August 20, 2014, 05:24:22 AM

Author Topic: The best tripod ...  (Read 7253 times)

dickgrafixstop

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #60 on: May 01, 2014, 01:24:59 PM »
Just over 40 years ago I bought a Leitz Tilt-all.  It was strong enough, sturdy enough, versatile enough, light enough, and, though expensive at the time, is still used on a weekly basis.  I've looked at others since I bought it, but I never find one that I prefer.  I know Leitz sold out some years ago, but I think the tripod is still made and available.   Oh, when I
bought a small digital point and shoot, I bought one of those "inexpensive" Manfrotto offerings.  It turned out to be a
piece of junk - never buy a tripod with plastic clips to hold the legs  - and lasted less than six months.

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #60 on: May 01, 2014, 01:24:59 PM »

nickname

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #61 on: May 01, 2014, 04:55:13 PM »
My heaviest lens is a 70-300L, so the 'moderate' duty heads should be the right balance.

(...), having an off-center load increases the chances of vibration.  (...)

Sorry for being pedantic but I read this very often. Actually, having a very balanced setup *increases* the risk of vibrations as the system can move more easily around its support and is thus more prone to pick up any high frequency vibrations. The greater the mass or the more off-centred the mass is placed, the more difficult it is to move the system out of its (in-) balanced pivot point. It is best shown by the fact that a well-balanced gimbal supported system (like a heavy telephoto lens) can be moved easily by a push of a single finger whereas an off-balanced system requires more effort and force. That's why it is good to rest your hand firmly on the camera (body) while shooting from a tripod or by even placing a bean bag on the camera. This not only increases the mass of the system which then adopts a lower resonant frequency but it also helps to imbalance the sytem and stabilises it further.

brad-man

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #62 on: May 01, 2014, 05:34:17 PM »
My heaviest lens is a 70-300L, so the 'moderate' duty heads should be the right balance.

(...), having an off-center load increases the chances of vibration.  (...)

Sorry for being pedantic but I read this very often. Actually, having a very balanced setup *increases* the risk of vibrations as the system can move more easily around its support and is thus more prone to pick up any high frequency vibrations. The greater the mass or the more off-centred the mass is placed, the more difficult it is to move the system out of its (in-) balanced pivot point. It is best shown by the fact that a well-balanced gimbal supported system (like a heavy telephoto lens) can be moved easily by a push of a single finger whereas an off-balanced system requires more effort and force. That's why it is good to rest your hand firmly on the camera (body) while shooting from a tripod or by even placing a bean bag on the camera. This not only increases the mass of the system which then adopts a lower resonant frequency but it also helps to imbalance the sytem and stabilises it further.

Easy enough to put your theory to the test. Set up a heavy lens with a collar balanced on your ballhead and switch your camera to top magnification in Live View and strike the pod/lens/camera with a force that you can accurately reproduce. Notice the degree and longevity of the vibration. Then repeat the test using your camera plate as the attachment point. I think you'll find that the second method will incur a far greater degree of vibration as well as duration.

Keem

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #63 on: May 01, 2014, 05:50:21 PM »
Thanks for that. I had already started coming around to the idea that whilst the legs are important, the real challenge is identifying the right head.

Here's about the only head-to-head (pun intended) comparison I've seen of the major tripod heads, which was published, but not done, by DPReview:
Battle of the titans: Top ball heads tested
It's not the definitive review, but it's pretty well done and will give you a feel for the different heads.


You can find another comparison of ball heads here:
http://www.traumflieger.de/desktop/ballhead/ballheads.php
(it is in German, but covers 37 heads with 3 different price classes)


nickname

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #64 on: May 01, 2014, 07:48:31 PM »
I think you'll find that the second method will incur a far greater degree of vibration as well as duration.
[/quote]
I think that any off-centred mass will lower the natural renonance frequency but it will also allow the system to swing for longer as lever arms are greater. I haven't done the test you suggested but I tried flicking a plastic ruler placed over the edge of my desk (which is basically a system of a clamped beam with a free end) and observed the vibrations at different length of the free end. Longer lever arms vibrate at lower frequencies but also vibrate for longer. I have to therefore partly revert my statement and accept that centred masses dampen quicker which is what one wants for sharper photos.

neuroanatomist

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #65 on: May 01, 2014, 09:45:14 PM »
My heaviest lens is a 70-300L, so the 'moderate' duty heads should be the right balance.

(...), having an off-center load increases the chances of vibration.  (...)

Sorry for being pedantic but I read this very often. Actually, having a very balanced setup *increases* the risk of vibrations as the system can move more easily around its support and is thus more prone to pick up any high frequency vibrations. The greater the mass or the more off-centred the mass is placed, the more difficult it is to move the system out of its (in-) balanced pivot point. It is best shown by the fact that a well-balanced gimbal supported system (like a heavy telephoto lens) can be moved easily by a push of a single finger whereas an off-balanced system requires more effort and force. That's why it is good to rest your hand firmly on the camera (body) while shooting from a tripod or by even placing a bean bag on the camera. This not only increases the mass of the system which then adopts a lower resonant frequency but it also helps to imbalance the sytem and stabilises it further.

Interesting hypothesis that an unbalanced load is less susceptible to vibration, and easily invalidated by just such a test as brad-man describes.

Partly for kicks, but partly to get a feel for the magnitude of the effects, I tried a few tests...

First off, the with the Canon tripod collar and the appropriate RRS plate, the 1D X + 70-300L can't be balanced – it's back-heavy even with the plate slid as far forward in an RRS clamp as the safety stop in the plate allows.  I was able to balance it by loosening the plate and sliding it back (not ideal for regular use, as it defeats the anti-twist.  I suspect a non-gripped body would balance properly.  Even with the plate installed correctly, the load was less unbalanced than connecting to the body plate.  I did the testing with the plate slid back for a balanced load.

In all cases, the setup was on the first floor of my house on a hardwood floor.  I initially tried FoCal testing there, but the floor transmits enough vibration that I moved my AF testing to the basement.  Still, the point here was to see vibration, so I chose the hardwood floor.  I used Live View at 10x magnification, with the 70-300L at 300mm, focused on the far wall, and initiated vibration in a roughly reproducible fashion by dropping a sandbag from a fixed height to the floor.  That resulted in vibration that was stronger than my normal shutter press for the same setup.

I first used my RRS TVC-33 and BH-55 LR, a very robust setup.  Honestly, there was no easily discernible difference between the balanced setup on the collar and the unbalanced setup on the body. In both cases, the vibration damped in just over one second. 

I next tried a less robust setup, my RRS TQC-14 and BH-30 LR.  'Less robust' is relative – the TQC-14 is RRS' lowest capacity tripod, rated for 25 lbs., but many will recall the picture I've posted of RRS owner Joe hanging his full body weight from it (body as in corpus, not camera).  With that setup, there was a barely discernible difference between the balanced and unbalanced loads, with the unbalanced load taking slightly longer to settle.  Still, in both cases the vibrations damped in around two seconds.

To accentuate the effect, I raised the center column of the TQC-14 (something I don't normally do).  In that test, the damping times were long enough to time with a stopwatch.  The balanced load settled in just under 4 seconds on average, and the unbalanced load settled in just over 5 seconds on average.  So, a bit over 25% longer to damp the vibrations of the unbalanced load.

Finally, I switched to the 1D X + 100-400L at 400mm (that combo could be balanced properly on the tripod foot with the lens plate in the correct position).  The balanced load took only slightly longer to settle than the lighter/shorter FL 70-300L, damping after just over 4 seconds on average, while the unbalanced load took just over 6 seconds to settle.  So, at 400mm the unbalanced load took about 33% longer to damp.

A couple other random points: I didn't try a beanbag on the camera, but placing my hand on the camera was a bust, my own random physical motion prevented the image from settling at all, as long as I was touching the camera.  Hanging a weight from the hook under the tripod platform/center column shortened the damping time, as one would expect.

While I wasn't surprised that the unbalanced load was more susceptible to vibration, I was surprised that the effect was relatively minor.  Even in basically a worst-case scenario – 400mm lens on a raised center column of a travel tripod (albeit a very good one), a 10 s self-timer would have been sufficient (of course, that assumes the source of vibration isn't continuous).
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e17paul

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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #66 on: May 07, 2014, 02:28:36 AM »
My heaviest lens is a 70-300L, so the 'moderate' duty heads should be the right balance.

As long as the quality is good, I agree.  One point about the 70-300L is that it's a pretty heavy lens – I think it may be the heaviest current Canon lens that does not come with a tripod collar (if not the heaviest, then it's close).  Unless you've sprung for the (damn expensive) Canon Tripod Ring C, or a cheaper 3rd party version, when mounted via a body plate the 70-300L will be quite front-heavy, which puts stress on a ballhead. 

Personally, I did get the Tripod Ring C (WII), and it does provide a better balance on a tripod.  Even with a ballhead that can handle the load (as my BH-55 LR certainly can), having an off-center load increases the chances of vibration.  The effects of vibration become more evident as focal length increases, so an off-center load with a 300mm lens is not a good combo, IMO.  The other benefit I find with the tripod ring is that when handholding (which is how I mostly use the lens), it allows me to support the lens with my hand on the tripod foot.  That's beneficial not for the support, but because it puts my fingers further out on the lens barrel by default – the 'reversed' order of the focus/zoom rings on the 70-300L (relative to most other L zooms) means when handholding with my typical grip, I'm grabbing the focus ring instead of the zoom ring for the 70-300L.

Thanks for the advice, it confirms my decision to buy the expensive Canon tripod ring C. This has been on order since before joining this thread. Either Canon hand craft it in a very special process, or it is currently on a carrier tortoise from Japan to the UK. Or maybe the carrier pigeon found it too heavy and stopped for a spring break.

I think that I have settled on a Manfrotto 190CX3 or 055CX4. Probably the latter, but I will try both out at Park Cameras before I buy. Incidentally, Park Cameras now have a fine London showroom.

Further to advice from reviews and this forum, and checking out the Gitzos at Park,  I'm resigned to the fact that I will probably want something more cumbersome for car trips. But the Manfrotto will handle everything for now.

I say now, but when the tripod ring arrives...

That's one reason I haven't responded before.

Paul
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Re: The best tripod ...
« Reply #66 on: May 07, 2014, 02:28:36 AM »