Analysis paralysis on tripod purchase!!

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mporter012, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. mporter012

    mporter012 Member

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    So, I am having a rather severe case of what I understand to be analysis paralysis: the inability to make a decision over a product purchase! After a few posts on APUG and other webpages, and talking to my local camera shop, I am unsure of what to buy. Here is a bit of a recap: I use a Nikon FE2 and will be using asap a Hasselblad 500cm with lenses up to 150mm. I shoot fine art landscapes in inclement weather (snow, wind, rain).

    Carbon Fiber: I was original hesitant to go with carbon, but many have suggested that it is better to simply buy carbon now, b/c eventually you will want it anyway, so you might as well just buy now. The Gitzo Mountaineering, Induro 8x CT214, and Manfrotto 055cxpro carbon, have come up most frequently. I can't imagine a significant difference between any one of these. The Gitzo I've held - it's very nice. Both the Induro and the Manfrotto have rave reviews on B&H.

    Aluminum: After having decided on Carbon, I began to freak about spending $600+ when I could possibly buy aluminum legs and a great ball head for 1/2 the price. Of course, weight doubles, but unless I am missing something, I can't seem to see any other real advantage to carbon over aluminum other than weight. Many have suggested Tiltall and others have suggested that the Manfrotto 055 is great (800 plus very convincing reviews on B&H), sturdy tripod. Of course, Gitzo also makes aluminum.

    Heads: I've not even begun to research these!

    So this will be my final post on tripod legs. I'd welcome any advice on helping me make a decision based upon the above info. The decision is resting upon just spending the money upfront now for carbon, or going with aluminum to save $.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I've never heard of anyone regretting the purchase of a good tripod and head. The Hassy is not a light system and it really needs a tripod, so save some weight with your tripod. Go for the CF--it's lighter and a lot nicer to use in the cold. Aluminum does a terrific job draining the heat from your hands, unless it's the summer, when it heats up and gets uncomfortably hot. :smile:
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I use similar equipment and in similar conditions (less the snow). The Manfrotto 055 is a classic selection that a lot of folks like, as you found out. I went even lighter and have good success with a Manfrotto 190 and ball head. That will hold securely a Hassy with 150mm, and a FE with MD and 200mm. The best part -- very affordable and lightweight.
     
  4. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I spent the Big Bucks for a Gitzo CF tripod several years ago. I have had to send it back twice to have the legs reglued into the top frame. Third leg I reglued myself. I've found I really have to twist the leg locks hard to keep them from collapsing. One of the upper leg sections seems to be separating slightly from, I believe, this excessive torque. If I ever have to buy another tripod it might not be CF, and certainly won't be a Gitzo.
     
  5. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    You really can't beat a used Tiltall for "bang for your buck". I recently bought a lightly used Leitz Tiltall at a camera meet for $75.00.

    That said, you really can't beat a carbon fiber for light weight.

    You just need to decide if less weight is worth it to you. If you do a lot of hiking in inclement weather I would go for the carbon fiber, no contest.
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    If cost is more of an issue than weight check out Induro tripods. The same models are available in alloy and carbon fiber. The prices are very reasonable for either and surprisingly, the alloy models aren't that heavy. I have an AKB-2 (cf equiv would be CKB-2) that features a ball head and will support up to 22lbs. I recently purchased a pan head for it and prefer that. I use mine to support a Calumet cc-400 and cc-401 4x5 camera.
     
  7. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Regarding carbon fiber, I have had very good results from my Feisol. I have the older version with legs that rotate. A minor annoyance. Feisol used to say they were stronger than non-rotating ones, but the newer Feisols have non-rotating legs.
     
  8. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    I'm using a mamiya RZ67 with a Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod and hydrostatic manfrotto ball head.
     
  9. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

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    I believe carbon is better at absorbing vibration than aluminium. Similar size tripods in carbon are noticeably lighter than aluminium. I have had the same Gitzo problems as mentioned in an earlier post. The top of the legs on mine are threaded so that they are both screwed and glued into the metal ferrule. Mine have come apart and I have now fixed them myself with epoxy glue. I also find the leg locks need careful tightening to prevent slipping. Giottos carbon tripods get a good name here in the UK, and are well priced. You should look at them if they are available where you are. I have a Manfrotto o55 in alu which is great, but I wouldn't carry it very far. Alex
     
  10. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Carbon fibre also has the advantage of being more hands-friendly in very low temperatures. If your hands ever remained "glued" to a very cold aluminium tripod then CF would help.

    That said: if you bring your tripod with your for many hours on the mountains, go for CF.
    If you use your tripod for a normal let's say 2-hours photography sessions then I'd suggest to save the money for something else.

    Don't forget tripods are something which are at risk of being forgotten (think tube, train, restaurant, it's a bit like an umbrella) or stolen (car trunk) more often than a camera. For instance one would not leave his camera in his car trunk, but it is more common among photographers to have a tripod in their camera.

    Aluminium is good stuff. Wood would also be good in very cold climate and I would consider it an alternative.

    For landscape I would advice a three-way head rather than a ball-head, but that goes down to personal preference a lot, so YMMV.

    Look for features like rubber/spike under legs to be changed easily or instantly (so that you can adapt to mud or rock).
     
  11. andrewf

    andrewf Member

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    Just splash out and get a CF tripod. They are so much lighter than any Aluminium.

    I'm using a Manfrotto 055cxpro3 which is pretty awesome. The heaviest setup I've used on it is an EOS1N + 70-200 2.8 IS II. The head is a 488 RC2 which is also very sturdy but I've subsequently discovered the RC4 heads are more highly regarded among many, in the know.

    The whole setup is lighter than my old 190 Aluminium tripod with a 3 way head. It is quite large though so I am currently in the market for something that is more compact for traveling and when not using such heavy gear.
     
  12. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    just get one anyone of the ones mentioned are great ripods!you cannot go much wrong with a random pick off your list.
     
  13. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    It's claimed that CF damps vibration better than metal. On the other hand, metal has more mass. I don't think it's a major difference, at any rate.

    If you don't really need CF, get metal. CF is lighter, but that also makes any setup more top-heavy. I use my Feisol when its lightness is a benefit (also its size, as it's the same size class as a Manfrotto 055). My metal tripod is a Giottos 9371, a larger size. The hot/cold issue is minimized by its foam leg covers. I use it whenever its weight and bulk are not too much of an issue, as it is much less top-heavy with medium format equipment, and it has a tilt column which is excellent for macro. The tilt column is only useful in larger tripods, as weight off center quickly destabilizes smaller, less massive ones. I love the size of the Giottos for any work where the camera is tilted up, as I don't have to stoop and crane my neck to see through the viewfinder. If you are using a waist-level finder that will obviously not be an issue, and your tripod need only be tall enough for you to see the screen clearly. That's a big plus, allowing you to use a shorter (thus lighter and less bulky) tripod, or shorten a larger one for greater stability. When I'm having to walk a distance, I use my Feisol and a waist-level finder. Working out of the car or at home, it's the Giottos.

    Like Fabrizio, I prefer a 3-way head to a ball, but the problem is the arms sticking out of most of them. I use a Bogen/Manfrotto 3028, which is not made anymore, but easy to find inexpensively ($40 for mine from KEH). The replacement is the 3D Magnesium, reasonably priced, and also without any arms sticking out. It's light and compact-very nice. If you get a ball head, spend the money to get a good one! I have not found a cheap one yet that I thought was worth the savings.

    It really comes down to the conditions under which you are using the tripod. A friend of mine wanted to purchase a tripod that was better than the crappy overpriced aluminum legs/plastic hardware one she got sold to her with her Canon 10D. I recommended she look at the Slik tripods, because their quality is very good and they are lower priced than most other name brands, and a very good value for the money. She was going to be using it indoors, both at home with her little kids around, and at work with colleagues milling around. I explained that the extra weight of the Slik compared to some others was a benefit in that situation, as the setup was less likely to be knocked over. So for her, the least expensive quality tripod is also the best.

    I sympathize with your analysis paralysis dilemma. I went through that. If you can check out any in person it will be of great benefit in your selection process. I was able to compare and quickly eliminate several heads and tripods just by testing them in the store.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2012
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  15. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Just pick one. You will soon become the number one promoter/supporter of any gear you have. Just like any true APUGer.:laugh:
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    All of the legs referred to are good.

    If you are going to obsess, I'd recommend putting all your efforts into the decision about the tripod head(s) :whistling:
     
  17. jk0592

    jk0592 Member

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    I have no experience with Carbon Fiber tripods, but I do know that adjusting the aluminum legs at 8:00 AM on a -20C canadian morning with a slight wind, in 2 to 3 foot of snow will drain much of your energy...Does Carbon Fiber become brittle or fragile at these temperatures ? If you do use a Hasselblad, get the 'blad quick tripod coupling, it helps a lot.
     
  18. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I've had a Gitzo CF for about 5 years. If I hadn't been offered a great deal on it, I would have bought the Feisol, which I had a chance to try, too. I thought it offered great price/performance. The drop in weight was important to me, as my knees had a hard time carrying my old, heavy Bogen. For me, the CF decision was easy- there were times I didn't shoot because carrying the extra weight was painful.
     
  19. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Feisol .... for a bit more than $200 you can get their Traditional version with 28mm legs...I use one of these a lot and they are great. I also have a Kirk BH2 head which is nice also. I use this combo for my hassy with up to a 250mm lens with no trouble.
     
  20. lbenac

    lbenac Member

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    I just got a set of Feisol 3301 the basic 3 portions carbon legs $270 (only two locks to turn on each leg) with no bloody center column. Put my Markins Q3 on top.
    Light and sweet on the packpack. Easy to set-up and take my field 4x5 without any problem I could see for now.
    I have a nice Berlebach 3020 that is even easier to set-up but I just never take it with me due to weight and bulk.

    Cheers,

    Luc
     
  21. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    I moved to a carbon fibre Manfrotto 055 3 section about 18 months ago with no regrets at all. It seems stable and solid and the fairly thick legs resonate less than you might think . I did consider Gitzo too, but both my researches and questions on Photo.net could not unearth any credible information to the extent that the big extra cost would make any difference to image quality. Besides which I don't like Gitzo leg locks and much prefer flip locks, and if thats an issue for you choose your brand carefully. Otherwise people tended to suggest what they had ( which I guess is better than suggesting brands they haven't ) so the support tends to mimic brand share.
     
  22. mporter012

    mporter012 Member

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    Thanks for all the advice! In reference to the Feisol recommendations, it appears to me that they are nearly as expensive as Gitzo (none come with the center leveling section, so the basic price you see is not really all that accurate once you add in a center piece and head).

    Can anyone speak on load capacity and it's relevance to a hasselblad with a 150mm lens. Would the Monfrotto 190CXPRO (11lb load capacity) be adequate for a hassy?

    Thanks for all the helpful advice!


    I'm still wrestling through my options.
     
  23. redrockcoulee

    redrockcoulee Member

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    I have both a 055 and 190 tripod and have not noticed any problems using the 190 with the Hasselblad and 150mm lens. Never conducted any sharpness test however. I use the 055 for LF and Mf and the 190 for MF and 135/dslr.
     
  24. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    something to keep in mind -- carbon fiber is delicate -- it is very strong and very light but any damage -- a dent? tiny crack? -- destroys its inherent structure and you could be looking at failure. This gives it a lifespan of distressingly short duration, given the cost.

    metal stays strong. You dent it, ding it, it keeps on going. bend it, you bend it back.

    bicycle frames made of carbon are very light and very costly, but steel has more flexibility and inherent strength.

    Tripods get tossed around a lot -- mine rattles around the back of my car.

    i have a bogen with a grip head that is amazing. Added weight also gives added stability to the whole platform. that's why good tripods have a little hook from which to hang a sandbag.
     
  25. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Weigh your gear... its not nearly that heavy.

    The 190 series works well with Hassy and a 150.
     
  26. GG12

    GG12 Member

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    Manfrotto Alum 055 for around the house, studio.
    Gitzo CF for the hiking. 1 series not strong enough, too much wobble. 2 series rather lovely, stability refound.
    The real issue is the head, tho!