Tripods...........which are good?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by melmoth, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    hallo there,

    I am going to buy my 1st tripod very soon. It will take a Nikon F3A. I need something light I can carry long distances, being used mainly outdoors (mainly static shots) and will not stand out too much in transit.

    My knowledge of heads is fuzzy and I am confused by the tripod choices, or that which represents good value.
    My budget is moderate to medium.

    I would be grateful for any suggestions.

    Many thanks

    M.
     
  2. laz

    laz Member

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    For 35mm I have used some very inexpensive tripods with great sucess (sometimes stupidly called "beginner" tripods . If you want a step up to proven name brand that is relativly moderate in price there is the Bogan 3001 with a 3021 head I have one and its all I ever need for 35.

    Have you considered a monopod? I hike with one all the time for the unexpected shot.
     
  3. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    If you're based in the UK (not sure, sorry!) then I believe Bogen = Manfrotto, and some of the model numbers are different.

    For stability heavier tends to be better than lighter, although obviously for portability it's the other way round (you can't win!). Some cheap models are very light and try and add stability by bracing the legs together. This doesn't always work and also means that you can't drop the 'pod to low levels.

    I'm a bit unclear as to your actual price range but you might want to check out the Manfrotto 190Pro and the 460Mg head. I'd advise the Pro rather than the CL as it does allow you more flexibility in setting up your shots. I have a 55 Pro with the same head and, if your shoulder will take the weight, it's a very stable platform... ...but heavy. The 190 is quite a bit lighter (and a little cheaper) and very nearly as stable.

    All kit is a very personal choice. I'd advise finding a local branch of Calumet and going in and having a look at various alternatives. (Leave your credit card at home though or you'll bankrupt yourself in there! :smile: ) What works for me may not work for you.

    I hope you find something you like.

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Bogen is USA only. At least it seems they are moving over to Manfrotto model numbers. Same thing happens with Metz stuff that Bogen handles.

    With tripods you can have it

    1) Cheap
    2) Light
    3) Good

    Pick two.

    Personally I think 35mm cameras tend to need better tripods then bigger cameras. This is really true if the camera will be used with long lenses.
     
  5. laz

    laz Member

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    Hi Nick, I'm interested in your reasoning behind this? (no argument, just interested in learning :smile: )

    -Bob
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Think about a teeter totter. With a 35mm camera with a longish lens you've got all the weight on one end. The leverage pulls all in one way. With say a 4x5 camera odds are the whole thing is centred over the tripod head. All nicely balanced.

    Even with something like a MF camera odds are more of the weight is behind the lens. Heavier MF camera helping balance things out.
     
  7. laz

    laz Member

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    Good point, especially for long lenses. In theory the spread of the legs should take care of much of the effect of imbalance, but, you're absolutely correct. I think the head is of equal importance. The camera-tripod connection must be as stable as can be.

    Thanks for the reply,
    Bob
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    What focal lengths do you intend to shoot from your new tripod? I ask because I found my Bogen 3021 (= Manfrotto 055), bought in 1989, marginal with a 400 mm lens, not steady enough for a 700.

    Also, I suggest strongly that you buy from a camera store, not via the internet. This after I spent part of a Sunday afternoon in B&H playing with tripods. Many highly-recommended ones gave a little at the leg joints, making their torsional rigidity (think about rotating the camera around its tripod socket) poor. And more recently my wife and I went out birding with friends. Each of them has a really nice spotting scope on a new model Bogen 3021. His is rock solid, hers is as flimsy as my old one. It seems best to select a tripod personally.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Dan
     
  10. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Alot of the stability of the tripod, has to do with the head you use, for my 600 f/4 on a bogen 3021, I use a wimberley head and have never had any stability problems at all and no fear to tipping it over, for a 35mm system the 3001, 3021 and many of the lighter Gitzos work just fine, the 3001 is less than $100.00 here in the US and I use one for my backpacking set up with good success up to about 400mm, but again, you have to make sure you have a good head that helps ad to the stability of the tripod.

    As Dan said, try to visit a local shop and play with as many different tripods as you can, I have found that tripod choice is often one of the most personal items we use, my wife has her favorites and I have mine and we don't use each others tripods..

    Dave
     
  11. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Agreed. I use my 3001 tripod with a 3047 head for everything from 35 mm up to 4x5.
     
  12. laz

    laz Member

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    You can always go play with tripods, find one you like then go get it off the internet. I go to B&H every time I am considering a purchase, play with whatever it is, then go get it off the 'net.

    Of course if I had a little local photo shop I would buy from them just to support their existance, B&H, Adorama and Calmut don't need my help to survive!
     
  13. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    This is great stuff and I really appreciate all contributions.

    I am using 35mm and wide angles for the moment. Longer lens later.

    I am actually based in the south of ireland. Unfortunately, an old line - 'where is the best camera shop in ireland?
    London! ' - still rings true.

    Nearly all my stuff will be bought over the internet. This is why advice from individuals who have experience is duly noted and greatly received.

    Thanks all M.
     
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  15. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    laz127, I must not have been clear. One of the huge shocks of my tripod shopping experience was that supposedly identical tripods weren't equally stable. That's why I doubt it is safe to buy one without trying it first. That is, the very tripod you'll buy, not one of the same make and model.

    FWIW, I eventually got an opportunity to try a Berlebach 8023. It was stable enough and light enough for me (not for Melmoth), so I bought it. And then after a little use it went a wobbly on me. Not the tripod's problem, the !#@$ set screws that prevent the head from turning on the center post had vibrated loose in transit. Many are the ways to lose stability, eh?

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2005
  16. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    I have the Manfrotto 055 CLB which I don't find that heavy.
    In the 055 line there are differencies, not all will go as low as the CLB.
    More important the the legs is the head and I recommend you take special care choosing the right one for you. Using a Manfrotto 141 without quick release plates I suggest you get a head with QR. Ball or 3 way ? It's up to you your self to decide that. On the 3 way heads you can unlock one direction when composing your shot which I like for macro. The ballheads I have tried are more sturdy I think.
    Søren
     
  17. knutb

    knutb Member

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    I also have a Manfrotto 055 - the PROB version. If you find the weight and bulk acceptable, it should do the job nicely. I agree that the head is likely to be the weak link. I have a Manfrotto 488RC2 which is a ball head. It's rating is 8 kg, which I find way too optimistic. But a 35mm camera with a medium tele (say 200/2.8) or shorter should be OK. The head is equipped with a rubber pad which purpose probably is to protect the camera base where de head is attached. Might seem like a good solution, but it does nothing good for stability, particularly if you use a somewhat heavy lens without a tripod collar, resulting in a front-heavy camera. I will replace the rubber pad with a small piece of aluminium or similar.
     
  18. brent8927

    brent8927 Member

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    I use a Bogen 3021BPRO with a 488 head for my Hasselblad, and it works great. With a tele lens the 488 might not be the ideal choice, but for a tripod, the 3021 is once of the best all-around tripods; it worked great with my point and shoot digital (for ebay photos!) and just as great with my 4x5 monorail (when I shot 4x5). I don't think I'll ever need or want another tripod... another camera or lens on the other hand... well that's a different matter!
     
  19. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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  20. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    I use a Gitzo tripod which I love, as solid as a rock.
    I had a cheaper lighter one but it was so flimsy and moved with the slightest gust of wind.
     
  21. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Tripods- Take a friend

    You could do what my friend Brian did when faced with the problem of tripod weight, and portability ( to my great amusement ) he told me he took his wife
    to the photographic shop with him to see if she could carry it !!
     
  22. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    I use a 3001 with a ball head for my 35mm/MF kits. and a 3021 with 3047 pan & tilt head for both MF and LF. Both work great but are no picnic to carry. Another suggestion for 35mm (no laughing, please), a Tiltall. It's cheap, but it's pretty sturdy and has a pan & tilt head. At the price, you can afford to lose it or replace it if you so desire.
     
  23. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I have a Bogen 3001 with their basic 3D head (don't remember the number) when weight is the critical factor. It's a good, basic tripod IF you don't extend it too high. But a 35mm camera (inherently light) on a light tripod can be troublesome at extreme focal lengths and/or very long exposures. Consider hanging some weight (even your camera bag) from the tripod.

    I also have a Bogen 3035 for MF and LF if I don't have to carry it much.

    But my favorite is my Tiltall. I find this the best compromise between weight and sturdiness. I wouldn't backpack with it, but it's not a bear to carry. I put foam around the legs when using in winter and have never removed it. Makes it easier when carrying over the shoulder.

    Consider how you'll use the tripod. For example, if you can keep the camera low (I never raise the centerpost unless absolutely necessary) and avoid extending the legs, you can get by with a lighter tripod.

    As to the shape of the legs, in an aluminum tripod the 3 shapes to consider (IMHO) are round, round, and round. In fact, I'm not aware of a quality metal tripod with other than round legs (though I certainly could be wrong).
     
  24. laz

    laz Member

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    Okay, I'm now also shocked. Were these decent brands? How did you compare them, doesn't B&H just have a single display for each model?

    That's the one I settled on and I really like it for my LF. (I purchased it on-line :smile: )

    -Bob
     
  25. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Bob, my friend Shaun and his wife have a pair of Swarovski spotting scopes on apparently identical 3021Gs. New-style, with the flip locks. His is rock solid, hers is wobbly. Same vintage, too.

    At B&H, I started with tripods whose prices I was willing to pay. Not one had enough torsional rigidity to use with a 700. Not one.

    My wife saw this, saw my discomfort, and told me to try 'em all, regardless of price. So I did. Only two of the tripods in the store passed. One was a huge CF Gitzo priced at nearly $900. The other use a used small Zone VI whose legs insisted on splaying; not a problem on dirt, a bad problem on harder surfaces. She who must be obeyed told me to buy the Gitzo. I'm ashamed to report that I didn't obey her. Oh, yeah, B&H is a Berlebach dealer but when we were there no Berlebachs were on display.

    My torsional rigidity test is pretty simple. If I press against the platform or touch the head's pan handle (or camera), does the point of aim shift? As far as I can tell, this always happens because of flex between leg sections. And yes, I try to tighten the leg locks as much as possible before trying to make the thing flex.

    If so, not a good tripod for use with long lenses. For shortish lenses, certainly up to 200 mm on 35 mm still, my test doesn't make much sense.

    Cheers,
     
  26. laz

    laz Member

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    If I got the go ahead on a $900 tripod from my beloved I'd be checked out and back holding the bag so fast she wouldn't even have known I was gone!

    If I were your friend Shaun I would bring his wife's 3021 back to the dealer or contact Bogen/Manfrotto, something is clearly amiss.

    Best,
    Bob