Looking for a good sturdy and stable tripod

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Coheebuzz, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. Coheebuzz macrumors 6502

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    Nicosia, Cyprus
    #1
    I bought a tripod last week for about $30 to start doing some night shooting, but it's absolutely garbage. It feels very flimpsy and i can take more stable shots by holding the camera and pushing it against something, even at very long shutter speeds.

    Now am looking for something rock solid that won't move when i press the shutter button and something that will not break the piggy bank. I don't really know how much a good tripod costs, but how about lets say... $60?.

    A maximum height of 1.50m would be great and must be lightweight enough to carry around. Also a bubble level would be great for those panoramas.

    Any brands or models you pro guys use and are happy with? Thanks in advance.


    EDIT: Ok, i've been researching a bit and i 've reached the conclusion that a $60 tripod is not what i want. I need something super stable that will last me for a long time, so feel free to recommend a tripod at any price range. I prefer to wait a bit and invest in something better rather than having to throw it away after a couple of hours.
     
  2. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #2
    Two well-respected brands are Gitzo and Manfrotto (or Bogen Manfrotto). Many photographers bite the bullet and go for the Gitzo 1325, which is lightweight due to being carbon fibre and yet supports even the heaviest lenses on gimbal heads or large ballheads. Really Right Stuff at http://www.reallyrightstuff.com makes excellent ballheads and many people choose their BH-55. It is important to select the right ballhead, too, in addition to the tripod legs. Kirk and Arca-Swiss are other well-known ballhead manufacturers.

    An article to read: http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

    Yes, buying a $30, $60 or even $100 tripod in the long run is not saving you money, it will only cost you more money as you inevitably replace it with something that will actually do the job you need. A good tripod and ballhead can cost as much or more than a camera body or lens!

    What camera(s) and lense(s) will you be putting on this tripod? Will you be using it for nature/wildlife shooting or portraits or landscapes or still life setups?
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    Besides Clix's recommendations, Berlbach (sp?) wooden tripods are nice, and Fisols are supposed to be good for the money. I've had the half-way decent Manfrotto aluminum legs (3052 or something like that,), a Berlback, a Mamiya CF, and the horking huge Gitzo. I'd recommend any of them for the right camera/lens combo for a particular size. Currently, I'm shooting on the large Gitzo.

    Don't forget to factor in a head, which will increase the price more, but you'll find the same "gotta pay to get a good one" thing with heads.
     
  4. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 18, 2003
    #4
    I've been very happy with my Bogen/Manfrotto 3001BN legs and 484RC2 ballhead, which I got as a package from B&H. Very sturdy and a good deal.
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    That's good, because even buying a new $60 tripod will have essentially cost you $90 anyway, what with the $30 you spent on the first one and all. ;)


    Go with Manfrotto for a tripod. You won't be able to get a good, sturdy, lightweight one without getting one of the carbon fibre models. Otherwise, good, sturdy, and "sort of" lightweight is what you might find. :p You pay a lot for the combination of those 3 characteristics.

    Otherwise, Velbon is supposed to be OK without being extremely expensive. Manfrotto costs a bit more, but they have a lot of good models.

    The amount of money companies get for putting together what is essentially 3 legs to hold something up is incredible.
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #6
    I bought one off eBay for around £100. It's a 190 MFV. Light, sturdy, lots of options for height adjustment. All in all pretty great :D
     
  7. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #7
    One thing which I forgot to mention in my other post was that it is valuable to have a good quick-release system on the ballhead. This expedites getting the camera on-and-off the tripod quickly. Some manufacturers have an "L" bracket available for the camera which fits neatly into the QR and which also works so that the photographer can put the camera into either portrait or landscape position on the tripod for more flexibility in composing and getting the shot. Some systems work interchangeably, too, which in the long run can be a savings. For instance, owners of Wimberley gimbal heads or SideKicks can also use the RRS "L" brackets, camera and lens plates and so on...
     
  8. Coheebuzz thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 10, 2005
    Location:
    Nicosia, Cyprus
    #8
    Thanks for all the answers guys. I found a shop 10 min from here that sells the Manfrotto tripods so i'll visit them Monday to check out a few models and try them in real person.

    Clip Pix, As for the camera and lens i'll use with the tripod, it's a Canon 400D with the 18-55mm kit lens but am planning on getting new glass really soon, but not anything big yet. Maybe a 10-22 wide or a 50mm prime.

    And what am planning to shoot, well i don't really know but i've been using my camera since friday and i had the need for a tripod on several occasions.
    For example last night i went on the roof of a 12-storey building, overcoming my fear of heights, to shoot a panorama of the city. And i needed a long exposure to capture motion and also light-up the scene, although i forgot to boost the EV, but the tripod 'jerked' slightly probably when i pressed the shutter resulting in 5 blurry and dark photos.
    Well not too blurry but at the point that fine detail is lost. Thats what an expensive tripod can do better than a cheap one i guess.

    Here is what i got, it seems ok at this size and i've sharpened it quite abit. Not bad for a first time job is it? :eek: But I'll go back again in a couple of days and reshoot. Btw does ISO speed matters when shooting with a timed exposure, eg 30sec, or does it just boost noise?
     

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  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #9
    Good tripod legs, good ballhead and quick-release should do you just fine. No need (yet?) for anything more extensive such as a gimbal unless you get into long, heavy lenses. Be sure to work with the ballheads to see what feels comfortable to you in use; one time I bought a tripod and ballhead which sounded great and which seemed OK in the store but once I started using them in actual practice, the ballhead drove me nuts and I eventually realized it was not suited to the type of shooting I was doing.

    Buy a cable release, too, when you're getting the tripod. This is a critical accessory so that you're not moving the camera or tripod when it's time to make the exposure. Even a light touch of your finger on the shutter release can cause vibrations and ruin the image.

    Because you'll be using a tripod to stabilize your camera, you can afford to utlize a low ISO and also a stopped-down lens so that your exposure will be tack-sharp. For instance, in doing a macro shot with a tripod you can have settings such as f/22 @ 1 sec with an ISO of 100. (This is just an example I pulled out of the air) Yes, increasing the ISO will increase noise and that you don't want.
     
  10. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #10
    To add a bit of air, with digital bodies you do have to worry about using too small an aperture due to diffraction. Most 10MP and above bodies start to have diffraction issues past f/11. With 6MP bodies it may be past f/16 or f/22, but it's all due to the size of the sensor's photosites, so while in film days we really didn't have to worry about losing sharpness from diffraction on normal 35mm lenses with digital we may if we go past the sensor's limit.
     
  11. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #11
    I've gone through four tripods in the past year, as they all seem to inevitably break no matter how expensive or cheap they are.
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    Which models? My Bogen lasted for about 5 years before I stuck a 4x5 view camera's block to the head and couldn't get it off no matter what. My Berlbach's been around for about 10 years, it's just a bit of a pain to haul around. My Mamiya CF had one leg come off, which I duct taped back on. I had it for about six years, and its new owner has epoxied the leg back on and is happily using it. I expect my Gitzo to last for more than 10 years. "No matter how expensive" is likely to be relative- people spend less on cameras than my tripod/head combination. Hence the article Clix Pix pointed to by Thom Hogan.
     
  13. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #13
    You're right, it is indeed all relative. The most expensive tripod I've had was a Canon brand that was about sixty or seventy bucks. Then it got busted on the sidewalk and have since been dabbling with 15 to 35 dollar tripods. I know.... cheap crap. :eek:
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #14
    So, $60 plus $35-$145= $95-205 in the middle of that range, you could have spent $150 and probably still been using the same unit. That's the point the article makes, and it's an important one- with some things like tripods and ballheads, you're going to spend a lot of money- it's just up to you if you spend more getting to that figure than you do at the end. Generally it's worth saving up for quality.

    The stuff they sell at some camera stores should be criminal, you couldn't even expect it to hold a P&S still. I rarely shoot off a tripod (I've seen enough studies on optical quality to realize that I can improve the sharpness of my images significantly on a tripod versus anything else I can do that it's always worth the hassle to haul one around even if I'm not hauling my 400mm with me.)
     
  15. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #15
    heh, not only have I bought those el cheapo models at camera shops, I even bought one at sprawlmart once. oddly though that one lasted awhile. :eek: I do a lot of night/sunrise/sunset shots and also high dynamic range, so usually i'm toting a tripod. i seldom use my telephoto lens, so it's not too big of a deal, though I was disappointed the time I tried to mount my 300mm lens on the tripod-mounted camera at sunrise. the result was photographic uselessness.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    The Feisols start at about $165 and get good reviews, though I've not seen one in person. A decent ballhead is going to be more than that though- things really suck if you're on too low a budget!
     
  17. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #17
    Yes -- thank you for adding that bit! I forgot about that little "gotcha" which can cause problems even as you think you're nailing the "perfect" shot! With film we worried about reciprocity failure and with digital we worry about diffraction error....always something!
     
  18. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #18
    One can easily spend around $1000 for good tripod legs and ballhead or gimbal head....

    I, too, have heard good things about the Feisol tripod legs but haven't seen anyone using them; they are supposed to be similar to Gitzo but not nearly as expensive. Seems as though a lot of the photographers I've met use Gitzo, which has long since been "the gold standard." My old Gitzo that I've had for 20-something years is still holding up just fine. Heavy in comparison to the more modern carbon fibre ones, though!

    A good ballhead will run you around $350 - 500. A full Wimberley gimbal is around $550, while the Sidekick is a bit less. I know Bogen Manfrotto also makes a gimbal, which is about half the price of the Wimberley. When you're using a 300mm or larger lens (even the comparatively lightweight 300mm f/4), a gimbal head or Sidekick really works much better than a regular ballhead. It balances the lens optimally while allowing for ease of movement in all directions.
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #19
    *sob* Don't remind me! :eek:

    Gitzo 1548,
    Wimerbly Mk II
    New foot for 400/2.8

    *sob*
     
  20. jayb2000 macrumors 6502a

    jayb2000

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    #20
    Well, on the cheaper side, I have a SLIK 212 http://www.adorama.com/SLU212D.html
    About $100 new. Not the lightest by any means, but so far its been sturdy and easy to use.
    I'm definitely not a pro, but I have had this for 2 years and it seems to be holding up well.
    Has a bubble level, quick release, easily adjustible, 63" high (about 1.6m).

    Might work for you.
     
  21. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    Wenonah, NJ
    #21
    You may want to try dynatran. A company called amvona sells them on ebay under the name amvona.com. if you are patient, you can pick up a nice set of carbon fiber legs with twist locks for around $70ish with shipping. This is the second set I've bought, not because the first set broke, but because the first set was aluminum and just way too heavy for my taste. I couldn't easily walk around with them. Add a bogen head and you're all set.
     

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