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  1. #1
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Carbon Fiber Tripods - Water & Ice?

    Hi there,

    I've never used a carbon fiber tripod before, and I'm wondering how they would do in watery and wintery conditions with my 4x5 gear.

    When it's been bucketing rain all day, does water get into the leg segments and make it hard to adjust them?

    If you set up in a stream, will the leg segments freeze together afterwards in below freezing conditions?

    I used to use a Tiltall with medium format gear decades ago and don't remember having any issues, but from what I've read so far the carbon fiber legs seem to have a really snug fit inside each other.

    Basically, does yours perform well no matter how wet, cold, mucky, or grimy the conditions get?

    Murray
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  2. #2
    Rick A's Avatar
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    Any thing will freeze if gotten wet then subjected to freezing temps without drying thoroughly.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

  3. #3
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Yeah but, with my wooden tripod all it takes is a whack or two to get it unstuck.

    I have a "lightweight" Zone VI, and the top of the tripod that's made of thick plywood delaminated on me and I had to replace it with an aluminum plate. Too many years strapped to the deck of a sea kayak and being dragged through the forest in the rain. I also had to ditch the plastic tightening knobs on the legs and replace them with metal wing nuts...if I forgot to loosen the legs they would sometimes soak up so much water from the rain that it was impossible to loosen them by hand, and had to pound the knobs with a rock to get them loose.

    Would a carbon fiber tripod be too 'finicky' for the kind of abuse I'd give it?

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  4. #4
    edp
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    It probably wouldn't swell up so much in the wet, but if you smash it with rocks you'll break it.

  5. #5

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    Tried to resist answering but like a moth to the flame.....

    Carbon fibre is very fragile. I belive that going with the weave it has a strength but againstthe weave it is as fragile as glass(ish) - it might be the other way around but the principle stands. The strength of a carbon fibre item is wholly related to how many layers of "cloth" are used and the complexity of overlaps of the "weave". Cheap carbon fibre will have few overlapping layers, expensive will have more and with more attention to the interplay of the weave overlap in relation to the expected stresses.

    Expected stresses is a key point. when working with windsurfers, who had carbon fibre masts, the masts would take tremendous stress from the wind/sail i.e. at right angles (roughly) to the mast but if they fell off the roof of the van and landed on the tip - they would crack down the lentgh of the mast. Stress from the end of the tube was not designed into the fibre structure, hence weakness.

    Carbon fibre tripods can be very strong but I would not hit it with a rock/hammer etc without being prepared to replace the component afterwards. Nor would I buy an inexpensive carbon fibre tripod for use in extreme situations.

    As has rightly been said earlier, irrespective of the material, anything that gets wet then exposed to cold temperatures will freeze. Water expands on freezing so expect jammed bolts, joints tubes etc.

    Gitzo do make a tripod designed to be used in the sea, not sure about freezing sea, and Benbo tripods by Paterson have the lower leg sealed against water ingress - might be a good start point to research further, but unless you can afford to use tripods as one-use disposables I would seriously not suggest hitting them with anything let alone a rock.

    Have fun
    Sim2.

  6. #6
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    I use my Feisol in exactly those conditions and I haven't had a problem yet. I've had it about 4 years. Other than some scratches where I didn't clean off some sand on the legs, it is pretty much new.....and it is so nice picking up a tripod that is not metal...light and warm!

  7. #7
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Thanks guys,

    (I wasn't really planning on beating on a carbon fibre tripod, just explaining what I had to resort to with my wooden one).

    If there's any chance the tripod would seize up on me, whether from salt, sand, dirt, water or ice, then it's just not worth it.

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  8. #8
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    I have had my Gitzo CF tripod out in all kinds of weather: -15f, stuck knee deep into the snow, with its feet in the water, etc. It has never frozen up on me. The only problem that I have had is getting sand into the bottom section lock after using it in the dunes and not brushing the legs off. Soaking them in a bucket of water when I get home usually resolves things.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  9. #9

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    Hi

    I have a Gitzo tripod when i am in the Alps and in the Himalayas (I do mountaineering), the new fiber glass is much much more stronger then before (development), so dont worry, actually i would say that fiberglass today is much more superior then wood tripods because they are complete care free. Only problem is the weight, they are really light and for some shoots I have had to place some is-screws just to make sure it wont shake from the wind. I guess another problem can be the price, glassfiber is not really cheep ;(

    cheers

  10. #10
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Hmmmm...then again...

    My problem is that it's a 500 mile drive to the nearest store that might sell a tripod my size, and it's 1000 miles to the nearest store that sells large format gear (in either Calgary or Vancouver) so getting a close hands on look at one is pretty much impossible. There's only one other LF photographer here in town, but he uses a wooden tripod. I'll have to ask some of the digi-snap folks and see if I can get a close look at their tripods.

    Thanks again for the good info.

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

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