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Author Topic: What is the best tripod?  (Read 5020 times)

Offline Don_1

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What is the best tripod?
« on: 21/11/2012 14:50:35 »
I have it in mind to replace my tripod, but am not sure which way to go. Ask Google and a host of different opinions just add to the confusion.

So, here are the facts.

3 section legs are better than 4 section, since each joint is a weakness point.

Braced legs offer greater stability, yet some of the best carbon fibre tripods do not have braced legs. Why not?

Carbon fibre is lighter than aluminium, thus less to carry, but the heavier the tripod, the more stable. If I hang my gadget bag between the legs of a carbon fibre tripod, will this compensate?

Box aluminium is quite strong, but it can bend. Carbon fibre is very strong, but it can shatter.

There is actually nothing wrong with my current tripod (a Velbon Sherpa), but I would like to reduce the weight of my equipment, so I have been looking at getting a carbon fibre tripod. Weighing in at around 25% less than an identical aluminium tripod, to coin a phrase, 'every little helps'.

My Velbon Sherpa weighs 1.95kgs. A new Velbon CX-440 weighs 1.1kgs. A Camlink weighs just under 0.8kgs (though it has a load limit of 2.5kgs). A Giottos MT8223-50 weighs 1.12kgs (at about 100, about the cheapest carbon fibre tripod) and a Benro C-1682T+B0 Travel Angel 2 weighs 1.5kgs.

Odd though, that this Benro (a mid price range tripod) at 350 has no leg brace. Equally odd is the Gitzo GT5542LOS Series 5 Ocean 6X Systematic Tripod, which, at an eye watering 1850, also has no leg brace and is a 4 section leg. What's more, this is the price of the legs only, no head. The others I quoted here are inclusive of the head.

So, from the physics point of view, which is best, carbon fibre or aluminium?

You can take it for granted that the Gitzo wont be coming my way! Neither will the Benro, for that matter.


 

Offline RD

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #1 on: 21/11/2012 15:24:03 »
... I would like to reduce the weight of my equipment

monopod + 2 human legs = tripod

[ an aluminium pro monopod also doubles as a handy extendible-baton-type weapon if you need to defend yourself, more plausible than an aluminium baseball bat in the UK
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #2 on: 21/11/2012 15:44:21 »
Ah yes. Just one problem, when I walk away, two legs short. Tripod becomes monopod, camera falls to ground and smashes into many pieces = no more camera.

Oh! I see your point. Yes indeed. No camera, no need for tripod, nothing to carry at all. Problem solved.

Why didn't I think of that...........

Sheesh!
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #3 on: 21/11/2012 17:48:25 »
It depends on what your needs are.  One trip I took most of my photos by propping my camera on rocks.  I now have a mini-tripod.  Not too tall, but it is small and light enough to put in the camera bag without noticing the addition.  The risk, of course, is that the angles for "people shots" are awkward.  But it does stabilize the camera for other shots.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #4 on: 21/11/2012 19:56:28 »
Ah yes. Just one problem, when I walk away, two legs short. Tripod becomes monopod, camera falls to ground and smashes into many pieces = no more camera.

Oh! I see your point. Yes indeed. No camera, no need for tripod, nothing to carry at all. Problem solved.

Why didn't I think of that...........

Sheesh!

OK, so he forgot to mention the guy-ropes and tent pegs, but that's no reason to get all ironic about it.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #5 on: 21/11/2012 21:07:43 »
If you only need to reduce camera shake rather then doing long exposures, a piece of string can be a lightweight option: a loop of it round your foot, the other end attached to the camera, then pull upwards on the camera slightly and most of the shake will be eliminated. Probably not so useful now though if your camera has image stabilisation, but maybe it would still improve it with telephotos.
 

Offline techmind

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #6 on: 21/11/2012 21:15:40 »
The image-stabilisation systems on newish cameras are quite amazing - and dialling up a one-second shutter delay also avoids most of the jerk created when you press the button...

I take it this is for a stills camera, not a video camera? - Needs are very different if you need to do controlled pans etc. Is this for a camera with a mechanical shutter (which generates its own vibration) or a purely electronic one?
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #7 on: 22/11/2012 09:10:41 »
Yes, I should have menrioned, this is for a stills camera. My 18 - 200mm, 80 - 400mm & 105mm are all Nikkor VR lenses, the 50mm f1.4 & 85mm f1.8 are also Nikkor lenses, but not VR and using the Kenco Teleplus converter means I loose the VR on the other lenses. I do do some long exposures (though not many) and, now that I have upgraded my macro lens from a Sigma to a Micro Nikkor, look forward to doing a bit more macro photography. So I am looking for a good all-rounder tripod. But with the weight of the above gear plus an SB600 flash and a Nikon Macro flash, a Cokin A & P filter holder + various filters and all the other bits & bobs, I really do need to cut down on weight where possible.

There is a host of tripods available on-line, but you can't try them for size and retail shops, understandably, only carry stock of a few models. Photo forum members can only give opinions on the one they have got. So I think a more scientific approach might be a guiding help.
 

Offline Mazurka

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #8 on: 22/11/2012 09:28:39 »
Carbon fibre has superior vibration dampening properties and is lighter than aluminium - which is why most topermost end tripods are made of it.

Yes Carbon fibre can shatter, but what is it you are photographing that puts the tripod (and presumably the camera and photographer) at that sort of risk?!?

I think top end tripods that don't have leg braces tend to have a pretty solid (often) ratcheted stop at the top of the leg, allowing the legs to go wider, which simply gives more options such as low angle shots etc.

If vibration is an issue consider wood.  I've got an old wooden theodolite tripod (which admitedly is quite heavy)  I converted with a bit of fiddling and a decent ball head, perfect for taking long exposure pictures in quarries / mines / construction sites and a friend who goes whale watching swears by his german Berlback(SP?) as he can use a longer lens than he could otherwise comfortably hold...

Cheapest, quickest, dirtiest, lightest holiday solution (for compacts or lightweight dslr) is to get a bolt of the right diameter to fit the tripod mount on the camera.  Get a 2litre PET bottle (e.g. pop bottle) put the bolt throught the lid, fill the bottle with sand  et voila...
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #9 on: 22/11/2012 20:46:50 »
Yes Carbon fibre can shatter, but what is it you are photographing that puts the tripod (and presumably the camera and photographer) at that sort of risk?!?

I suppose it may be useful to be able to fend off a dog with it on occasions.
 

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Re: What is the best tripod?
« Reply #9 on: 22/11/2012 20:46:50 »

 

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