Tripod recommendations

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Chris Moe, May 21, 2004.

  1. Chris Moe

    Chris Moe Screenwriter

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    I just got my new camera (Digital Rebel) and I already see the need for a tripod. Was wondering what you all use and if anyone has any recommendations. Would like to keep the cost somewhat down, I'd be willing to go up to around $150 for the tripod and head if need be, maybe up to $200 if it's a kick ass setup.

    Any suggestions, need more info? Let me know.
     
  2. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I have an extra, basic Bogen tripod I'm looking to sell.

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...ighlight=bogen

    If you wanted to go better I would look for additional features like quick release leg clamps, leg spreaders and maybe something that goes a bit higher. Bogen is a good company to start with.
     
  3. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    I have to admit that I bought an ultra-cheap model from WalMart for around $20. However I must say that for quite a lot of tripod work it's gets the job done very well. It's super-light, but that can be a plus as it doesn't hinder my desire to carry it around. It is a little flimsy at times, but I work around that by using the remote shutter release on the camera (or the timer). I haven't used it in any kind of serious wind conditions, but during a fairly breezy day it still stands rock solid.

    Certainly not a Bogen or Slik or anything fancy, but has all the major features.

    Andrew
     
  4. Kris McLaughlin

    Kris McLaughlin Stunt Coordinator

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    Andrew, I did the same thing. Mine is a Vivitar VPT-10 (It happens to be sitting right beside me), also from WalMart. I think it cost ~30$CDN, but it's been great.
     
  5. Chris Moe

    Chris Moe Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the responses guys. I would still like some more recommendations though. I have been doing some research and I would like a quick release mount.

    From your comments it looks like Bogen and Silk are a couple of manufactures to look into.

    I am using a cheapie from my brother right now and really hate the thing. It's flimsy and the movement on the head is not at all smooth.

    What are some of you using? What do you like about it and what don't you like about it? Also what did you pay for it?
     
  6. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    In regards to the head, if you just plan to take photographs you don't need a fluid head. However if you plan to use it for both video and photography the fluid head would be a good option. What I prefer, however, is to use a ball head for photography. This allows you to adjust the camera independent of the tripod, meaning you don't necessarily need the tripod to be level. Especially handy if you're working outside with uneven terrain. Just set up the legs close enough and make final adjustments with the head.

    I have older versions of these:

    [​IMG]
    3262QR Ball Head

    [​IMG]
    3001N Tripod

    [​IMG]
    3130 Mini Fluid Head
     
  7. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I picked up the fluid head and the tripod on eBay for around $90.00. It was missing the quick release plate, but it is the same plate used by the ball head.

    The ball head I bought new some time ago for about $35.00. For a long time I used it with a Velbon video tripod that has a quick release plate of its own. The screw mount on the ball head accepts a 1/4" thread (along with the 3/8" that is used to mount it to Bogen tripods), so I just screwed the Velbon plate onto the ball head. Not the most elegant solution, but it allowed for double duty usage until I decided to pick up a Bogen tripod.

    I also have an older version of this head (mentioned in my for sale post) which is actually very functional too. Not as instantaneously adjustable as a ball head, but it allows for the same degree of flexibility.

    [​IMG]
    3025 3D Head
     
  8. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Sorry for the multiple posts, I just want to cover all your questions and don't seem to be getting them all the first time!

    The only complaint I have about the tripod is the leg release using knobs. Quick release, clamping type I've found to be much more functional, especially if you need to set up quickly.

    A slight complaint about the head is the position moves slightly when the knob gets tightened. Not a big deal generally, but if you're needing something more precise you'll probably have to pay more money.

    The fluid head I've actually owned once before when I had a video camera. It was undersized for the particular camera I had, but it would do fine with any of the handheld models, but not shoulder mount.
     
  9. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I wouldn't get a fluid head for photography, I've never seen one with lateral adjustments, which is kind of a pain.

    I've always liked Bogen legs and Gitzo heads personally, but tripods are more important to me than most casual photographers. Any camera store which sells Bogen should have Gitzo available as well.
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    OK, I just looked, and my really small setup is a Bogen 3205 and the smallest Gitzo ball head. It's really a nice setup, but as an only tripod, I would recommend a taller set of legs. I know Bogen has another version of the 3205 which is only about $15 more but around 18" taller. That is probably a better choice. I don;t know the exact model number on the head, but it is a 100 series ball head. You will notice Gitzo has basically 3 head series, all starting with 1, 2 or 3.


    FWIW, and nothing against Cameron, but I've used that Bogen 3025 he posted above, and it is annoying as hell to use. I probably still have one around here, but I think I gave it to my folks. I suggest a ball head or one with arms instead.
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Oh yeah, something very important for those with Bogen legs. When you extend the legs, NEVER just loosen the clamp and let the leg drop to full extension. Extend it by hand without letting it hit the stop hard. There is just a plastic stop which will eventually break and the leg extension will simply fall to the ground. The only fix is to replace the entire leg. In fact, you probably should never do this with any tripod, since the stop design is essentially the same for all brands. The one exception is Gitzo legs, which have a completely different, much better stop design and easily replaceable parts. The problem is, I definitely don't like the leg clamp system on the Gitzos and they can make your hands downright raw if you are using the tripod all day long. They are very pricey as well. Their heads are great though.
     
  12. Ari

    Ari Stunt Coordinator

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    Bogen/Manfrotto is a good place to start for tripod legs/ballhead in your price range. It's hard to recommend a specific combo without knowing how heavy a lens you plan on putting on the tripod.

    I'm currently using Bogen 3001BPro legs and the 486RC2 ballhead and it's around your price range. If I were to do it over again, I'd probably buy a sturdier head (perhaps an Arca-Swiss or Kirk) since it dips slightly when tightened. Of course this is with a heavy lens/camera combo (Canon 10D+grip and a 70-200 2.8 lens). It's not a big deal for snapshots and landscapes but for it's a bother for "precision" shooting.
     
  13. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    I’ve got another suggestion for you: the Velbon MAXi 347GB lightweight and compact tripod from Hakuba. It’s the slightly larger cousin in the MAXi line.

    It's a beautiful tripod with a geared centre column, three-way panhead, trunnion shaft legs (like a cannon), quick-release plate, leg braces, flip locks for the leg sections, and its own bag.

    I've found it to be quite sturdy probably thanks in large part to its integrated leg braces and metal construction where it counts.

    It fits comfortably in my backpack when I go sightseeing by bicycle. I love how quickly I can extend the legs and set it up. Putting it back in its bag is quicker still, ready for the next photo-spot.

    I paid $99 CDN for it and am very happy.

    Here is a good write-up, with pictures, on MAXi tripods, in particular the 347GB.
     
  14. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    If I had a choice I'd go with the ball head too. Nothing against myself [​IMG]
     
  15. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Cameron, I'm glad you took it that way. I rarely use ball heads, but a big reason is that with a 20 lb. view camera you want an arm to grab onto when you loosen the head.

    I just had to say, that particular head sucks big time and I used the damn thing for several years.


    [​IMG]
     
  16. John Lloyd

    John Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    I am looking for a tripod for my digital SLR. Since I may be using some bigger lenses I think I need something rather substantial.

    I have looked at the Gitzo product line and they seem to have several alternatives in their carbon fiber lines. However I noticed that very few of their tripods are very tall (over 60") without using the center column. Since I think a center
    column is not a good idea for holding a big heavy lens, I don't plan on using one. So I guess I need a tripod without
    one.

    I am also rather tall (6' 2") and it seems reasonable to assume that the tripod should be as tall as I am, so that I am not forced to crouch when taking pictures. Unfortunately
    Gitzo does not offer any tripods that are really tall unless you go all the way to the 15XX line. These tripods are designed for full frame cameras and can support a lot more weight (33lbs) than I can ever imagine needing. They are also rather heavy (8lbs) and expensive ($800+).

    Can anyone suggest some alternatives for around $500?

    thanks,

    John
     
  17. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    You should probably plan on a tripod capable of what you need weighing at least 8 lbs anyway. I'm sure I'm rehashing from things I said earlier, but I'm sure Bogen has something that would suit your needs. I seem to remember one of their more compact models (without leg braces) will extend to over 6' without using the center column and comes in significantly under $500. If you don't mind the weight, you should also be able to get one of the models with leg braces and geared column in your price range.
     
  18. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I recently ordered a Feisol CT3401 carbon fiber tripod off eBay -- they're a Taiwanese maker that sells direct on eBay -- at recommendations from folks on dpreview forums as well as Nikonians forums. Will see how that works out.

    Still debating on what to get for a ball head though. I've seen some suggestions for the Bogen 488RC2 or RC4 at ~$100 from B&H that's probably pushing the limit of what I'd want to pay for this. What do y'all think about this ball head? I do need something that can easily handle a 3-4lb lens (like a 70-200 f/2.8) w/ a ~1.5lb body like the new Nikon D200 I just bought. I'm also looking at maybe getting the Tamron 200-500mm that also weighs similarly to my 70-200 f/2.8. Obviously, I don't want to cut too close w/ the weight/load, but I'd imagine 2x the expected max weight/load of what I own should probably be good enough, no? And the Bogen 488RC2/4 seem spec-ed to be more than enough to handle the job.

    I did notice that some of the more expensive ball heads, including Feisol's own model, add capability to adjust certain things w/out needing to loosen the ball head, and I wonder if that's not worth paying the extra for. Still, I'm not a fan of lugging and using tripods, so maybe not I guess.

    _Man_
     
  19. John Lloyd

    John Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    I went ahead and ordered the Gitzo 1325 and a Really Right Stuff BH-55 head. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I think I made the right choices.

    The tripod legs are almost the perfect height and the total weight is about 6lbs. Since I don't think I will be hiking far from the car this seems acceptable.

    Now I just need to go out and take some more pictures.
     

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