not been able to raise and lower the subject, raising and lowering the camera would have been a pain, a center column would have made it easier.  I was on an office floor and using four strobes and f/11, so no ambient mean the flashes were freezing motion, so vibration would not have been an issue.
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ahab1372

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2014, 10:18:34 PM »
+1 on the warning label  ;D
To summarize the center column topic:
Get a tripod that's tall enough without the center column raised, and the label that Neuro mentioned is applicable.

Jim Saunders

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2014, 01:54:33 AM »
If you're up for a different approach that weighs more and costs less, Berlebach has a nice wooden tripod (their part number 3032C available at B&H here or in a plain finish under 3032 elsewhere) which has something of a ballhead built into it.  It won't tip all the way sideways as a standard ballhead will but it has about 30 degrees of travel for getting level without adjusting the legs.

I don't know if you've seen it yet in all the links but the standard for attaching a ballhead to a tripod is a 3/8" (-16 UNC) screw thread, with the male part on the tripod.  Some use a 1/4" (-20 UNC) thread, adapters are available to go up from the 1/4" thread to 3/8".

The Berlebach is a little bit different in that the screw thread is on the part you can move around; you can get a clamp by itself (rather than with a ballhead) and use it directly.  A clamp like this is a good start.

This might have been covered too but the ARCA-Swiss type clamps and plates are more or less industry standard, and they allow you some wiggle room to put the center of gravity of your camera over the tripod.  The Manfrotto plates work just fine but they're proprietary and they don't give you that bit of flexibility either.  Manfrotto has embraced the ARCA-Swiss pattern very recently though.

I can get some photos if you like.

Jim
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dickgrafixstop

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2014, 01:36:34 AM »
I don't know much about tripods, especially the new ones.  I bought a Leitz Tilt-all in 1968 (they're still being made by someone) and have never felt the need to change.  It's not the lightest thing to carry but it's faithfully
supported Rolleiflexes, Hasselblads, Canon and Nikon systems over the years.

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2014, 01:36:34 AM »

abcde12345

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2014, 05:18:33 AM »
Very awesome replies! It's a bit too much to digest for now, so give me a few days to read through guys. Thanks for the advice though, and keep it up if you guys have anything to say. In fact this might become a very good introduction for anyone who wants to look at tripod. Pictures, diagrams and all are definitely welcomed!

abcde12345

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2014, 07:30:27 AM »
Hi guys, I have been investigating and realize that the size of my lens matters too, so here goes: I can only see myself using a lens of 70-200mm size, so that will be my biggest lens. Taking that into consideration, it seems like the 55 series of Manfrotto tripod legs will be a good-enough choice. I have been looking at these pages:

http://www.canonpricewatch.com/accessories/manfrotto

Anyone has a good thing to say about those?Also, I would say that I've decided with a ball-head system instead of a L-shaped head. Seems like ball head system gives a pretty good stability and sufficient precision. However, will it be suitable for panoramic photos?
Thanks guys! Appreciate it!

ScubaX

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2014, 03:04:02 PM »
I use a 055XPROB, it is aluminum and has a center column that can be oriented to a horizontal position. It's a good basic tripod with the features I just named also its weakness.

Center columns tend to cause instability. I try and not use mine, but just having the column makes the tripod less stable.

Aluminum is heavier but less stable than carbon fiber as it has less vibration resistance.

However, it price point is very good and it does work well enough most of the time. But I am looking now at a much more expensive tripod as I like long exposure shooting and want the stability.

In your link, I like the Manfrotto 055CX3 best, but it still has that center column. I think all Manfrotto's do and I don't know a good tripod without one at that price point. But, I think it is " a good-enough choice".

A BH will pan, but it is way more difficult to say it will to panoramic's. What's the difference? It has to do with leveling and nodal points. A good panoramic setup will run a few hundred dollars to a thousand.

When you level your camera via the ball head, your camera will only be level at that point. Then when you pan the BH, the level will change because the BH stem to clamp are not centered over the axis of the tripod - they were angled to give you that level point. If you level the tripod via the legs only, and get a perfectly vertical adjustment to your BH and your horizon is level, it will probably still be not level when rotating - the world just is not the perfect and easy. Rotator's for pano's either exclude the BH all together or are placed on top of the BH. Then when they are rotated, the BH leveling will work as the BH stays stationary and the rotator turns around that leveled position. If excluding the BH, you need to level via the legs or a separate leveling device that is part of the tripod or added to the tripod mount.  Does it sound complicated yet? That's nothing, now add in the nodal point.

A nodal point - (you should google it) is the point you want to rotate around to avoid parallax. The nodal point is in your lens, not the camera. So a http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/s.nl/sc.26/category.600/it.C/.f is used to offset your camera and get the center axis of the tripod to align with the nodal point.

Of course with the right conditions, you can even hand hold a DSLR and get a good pano. The software used to stitch the pano can fix a lot of the problems - but not very well in the case of parallax. But, it's better to get it right in the camera and then the results will get even better. If you shoot a mountain scene with nothing in the foreground, parallax is not really an issue, but if you have an object in the foreground, it will move in relationship to the background. That will blur the object when stitching the pano and cause you a lot more work in Photoshop to fix it.

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EricFiskCGD

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2014, 03:26:29 PM »
I just bought a Dolica AX730P105 73-Inch Proline Tripod and Pan Head and I've used it a couple days in a row on so many surfaces like wood, pavement, and even snow.

It has a quick release, too. I'll post more details if needed.
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fatmanmedi

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2014, 05:31:51 PM »
hi,

i cant recommend highly enough stuff from WLT, i have the frank model http://www.3leggedthing.com/frankblue.html the stuff is expensive but most of the tripods doublle up as a monopod so there is extra value there.

Fats

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2014, 07:15:41 PM »
hi,

i cant recommend highly enough stuff from WLT, i have the frank model http://www.3leggedthing.com/frankblue.html the stuff is expensive but most of the tripods doublle up as a monopod so there is extra value there.

Fats

You are right they are expensive - checked the link and that is more than I paid for my Gitzo 3530LS which will/has supported me at 105+ Kilos! The 3LT tripods are very innovative and adaptable but are too short for most uses unless you extend the center column - then stability goes.
To the OP have a nose around for a used Gitzo, buy quality once = save money.

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Re: Tripod: Suggestions
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2014, 07:15:41 PM »