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Thread: Tall Tripod and head

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    Member Jaded62's Avatar
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    Tall Tripod and head

    If you had $800-1000 to spend on a carbon tripod and head for landscapes, what would you get?

    Background to this is my usual over analysis and procrastination in replacing my 10 yo Manfrotto gear. The rider to the tripod selection is that I'm 189cm tall and so need (my back and knees tell me) a tallish tripod.

    At this point I'm considering a Surui W2204 tripod and FLM CB-43 FTR head with LB-15 leveling base.

    All opinions welcome.
    Canon 5Ds, 16-35mm F4 L, 24-105mm F4 L.
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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Assuming you want a stable platform to mount your gear on you will need a tripod that gives you 'eyeball to camera viewfinder' height, without the centre column raised at all. As soon as you raise the centre column, stability drops dramatically.

    Google something like tripod stability with raised centre column and have a read. I bough a Manfrotto CF after four wasted, and costly attempts, to find a 'good cheap tripod' (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and if I were to replace it I wouldn't bother with a centre column at all.

    The right tripod is like a good lens, it will last you a very long time, and outlive many, many camera bodies.
    Cheers
    Kev

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    I went with a Benro Aluminium tripod a few years back, still going strong. It was the only brand I could find with a height that was as tall as myself, then the head was added.
    A compatible Benro ball head to cover the weight of my camera and largest tele lens.
    I also wanted clip locks on the legs, not twistlocks.
    I dont think the height is made anymore though.
    Regards
    John
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    Thanks Cage.

    I've checked out the MT055CXPRO4 which is the only Manfrotto that (I think) meets my needs but its not cheap. Its also marginally heavier and shorter than the Surui.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    Assuming you want a stable platform to mount your gear on you will need a tripod that gives you 'eyeball to camera viewfinder' height, without the centre column raised at all. As soon as you raise the centre column, stability drops dramatically.

    Google something like tripod stability with raised centre column and have a read. I bough a Manfrotto CF after four wasted, and costly attempts, to find a 'good cheap tripod' (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and if I were to replace it I wouldn't bother with a centre column at all.

    The right tripod is like a good lens, it will last you a very long time, and outlive many, many camera bodies.
    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks John.

    Ditto my existing Manfrotto tripod......aluminum legs with clips locks. The MT055CXPRO4 is attractive re the clips but not the issues mentioned above.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.davis View Post
    I went with a Benro Aluminium tripod a few years back, still going strong. It was the only brand I could find with a height that was as tall as myself, then the head was added.
    A compatible Benro ball head to cover the weight of my camera and largest tele lens.
    I also wanted clip locks on the legs, not twistlocks.
    I dont think the height is made anymore though.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Contrary to Cage, raised centre columns can be perfectly OK. BUT ONLY where the tripod features a really solid design for the column and a good way to lock it off. My big Manfrotto (forget the model number, but it's a heavy carbon one with 4-part legs and a gear-driven column) is just fine with the column up. Including teleconverters and/or crop factor, I use it with lenses from 600mm through to about 1200mm, mostly between 600 and 840mm. It's not to be trusted over 1200mm (in 35mm equivalent terms) but then, neither is anything else.

    But (to agree with Cage now) that's rare. In fact, it's the only one I've ever used that's as solid as that. And the price of the solidity is (a) a very heavy tripod by carbon fibre standards, and (b) quite a lot of money. As he says, best to get one that doesn't need the column up in the first place.
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    Ausphotography Regular junqbox's Avatar
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    I also use the Manfrotto 055 (albeit the aluminium one) and have found it to be most suitable for the extra height I needed. I use it with a Manfrotto 322 Head. The head has been good, although I found I had to get a L-Plate mounting bracket to get more flexibility for portrait shots (comes in handy as a 'bull bar' for the camera body.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Ditto my existing Manfrotto tripod......aluminum legs with clips locks. The MT055CXPRO4 is attractive re the clips but not the issues mentioned above.
    Coincidentally the tripod I eventually settled on was the Manfrotto 055CXPRO3, the predecessor of the one you mentioned.

    I've had it for about ten years, it functions as well as the day I bought it and I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again.

    Selecting a ballhead leads you into a new minefield with no industry standard for load rating. Every time I thought I'd found the you beaut, perfect for me head, I googled it and added the word 'droop'.

    i settled on a Markins Q10, once again with no regrets.

    I had a quick browse of the German made FLM CB-43 FTR head you mentioned and it seems to review right up there with the top ballheads.

    PS: Noticed Mainline Photo have it for $385.00, sans clamp. https://mainlinephoto.com.au/flm-cb-...-stop-setting/
    Last edited by Cage; 23-01-2020 at 12:37pm.

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    Thanks Tony.

    I do use the centre column on my current 190XPROB very occasionally but only with the wireless remote on a still day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Contrary to Cage, raised centre columns can be perfectly OK. BUT ONLY where the tripod features a really solid design for the column and a good way to lock it off. My big Manfrotto (forget the model number, but it's a heavy carbon one with 4-part legs and a gear-driven column) is just fine with the column up. Including teleconverters and/or crop factor, I use it with lenses from 600mm through to about 1200mm, mostly between 600 and 840mm. It's not to be trusted over 1200mm (in 35mm equivalent terms) but then, neither is anything else.

    But (to agree with Cage now) that's rare. In fact, it's the only one I've ever used that's as solid as that. And the price of the solidity is (a) a very heavy tripod by carbon fibre standards, and (b) quite a lot of money. As he says, best to get one that doesn't need the column up in the first place.
    - - - Updated - - -

    One tripod I've yet to look at is the 3LT Albert. https://www.3leggedthing.com/albert2

    Gets good reviews but I'd have to use a lot of centre column.

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    Ausphotography Regular paulheath's Avatar
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    i use the leofoto LN-404C it is build like a tank and bloody HUGE... fully extended i can pretty much stand underneath it ( im 6ft 3 ) they also have a large range of ball heads with leveling plates etc
    p.s it has no centre column ...and too be fair you don't need one ( can be purchased separately ) this is a Bowl mount and flat base plate model.
    Last edited by paulheath; 23-01-2020 at 1:58pm.
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    Ausphotography Regular Nick Cliff's Avatar
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    Cage and others give sound advice and from reviews I have read on sites like the Center column ( https://thecentercolumn.com/ ) the Manfrotto CX Pro3 carbon fibre tripod is a beauty in it's price range with very good stiffness losing points for it's weight compared to the competition. Personally have been very happy with this tripod re cost and performance and use this tripod combined with a Sirui K-40X heavy duty 35kg? rated ballhead that has a 6 year warranty.
    Tried a Three Legged Thing heavy duty ballhead and found it was not suited to macro photography despite a similar weight rating to the Sirui K-40X and returned it settling on the large Sirui ballhead.
    The ballhead weight ratings do not seem to be based on a standardized test and noticed a photo of an Acratech GP ballhead with a 500Kg weight on it and recall from memory it is rated to about 11kgs. This ballhead I love using on the beach or rivers were sand can be washed off easily if things go pear shaped
    Agree the Markins Ball heads seem to be exceptional and do seem to be the way to go for price and performance.
    Leofoto tripods appear to be improving and look to be very like some of the RRS tripods and heads however I am not sure of their performance in the real world. Have personally been using an interesting Leofoto miniature extendable tripod called the Ranger LS223 tripod with a EB 36 ballhead that is very good for macro photography though not for everyday use. The build quality of this little tripod is really impressive.
    Some tripods seem to have a problem with the panning base not locking after awhile and had this experience with the 3LT ballhead.
    Have since found out that there is usually a cap that looks similar to a miniature sewing thimble that sits on the end of the locking screw to protect the screw thread for locking the panning base and this cap may come off obviously causing problems. Some guys can fix this problem themselves when their ball head is out of warranty. I understand the panning lock screw on some ballheads should not be unwound too much to help avoid this problem.

    Cheers Nick
    Last edited by Nick Cliff; 23-01-2020 at 5:17pm.

  11. #11
    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Just had a thought.

    Could you mount your camera directly onto the LB-15 leveling base and skip the ballhead?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    Just had a thought.

    Could you mount your camera directly onto the LB-15 leveling base and skip the ballhead?
    Without checking I assume you could buy you'd be limited to 15° tilt

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Yeah I know I don't get very good photos of birds and maybe it's because I don't carry all the heavy gear your are all talking about?
    Simply using a tilt head and monopod seems to work well for me??

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaded62 View Post
    Without checking I assume you could buy you'd be limited to 15° tilt
    If you get your tripod fairly close to level, I would have thought 15° would have been enough for fine tuning.

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    First up I apologise for my nonsensical post. Typing and thinking weren't connected!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    If you get your tripod fairly close to level, I would have thought 15° would have been enough for fine tuning.
    15° might work sometimes but for me @ 189cm doing landscapes means a tall tripod with a head that allows me to (in portrait orientation) tilt the camera down a fair way to bring foreground (at the base of the tripod) into frame.

    Also, if you were to use the levelling base in that way I think you'd be then needing to be more careful in levelling the tripod which then makes the use of the levelling base redundant.
    Last edited by Jaded62; 27-01-2020 at 1:15pm.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    This depends on the way you travel, but Paul Heaths recommendation of the Leofoto 404C is what I'd recommend too.
    It's size is all you will ever need, unless you're plan on wearing 3 foot high heels at any point. Fully extended it's about 2m tall.
    But it's a bit wobbly 'fully' extended, which you most likely won't really need.
    Where this tripod comes into it's own is 3/4 extended, where you don't use those last smallest leg extensions.
    Other than some granite boulders, I can't think of anything more solid and rigid.
    I've hung myself off(at 3/4) it to test it's ability .. I weigh 100kgs.
    As you can see at TheCentreColumn, using it at 3/4 extension it's stiffness rating is 50% higher.
    I doubt that you would find a more solid or rigid tripod for the price(when used at the normal 3/4).

    But like centercolumn says, it's not for long walks(ie. hours of walking) or overseas travel. Far too big and bulky.
    I walked with it(maybe up to an hour) and it's not that much of a problem, but it's definitely not a 'traveller' type tripod.

    I've had Manfrotto(sorry folks but they're not worth the $s). I sold my 055. I still keep my 458B tho for it's unique capability.
    I still have my Gitzo GT3313, not quite a reliable as folks make them out to be. Good, yes, but for the money, I think Benros copies are better.
    Always wanted to buy a Benro based on some experience of other's tripods .. seem as good if not better in some ways.
    My issue with my Gitzo is that the centre column has failed itself. A locating pin that stops it from rotating has fallen out and the centre column, while it works, it twists as you tighten it down.
    I've removed it(as it was annoying) and just clamped the top plate directing to the legs.
    This level of Gitzo isn't worth the $s either. I used to think it was when I first got it, but having used a few Benros since then, I now know better.

    So like I initially said, what you may really want will depend on the type of travel you do for your landscapes.
    My method of travel is always in car, drive around find places to take photos of use gear. This mode of travel makes it easy to use a massive set of legs like the Leofoto tho. Like I said, I may walk an hour maybe two(return) to some lookout point or whatever location, max I've done is 5 hrs. Camera always on tripod, ready to take shot, tripod over shoulder walk.

    I've never done the jump on a plane with many packed bags to some confusing place where I'd need to rely on others to get me from place to place type travel.
    Don't need to be a genius to know that the LN404C is not ideal for this type of travel!

    For quick setup of the camera on the tripod at any location, nothing will beat the Manfrotto 458B with it's hydraulic legs.
    This is the only reason I keep it. It's pretty unstable, but for ultra wide angle landscapes, this is not an issue. For something like astro, it will be.
    I think it's legs are made of freshly cooked spaghetti
    But no matter where you set yourself up, like the side of a cliff .. this tripod is a joy to set yourself up. The more difficult the location(ie. steep angle, uneven ground, etc.) this particular tripod seems to get better.
    I've also removed the centre column on this one too.

    (basicallym I have three tripod, no centre columns!(other than the ones off the tripods now sitting in a draw somewhere!)

    ps. my initial response to my knee and back issues with using a low tripod(basically all of them except the Leofoto) was to use centre column. Usually more of a pain than an advantage. If there is a breeze and you're not at UWA lens focal lengths, you will get some vibrations. Whether they will bother you is only for you to decide, but they will happen. Centre columns don't work!(why I removed it from my Gitzo). So, for a while my new anti back/knee pain was to set tripod to a lower level and use a small fold out tripod seat instead.
    Note I have a busted knee as well as a bad back. This worked well for quite a while for me, and it was also handy to have a seat if the walking track didn't have any rest stops along it's path too.
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    Thanks again Arthur.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    This depends on the way you travel, but Paul Heaths recommendation of the Leofoto 404C is what I'd recommend too.
    It's size is all you will ever need, unless you're plan on wearing 3 foot high heels at any point. Fully extended it's about 2m tall.
    At 3.4 Kg its a bit heavy for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    My method of travel is always in car, drive around find places to take photos of use gear. This mode of travel makes it easy to use a massive set of legs like the Leofoto tho. Like I said, I may walk an hour maybe two(return) to some lookout point or whatever location, max I've done is 5 hrs. Camera always on tripod, ready to take shot, tripod over shoulder walk.
    Essentially what I do although if I'm to walk any serious distance I'll pack up for fear of damaging the camera.


    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    ps. my initial response to my knee and back issues with using a low tripod(basically all of them except the Leofoto) was to use centre column. Usually more of a pain than an advantage. If there is a breeze and you're not at UWA lens focal lengths, you will get some vibrations. Whether they will bother you is only for you to decide, but they will happen. Centre columns don't work!(why I removed it from my Gitzo). So, for a while my new anti back/knee pain was to set tripod to a lower level and use a small fold out tripod seat instead.
    Note I have a busted knee as well as a bad back. This worked well for quite a while for me, and it was also handy to have a seat if the walking track didn't have any rest stops along it's path too.
    Thankfully I'm not to that state as yet. Just wear and tear on a late 50's spine and joints. Knee replacements run in the family!

  18. #18
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Thought so(on the too heavy bit). I don't mind weight personally, but this has to be specified accurately to minimise suggestions.
    Seriously tho, as PH says.. this is one behenmoth of a tripod!

    But going from that, I'd say

    Markins Q20i(about $400-ish on ebay)

    Leofoto LN-324C
    I don't have any experience with this model, and it appears to be Benro-ish in build quality and overall quality. So my comments will be based on experience with other stuff, and Leofoto tripod I do have.
    The leg locks(the twisting lock for each leg section) look to be similar to the larger model .. ie. very good.
    They need a bit more turn that the Gitzo's similar design, but the Gitzo's locks have more elastic feel to them too.
    That is, the Leofoto locks have a more positive locking feel to them, even tho you need to turn them more to release and then lock.

    The only issue I'd have with the 324 model is that they use 4 leg sections, where 3 would have been better(more solid).
    Those final leg sections, the teeny spindly bottom ends are usually useless in terms of rigidity.
    This is the same on the bigger 404 model. But on the 404 you don't really use them, and it makes the tripod that much more solid.

    The solidness/quality of the Leofoto top plate is miles ahead of Gitzo's too. But my Gitzo is now well over 10 years old ... may their new models will have higher quality materials.
    Manfrotto use plastics for the top plates!

    Those two products will get you to about $1000 all up.
    Bugga! I stuffed that up: when I got my 404, it was $650. Can't remember exactly maybe 2-3 years now. I remember umming and ahhing about getting the much cheaper 324 back then which was under $400! Ooops! I now see they are in the mid 500 price range!
    But I won't clear what I wrote above .. still an option. Makes for a more compact tripod when packed.

    But I'd prefer a 3 leg section tripod at this bulk range. Simply: they will be stiffer. Bigger when packed up, but those small spindly end leg tubes are the killer. So keep that in mind.

    Feisol 3372 Elite. They say $575 on their site
    The 3472(4 section) gets a good rating on TheCentreColumn, the 3372(3 leg) should get a higher rating when fully extended. Very light weight(1.7kg)
    Note tho, I have an issue with Feisol, in that theire customer service is garbage!
    Maybe you have more patience with stuff than I do .. but I am a very patient person. I contacted them 3 times in about 2 months .. zero replies! Their online shop can be a maze of unknowns.
    Anyhow, I was trying to get a 3372 and a couple of their ball heads(near $1500 without postage) .. no replies .. ever!

    Anyhow, seem to be great value for money. Between the Benros of this world and Gitzos.
    I can tell you Gitzo, is quite high priced, but my experience is that they're OK in what they do, but not as high quality(materials) as the price would suggest.

    Benro has a C4570 model(one I've played with and liked a lot), compared to the Gitzo, I reckon Benro wins in terms of overall quality.
    I've seen these in the $500 price range. Large(enough for 'ya) weight in the 2.5 kg range(maybe less).
    Because it's a large tripod(I think nearly 1.8m tall on it's own) .. it doesn't feel so heavy .. the illusion that something so large should weigh more. My Gitzo weighs in at about 2kg, so expected the larger Benro to feel 'heavier,' which it is, but it didn't. (hopefully that makes sense).

    SO assuming that you'd choose the Markins Q20 ballhead with 100mm height, and assuming that your camera vf height is approx 100mm too:
    With the Leofoto and Feisol legs, this would put the vf at about the 1.75m height level for 'ya.
    The Benro would place that at about 200mm higher .. this is not using the centre column(if it has one).

    I'd say the Feisol would be the best option(assuming that they're customer service exists!), but it could extend to over $1K. (I'm sure their prices are in USD)
    Leofoto may end up being the most flexible option(as it uses a bowled top plate design).
    Benro will be as cheap if not cheaper, but the tallest. May not be the most rigid tho if this is also a priority.
    With the Benro, I'd definitely remove the centre column tho(like I have with my Gitzo) makes a a bit better overall.

  19. #19
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    Thank you all for your input and suggestions.

    Fit for purpose, quality, price are all considerations and in the end I went with the Surui W2204 tripod and Sunwayfoto GH-Pro II.

    https://sirui-photo.com.au/product/s...rproof-tripod/
    https://sunwayfoto.com.au/product/su...-2019-version/

  20. #20
    Ausphotography Regular Nick Cliff's Avatar
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    That tripod does look a beauty do know a photographer that has that tripod will be interesting to know how the geared head performs after a year or so though Sunwayphoto gear does seem to be very high quality

    cheers Nick

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