Suggestions for light, affordable travel tripod/head for medium format

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by aarontalcott, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. aarontalcott

    aarontalcott Member

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    I need a relatively light and affordable travel tripod I can haul around to use with my Hasselblad while I'm backpacking. The tripod needs to be able to support the 500cm with 150mm Sonnar and prism, which weigh in at around 5 lbs. total. For instance I'm looking at the combo of a Manfrotto 190XDB and Mini Ball Head with RC2. That would weigh around 4.25 lbs. and carry up to about 8.5lbs. I was looking at some of the cheaper travel combos on Adorama, which are a good bit lighter at around 3 lbs., but the reports of bad construction and unstable ball heads scared me away from those. Carbon fiber is too expensive at this point. I don't need anything fancy. Just quality, stability, and pan/tilt at a minimum. Suggestions?
     
  2. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I think ball heads require greater bulk and weight to achieve rigidity that a simple pan/tilt head (assuming same material). If nothing else, for friction area on the ball. Of course, ball heads have their own advantages which may be more important to you.

    Is the prism necessary or can you use a WL finder? If prism is necessary, than is it 45 or 90 degrees? Sounds like a dumb question except that the more the legs are extended (to achieve height) the less stable a given tripod will be.

    For example, my Bogen/Manfrotto 3001 (precurser to the 190) with it's most basic head (I think it is called the 3d head) is usable at slow shutter speeds with my 500c and 150mm only when kept very low. Weighting down the tripod helps.

    My favorite tripod for use with my 500c is my Tilt-all. I might hike with the Tilt-all, but I would not backpack with it. Carbon fiber is too expensive for me too.

    Tripod light weight, good rigidity, low cost - pick 2.
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I have an Induro AT113 which I use with a Gitzo or a Manfrotto ball head. It's fine for travel, and it worked just fine with my Rolleiflex 2.8E doing 16-30 second exposures at night.

    [​IMG]

    Given that, were space (and budget) less of a consideration, I'd opt for something a bit beefier just because. Any compact tripod in that size range will feel a little wiggly when extended. I would NOT use it with the center column fully extended (which wasn't really an issue when shooting the Rollei, which only has the waist-level finder).

    The ball heads I have are older models that they don't make anymore, but the equivalents are the Gitzo 2750QR or the Manfrotto 496RC2. Both are light-weight, compact, and will hold your Hassy with ease. The old Manfrotto ball head I have has a single lock for the ball as well as for panning (a BAD idea), but I think the new one has them separated. The Gitzo has separate controls for panning and for the tilt of the ball, as well as friction adjustment. IF you go with a ball head, I would highly recommend getting one that has those two controls (ball positioning and ball friction) separated, to make it easier to control large and fine movements).
     
  4. aarontalcott

    aarontalcott Member

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    OK, I'll give that some consideration. I was looking at the ball heads because they seemed to be a little lighter than the traditional pan/tilt heads, while still having sufficient capacity specs.

    For the time being the prism (a 90 degree, non metered deal) is all I've got, so I need to plan for using that.

    Right, it's always going to be a compromise. Another way to phrase the question might be: What's the lightest tripod that's sufficiently stable and less than $300? Thankfully I'm still fairly spry, so I'll gladly haul an extra 2 lbs. around if it's going to save me $100/lb.
     
  5. pasiasty

    pasiasty Member

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    I consider Cullmann's MAGIC SystemPod for very similar purpose. Good feature of this is that it folds flat, and you may use one of the legs as a monopod. And they provide 10 years warranty (at least in Europe).
     
  6. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I weighed my old Leitz Tiltall tripod and pan/tilt head combination for you. It weighed 8 lbs but is rigid and only cost me $75.00.
     
  7. olwick

    olwick Member

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    Induro CT014 with a Markins Q3 ballhead. Light, sturdy and compact.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  9. southmine

    southmine Member

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    No experience with it yet, but I've been looking at the Sirui T-1205X for many of the reasons you listed.
    It's a five section carbon fibre (so a little expensive), but it folds down to just 13.4" and weighs only 1.8lbs.
    Claimed load cap. is 22lbs.
    They can be found here (LINK) , at B&H.
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Tiltall.
     
  11. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    I use an Induro carbon fiber 3-series (the model number eludes me at the moment) plus an RRS ball head. No complaints.
     
  12. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Hi there,

    Most reasonably made tripods can be made to be very rigid - including fairly light weight ones (like the old small Velbons, etc). The trick is to introduce some tension in the legs so that there is no room for vibration or movement. The simplest way of doing this is to take some nylon cord and attach in the following manner:

    1. Set the tripod up with the legs fully extended and fully apart.
    2. Just above the first release section (i.e the locking lever/ring/etc that releases the lowest section of the tripod leg) tie the nylon cord to the first leg, then stretch it taught and wrap around the second leg, then stretch it taught and wrap around the third leg and then repeat by stretching it taught and fixing firmly to the first leg.
    3. Take another bit of cord and attach it to the same point on the first leg, then attach it to the second leg leaving enough slack cord so that it almost reaches the ground.
    4. Repeat for leg three and the return to leg one.
    5. You now have three cords hanging down nearly touching the ground.
    6. Use another piece of cord to join the three loose pieces of cord that are hanging down just above the ground.

    In use, you set up the tripod and when ready to take the shot, you tread on the three cords that have been joined together until they touch the ground. This makes for an incredibly stable platform. I have used this system for many years including photographing the North Devon coast in raging gales with 5" x 4" and 6cm x 6cm (with mirror locked up). All the results were sharp and shake/vibration free.

    On my website there are six night images (2 - 4 minutes exposure) all using this technique on a small lightweight tripod.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  13. peter_n

    peter_n Member

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    Some of the Chinese models offer very good value for money, Benro and Feisol are popular brands. I use a Benro carbon fiber tripod that has replaced my Gitzo model as I think the Benro is a better product. Benro makes aluminum versions of their CF tripods that are just as good but weigh a bit more and the aluminum version of mine is the A2680T, sold only as a kit with the B1 ballhead. I reviewed mine almost a couple years ago and there are pictures of the construction in the review. The tripods are identical except for the leg sections (CF/aluminum) so you might want to look at the construction if you're unfamiliar with the brand.

     
  14. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    Those benro models (travel angel series) seem very interesting.
    I recall on a similar topic that a fellow forumer with a Hassie (WLF) had a tripod of this series and he was quite happy with it.
    I've been "following" this series because of their travel qualities and don't have a tripod. I plan to go MF with a rangefinder in the future and a tripod like this seems competent enough, and being light & compact helps a lot for carrying it around. Surely not the best for MF SLR's but it should do well for a RF, considering that it holds DSLR things with weigthy zooms decently. The claim of 12kg (even if it were effectively half) is quite surprising, seems there is no tradeoff whatsoever.
    The transfunctional versions, which convert to monopod seem more flexible. Although maybe it's a bit of a gimmick...

    But their compactness and lightweight seem to be strong points. After all, the best tripod is the one you (are willing to) carry.
     
  15. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    My vintage (40 year old) Leitz Tiltall weighs in at about 6lbs +/- a few ounces. I think there were different mfg's making them for Leitz so there might be variations in weight and handles etc.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  16. aarontalcott

    aarontalcott Member

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    Thanks everyone for the recommendations and advice. To consolidate the options discussed, here's the list of candidates I assembled, based on the specs that are primarily important to me at the moment:

    -Induro AKB0 - Max Load: 10.3 lbs. - Weight: 2.6lbs. - Approx. Price: $139 (Quick Release ["QR"])
    -Flashpoint F-1128 - Max Load: 8lbs. - Weight: 2.8lbs. - Approx. Price: $149 (Carbon Fiber)
    -Cullmann CU 53583 & Cullmann CB 7.3 Ball Head - Max Load: 8.8lbs. Weight: 3.4lbs. - Approx. Price: $236 (Monopod, QR)
    -Tiltall 4 Section Traveler - Max Load: 8lbs. - Weight: 3.9lbs. - Approx. Price: $119
    -Sirui T-1205X & Sirui G-10 Ball Head - Max Load: 22lbs. - Weight: 2.3lbs. - Approx. Price: $380 (Carbon Fiber, QR)
    -Benro A2680TB1 - Max Load: 26lbs. - Weight: 4.2lbs. - Approx. Price: $212

    All values are as advertised, not as tested, of course.

    I ended up going with the Induro AKB0, because a) Lots of recommendations for the brand, b) optimal combination of max load, weight, and price, and c) quick release. I'll report back on how the AKB0 ends up working for my application. This will be my first attempt at using a tripod that's so light with this camera, and I'm healthily skeptical about the advertised max loads. But we shall see.
     
  17. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I've had good luck with a Benro Travel Angel A-269. It folds up very small and is very sturdy. I shoot my Chamonix 4x5 on it. It comes with a small ballhead that is decent (although I use my Acratech ballhead on it mostly.) I use it for travel because it folds to about 15 inches. It's aluminum and weighs a little more than CF, but it is affordable and solid.


    Kent in SD
     
  18. peter_n

    peter_n Member

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    Yes their first design was just the screw-off leg, which made for a short monopod. They "fixed" that in the second (and current) version by mating the center column with the leg, which I would imagine isn't too stable. Not such a great idea.

    Congrats! The Induro brand is made by Benro so you'll likely find it to be well-made and durable.

     
  19. Too old to care

    Too old to care Subscriber

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    Slight hijack here, Jeffrey I just looked at your website. Impressive work, beautiful photos.

    Back on the tripod and head question, I use a Manfrotto 498RC2 head on an old Bogen tripod. The tripod is heavy, but the head is fairly light and supports my 501 and C330 just fine. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/660311-REG/Manfrotto_498RC2_498RC2_Midi_Ball_Head.html

    wayne