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Thread: Tripods

  1. #1
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    Default Tripods

    Ahoi all,

    I couldn't find any recent threads on them in this section so I thought I'd start one.

    Tripods are a necessary part of your kit, particularly if you're going to get yourself a big prime lens.

    What should you be looking for when you're buying a tripod, what kind of material is best (carbon fibre/ alumminum) what sort of "head" is the way to go?

    I don't have a tripod, so I can't really comment, but it'd be good to get some input from some of the members that use this gear all the time.
    Cheers,
    H

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  2. #2
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    Be interesting to see what answers pop up Henry.
    From what I've read in the past there are certainly some die-hards in the Australian photographic community But then again there are still some people about who would also swear blind that a Kombi is the only way to see Australia.
    For me its carbon fibre over aluminum (or wood) - I'm not saying a carbon-fibre tripod doesnt start to bite into your shoulder on longer walks, but is certainly the lightweight & more durable choice.
    You should pay attention to the tripod weight rating - I think some are under the impression that if a tripod 'looks big enough', that its going to hold your cameras weight adequately. Whilst your lens isnt likely to fall off the tripod initially its also unlikely that your images will be as sharp as with a sturdier choice.
    Of course there are always individuals that are going to be the exception to the rule & turn a sharp image anyway, but I think that your really doing yourself a disservice investing in the lighter option because its $100 cheaper.

    A tripod head really does boil down to choice.
    I believe Ofer Levy uses ball heads & gets fantastic results - But they feel a bit loose-goose to me. The wimberley gives you alot of control & feels very solid in your hand - Difficult to track fast-moving subjects though.

  3. #3
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    I recently splashed out on my first "decent" tripod - a Manfrotto 055CXPro3 after much soul-searching.

    Here's some fairly generic information.

    I think there are 6 main features that you need to consider & each will be of different importance to different people:
    1. Price
    2. Weight
    3. Max Load
    4. Max Height
    5. Min Height
    6. Stability

    And unfortunately they are pretty well linked... A very tall, cheap tripod is probably either going to be very heavy or not very stable.

    Cheers

    Cameron
    Cheers

    Cameron

  4. #4
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    I'm a Gitzo user, a CF version, and they are superb. A BIG improvement in the old twist legs where once the lower leg would twist as well as the one you were trying to adjust; not any more. Fast and easy. Never liked Manfrottos, the leg locks tend to snag on things as you walk past, and they are noisy. Gitzos don't snag, and are very quiet to use.
    Only thing I don't like about the new Gitzos is the legs can fold back past themselves, and to fold legs down quickly in order to heft the tripod up for carrying can be a bit of a problem, legs can go every which way...
    Many people recommend you get a tripod rated at twice your max. camera/lens load. A big tele will be 3-5.5 kg, then a kg or two for the camera/drive, extenders/tubes, flash/brackets add more, plus the head/plates. It all adds up....
    Mine's a 25kg rating, and I have an D700, TC's, flash, 800/5.6 that it handles easily.
    As for heads, the Wimberley is highly regarded for long teles like 500,600/F4's. That is, the full Wimberley; not the Sidekick.
    I also have an Arca Swiss Z1 ballhead, but wouldn't recommend for a lens over 3kg. They are very fast to use (as long as you have the tension set right), though a well balanced Wimberley tracks airborne birds better.
    For ultimate stability, it is best to not have a centre column, just the tripod legs with the head on top.
    Carbon fibre runs rings round aluminium weight-wise, and they don't 'feel' cold or hot as alum. ones do.
    None of this is cheap...whether the Image Stabilised lenses out now obviate the need for a tripod I'm not sure. Old lens users like me still need one!!

    Cheers, John

  5. #5
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    Carbon fibre tripods are the way to go if you can afford them, but it depends on what you are supporting, A Manfrotto 055 will be perfectly adequate for lightweight/small gear, if not as light as it otherwise would be. Gitzo have just bought out an update on thei 6x tripods which are supposed to be much much more stable than even their prior offerings.

    As far as heads go a ball head will work for up to a 500mm lens if you have the right head, in my mind this includes the Arca B1 or equivalent new model, RRS BH-55 and perhaps the kirk BH-1. Lesser heads are Ok for lighter stuff, but believe me there is nothing more annoying than a baulky ball head that slips, creeps or is difficult to finely position. The Gimbal heads come into their own for lenses like the 500mm f4 and longer/heavier models. I use a Gitzo 1325 and an Arca Swiss B1 for all my lenses up to and including the 500mm f4 and it is rock solid. IS doesn't do away with the need for a tripod in my view, particularly with big glass where if nothing else it helps with framing more precisely and gives your arms a rest.

    If you tell us what you currently want to support with the tripod/head combo and maybe what is on the horizon for the next 4-5 years we could make some more specific recommendations.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
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  6. #6
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    I have an aluminium Manfrotto 055, I use it without the centre column and it is still tall enough for 5'10" me. Using it without the centre column lets you easily go near flat quickly for low viewpoint and macro. I'm reasonably strong and fit for 57 y/o but even with just a 40D,300mmlens + flash on top this can get heavyish on long walks. My advice is to do what your doing here, gather information and then buy what you really want the very best you can afford, that way your tripod purchasing will be done once and properly. I use a Manfrotto 322RC2 head for macro and landscape and a home made gimbal head for birds. I'll be staying with the gear I've got, my tripod is regularly in shallow salt water,mud and sand, apart from its weight,no complaints from me.
    Kind regards Trevor.

    Website: www.trevormurrayphotography.com

  7. #7
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    You should only need one so buy right for heavy gear a good Gitzo cf without centre column is the go they come in differing heights to suit all statures.
    A gimbal head is the only way to go for large heavy lenses Wimberley are the best IMO there are others though.

    Mike

  8. #8
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    Here are the main features I need to consider when choosing a tripod :

    1- Capability to absorb 100% of vibrations,
    2- Carbon fiber construction (for corrosion resistance expecially),
    3- Quick and easy to set up with flat on the ground position,
    4- Steady on any surface and at any level setting,
    5- Heavy duty design and construction.


    For the last five years, I've been using the Dutch Hill P900 tripod and the Dietmar Nill head to support my super-telelenses.












  9. #9
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    Nice setup Sar

  10. #10
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    Well that is certainly one way to have a 'zoom' range yet maintain 'prime' lens image quality
    Kind regards Trevor.

    Website: www.trevormurrayphotography.com

  11. #11
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    Yes, with a full frame and a cropped sensors attached to these lenses you can get an effective zomm range of 200-900mm f/4 !

  12. #12
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    Can't imagine swinging that setup over my shoulder and going for a walk Sar!!
    I'm also a Gitzo CF convert and love the weight saving - massive difference from my old Manfrotto 055 etc. I also bought a Mongoose for the weight saving over a Wimberley (and alot cheaper at the time too), but do like the action etc of the Wimberley. Haven't tried the latest Mongoose but having a true locking bolt on them sounds like the answer to my biggest gripe with the old one.
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

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  13. #13
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    I have a Manfrotto 190XDB with a full metal mount Manfrotto 496RC2 ball head...it's nice and light and I use it with my Sigma 150-500mm tele zoom, handles it very well and is infinitely adjustable right down to flat on the ground...
    It's not so much how fast you drive, but rather, how good you look doing it...

  14. #14
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    I was thinking one of these:

    http://www.photovideo.com.au/gitzo-g...um-p-5255.html

    I'm 5 10' so I think it would be sufficiently tall enough. So, with a Wimberley or Mongoose head I'll have something to put my 500mm f/4 on. Any other tripod heads you guys can think of that I might not have considered?

    i'll also be out even more cash, but I figure i'll only have to buy it once.
    Last edited by Henry Cook; 29-04-2012 at 10:57 PM.
    Cheers,
    H

    https://twitter.com/Manic_Henry
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/54876436@N08/

  15. #15
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    I wouldn't bother with anything with a centre column mate. You will never get enough stability with a big lens with the column raised. It also stops you being able to spread the legs flat for low angle stuff. I have the 3531 I think
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

    Aus Life List IOC= 684 - Grey Honeyeater
    "So God created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:21


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