Although it is after the fact since you were going to a camera store i would have lugged some of the equipment and tried the different tripods with your stuff. Also if buying a camera and / or lens ( esp. previously owned) I would go to the store, purchase a roll of the film you use most and expose it with that equipment and process or have it processed to see if it is functioning as represented. If buying used from out of town deal with parties that have a return option.
Perhaps that's slightly overkill, but I did take my existing tripod to do a direct comparison of size, weight, sturdiness, etc. I stand by my choice
I found years ago a light tripod is not the way to go for me in the field. I ended up with a Maestro with a Maestro head. It is not a lightweight but, I carried mine for miles in the Everglades and in the hills for years for my MF and Polaroid kits. No fear of throwing it into the water and letting it get soaked. Never a fear that my camera would tip it. I also have some no name aluminum tripod with intregral head that is a workhorse but, again, not as light as a number of ones I've seen at the shops in the past years.
While the Maestro is not generally considered a field tripod, I recommend it highly.
You also may want to look at wood tripods as they have a lot of strength for their weight. These can be found used on the cheap.
You want to do what one of my photographer friends did recently, he went to a shop with his wife to buy a new tripod to make sure she could carry it !
Last edited by benjiboy; 06-27-2011 at 06:25 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Something Has Been Forgotten
Originally Posted by dj_judas21
Good morning, Jonathan;
Have you forgotten something? In the second item on your list, you speak of "an 800mm lens for astrophotography."
Now don't get worried about already having spent some money on your new tripod. That was not going to help anyway. By definition, astrophotography is a really different animal. A normal type tripod and head that you can buy in any camera store, regular or a "professional" level, is not going to be able to do the job for you in astrophotography that you will probably want to do. It does take a little more to get those kinds of photographs that you see in the astronomy magazines.
For astrophotography, your exposure times may be measured in hours, not just seconds. For that kind of work, you need a tripod with what is called a GEM, or a German Equatorial Mount, not an Altitude/Azimuth (Alt/Az), Azimuth/Elevation (Az/El), or "fork" mount, or what we call a pan/tilt head. This does become important with longer exposures where an effect called "field rotation" becomes apparent with any other mount than an equatorial mount. With a suitable drive system for "right ascension" and a tracking system set onto a "guide star" viewed either through a separate tracking/aiming telescope or viewed through a small area just outside of the main image area of the main telescope, either you can watch the guide star with a crosshair reticle and manually adjust the mount to keep the guide star centered (workable up to about an hour, and a real trial beyond that), or you can set up that automatic tracking and aiming system to keep that guide star centered, and keep your camera accurately aimed at the star field you want to photograph while slowly accumulating photons either on your film or onto your CCD or CMOS light sensor. The Software Bisque Premier Mount may be the best example of this kind of a mount that that I can suggest for most of the things that we mere amateurs might want to try. Beyond that, you will probably need a dedicated observatory. However, there are many less expensive mounts that will also do the job, but with perhaps a lesser degree of precision. No, I do not have a Premier myself, but I do dream occasionally.
For my own use, I find that 1600mm is just right for getting an image of the full moon that extends about 1/3 of the way across the 35mm film frame and gives me a nice image to work with from the negative. I can also use a 2000mm focal length telescope with an adapter to accept the camera, and it does have a fairly simple right ascension drive that I can put onto an equatorial wedge on a big heavy tripod for doing fairly long exposures. The setup time can be considerable, but worth the effort when you get a really nice photograph or image. For use with other normal photographic lenses such as your 800mm lens and wide field photography, there is also the Vixen GPDX EQ mount with drive motors and Arduino powered tracking system.
For a good reference on getting started in astrophotography, I suggest the FireFly Books text of that title, ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY, by H. J. P. Arnold, published in 2003. It is no longer available from FireFly, but your library, a used book store, or Amazon Books may have it. One of the reasons why I still suggest that text is that it does still include information on film also. Most of the more recent books have shifted to digital cameras.
Last edited by Ralph Javins; 07-03-2011 at 08:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Term transposition, and missing description
Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington
When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."
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Thanks for your insights and advice. I'm aware that astrophotography is a vastly different field from regular photography, and that it is possible to sell your house to pay for tracking tripods, large telescopes, sensors and all sorts of other fun stuff. I'm not that serious about it and I find that an 800mm lens is good enough for my uses (for now, at least).
I have made some reasonably good images in the past by taking many exposures over minutes or hours from a fixed position and rotating, translating and stacking them to increase the SNR. The Manfrotto tripod I just bought is stable enough for this, whereas my old tripod wasn't. So I'm happy
Obviously I'm not taking photos like the Hubble, but having a sturdy tripod with a reasonably long lens is enough to keep me entertained. While I'm here, I might as well plug my blog a little and mention that I wrote posts about long lenses for astrophotography, and stacking software for astrophotography
I would highly recommend Majestic tripods. Not terribly heavy, and strong enough to support a lorry.
Given that you're in the UK, and Majestic tripods are made in Chicago, they may be relatively scarce in your part of the world.
Good luck with the quest.
I'd concur with others who say that weight is everything (the heavier the tripod, the less vibration blur in your pics!)- I'd suggest also the manfrotto 055 - but I think it's WAY too light for your purposes. I've been using an 055 since 84 or so and it's great - but I'd keep it for use only with LIGHT cameras like a Hasselblad or my Fuji Rangefinder... it will HOLD a mamiya without a problem - but honestly, for your purposes I'd go with some Gitzo 5-series legs (the thickest heaviest ones) - if you look online you can often find older ones used.
If you want to do astro work -I'd highly recommend the Losmandy GM8 equatorial mount - REALLY solid and accurate.
It might be cheaper and more convenient to buy two... one for ultra stability and the other for portability. You have such a contradicting requirement that trying to fill both might result in selections that aren't best for either of the purposes.
I have a Manfretto that I'm quite happy with. It's quite stable but it's no where close to light and portable.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Does anyone here have an opinion on Benbo tripods?