Moving on to Tripods (attention Scott Merryfield)

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    For $500 I'd get
     
    Steel:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/504845-REG/Manfrotto_055XPROB_055XPROB_Aluminum_Tripod_Legs.html
     
    Carbon Fiber:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/548524-REG/Manfrotto_190CXPRO3_190CXPRO3_3_Section_Carbon_Fiber.html
     
    And a used RRS BH-55 LR:
    http://reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/Customkititems.asp?kc=BH%2D55%2DLR&eq=
     
    If you can find one about $300-$350, they come up pretty often at fredMiranda.com which is where I bought mine. If you want to go new, I'd go with this:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554685-REG/Kirk_BH_3_BH_3_Ballhead_with_Quick.html
    or
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/368325-REG/Manfrotto_468MGRC2_468MGRC2_Magnesium_Hydrostatic_Ballhead.html
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    One comment on Sam's suggestions above: that Manfrotto ballhead appears to have the same quick release mechanism that I have on my cheap Manfrotto tripod with built-in ballhead (the one that sits in the closet unused). I found that quick release system very cumbersome to use. The Kirk ballhead appears to have an Arca-Swiss compatible quick release system, similar to the Giottos ballhead I recommended to Ron earlier in the thread. From my experience, I think you will find the Kirk system much easier to use.
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Yes, meant to mention that. Unfortunately I have to use both these days, but I recommend new buyers skip the Manfrotto quick release entirely and go all arca-swiss if they can.
     
    My window mount, car mount and 2 squeeze activated ball heads all have the manfrotto mount and my RRS uses Arca, and I'm loathe to trade in the former to go all the later due to price, but over time I probably will.
     
  4. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    I tried out that Manfrotto hydrostatic ballhead in a store a week ago and was impressed just how solid that thing is. After I turned the knob to tighten it up, that ball wasn't moving no matter how much force I applied to it. At that time I didn't really want to spend $250 on the head (I was trying to keep the body and head combo between $300-400), but I keep finding myself going back to it because it was so solid. I have to make some sort of decision on this in the next week or two so I have some time to play with it before my next trip.
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I wish Manfrotto would make an Arca Swiss line of heads, that would rule. Everything about them is great except the plate system and unfortunately that's one of the spots that matters most.
     
  6. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    Thanks for the suggestons, guys. You've helped a great deal.
     
  7. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Yeah, I had also been using that QR system from Manfrotto mainly because I went w/ their fairly inexpensive swivel/tilt head for monopod use a long while back. I haven't used my legs (both the mono and the tripod) often enough to justify switching to Arca-Swiss QR -- and I hate the idea of having to swap QR plates regularly vs just keeping the plates (semi-)permanently attached to the camera and whatever lens tripod collar(s), etc.
     
    But like Sam said, if you're starting from scratch and can budget for it, definitely go w/ Arca-Swiss QR instead of something like that proprietary(?) Manfrotto QR. You can always mate somebody's Arca-Swiss QR platform to whatever quality ballhead you choose. AFAIK, they all use a standard screw mount for that although you *might* need to be careful not to go w/ a combo that somehow results in the QR setting the camera body (or lens w/ tripod collar) much too far away from the ballhead (and center of gravity) for when you're shooting in portrait mode, etc.
     
    _Man_
     
  8. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    For anyone interested, Amazon currently has the Giottos 3300 ball head marked down to ~$136 (from its usual ~$165 price):

    http://www.amazon.com/Giottos-MH3300-550C-Professional-Calibrated-Camera/dp/B00153GTTM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1288391239&sr=1-2

    May wanna act fast (and also use Amazon's current offer of additional 5% cashback on Amazon GCs purchased w/ an Amazon reward Visa card, if you have one) as they seem to be playing rollercoaster w/ the price on this for the last couple weeks, and there's no telling when it'll go back up to the usual price and stay there for good...

    _Man_
     
  9. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    It's back to 161
     
  10. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I was looking at tripods and heads back in September, but never did pull the trigger. I've been looking again the past few days and think I've narrowed it down to this combo:


    Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber 4 Section Tripod with Q90 Column and Magnesium Castings (about $390) (about 390
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001GIPR62/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    Giottos MH1301-656 Professional Calibrated Ball Head with MH656 Quick Release (about $144)
    http://www.amazon.com/Giottos-MH1301-656-Professional-Calibrated-Release/dp/B000OQIODU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1290386790&sr=8-1

    I was also looking at the above Manfrotto tripod, but the 3 section version (055CXPRO3)-- but think I'll like the more compact 4 section better. My only concern is how thin the bottom leg extensions are on the 4 section tripod.

    Does this look like a decent setup? For travel and personal use. Any comments, suggestions?
     
  11. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    If I were you, I'd at least go for the next higher model of the Giottos ballhead (for just ~$20 more). Also, I wouldn't trust the specs listed at Amazon as they don't seem quite right to me. Here's the info page for ballheads from Giottos' own site:

    http://www.giottos.com/MH-3.htm

    And no, I don't think the top model #3300 is too heavy at all, but then again, I don't plan to go hiking in mountainous terrain all day.

    RE: those Manfrotto legs, don't know anything about them, but I think I've come to prefer the twist lock mechanism of other brand pods. I did briefly own a Manfrotto carbon fiber monopod once several years ago and thought it wasn't thick and firm enough (as it seemed to flex fairly easily) -- maybe that's partly why the description specifically mentions about the more stable, better carbon fiber composition used for this tripod. Also, couldn't tell from the tiny pic nor description at Amazon, but I assume this tripod (at that asking price) allows you to set each leg at a few different locking angles from the base. If not, definitely look for something else that does.

    One thing. If I were to do it again, I think I might go for 3-section, instead of 4, for my tripod. 3-section would be quicker to set up *plus* probably provide better stability, especially if you need to set up quickly. I find that I generally don't care about the greater compactness of 4-section anyway -- in fact, I rarely bother to completely shorten my tripod, so the extra compactness rarely ever comes into play. Also, if you plan to extend the center column much, combining that w/ use of all 4 sections will probably reduce stability further. Ideally, you want to go w/ minimum number of sections and avoid using the center column.

    One other thing. Considering what you're looking to spend, you might also want to get something w/ an invertible center column so you can get as low as possible for certain kinds of shots -- and also, get a center column that includes a hook at the bottom for hanging something heavy for extra stability when that's needed.

    Hope that helps some...

    _Man_
     
  12. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    Thanks, Man. I did look at the Giottos 3300 but it didn't looko like it came with a quick release. Is that right? I just didn't want ANOTHER expense.

    I don't think the invertible center column is a big deal for me. I'll be using it just as a standard tripod, so as long as it's sturdy, lightweight, and can hold my equipment well I'll be happy. I think you do have me convinced to go with a 3 section tripod, though.
     
  13. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Bryan,

    All of those Giottos ballheads can come w/ your choice of QR mechanisms though the bigger ones lean towards QR that are better able to handle the bigger loads. The 3300 w/ matched QR will probably run another $60-70 more than the 1301+QR you were considering.

    _Man_
     
  14. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I ended up getting the Manfrotto 055cx3. After much thought, I decided I just don't need the Q90 quick center column system found on the 055cxpro3 and 055cxpro4. I don't use a tripod very often and when I do, it's for very basic use. So I just couldn't justify spending another $40-$70 on either on of the other two for a feature I just wouldn't use.

    As for the ball head, I went with the Giottos 1301 with 656 Quick Release. Again, I looked at the 3300, but decided for the type and amount of use I'll give it, the 1301 was more than enough.

    Total paid was $479 shipped and I was trying to keep it under $500 so I think I did OK. Hopefully I've made a wise choice as I don't want to have to re-purchase a tripod and head again down the road.
     
  15. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Sooner or later you'll all get the RRS itch :)
     
  16. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I was tempted just last weekend, but I restrained myself as I was ordering my X-Mas gift from my wife. I ordered an Induro carbon fiber monopod with a Kirk/Manfrotto head that uses the Arca-Swiss QR system to match my Giottos tripod head. The RRS heads were calling me, but my wife would have killed me if those ended up on her credit card.
     
  17. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    EBAY or Fred Miranda =) I'll never go back.
     
  18. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    I think my next mount will be a geared head. I just want the precise control they offer.
     
  19. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    Over the holiday, I got a chance to use my new Manfrotto 055cx3 legs and Giottos 1300-657 ball head (I originally bought the 1301-656, but long story short, ended up with the 1300 which is bigger and sturdier).

    I'm loving both. The Manfrotto legs are sturdy and fairly lightweight and the Giottos ball head is solid as a rock. I'm very pleased with both and would recommend them. Thanks everyone for the tips and suggestions.
     
  20. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Glad you like the tripod and head, Bryan. I really like my Giottos head.

    I got my monopod and Manfrotto/Kirk head for Christmas, but other than just testing to make sure it worked I will not have a chance to use it until spring time. I do not have many opportunities to use a telephoto lens in the winter around here.
     

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