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Tripods…Oh, Tripods

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 45 total)
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  • #2289
    ennuipoet
    Participant

    They say the most important thing (after lenses) that a photographer needs is a good tripod. They also say that most of us waste all sorts of money on cheap pieces of crap before finally spending the money on a decent tripod. I have…five tripods in a crap pile. Today I brought home this one:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/131427-REG/Slik_615_315_Pro_700DX_Tripod_with.html

    Holy. Crap. What a difference! First of all, without raising the center column, it extends to six feet! I am 6’1″ so I don’t have to lean down to look through the viewfinder! It is sturdy, though the bottom legs feel a little cheap, I suppose they had to save weight somewhere. Three way pan/tilt (I will probably replace with a ball head eventually), legs adjust to lean and turn in any direction and the center column is reversible for over the top shots and macro. All of this for $139.00!

    The downside, this mother is heavy. Really heavy. Seven pounds heavy. I like heavy tripods because when I do bother to use a tripod it is invariably windy as hell, so even with the tripod it looks like I am handholding. I don’t expect that to be the case here.

    I couldn’t find another tripod with all these features and so well reviewed for twice this price. So, when you are done collecting cheap pods, here you go.

    Now all those cheap pods are going to be light stands!

    #39535
    orionid
    Participant

    Absolutely agreed! I picked up a Benro 328 on clearance with Christmas money, then snagged a Bogen-Manfrotto Pan-tilt head from ebay for $25.

    It’s fricking solid. this was taken fully extended to seven-feet-ish in high gusting winds. f/25, 30 second exposure.

    #39534
    ravnostic
    Participant

    I just bought the same cheap tripod from Wal-Mart that I bought 4 years ago. Still in economy mode, I guess–but I have tripod porn stashed in my hard drive that I fantasize about all the time. 😀

    #39533
    chupathingie
    Participant

    I listened to the local camera store guy (we actually have a nice camera shop…or did back when I lived there) and bought a manfrotto tripod way back in…2003? It’s heavy, solid, and I’ve beat it like crazy. Still using it.

    I really want a ball head for it, but I keep finding other stuff to buy.

    So yeah, I’m in total agreement with “Don’t buy a cheap tripod.”

    As for wind, I’ve yet to find ANY tripod that can keep a long exposure steady enough for sharp imaging with a 300mm and lens hood in place. I’m tempted to carry sand bags in the car to drape over the camera on days like that.

    #39532
    Curious
    Participant

    when i got the 4×5 i traded a guy for this tripod he wanted light weight and i wanted heavy duty. straight trade and we were both happy. have it to this day.

    i also have a couple of light weight like this one on the right. that’s the heavy duty in the foreground. and a 24″ Slik and a few of the mini type, two flimsy 36-40″ and a monopod. because you just can’t have enough [strike]useless crap[/strike] tripods.

    #39539
    caradoc
    Participant

    As for wind, I’ve yet to find ANY tripod that can keep a long exposure steady enough for sharp imaging with a 300mm and lens hood in place. I’m tempted to carry sand bags in the car to drape over the camera on days like that.

    Don’t drape them over the camera – hang them from the tripod, but touching the ground so they don’t swing or “pendulum” in the wind.

    I use a pair of heavy bungee cords and my camera bag under my tripod when I’m out shooting storms – the cords put just enough tension on the bag that it doesn’t quite leave the ground.

    #39538
    zincprincess
    Participant

    Well this is timely. I am ready to buy a new tripod. I’ve been using a cheapie that I found amongst my husband’s film camera stuff which was a hand-me-down from his father. It doesn’t extend tall enough. I’m 5.5 ft tall so I don’t need a really tall tripod.

    I haven’t pulled the trigger because I don’t know what all my options are and which would fit my needs. I think I’ve figured out what I want for the legs, but I have no idea what I need to get for the head. Any opinions on quick release versus the screw mount and ball head versus pan head?

    #39537
    orionid
    Participant

    Quick release is a must. I already want to replace my manfrotto head beacuse it’s missing that. Pan heads are nice with individual axis control if you plan on doing stitched panoramas, but quick action ballheads are nice to just “dial in” your desired angle.

    #39545
    stupido
    Participant
    #39546
    sleeping
    Participant

    I think I’ve figured out what I want for the legs, but I have no idea what I need to get for the head. Any opinions on quick release versus the screw mount and ball head versus pan head?

    If you can spend a decent chunk of money, get a ballhead. If you’re going cheap, go with a pan head. Cheap pan heads can still be functional, but a ballhead that doesn’t move smoothly and lock down tight is basically worthless.

    It’s kind of the same deal with quick releases – if it’s not 100% secure, you really don’t want to have one, but there’s not much that can go wrong with a 1/4″ thread.

    #39544
    caradoc
    Participant

    I’m 5.5 ft tall so I don’t need a really tall tripod.

    Another note on “stability” – raising the center column on a tripod makes it less stable.

    My next tripod may not have a center column at all if I can avoid it, but I do use it sometimes by inverting the column to get the camera closer to the ground…

    #39547
    zincprincess
    Participant

    If you can spend a decent chunk of money, get a ballhead. If you’re going cheap, go with a pan head. Cheap pan heads can still be functional, but a ballhead that doesn’t move smoothly and lock down tight is basically worthless.

    It’s kind of the same deal with quick releases – if it’s not 100% secure, you really don’t want to have one, but there’s not much that can go wrong with a 1/4″ thread.

    Good points. And all the more reason to find a store that carries this stuff. I want to play with it before I buy it.

    #39543
    ennuipoet
    Participant

    If you can spend a decent chunk of money, get a ballhead. If you’re going cheap, go with a pan head. Cheap pan heads can still be functional, but a ballhead that doesn’t move smoothly and lock down tight is basically worthless.

    It’s kind of the same deal with quick releases – if it’s not 100% secure, you really don’t want to have one, but there’s not much that can go wrong with a 1/4″ thread.

    Good points. And all the more reason to find a store that carries this stuff. I want to play with it before I buy it.

    That may be tough, tripods are bulky and good tripods are targeted to the professional crowd so a lot camera stores don’t stock a wide selection. I did all of my research on the internet before choosing the Slik.

    Manfrotto has this:

    http://www.manfrotto.com/Service/Tripod+%2B+Head+Chooser/About+the+Camera+Support+System+Configurator+-+Tripod+%2B+Head+Chooser/3670788

    which helps. Then I spent a lot of time on message boards and reading reviews at Amazon to pick something that had the features I wanted and I could afford. After seeing a few five and six hundred dollar tripods I knew I would have to change some criteria.

    #39548
    zincprincess
    Participant

    Research continues . . . I see several tripods with a multi-position center column. Is this something worth having? I am not sure that I will need this capability but I often underestimate my needs when buying stuff. I’m probably going to buy a ball head w/quick release if that makes a difference in the answer.

    Here is an example that I am considering.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/733656-REG/Vanguard_ALTA_PRO_264AT_Alta_Pro_264AT_4_Section.html

    #39549
    Choc-Ful-A
    Participant

    Research continues . . . I see several tripods with a multi-position center column. Is this something worth having? I am not sure that I will need this capability but I often underestimate my needs when buying stuff. I’m probably going to buy a ball head w/quick release if that makes a difference in the answer.

    Here is an example that I am considering.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/733656-REG/Vanguard_ALTA_PRO_264AT_Alta_Pro_264AT_4_Section.html

    I have a “good not great” Slik tripod and have been very happy with it. It’s a pan head not a ball head because the guy at the store where I bought it (there’s a really good camera store in Palo Alto, Ca) said what other people have commented above. Meaning, if you spend the $$$ for a very nice ball head you’ll probably like it a lot. But until you get to the high end, the pan heads outperform equivalently priced ball heads. At this point I’m very used to adjusting the two different controls at the same time and can get the camera where I want pretty quickly. So I don’t think I’d be interested in switching anytime soon.

    But the real reason for this post is to ask about the “Multi-Angle Center Column (0-180?)” feature mentioned on the page you linked. I can’t image why having the center column tilt would be desirable. It sounds unnecessary to me since you can effect the same thing by making the legs of the tripod different lengths, or setting the legs to different locked angles (or both). I’ve taken shots on step hills where I had to put legs in strange configurations to hold the camera at a stable position to take a shot. So unless I’m misinterpreting what that feature means, I think you could spend the money for that feature on something else.

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