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Thread: First Tripod Advice

  1. #1
    Member danieldwashere's Avatar
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    First Tripod Advice

    I am ready to buy my first tripod. I have been doing some reading on this site and the net in general. I feel its time to get some real world opinions from people that are not trying to sell me something.

    I understand the idea that you actually save money by getting good quality in the first place (poor man buys twice) and a good tripod will give you many years of service.

    I have asked professional friends and they said "moving parts.... buy new". Is this good advice? I am usually a big fan of buying from the over enthusiastic hobbyist who drops a lot of cash on sweet gear then losses interest six months later and puts everything on gumtree to fund their next fad.

    Things to consider...


    • Desired Budget $200-$500 (it can stretch a bit, but I don't think I NEED to spend $1000 for my purposes at this stage, nor do I WANT to!)



    • I am tall (190cm)



    • Mainly landscape, nature, garden photography and generally play around to improve my photography skills



    • All my gear gets thoroughly used and occasionally abused



    • Does not have to be light weight, but it would be nice



    • No big heavy lenses or bodies yet and I lean towards a wide angle/minimalist set up (ATM canon 600d with kit EFS lenses)



    • I reckon I want 3 part leg sections with flip lock but not sure




    Taking all of the above the standout choice is the Vanguard 263AT (details below), there are a few favourable mentions on this forum and some mixed review online. The place where I would buy it has it as a online only product, so I can't go and check it out in the flesh. And the other reason stopping me is it is a tiny bit short. Does the max. height include the centre bar thing extended? Or will this give me enough to stand comfortably? But I imagine for the majority of my important photos, camera height will be dictated by the scene anyway...



    Manfrotto MTO55XPRO3 $379 + Manfrotto 496RC2 $129

    aluminium

    3 leg sections flip lock

    max. height 1800mm

    load: 9kg

    weight: 2.5kg

    Benro C1580TB1 $335 Kit with ball head


    • Number of Leg Sections: 4
    • Leg Lock Type: Twist Lock
    • Maximum Diameter: 25 mm
    • Minimum Diameter: 15 mm
    • Maximum Height: 1595 mm too low?!
    • Normal Height: 1365 mm
    • Minimum Height: 415 mm
    • Folded Hight: 590 mm
    • Weight: 1.57 kg
    • Maximum Load: 8 kg




    Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT $249 kit with ball head

    aluminium

    3 leg sections flip lock

    max. height 1750mm

    load: 7kg

    weight: 2kg



    Manfrotto 190XPRO3 $349.00 legs only

    aluminium

    3 leg section flip lock

    Max Height: 170cm
    Closed Height: 69cm
    Weight: 2.4kg
    Max Load: 6kg
    Last edited by danieldwashere; 10-06-2015 at 2:56pm.

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    Member kevin301's Avatar
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    I am slightly shorter than you (1.85m), and my most-used tripod is a 3-section Gitzo Explorer. To be honest, I haven't gone and measured the height of the thing, but the website states that it is 141cm with the legs fully extended and deployed, but with the center column not extended (most stable).
    With a ballhead and clamp, and the height of the camera up to the viewfinder, I can almost stand straight and look through the viewfinder. Quite comfortable.

    The problem is with only 3 leg sections, the damn thing is too long to carry overseas or for long distances comfortably.

    My personal preference is for twist-lock on the legs, as it is more reassuring. The newer tripods with twist-lock can lock/unlock with barely half a rotation, and I can unlock all 3 leg sections with a single grip and twist. Not as easy to do that with flip locks

    My recommendation for an "all-purpose" tripod is a carbon fibre 4-section one that goes up to about 1.4m with the legs deployed.

  3. #3
    Ausphotography Regular Hawthy's Avatar
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    I bought a Manfrotto travel tripod (MK393H) and was a bit worried about the height of it. I am 180cm tall and the tripod is only 1420mm fully extended. However, I found that I really don't use the viewfinder when I use the tripod. I use live view on the rotating LCD screen, which is also a feature on your Canon 600D. The good thing about live view is that you can zoom in on the LCD screen to ensure that focus is spot on. So the height might not be your driving factor here.

    I was looking for a lightweight tripod that could be easily stashed in a suitcase for air travel and not blow the baggage allowance, plus something that I could easily cart around to landscape locations, and this fits the bill. It is probably not a tripod that a professional with a full frame DSLR and a massive zoom would use but it nicely accommodates a Nikon D5100 and a 55-200 mm zoom. Also, it has a switch on the top of each leg that allows them to splay out further to get down low. As a bonus, it was under $150.

    Personally, I find ball heads difficult to use and prone to flopping down alarmingly when I try to adjust them. I prefer a pan head. That will allow you to shoot videos also (not that I actually shoot videos).

    I agree that you should steer clear of obviously cheap and nasty tripods such as those that you see at outdoor markets for less than $30. Tripods are simple pieces of equipment though and we don't need to over-analyse their structural integrity and features. Anything by one of the major manufacturers designed for smaller DSLRs will suit the Canon 600D.
    Last edited by Hawthy; 10-06-2015 at 5:21pm.
    Andrew




  4. #4
    New Member blackduck's Avatar
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    I had similar requirements.
    I bought a Cambofoto FCS-284 4 Sections Carbon Fiber Tripod with BT-36 Ball Head for not much money being a cheap Chinese import.
    Carbon, good weight, good height and packs reasonably small. Not tiny like a travel tripod but very manageable, better quality than the price has any right to deserve, it's really solid.
    I like the height I get.

    Model no. FCS-284 + BT-36
    Material Carbon Fiber
    Maximum Leg Tube Size 28 mm
    Leg Sections Leg Sections 4
    Close Length 470 mm
    Minimum Height 520 mm
    Maximum Height with Centre Column Down 1420 mm
    Maximum Height 1700 mm
    Load Capacity 10 kg
    Weight 1.69 kg

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    Would not worry too much about maximum height if you plan on doing mostly nature and landscape photography. Not very often do i have the camera above 1M when shooting landscapes, you will find you will use a combination of bending down to the camera or using the tilt screen LED on your camera



    I'm assuming you are new to photography and would maybe have a think about buying a general purpose cheaper tripod. Not a $30 tripod from Kmart but maybe an entry level manfrotto around the $100 mark. Or the Silk Sprint Pro II GM.

    Once you know exactly what type of photography you want to do you can decide on a more suitable tripod for your needs, this may cost a little more in the end but i think you might end up with a tripod more suited to you down the track.

  6. #6
    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    I have the Benro C3580T which is a Gitzo copy carbon fibre and retails for about $330. I would highly recommend it.

    It goes to 187cm which is pretty much taller than you would need given a bullhead would add about 10cm to that.
    Fuji XT-2, Fuji X-E2S, Fuji VPB-XT2, Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8, Fujinon 50-140 f/2.8, Fujinon 23 f/2, Fujinon 35 f2, Fujinon 90 f/2, Fujinon 60 f/2.4 Macro, Yongnuo YN560 IV, Yongnuo YN560 TX, Benro C3580T, Mefoto Q00
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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    This would fit the bill and converts for macro and a monopod
    http://www.photo-shop-studio.com.au/...ceted_search=0
    I have a Benro and it has lasted very well over the years
    Regards
    John
    Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm OS Macro, Tokina 16-28 F2.8, Sigma 24-105 Art, Sigma 150-600C,
    Benro Tripod and Monopod with Arca plates

  8. #8
    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Having wasted $450.00 on unsuitable tripods I can speak with some authority when I state that the starting point is to get a tripod that is the right height for you. By that I mean one that you can use standing erect with the centre column fully DOWN. At your height you would need a tripod height of 170cm minimum with the legs extended.

    I always back the leg extension off a bit from full extension before locking it, and prefer lever locks over twist types.

    I've had the Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 (the Carbon Fibre model) for a few years now and it has had plenty of use. I'd buy it again without hesitation. I'd also recommend you steer clear of Manfrotto heads as I found that there was too much tolerance in the mounts. Whatever you chose make sure it has an Arca Swiss compatible mounting system.

    I went for a Markins Q10 ballhead after a lot of research, also a top product. For about half the price the Sirui K-30X would do the job. I had one of their monopod heads and it was very well made. And I avoid lever release heads, preferring the screw type. No chance of snagging the lever on a twig or your sleeve, and dumping your gear on the ground. And I wouldn't take too much notice of the load claims for ballheads as most are for a load directly on top of the head and droop terribly when moved off the vertical.

    Good luck with your deliberations.
    Cheers
    Kev

    D800 & GAS

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    Quote Originally Posted by danieldwashere View Post
    I am ready to buy my first tripod.

    Things to consider...


    • Desired Budget $200-$500 (it can stretch a bit, but I don't think I NEED to spend $1000 for my purposes at this stage, nor do I WANT to!)



    • I am tall (190cm)



    • Mainly landscape, nature, garden photography and generally play around to improve my photography skills



    • All my gear gets thoroughly used and occasionally abused



    • Does not have to be light weight, but it would be nice



    • No big heavy lenses or bodies yet and I lean towards a wide angle/minimalist set up (ATM canon 600d with kit EFS lenses)



    • I reckon I want 3 part leg sections with flip lock but not sure




    Taking all of the above the standout choice is the Vanguard 263AT (details below), there are a few favourable mentions on this forum and some mixed review online. The place where I would buy it has it as a online only product, so I can't go and check it out in the flesh. And the other reason stopping me is it is a tiny bit short. Does the max. height include the centre bar thing extended? Or will this give me enough to stand comfortably? But I imagine for the majority of my important photos, camera height will be dictated by the scene anyway...



    Manfrotto MTO55XPRO3 $379 + Manfrotto 496RC2 $129

    I am about the same height as you and use this same Manfrotto tripod with a Benro V1 head and it is fine for most things.
    If I am out in any wind, or difficult terrain though I go for my Gitzo series 2 with a 58mm FLM Ball head for better stability. I picked up a second hand Gitzo safari for around 200, and with the head I was just around the 500 mark.
    New my heavy duty set would be a lot more. The trade off is a heavier overall weight plus the Gitzo is not a s quick to set up as the Manfrotto. The big FLM head is a marvel.

    One nice thing about the Manfrotto 055 is its ease of use and light weight. I think you will find the height is fine.
    Last edited by NRandall; 10-06-2015 at 11:04pm.
    Main Body D800E plus a bunch of other Nikon stuff
    "The eye sees what it wants to see and the camera sees the rest" Nick

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  10. #10
    Ausphotography Regular paulheath's Avatar
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    another one for the Benro C3580T... great pod at a very good price. go see the guys at photo studio shop, they will give you a great deal
    long live
    www.paulheathphotography.com.au
    Canon 7D, and a lot of other bits and bobs


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    Thanks for all the recommendations everyone. i will check out the models mentioned

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    do not forget a ball head , these are great.

  13. #13
    Autodidact & Amateur Sargimuss's Avatar
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    I had a $60 special for a little while and it was fine to learn a little on. I started to notice all the flaws in it quite quickly. I've now got a Pro Master XC525 for the times I need a tripod. Being that I'm an amateur, this fits the bill nicely.

    What I like about it:

    The ball head and QR Plate are easy and smooth
    The twist lock legs work well,
    The centre shaft is swappable with a shorter one to be able to get closer to the ground
    There is a hook on the bottom of the longer shaft so you can suspend a weight from it when you need to
    One of the legs doubles as a monopod (not that I have used it much, but I should have more of a crack at it

    It's nowhere near a fantastic tripod, but for my kit it is light and easy to use. I've had it everywhere from the beach to the bush and the legs fold up at about any possible angle you can think of. If you have a camera House local, you could possibly check those out too.

    6D
    EF 24-105mm f4L, EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 MKII, EF 100mm f2.8 Macro,

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    I was in the city today and dropped into the camera shops to check out some units in the flesh and came across a Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT on clearance for $219. I don't think I am allowed to mention the place with my post count but it was a closing down sale and the last one anyway.

    I did check out the Benro stuff online and it looked very good, however for 220 bucks I caved and got the Vanguard. It has all the features and only feels a BIT plasticy compared to the big boys toys professional/expensive stuff.

    It is certainly tall enough and feels more than sturdy enough to support my current set up. Looks like the Manfrotto/Markins combo. will have to wait until I upgrade to a full frame in an a few years time.

    Thanks again for all the input, I read and googled all your suggestions. I am happy to post a review in a couple of months time if anyone is interested, at the least it might keep a few more 'my first tripod' posts at bay!

    Last edited by danieldwashere; 13-06-2015 at 2:30pm. Reason: typo

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    After shooting all day at a family thing (and draining my battery), I managed to get some time alone to play with the tripod and found myself drawn to the lights of Luna Park. Where, by the way, shooting on a tripod is not allowed (security WILL stop you), you can however shoot from the outside boundary back in.

    I set up and turned on the camera to find the battery flashing red, so very quickly composed this shot. My first 'could not have done it without a tripod' exposure! Composition could be improved but this is not a CC forum thread anyway After writing the file the battery died, so I will have to come back another time soon.


  16. #16
    I like my computer more than my camera farmmax's Avatar
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    I think you could safely put it in a CC thread. I like the tower of lights leading up through the centre of the photo. You did well, so hopefully you can go back and take some more photos.

  17. #17
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    Message to self. Buy second battery.
    Cheers Brian.

    Canon 7D Kit lenses EFS 18-55 IS EFS 55-250 IS EF28-90 Canon EF 2xll Extender Sigma DG150-500 OS Speedlight 420EX. 580EX

  18. #18
    Member kevin301's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danieldwashere View Post
    I was in the city today and dropped into the camera shops to check out some units in the flesh and came across a Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT on clearance for $219. I don't think I am allowed to mention the place with my post count but it was a closing down sale and the last one anyway.

    I did check out the Benro stuff online and it looked very good, however for 220 bucks I caved and got the Vanguard. It has all the features and only feels a BIT plasticy compared to the big boys toys professional/expensive stuff.

    It is certainly tall enough and feels more than sturdy enough to support my current set up. Looks like the Manfrotto/Markins combo. will have to wait until I upgrade to a full frame in an a few years time.

    Thanks again for all the input, I read and googled all your suggestions. I am happy to post a review in a couple of months time if anyone is interested, at the least it might keep a few more 'my first tripod' posts at bay!

    Quote Originally Posted by danieldwashere View Post
    After shooting all day at a family thing (and draining my battery), I managed to get some time alone to play with the tripod and found myself drawn to the lights of Luna Park. Where, by the way, shooting on a tripod is not allowed (security WILL stop you), you can however shoot from the outside boundary back in.

    I set up and turned on the camera to find the battery flashing red, so very quickly composed this shot. My first 'could not have done it without a tripod' exposure! Composition could be improved but this is not a CC forum thread anyway After writing the file the battery died, so I will have to come back another time soon.
    Glad you found a tripod you're happy with, especially at a good price too!
    It'd be great if you could do a review after several months of "using and abusing" it.

    Just curious approximately how many shots you captured that day before your battery decided to call it quits.
    Looks like a spare battery is gonna be a lifesaver for you

  19. #19
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    224 photos and a few short videos (< 10 seconds each ), HOWEVER not sure if the battery was 100% full, maybe 90% and it is a cheap ebay battery (SeiWei 2500mAh $8 delivered)

    It was the first time I had charged and discharged the SeiWei, lesson learnt, it is now a back up!
    Last edited by danieldwashere; 16-06-2015 at 7:22pm.

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