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  1. #1

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    Picking a tripod for my camera

    I bought a Sinar F1. Now I need a tripod that can hold it. I guess, with lens and focusing cloth, it will weight between 11 and 15 pounds. Should I trust the tripod manufacturers' stated weight capacities and get one of the ones I'm looking at (range from 18 to 22 pounds)? Or should I go bigger? How big? 40 pounds?

  2. #2
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    The difficulties in tripods is often not the weight capacity (even smaller tripods can have 30-40lbs hang for a limited time with no obvious problems) but three different factors:
    1) repeated usage of greater weights places undue stress on joints and plastic pieces, leading to large amounts of wear and a limited lifespan of the the product (not 20 years, maybe 3-4). Heavy tripods have sturdier parts and last longer, giving more bang-for-the-buck over the life of a product.
    2) tipping, where making the tripod heavier on the bottom prevents the camera from falling over and being destroyed. Think of the analogy of a boat, where you want to most weight to be lower so that when wind strikes the side, it doesn't turn over automatically. If you can't make the bottom of the boat heavier (e.g., a shallow water barge), make the bottom wider so it simulates being heavier and prevents tipping. If the camera is 15 lbs, having the tripod either heavier than that amount or (in carbon fiber tripods) able to simulate a greater weight distribution keeps the expensive camera steadier
    3) vibration - a larger tripod is usually better able to absorb vibrations than a smaller one, all things being equal, as there is more material to dissipate the vibrations. While a wood tripod will absorb vibrations better than an aluminum tripod, a large aluminum tripod is better than a small wood tripod.

    When I worked at the camera store, the Manfrotto rep gave me a short training seminar on tripods; his advice was to buy a tripod whose weight rating is twice that of the camera & largest lens you own (thus for you, about 30 lbs). This not only gives the least wear from weight placed on the tripod itself, it allows you to hang items from the base for more support and generally will absorb vibrations more effectively than smaller tripods. Of course, the price goes up accordingly and it becomes more difficult to handle in the field. I recently got a large wood tripod (circa 1943) which my 8-year old daughter could sit on if she was allowed - while it is more clumsy to carry around, once the 5x7 camera is set up, it moves significantly less than the Manfrotto 055 I use on the medium format and is much more stable.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  3. #3

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    Thank you for enlightening me.

  4. #4

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    Remember to include the weight of the tripod head in your calculations. With my lighter Wista 45, I was using a Manfrotto 3021, but I've switched to a Vanguard Actus 323CT.



 

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