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Thread: Tripod head for macro photography (and maybe a tripod)

  1. #1
    Member rexboggs5's Avatar
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    Tripod head for macro photography (and maybe a tripod)

    For macro photography, I have an aluminium Manfrotto tripod with the arm permanently mounted horizontally. I have a pistol grip head on it but I find it annoying - too tight and it is hard to move smoothly and too loose and it doesn't stay in position.

    Can someone recommend a tripod head that would work really well with this tripod for macro photography (Canon 5D iii camera and 100 mm macro lens)?

    Or, is there a tripod and head combination that is just the bee's knees for macro photography? Flowers, wee mushrooms, etc.

    Thanks.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    It depends how much you want to spend. For just a head, a ball head is what I use. If you use manfrotto, then get a manfrotto ball head. They're quite good. If you want a new tripod, then a Gitzo GT2541EX is very good, but expensive.

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    Ausphotography Regular Dug's Avatar
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    Since you specify macro usage the Benbo tripod design has a lot of advantage for quick and very adaptable setup.
    Never used or even seen one, but the design speaks for itself when you want to get the camera locked in place in awkward locations without doing lots of micro adjustments to find the right combination of leg angle options and leg extension length of a conventional design.
    http://macrocam.blogspot.com.au/2013...bo-tripod.html

    A good ball head is probably what you want, free of handles and pistol grips that could get in the way of a centre column set horizontal.

    This Benbo model https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FzIG4D2ysU has a pivot point under the ball head on the centre column, which I can see saving the need to orient that slot they put in ball head to allow 90 degree movement.
    Instead the ball head cam be left locked in its middle position till the camera is setup facing at the subject, then the ball is used for what it does best, fine adjustment in any direction.
    Last edited by Dug; 03-12-2015 at 6:20pm.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    I have tried a benbo ball head. It would not hold the weight of a DSLR side on without slipping.

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    I like my computer more than my camera farmmax's Avatar
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    I don't use a tripod. I hold what I want to photograph in my left hand fingers, rest the tip of the lens on my left hand as well, and then move my fingers back and forth to get focus. My macro lens is manual focus only. This also has the advantage of me being able to turn around in the sunlight to get the best lighting possible. Normally I'm only shooting plants, so this all works. Insects I encourage on to a stick/leaf to hold in my fingers, but I have to be quick, but I've managed to snatch some good photos doing it.

    By holding the object to photograph, and the lens in the same hand, movement doesn't matter too much, because the hand and lens move together.

    I find using a normal tripod far too slow, and I never have much time to give to taking photos I keep an eye out when people suggest tripods, because something might turn up which has more appeal.

    I did accidentally find that a gorilla pod look alike was a handy addition. I put it on the macro lens. Two of the legs go back to brace on my shoulders/chest, and the third leg I bend forward and with an upward curve at the tip. This means my left hand can rest on the third leg tip, which makes it much more comfortable to hold my hand up for long periods. The legs back on my shoulder also support a lot of weight of the camera which is good. I now do the same with the 100 - 400 lens, but with the tip of the third leg bent down for my left hand to hold instead of holding the barrel. It makes a huge difference for me as I have arthritis in my hands.

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    Ausphotography Regular Dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Axford View Post
    I have tried a benbo ball head. It would not hold the weight of a DSLR side on without slipping.
    Like I say I've never used one. The name can be easily confused with the Benro line of tripods and heads.
    It could depend on the chosen Benbo model for purpose.
    Here is a Benbo tripod and head being recommended for large format. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8q60vGm2wY

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    For most of my insect macro shots with the Canon 100mm F2.8, for support and steadying, I use a 1.8 metre wooden dowel that I purchased from Bunnings. I think it is 1.25 inches in diameter.

    By holding the pole in my left hand with camera pressed against it, I can relax my grip to slide the camera up and down and then tighten my grip to “lock” it in place.

    Using this technique I can tilt and pan as well to chase the insect as it moves.

    I always use AF on the lens. If I use my Canon MPE-65 which is manual focus only, I mount it on a tripod as my keeper rate with the pole plummets but I am then restricted to shooting more static insects with a good margin of luck.

    I do have the BenBo (BentBolt) tripod and I find it fiddly to adjust for moving subjects and the locking handle /mechanism slips (not surprisingly) with a ball head, 5D, 100mm lens and speedlite parked at the end of the centre column when close to horizontal and fully extended.

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    I use Benro gear and have never had a problem with them. The tripod is tall enough for me to stand behind without bending, goes low to the ground. I also use a Benro Monopod, with ARCA Swiss mount plates that can be fitted to everything. As for the Ball Head, never had a problem with it, (even now with a Nikon D750 with a Sigma 150-600 attached to it.)
    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

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    Hi J.davis

    Just checking - you have a Benro and not a Benbo? I ask because there have been some comments about the Benbo ball head slipping.

    Thanks.

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    Benro Tripod, Benro monopod, and, Benro Ball head. Seems to work well.

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