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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    REALLY cheap CF tripod at Costco this week:
    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11671327
    Not an endorsement, just a heads up. Looks like the head might not be removable btw...
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    That Manfrotto appears to be out of stock, Sam. That would have been a great price for a CF tripod, though. A non-removable head would be its only downside. I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of Manfrotto's quick release system.
    My Flashpoint carbon fiber tripod had some issues in Yellowstone a couple of weeks ago. One of the leg twist locks was coming loose when I would setup the tripod. It was still usable, but it was more cumbersome to setup. I'll be in the market for something before our next trip.
    I'm strongly considering a Feisol 3441s for my next one. I've read great reviews, as it seems comparable to the higher priced Gitzo models. I'll upgrade the ballhead a little later (have a Giottos right now).
     
  3. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I'm not sure what model CF legs I have now -- probably discontinued/replaced by now since I got them a bunch of years ago when they first came to market as poor man's Gitzo's -- but my set of Feisols still seem quite good to me and definitely very much worth the modest price I paid for them (at somewhere a tad under $300, IIRC).

    I have them mated w/ a Giottos 3300 ballhead.

    _Man_
     
  4. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The Manfrotto 294 has been steadily dropping in price at Costco. It's currently going for $99.99!
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I have never once seen a tripod at Costco and I've been to at least a dozen of em!

    Did we ever confirm the head is permanently attached?
     
  6. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I looked and the head can be removed as with other Manfrotto component models.
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    That Manfrotto 294 is an aluminum tripod -- not CF. As long as you are okay with that, and can add a different head, though, it wouldn't be a bad deal.

    I ended up buying a Feisol 3441s CF tripod and PhotoClam ball head a year ago, and have been quite happy with the combo. The Feisol is sturdy, but very light and compact -- it fits easily into my checked luggage without adding much weight. The PhotoClam is an improvement over my previous Giottos head, as it does not droop at all after positioning the camera.
     
  8. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  9. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I was thinking of putting a tripod on my xmas list this year. I noticed one on Amazon that included a head and had an extra one included as a mail-in promotion. Unfortunately I didn't put it on my wish list, can't find it in my browsing history, and can't find it again over on Amazon. I don't remember the brand either. Crap. That one was priced at $150 which is about as much as I'd want to spend.

    I'm locking for a recommendation for a quality, but not too expensive tripod. I'll only use it a few times a year and I won't travel with it. It would be nice if it was easy to adjust the height and also easy to put the camera into vertical or portrait orientation.

    Any recommendations? My camera is a Nikon D90.
     
  10. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    With a $150 budget for both the legs and ballhead, you are not going to have many quality options Johnny. Something like the Manfrotto in Cameron's post #66 above would work, but I am not a fan of Manfrotto's proprietary quick release system at all. If you go that route, I would look at getting the legs from Manfrotto and adding a ballhead from someone else that uses a Arca-Swiss style quick release system. If you can bump the budget up to around $200, you may be able to find something from Benro, which I've read good things about.

    Check out this thread at POTN on the subject of $200 tripod recommendations. It is from 2009, but most of the suggestions are still valid today. Here is a very good general info thread on tripods that may help as well.
     
  11. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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  12. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  13. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    If I'm not going to travel with it, do you still recommend that tripod?
     
  14. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    If you do not need something small and light for travel, you will get more bang for your buck in stability with an aluminum tripod. I do not know much about Vanguard, but Manfrotto is pretty well respected in the price range you are looking at.

    You could go with something like this and add a Swiss Arca compatible ballhead from Giottos to bypass Manfrotto's cumbersome quick release system. The combo is about $50 more than your budget, though. My previous ballhead was a Giottos -- it is decent for the price. I still have not sold it yet, in fact -- it is still on my old Flashpoint tripod.

    Speaking of Flashpoint, it is the house brand of Adorama. They are selling a carbon fiber model with ballhead for $149 -- see this link. The carbon fiber Flashpoint I had (a more expensive one than in this link) was quite sturdy, but I had an issue with one of the legs coming loose. It was still usable, but I ended up buying a more compact Feisol CF model for travel. FYI, Adorama is a great camera store to do business with. I have bought a lot of gear from them.
     
  15. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    So that Manfrotto tripod and Giottos ball head are compatible? Guess I'll be reading the user reviews some more.

    It's interesting how perspective can effect our attitude towards a product. These tripods you recommend, you kind of describe them as middling in quality. From my point of view, I suspect what you've recommended or the Vanguard will be high quality to me. I've had a cheap tripod, probably bought at someplace like Best Buy for years and years. The Brand name is Universal and it is cheap and difficult to use.

    You mention you had a loose leg issue with the Flashpoint. I saw at least one review mentioning that issue on the Adorama web site. So I guess that's a chronic problem with that tripod.

    I just noticed that Manfrotto comes in a 57cm and 64cm size and the larger size costs considerably more. It seems like a small size difference. To what part of the tripod is that referring?

    A little more reading and I think that's referring to the closed size. The larger size is only about 7" longer when fully extended.

    When you say quick release system, what does that mean? That ball head looks like it screws on to the camera. What is released quickly?
     
  16. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Might wanna read through the essential sections of this guide to figure out what you actually need regarding tripod legs, head, QR, etc:http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=112_Man_
     
  17. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Johnny, the screw on the top of that Manfrotto tripod is used to screw on a ballhead -- technically you could just attach it to your camera's tripod mount, but it would not be very useful.

    A quick release (QR) system consists of two parts -- the mechanism on the ballhead, and a plate that attaches to your camera (or lens if it has a tripod collar). This allows you to mount / dismount the camera easily without screwing it on the tripod threads every time. There are different (QR) systems. The most common one that is used by numerous manufacturers is the Arca-Swiss system, which I find quite easy to use. Manfrotto has their own, proprietary QR system that I find more difficult for attaching the plate to the ballhead mount -- plus it limits you to using Manfrotto ballheads, and there are better heads out there.

    The different tripod heights will matter, depending on how tall you are. If you are 6'4", you do not want a short tripod that will require you to bend over every time you use it.

    As for pricing and quality, you really do get what you pay for with a tripod system. You can buy cheaper, but if you use the tripod a lot you will probably end up with a more expensive system, as the less expensive ones do have drawbacks, whether it is in stability, reliabilty, weight, or flexibility of setup and use. A budget of $150 would be at the low end of the spectrum -- some systems used to support large telephoto lenses can cost over $1,500. I spent somewhere between $400 - $500 for my setup. The $20 tripods you see at places like Best Buy or Wal-Mart are pretty much useless for a dSLR, as they are way too unsteady under any amount of weight.
     
  18. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Not that I would recommend the Manfrotto/Bogen QR, but they do sell QR attachments for standard ballheads. That's what I've done w/ my setup. Only reason I use their QR, instead of Arca-Swiss, is I already got their tilt/swivel head for monopod long ago and didn't want to migrate given how little I use my mono/tripods.Their QR stuff was general less inexpensive (at least back then), and the cost does add up if you're serious about it. The downside is their QR just isn't as good in general. Pretty sure it's not as sturdy/stable/reliable as a well implemented Arca-Swiss system. So yes, you get want you pay. If I do use my pods significantly more often than I do now, I will probably switch.Currently, I use Manfrotto/Bogen's QR on a standard Giottos 3300 ballhead on top of Feisol CF legs. The Giottos is quite good for the price -- you're not gonna do better w/out spending a whole lot more. Same w/ the Feisol legs me thinks. One other thing about tripod height. You should know that tripod is sturdiest well you need to deploy fewest segments. And it's least sturdy when you need to use the center column. So unless you really need the compactness, it's best to get the legs w/ fewest and longest segments (and have less need for center colunm). _Man_
     
  19. Bobby Henderson

    Bobby Henderson Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a couple tripods. One is an old Hakuba model. I don't remember what I paid for it; perhaps a couple hundred bucks. It worked fine with regular point and shoot digital cameras. When I moved up to using D-SLR cameras it really started showing its limitations. It didn't work so well for time exposure shots or combining multiple exposures together for a HDR image.

    Four years ago I bought a Gitzo GT3530LS carbon fiber tripod and a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head with panning clamp. That setup has worked great. It is very steady and multiple exposure shots can line up pixel for pixel. It's not too heavy either.

    It should be said proper technique plays a big part in getting things like time exposure shots or HDR shots to turn out well. It's even more critical with longer lenses.
     
  20. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Yes, the Giottos heads are quite good for their price point. I upgraded to a PhotoClam, which I like better, but it is also over twice the cost. And I really like my Feisol 3441S CF tripod -- it is well-built, provides a stable platform, and is quite compact for travel. Feisol makes some nice legs that compare favorably with Gitzo and Really Right Stuff at a lower price point.

    If I was going high-end, I would lean towards Really Right Stuff over Gitzo. I have read of people in the States having service issues with Gitzo, and if I was going to spend that much money on a tripod system I would expect good service if I needed a part or repair. RRS has a great reputation for service in the U.S.
     

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