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Thread: Tripods...

  1. #1

    Default Tripods...

    I've finally come to the conclusion I'm going to have to use one. Tried hand holding for a long time. Tried using image stabilization too often (although it's still handy on boats.)

    Seems to get those really sharp images, a tripod is almost a necessity.

    This has probably already been covered, but I'm interested in what tripods others are using, and when they use them.

  2. #2
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
    I've finally come to the conclusion I'm going to have to use one. Tried hand holding for a long time. Tried using image stabilization too often (although it's still handy on boats.)

    Seems to get those really sharp images, a tripod is almost a necessity.

    This has probably already been covered, but I'm interested in what tripods others are using, and when they use them.
    How serious are you about photography?

    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

    Rule number 1 about tripods: There is no such thing as a stable tripod that is both inexpensive and lightweight. If you think you've found one, you will regret buying it!

    If you back pack, choosing a tripod is difficult because juggling stability and weight is expensive.

    If you are really serious... spend as much as you can imagine on a good Gitzo carbon fiber. No, spend twice as much as you can imagine! :-)

    If what you want to do is inside, you might consider a heavier aluminum tripod. I use an old Majestic model 2500 with a gear head on it for inside work, which is mostly macro stuff where precision adjustment is just so nice. That thing weighs 20 pounds though. If I'm going out the door I take a Gitzo GT3530 carbon fiber, usually with the center column removed and replaced with a Merkin mount to make it more stable.

    When to use it? Whenever it is possible!

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    Member EricL's Avatar
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    I agree with Floyd on this one!! Don't cut any corners on a tripod. You will absolutely regret it. I have tried and used several different ones and none of them hold a candle to the one I have now. I am using a Gitzo GT3530LS carbon fiber with a Merkins Q-ball head. There is no comparison to the others I've had. Everything about this setup is smooth. There is no jerky movements and for the size, it is pretty light. The first few minutes of use told me I made the right choice and that was after lots of homework and asking even more questions.
    EricL

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    Good tripods usually come without a tripod head, and typical advice is to plan on spending as much or more on a good head, as you do on the leg set. Of course, as with most things photographic, that is not always true, but it usually is if you're looking for a ball type head. Most people are quite surprised at the cost of a good tripod and head.

    Manfrotto/Bogen is a brand that makes reasonably good tripods at reasonably good prices. I have one of the carbon fiber 055 models, and it works reasonably well without being unreasonably heavy. They also make aluminum versions of the same tripod that cost less, but weigh more.

    What I don't like about Gitzo is the twist locks on the legs. I prefer to work with quicker to use flip locks. However Gitzo tripods are arguably steadier and lighter. Also twist locks, while slower to use, have some advantages as well, so some of these things are a matter of personal choice -- trading one advantage against the other. And of course, cost always matters when funds are limited.

    But I also think that tripods are something like camera bags -- one is not enough. You might need one for backpacking, and a different one for use around the home/business/car. Also you may choose an ultralight pod for sheep hunting, but a steadier one for fishing trips.

    Other than a couple Manfrotto/Bogen models, I also use (and like) a 2 lb Velbon that extends to more than full height, and collapses to less than 20", all with the ball head attached. This pod and leg set cost less than $100 together, but I don't expect it to be steady enough for critical work if the wind is blowing. Nor do I use it with big lenses.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
    How serious are you about photography?

    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm
    Not $725 Gitzo serious right now.

    Strangely enough, I read that article last night, after doing a search on another photography forum.

    Think I fall into his second category, the $350 Manfrotto 055cx3 category.

  6. #6

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    Jim,

    I see you posted while I was writing my post.

    Think we've got the leg section covered.

    Let's talk heads now.

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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    The standard rule of thumb for purchasing a GREAT tripod - This is what I have read from experts for many years.

    IF THAT TRIPOD IS A PAIN IN THE ARSE TO CARRY - PURCHASE IT !!

    I have always used one tripod for decades. Bodgen 3050 (lessl than 200 bux)

    stability that is rock solid even for a huge camera such as a Mamiya RB 67 w/ 360 lens weighs ten times what a 35 weighs.


    Ever notice a surveyor ? Those wooden type tripods are excellent !!
    Tripods are a dime a dozen. lots of them are a waste of money.

    It really depends on what you NEED !! a 35mm is extremly light compared to medium format cameras



    Tripods are like cameras - there is no one model that works for everyone.

    If you are truly serious about photography - Using a tripod should become a habit !! It will help you truely create images that are razor sharp !!

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    I believe that Manfrotto and Bogen are part of the same company. I also agree with Majik about tripods. There are a lot of excellent tripods that cost from $160.00 (plus head) out to $350.00. If one wants carbon fiver and other fancy materials and features, then one has to pay a lot of money.

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    In the past, Bogen was the exclusive North American distributor for Manfrotto, and they worked some deal where they had their name put on the tripods, as in "BOGEN, by Manfrotto" or some such thing. Bogen also changed the model numbers to something more consistent and easy to remember. I doubt the rest of the world has never heard of Bogen. In recent years Manfrotto changed their relationship with Bogen, or bought them out perhaps. So now all the old Bogen model numbers have been changed to the totally non-sensible Manfrotto numbers. The small 3001 series became the updated 190 series, and larger 3021 became new 055. I don't know what Majik's even larger 3050 became, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere. They've all been upgraded several times by now anyway.

    Heads: Lots of choices there. First you have to decide between a standard three-way type, or a ballhead. The three-ways come as geared heads if you want to work very slow and deliberate, but precisely. Three-ways also come as fluid heads for video work, although a lot of these are only two-way, since you don't usually flip a video camera on it's side. Good three-way heads are generally less money than good ballheads, but work slower, since you have three control levers to fiddle with.

    Good ballheads are usually priced between $300 and $900. I think an Acratech Ultimate is about $300 with an Arca-Swiss style quick release clamp. If weight is a concern, it is good choice while still offering rock steady performance. QR Plates are about $40-60 for your camera or large lens. Get one for each.

    Kirk, Really Right Stuff and Arca-Swiss all make very good ball heads. I'm sure there are others as well. However, I have never met a Manfrotto ball head I liked. I've not tried them all though. Also, I have a Benro ballhead that I liked at first, but have come to detest since it does not lock down tight. And with use it has quickly become horrid. I'll sell it to you cheap though.

    Ballheads come with or without a separate release knob for panning. Some of the better ones also have a knob for adjusting the drag of the ball as well, so your camera doesn't just flop over when you release the tension on the head. I think it's Arca-Swiss that makes their ball slightly elliptical, so that it gets tighter as it tips to the side. A nice, but expensive feature.

    If you are at all interested in a quick release system, the Arca-Swiss style QR is the one you will want. All of the above names except Manfrotto/Bogen offer them as standard equipment.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Lots of great advice here. Buy the best you can and avoid my mistakes. I just got my third tripod as others were not suitable and one broke (TSA gorillas). I got the Bogen/Manfrotto 055XPROB and love. Heavy, but very steady and versatile. It swings horizontal for macro shots and is very solid and well designed. I forget the head number but it is a Bogen in the $110 range. It works well with my Canon 40D and 100-400. Check out B&H Photo's website as they sell many tripods heads. One thing to consider, is lightweight and portability your main issue, or are you willing to carry a slightly heavier model (less expnsive). Also, if macro may be of interest, be sure to get a tripod that sways horizontal. Which ever route you go, get a tripod you will carry with you and use. Many ways to skin a cat and you don't need to spend $600-900 for a high quality set up. As a rule of thumb, I would look in the $300-400 range (tripod and head). If you have a sincere interest in photography, I suspect less expensive options than this could lead to frustration. That was my personal experience at any rate.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    I would highly recommend, again, that people read what Thom Hogan has to say, very very very carefully. It will save you money in the long run.

    Lesser tripods will accomplish taking the load off, in that you can set the camera up on a tripod that acts as a third hand which gratefully does not get tired. That applies also to any type of horizontal sidearm used for macro photography. (I've got a Majestic 8030a dual column sidearm, which is perhaps the most stable sidearm ever built (it will hold a 35 pound view camera 20" away from the tripod center). It's a great labor saving device... but it does not provide a stable platform, even for a DSLR.)

    For macro photography there are several ways to acquire a stable platform, and in practice 2 or 3 of them will probably be needed for an active photographer. The first is a good tripod that does not have a center column and can therefore put a camera right down on the ground (by spreading the legs far enough apart, another required feature, which would be limited if there is a center column).

    The second method is a "tripod" that is meant to sit on a table, but does not adjust up/down or whatever. Most car window mount units double as a table tripod. Kirk Enterprises has a selection of such devices, and there are several from other manufacturers too. Kirk also has Arca style QR plates that are customized (long) for use on such devices.

    A third method is to use a copy stand. Certainly for anything requiring the camera to be directly above an object, some kind of a copy stand is a good solution. But portable units are hard to find and may even be camera specific or otherwise very limited in versatility.

    A forth method is a couple of bean bags! (At least some part of this "stable platform" doesn't cost an arm and a leg!)

    Seriously, if you want to improve your photography with a stable platform, it is not the same thing as having an artificial arm to hold the camera for you. Stability is what costs money though...

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    While I currently own a couple of Gitzo carbon fiber tripods any of the more massive Bogens would also work. As others have said, the head is just as important so don't cheap out there.
    Other thing is to forget about center columns. No sense buying a superb tripod only to raise the center colum and turn it back into a monopod.
    Tennessee

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    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Other thing is to forget about center columns. No sense buying a superb tripod only to raise the center colum and turn it back into a monopod.
    I basically agree with that as a philosophy, but have modified it slightly. I have a tripod that came with a center column, and most of the time use it with the center column replaced with a Merkins base for stability.

    But once in awhile what I need is not really a stable platform so much as a tireless platform. That third arm to hold the camera for a couple of hours without getting tired. It doesn't need to be rock solid under some circumstances, and sometimes that happens when it is really nice to be able to use a center column to move the camera up and down rapidly.

    Hence I'm not willing to say don't buy a tripod with a center column, but would say don't buy a center column that can't be removed.

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    Manfrotto and others offer very solid aluminum tripods that have a center column which can also be used as a monopod. This monopod can be moved up/down on the side of the tripod, which allows the camera to be moved down within a few inches from the ground. Some of these tripods cost under $200.00, but most don't come with a head.

    For macro photography one does not always need a tripod. For example, I have communicated online with a well known photographer from South America. His specialty is macro photography of frogs, insects, etc., some of which are poisonous. He doesn't use a tripod to sneak close enough to his subjects, and uses what some professional photographers speak of as "creep and shoot." In other words, he sneaks or creeps close to the subject in very slow motion with, the camera set to burst mode and manual focus, shoots a burst of photos, and moves back slowly. He will be using the new Canon 100mm Macro IS lens in the near future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RayfromAK View Post
    Manfrotto and others offer very solid aluminum tripods that have a center column which can also be used as a monopod. This monopod can be moved up/down on the side of the tripod, which allows the camera to be moved down within a few inches from the ground. Some of these tripods cost under $200.00, but most don't come with a head.
    Don't equate "solid" with "stable" though. For a "tireless third hand" that does not need to be stable, those will indeed work just fine. But most photographers also want a tripod to provide a stable camera platform now and then.

    For a stable platform no $200 tripod is very good. Indeed, even the difference between a massively heavier aluminum tripod and a carbon fiber tripod is significant, and not just in how soon it breaks your back carrying it around either. And the issue of the center column is even more trouble. Granted as various in-the-lens image stabilization techniques are improved, this will become less important; but as yet the tripod stability is still very significant.

    I discovered an interesting example yesterday that is a little mind boggling. Nikon has 400mm, 500mm and 600mm lenses with AFS and VR II. The least expensive of these lenses runs over $8000 yet the common complaint in reviews is that the tripod mount is not sturdy enough! One review (http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_tele.html) flat stated that even with VR it is simply impossible to get a high resolution image from one of these lenses without using mirror lockup and a remote shutter release if the exposure is between 1/2 and 1/60th of a second. The review did not go into detail, but the shutter speed range indicates the problem is resonance of the lens and tripod. (Mirror slap vibration triggers it, but so will a mild wind or touching the camera with a hand.)

    Aluminum tripods are worse than carbon fiber when it comes to resonant vibration. A center column is the moral equivalent of attaching a battery operated vibrator to the tripod!

    If Nikon's top lenses are too wobbly, what happens when one puts an El Cheapo 800mm mirror lens on a camera and supports it with a $200 Velbon tripod?

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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    A bogen 3055 tripod (under $200 bux) will support a REFRIGERATOR !!

    I have used this model for 30 years time. it is solid stable and the best darn tripod in my opinion. For a 35 mm - up to and including an 8 x 10 viewcamera this tripod is solid (even in 60 mph) winds with a mamiya RB 67 w/ huge 360 mm lens mounted.

    I have NEVER had any problems / camera shake - or blurred images caused by camera shake or wobbily mount.

    This tripod is heavy. clumsy to carry around and it fits the requirements needed for a sturdy tripod.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Majik Imaje View Post
    A bogen 3055 tripod (under $200 bux) will support a REFRIGERATOR !!

    I have used this model for 30 years time. it is solid stable and the best darn tripod in my opinion. For a 35 mm - up to and including an 8 x 10 viewcamera this tripod is solid (even in 60 mph) winds with a mamiya RB 67 w/ huge 360 mm lens mounted.

    I have NEVER had any problems / camera shake - or blurred images caused by camera shake or wobbily mount.

    This tripod is heavy. clumsy to carry around and it fits the requirements needed for a sturdy tripod.
    I agree with you. Calumet, Manfrotto (Bogen), etc., all make excellent tripods that cost from $100.00 to $200.00. If one is willing to carry a heavy and stable tripod, some of these support a lot of weight (made for video through digital cameras).

    Now, if what one wants fancy, strong, and lightweight tripods made of fancy materials, the sky is the limit. It's a simple as that. The same if one wants to boost one's "Professional photographer wanabe ego." It does not mean, however, that the photos will be ant better

  18. #18
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayfromAK View Post
    I agree with you. Calumet, Manfrotto (Bogen), etc., all make excellent tripods that cost from $100.00 to $200.00. If one is willing to carry a heavy and stable tripod, some of these support a lot of weight (made for video through digital cameras).

    Now, if what one wants fancy, strong, and lightweight tripods made of fancy materials, the sky is the limit. It's a simple as that. The same if one wants to boost one's "Professional photographer wanabe ego." It does not mean, however, that the photos will be ant better
    The Bogen 3055 is actually a relatively inexpensive (entry level) ballhead, not a tripod.

    A Bogen 3050 (previously mentioned) is a combination Bogen 3051 tripod with a head (3028, 3047 or others).

    The Bogen 3050 was introduced in the mid-1990's, so nobody has been using one for 30 years. It is a sturdy tripod, representing the best that aluminum technology could provide at the time it was designed. It will handle a 35 pound load. It weighs 15 pounds (roughly 3 times an equivalent carbon fiber tripod), and costs over $400.

    There are no equally sturdy tripods for under $200.

  19. #19
    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    I have used bogen in the 70's 80's 90's and now again in 2009.

    I have owned many different models. I guess If I do not explain every single detail. and copy and paste what the reviews and company say. it just isn't good enough to warrant discussion.

    I apologize for my typo's My inablity to construct a complete meaningful sentence.!!

    As usual your right and I am wrong !! thanks for taking the time to point that out !!

    I have stood on bogen tripods and I weigh a heck of alot more than the load you stated !!

    3051 two of them out on the ice - painted white - 1982 !!

    Now if I misquoted the model number I truely apologize !!

    that is a terrible thing to make a mistake of that magnitude !!

    Just because a manufacturer quotes certain figures. THAT DOESN'T mean it is gospel truth !!

    I am trying to make a point based on my experience(s).

    bogen = tripods = excellent purchase !! (less than 200 bux) I have purchased enough of these in the past to relate my experiences !!

    I guess I am going to have to dig out the photographs !!

  20. #20
    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    Well It is very revealing - that which you just mentioned.

    Nikon's new flagship camera - 8K body only

    Cannon's new flagship camera - 7k body only

    NOW PLEASE tell me .. .. why anyone in their right mind would 'waste' or purchase something like this ?? Do they 'create' an image that is thousands of dollars better looking ?? Than say a 500 dollar camera ??

    or a 2,000 dollar camera ??

    I can create the same image using a 1,000 camera, is there going to be thousands of dollars in quality that is easily noticable ????

    NOPE !! I dare say - that those people that purchase such an item (unless it is a professional-company) - are merely feeding the manufacturer's ego as well as the individual that purchased that item.

    I remember when you could buy a new car - for a third of that price. I remember when you could purchase a HOUSE for that amount!!

    Now- a camera without a lens is almost ten thousand dollars !! if you want top of the line. BUT WHO really NEEDS it ???

    Who needs 10 fps ??? what a joke !! Well I guess if your reflexes' are slow and you cannot focus etc.

    My best friend has a top of the line Nikon and 95% of his photographs are completly out of focus !! GO FIGURE !!

    I guess he NEEDS a 'cannon' !!

    I use off - brand named camera's, just for one purpose ONLY - to prove a point !!

    And this image proves beyond any shadow of doubt !! What can easily be accomplished with a camera that is less than $200 dollars !!!


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