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Thread: Need help picking a tripod!

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    Need help picking a tripod!

    Hi Guys. I need help picking out a tripod. I already have a very lightweight manfrotto, so I’m happy to go for another manfrotto as I love this tripod. It’s a beginner’s one, a very lightweight model that has a fixed head. The main reasons I want to upgrade are below:

    My L lens on my 550D has proved a little too heavy for this tripod when angling the head down
    I want to get a head that will allow me to take portrait photos as well as landscape orientation (for panos)
    I would like to be able to shoot quite close to the ground (currently the tripod I have, when the legs are all locked up, the closest I can get to the ground is about 35cm)- I’ve seen some on the website than can get you as close as 8cm to the ground!

    So there you have it. I’m going to keep this tripod for when I need to carry it around all day, but with the new one, preferably don’t want anything that’s going to be TOO heavy!

    I’ve spent about 2 hours on the manfrotto website and just got really overwhelmed with the choices- had no idea they had SO many models! If you could point me in the right direction… it would be much appreciated! Thanks for your help guys!

    Imogen
    Canon 6D, Canon 550D, Canon 24-105mm, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Canon 85mm f/1.8, Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 IS USM, Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-5.6

    www.imogenbrandrakers.wordpress.com

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    i have a benro travel angel. and i love it
    they are not to expensive either and will comfortabily hold most os the large lenses
    Canon 5D MKiii / Sony A7Rii / Canon 16-35mm f 4 L /Canon EF 24-70mm f-2.8 L USM / Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM / SIGMA 50mm F14. ART


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    ill check it out, thanks!

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    Member KeeFy's Avatar
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    I have a benro travel angel as well, but regretted not checking out Sirui. Better construction and build quality for the same price. I've recommended friends to go check out both and they all ended up with the Sirui.

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    Yeah, after some research the travel angel doesnt have great reviews- ill check out Sirui, thanks.

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    I'm liking the look of this one...what do you think? It looks to have everything im after.

    http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au/prod271.htm

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    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    I've got a Benro C/F travel angel, the biggest one, and I find it is excellent.

    Steady as a rock with my 60D and 100-400L lens on it, and together with my Acratech GP ballhead, it weighs under 2kg complete.
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
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    im not looking for a ball head though- i want this tripod in order to shoot panoramas.. so i need a 3 prong head i think.

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    Manfrotto 055 series.
    The things you see when you dont have a camera.

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    The one you have linked only extends to 1200 (centre down) - bit short I think.
    I got a benro that is 1600 and when you add the head and camera it is heigher than me - can be used to great advantage without bending.
    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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    +1 for the Manfrotto 055 series - I also use ReallyRightStuff QR ball-head and L-plate for the camera - can get the camera base/side almost touching the floor in either landscape or portrait orientation.
    5D MkII Gripped | EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II | EF 24-70mm f/2.8L | EF 50mm f/1.4 USM | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro | Extender 2x II | 580EX II & 430EX II Speedlites
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ice View Post
    im not looking for a ball head though- i want this tripod in order to shoot panoramas.. so i need a 3 prong head i think.
    100% of all ballheads will allow you to do panoramas too.
    They all have an independent panning adjustment that won't move the ball itself, just allow you to pan as you wish for panoramas.

    Looking at the Sirui, I doubt there would be much difference between them and a Benro of equivalent specs.

    If you want stable and solid and rigid, the only way to achieve this is with a larger, stronge, heavier tripod(of equivalent material used in construction).

    Gitzo have a supposed reputation for extremely high quality tripods, especially their carbon versions. But their lightweight travel versions, with the off centre tiltable columns are woeful!

    Great as a travel tripod to allow you to carry one where a larger one would be an encumbrance. But as a sturdy tripod, that supports you gear well .. it doesn't work!
    For that task you larger sized tripod legs and better quality head to go with it.

    For what they're supposed to do, these travel tripods are pretty good tho, and I can't see any reason why one brand will be a lot better than another.

    From the OP, the only thing to look for with the tripod legs is in having a centre column that is centrally set.
    I had a look at the Sirui brand, and it seems to be designed in a similar manner to the Gitzos with centre colum.
    You unscrew the hook at the end of the column pull the centre column through the tripod legs and unscrew the top plate that mounts the camera to the column.
    There is a small ridge on the top mount where the camera/head is mounted, that should slot back into the tripod legs without the column and the tripod legs have now easily been converted to a columnless version.

    It's not ideal, but it works.

    As for head type, I've found that ballheads offer the most versatility in most situations, and they all allow quick repositioning from landscape orientation to portrait orientation .. faster and easier than a threeway video head type.
    But for even better orientation switching, and L plate mounted on the camera is the best option .. especially for vertically shot panoramas!!

    My L-plate arrives early next week and I'll do more testing of the equipment I have soon.

    The real question is how much do you want to spend ? Obviously less is better, but what is a maximum spend amount that you have in mind?

    Also define too heavy. Carbon fibre whilst it's expensive is simply the best material for tripod legs!! Can't be beat for both low weight and high rigidity(for a given tube size).

    A typically heavy carbon tripod with good quality head should weigh no more than about 2kg or so. Aluminium is so obviously heavier, but more importantly whilst walking, and you're holding the tripod, or hung it over a shoulder on a strap, the weight produces momentum and it feels as though it's even heavier than the 1 or 2kgs extra weight would have you believe.
    I think it's better to handhold the tripod when on a walk as it's more instantly available when needed, and is easily opened and rested on the ground if that's required too.

    Problem with carbon is the expense, and expect to pay something like $500 or more for a tripod head. May sound expensive but the weight is worth it(pun intended!! )


    If $500 is a reasonable amount of money, then a Benro model such as the C2570 or C2580 may be sufficient. The difference between the two is the number of leg sections and the compacted size of the tripod. Less leg section will mean more rigidity(fewer joins to induce vibration).
    For general use, and pretty good tripod model I think.

    If you really want to do easier vertical panoramas, I think a good quality camera L plate is also worthwhile to purchase.
    Depending on camera, they can seem quite expensive, but worthwhile in having.
    If you're interested, I can do a quick review of mine sometime next week or next weekend once it arrives.

    A brief rundown on my experience and stuff up!
    A few months back I purchased some new high quality, high priced tripod gear, and the difference in performance to me old gear(manfrotto) is marked and noticeable.
    I purchased the plates and ballhead separately, and that wasn't a problem, but in purchasing the plates from another supplier, I forgot to ask him to supply me with the correct sized fixing bolts(screws).
    All the plates I purchased at the time were lens plates only, as he didn't have the L plate in stock(now coming) .. but you can still use flat general purpose plates on a camera body too.
    All the bolts were the longer lens type screws, whereas the camera bodies require shorter length bolts. I could fix any of the plates to the camera, so I bodged it and used a series of washers as spacers between plate and camera. Not ideal, but it's got me going until the L-plate arrives.
    Problem with this washers as a spacer idea is that it's not a good way to test the equipment.

    The bad design aspect of all L plates is that they intrude on the hand holding of the camera with the plate set out on one side as well as underneath .. so it makes the camera more bulky.
    The L-plate I got tho has a removable side plate, and I'm assured that it won't cause any stability/rigidity issue, being removable design. I'll soon find out.
    Also a big negative is the cost. From the USA, they can cost anywhere from $100 to $150!!. Expensive but worth it.

    Part of the problem here is that not all the info that helps us to help you has been revealed either.

    What other gear do you have, and if you go with another non manfrotto tripod type, the plates are incompatible, so it will be tedious to switch from one tripod to the other, and you'll almost certainly give up on one in preference to the other.
    Almost all other tripod/head manufacturers stick with the Arca Swiss plate type system .. and that is definitely a good thing
    Many accessories are available to suit this mount type .. some are cheap .. really cheap and nasty. And others are very expensive but work well.
    I ended up going for the high middle ground and paid a fair amount, just for the plates and clamps I recently got, but they were definitely worth it.
    Changed my Manfrotto plate type to an Arca Swiss type to match my new ballhead... it's easier(but more expensive) to do it this way, but now I have two tripods to choose from with ease.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
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    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    Arthur has some wise words there.

    I found out the hard way that if you buy cheap, you will only end up buying another one and another one until you find one that REALLY works, so you're better off biting the bullet and getting something good the first time.

    The Acratech GP ballhead is perfect for panoramas, as you can invert it, and then it becomes a levelling pano head.
    You put the head on on the tripod upside down, then level it with the built in spirit level, so even if your tripod is on uneven ground, when you rotate the head on the tripod, your camera is kept level all the way through and you won't have to crop off all those bits from the side of the pano when you're done. The pictures will meld together seamlessly.
    The Acratech is not cheap at just over $400, but it is incredibly strong and tough, can be washed out with a hose and is really light in weight.
    I've gone through about 6 different heads in the last 2 years, and I really wish I had bought this one first.
    The only other head I ever use now is my geared head, but that is for very specialised work, and is slow to operate, and VERY heavy.

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    100% of all ballheads will allow you to do panoramas too.
    They all have an independent panning adjustment that won't move the ball itself, just allow you to pan as you wish for panoramas.
    A bold statement. No, they don't. While all ball heads will allow you to rotate the head 360 degrees, unless they have a separate panorama lock, they are useless for panoramas, especially when the camera is in portrait mode (without an L bracket). Many ball heads only have a single control for all movement, others have a second control to independently regulate the friction but what you NEED is one that also has a panorama lock that will allow a 360 degree rotation without affecting the angle at which the camera is held. If you are going to get a ball head, make sure it has a separate panorama control.
    Cheers

    PeterB666


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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    ........ Many ball heads only have a single control for all movement, others have a second control to independently regulate the friction but what you NEED is one that also has a panorama lock that will allow a 360 degree rotation without affecting the angle at which the camera is held. If you are going to get a ball head, make sure it has a separate panorama control.
    Most ballheads(from manfrotto at least) seem to be of the design type that have a locking control for the ball itself and the base panning action, and not many have a friction control mechanism.
    That doesn't imply that they don't exist, it's just that the norm for Manfrotto ballheads are: ball lock + pano lock and you have to search harder for a model with friction lock.

    Apologies for the statement that all ballheads allow independent panorama panning, but from what I know of the models currently out there, the type of head that the OP is looking for should all have that feature.
    OP hasn't specifically stated what model head they have, but my assumption was that they were looking for a larger model head of some type as the current model they have is inadequate for holding a 100mm prime lens!
    So my assumption was that they currently only have a very small head of inadequate ability and are looking to a midi-maxi sized head to replace the old one with!
    A this sized ballhead (eg. Manfrotto 488 and greater) .. I've never seen any ballhead that doesn't have an independent panning lock control.

    Maybe I haven't look low and high enough, but I've never seen(a modern one) that doesn't have a panning control mechanism .. whether as a separate control lock or as part of a single lock control that sill allows panning at the base without movement of the ball itself.
    (note I have seen some very small micro sized ballheads that don't have a panning lock, but these are eliminated from the discussion on the basis that they can only really be used for very small cameras!)

    All other ballheads pertinent to the discussion all have (that I've seen) .. and from memory I have seen one model that claimed to have only one control knob that allows the base to pan independently of unlocking the ball itself, even tho the same control lock operates both movements.
    (if I find the model, I'll post the link .. but I wouldn't trust the device personally).


    And ditto on the uselessness of using portrait orientation without an L bracket. That's why I mentioned the L bracket in the first place, as it seemed to me that the OP would be better off planning for one with their purchase.

    I've only just browsed the Manfrotto site again and noticed that they now have an L bracket in their product lineup, but it still falls short of how an L bracket should be designed!
    They hadn't had anything for years in their lineup, and I eventually decided to replace my Manfrotto plates and clamps(on my main tripods) to Arca Swiss.
    My 488 is inadequate for use as a ballhead as it's too fragile and flexible for my main purposes, so I've relegated it to speedlight holding duties, and purchased a speelight baseplate and mounted it to the RC2 plate for quick attachment of the speedlight to the tripod.
    I also find that this RC2 plate/clamp system is inadequate for critical vibration free photography.
    The RC5 plates that I replaced with the Arca Swiss system, is extremely capable and rigid, but due to the limited configuration possibilities, it had to go in favour of the Arca Swiss stuff.
    If anyone is contemplating a similar move, it's well worth the expense.

    With the Arca Swiss plate and rail system you can get away with not having an annoying L bracket permanently attached to the camera and create an L bracket using rails instead, where the camera attaches in portrait orientation to a clamp on a vertical rail.
    I was going to opt for this, but decided to go with the L bracket instead.
    I have all the rails and clamps I need to make an L rail, except for the wedge that connects the two rails together. I'm using the rails for other purposes instead and have already ordered the L bracket.

    As I said, once I have it in my possession(where it's currently in USPS's possession ) I'll post a brief review about it. The design makes perfectly good sense to me(as long as it works).

    For the OP, I still think that an L plate(on camera) and a proper mid to large sized ballhead will be nicer to use for creating panoramas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ice View Post
    I'm liking the look of this one...what do you think? It looks to have everything im after.

    http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au/prod271.htm
    That's the exact set-up I have (and bought from there too), and I love it. I've used it a few times with my 60D and 70-200mm f/2.8L combo, and it's steady enough. However, I'm far from an expert when it comes to product comparisons and knowing what's out there, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, or maybe a half-filled shaker.

    Hint: if your current tripod has a hook on it anywhere (usually just under the head), you can hang your kit bag or any kind of weight off it to keep it steady. It might not help if your lens/body combo is already too heavy, but it's food for thought.
    Last edited by GoldZilla; 13-02-2012 at 2:00am.
    Nick T.

    Canon EOS 60D; Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM; Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM; Canon "Nifty Fifty" 50mm F/1.8 II; Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS USM Macro; 2x Sigma EF-530DG Super flashes; Manfrotto 190XProB + 804CR2

  17. #17
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennymiata View Post
    ......
    I've gone through about 6 different heads in the last 2 years, and I really wish I had bought this one first.
    .......
    LOL!
    I originally read Benny's reply, but missed this section of the reply!!

    Take heed!

    Thom Hogan writes about this syndrome too.

    Unless you know exactly what it is you want and why you want that bit of tripod/support gear, don't end up doing as Benny, myself and many others have done in the past, and that Thom advises against ...

    Save enough money to get the right combination of tripod and head now, and save yourself the hassle of doing it again in the future!!

    I haven't quite gone through the same trouble as Benny had, as I've put up with the inadequacy of Manfrotto's gear for the past 6-7years, and finally had enough.

    I purchased a RRS BH-55 a few months back and the quality of the product, over my Manfrotto MG468RC5 is immediately evident.

    As for tripod legs, there is no comparison between aluminium and carbon fibre! Weight and rigidity are worlds apart, and I reckon the OP would be better off with a set of mid sized carbon legs too.

    Once you have these legs, you're basically set for a long time in terms of tripod.

    As for heads, personal preference and requirements will dictate the type of head used. If the OP is interested in macro photography then to be sure of consistency of capture, then it's best advised to purchase a head of superior quality, such as an Acratech of RRS or Kirk, or whatever. The brand itself isn't as important as the quality of the head.

    I've eventually seen the difference between what seems to be a good product and what is actually a good product.

    The difference between the Manfrotto head and the RRS head is immediately obvious upon use. The ability to manually focus with the Manfrotto is made difficult as it causes more touch induced vibration, which makes it harder to see the point you're trying to focus on. With the RRS head, there is minimal vibration even while handling the camera/lens and within one or two twists of the focus collar, or rail slider, you can see exactly where you've focused. With the Manfrotto head, you have to focus, wait let it settle, look carefully, focus again .. decide if it looks clearer/sharper, refocus again, and again.

    I've written up a tedious and long winded quick review of the RRS BH-55 I recently acquired(it's in the review forums).
    It's not fully completed yet as I earlier wrote, I need to get this camera plate to continue any more testing.
    The way I have my camera setup on the plate I have at the moment is far from ideal.

    ... anyhow! All that I can currently recommend is to not follow in footsteps already taken by others, as Benny also pointed out too.
    There's a high probability that once you get what you get, you may end up being 100% satisfied with your choice as you find yourself in situations where you don't get tripod induced issues creeping in(slow shutter speeds).
    But to ensure against this situation from happening to you too, spending wisely (and more) now will ensure you won't be back in a few years asking the same question(s).

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    Thanks very much to all of you for your thorough replies and excellent advice- much appreciated!

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    Today may be the day, Or not !
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    Hi Ice,

    If you go to Camera Electronic in Sterling St North Perth, they have atleast 30 odd tripods and heads, you can take your body and lens and try them out. They have all the main name brands and also have a sale on now. See Sam or Gavin.

    Don't forget to ask Stu from Quality Camera Sales, he keeps stock of the most comman fast movers, so you can speak to both re price, but atleast at CE you can try your gear on them all.

    Cheers,
    They call me "Blue" it's a red head thing.
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  20. #20
    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Hi Imogen,

    I've posted the link to a couple of blurbs I did on choosing my tripod and head. Hope you find some helpful info in them.

    The bit on matching your tripod to your height is, IMHO, most important. I did lots of research and have to say, in my case, it paid off as I'm very pleased with both my tripod and head.

    The legs on Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 I chose open very wide, and coupled with the ability to mount the center column horizontally, allows you to get very close to the ground.

    I also use a cable remote release to minimise shutter button shake, and also an infrared for 2 sec delay.

    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...why-I-chose-it

    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ripod_and_head

    Good luck in making the right choice for you.
    Cheers
    Kev

    D800 & GAS

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