4 lightweight (not cheapo's) tripods compared, the winner is....

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mtbdudex, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #1
    Well, I could not find good advice on the web for lightweight tripods, so over xmas break I bought 4 lightweight tripods and did some real world comparison.
    My needs are simple; for now a point and shoot, however soon I'm buying a DSLR so wanted it capable to handle that more weight also. I also want to be able to stuff this in a day backpack for Disney/other hiking.
    Both my brother in-laws have DSLR's, so xmas and new years holiday I mounted their cameras and tried out with extra weight.

    I should say this is one item I gladly paid a few more dollars to talk/discuss with the various salespeople at the brick/mortar stores instead of the web, some things you just need to touch and feel to decide.

    Reviewed Sunpak Travelite ($60 @ BestBuy), Quantary QSX 6601($39.95n @ Ritz), Induro A114 w/Manfrotto 484RC2 head ($195 total @ Adrians), and Manfrotto 785B Modo ($119 @ Ritz)
    Table top usage:
    [​IMG]
    Legs fully extended usage:
    [​IMG]

    Quick analysis:
    a) Sunpak Travelite, about 14" folded, has wobbly legs, once you extend them there is no lock on each individual one. Don't waste your money, ths one is not even good for a simple point and shoot.
    b) Quantary QSX 6601, about 22.5" folded, a little too long. quite sturdy, it has a mono-pod also. I ruled this one out due to size, however if you don't care about folded storage in a day pack like I due check it out.
    c) Induro A114 w/Manfrotto 484RC2 head, about 21" folded. I really-really liked this one, by far the sturdiest of them all, it was also the heaviest. The twisting legs lock and their tube construction made it so sturdy, it also takes just a few more seconds/montions to set-up and lock. This was my runner-up, however I returned it.
    d) Manfrotto 785B Modo, about 17.5" folded. I like this one from day one and it ended up with the best balance of compactness, lightweight, and sturdy. Kept it and already it's taken some nice family group shots.

    So, for my needs the Manfrotto 785B Modo won and we love it.

    Some more pictures w/comments.

    Showing folded size side by side:
    [​IMG]

    Photos showing leg construction:
    I found that I like the lever locks better than the twist locks, however it should be noted the Induro was the sturdiest, if it was 19" folded I would have picked it for it's best in class sturdy legs.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Backpack loading analysis:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #2
    Nice work.
    Can the head be changed on the one you picked? Also, what's the total weight it will take?
     
  3. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #3
    It comes with an attached head - does not seem to be able to swap (I'll check to make sure), however it can be locked in Video mode for panning or photo mode for pure ball/swivel action, you then press on this easy thumb lock to engage a friction clamp, works quick and easy. I have no plan on buying a different head.

    The spec for the Manfrotto 785B Modo says just 2.2 lbs max, however I tried both DSLR's (one had basic zoom lens) and felt no tipping issue not stability issue, so IMHO that 2.2 lb rating is way too conservative.
     
  4. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    Joined:
    May 7, 2004
    Location:
    Sod off
    #4
    Thanks for that - one of the things on my "to buy" list is a decent lightweight tripod. That Manfrotto looks pretty good.
     
  5. onomatopoeia macrumors 6502

    onomatopoeia

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    #5
    Good work. However, you could have done the same thing at any decent camera store. They should let you fold them up, mount cameras on them and get good hands on time while in the store. All without having to go through the hassle of buying and returning them. But, it worked out well for you and your example of trying the tripod (as opposed to buying sight unseen over the Internet) is a path others should follow when buying a tripod.

    No offense, but in the world of tripods these are all "cheapo's". ;)
     
  6. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    Joined:
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    Sod off
    #6
    I'm glad I don't live in the world of tripods then....sounds expensive. ;)
     
  7. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #7
    I did that in the 3 stores, actually got quite anal about it, but still felt real world usage at home/family houses was better than in store, plus I could compare other store ones also, sleep and think about it, and then decide.

    Yea, I know $120 is "cheap" from some peoples viewpoint, for my usage though I was willing to budget up to $200.

    I've spent $4k on my Titanium litespeed Mountain Bike (I raced competitive for 3 years) and over $15K on my Home Theatre equipment (gotta have a man cave), it all depends on your intended usage and viewpoint.
    I respect those that pay $300-$500+, and I can see if Photography were my driving hobby/passion then I might also consider that level of equipment. For now, it's not and the Manfrotto I picked is mighty nice!
    When I raced MTB bikes I thought nothing at spending $850 for just a wheel set from Mavic, it's all about your lifestage and your "passion of the day".
     
  8. marclapierre13 macrumors 6502a

    marclapierre13

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #8
    I just got a $80 tripod, and thats a good price for me, for my needs. There is a couple other pieces of equipment I need to start saving for :p
    (Want a light box, new flashes, new bag, new background and stands)
     
  9. RevToTheRedline macrumors 6502a

    RevToTheRedline

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    #9
    I wish my Manfrotto 3021bpro with 488rc2 head was lighter and more compact, but I'm not sure I'd trade the sturdyness and features it has for a compact lightweight tripod. I've really had no problem carrying it around with a shoulder strap.

    I wouldn't mind selling the legs for a higher end Manfrotto carbon fiber set though.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #10
    Nice sticker on the tripod leg, I have some extras from my recent iMac 24" purchase and now I know what to do with obe of them!
     
  11. eddx macrumors regular

    eddx

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #11
    Definately putting an Apple sticker on each of the legs of my tripod also. If it looks great on that one it will look great on my new Manfrotto 055XPROB.

    The tripods in this test are very short, and seem a too little light / not able to support much. The heavier the tripod, the better it does its job (keeping the image sharp)
     
  12. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #12
    That's why this thread is titled "4 lightweight tripods compared.... ", because my needs are for a lightweight yet sturdy tripod for day use while traveling.
    This is NOT the Heavy Duty / super sturdy tripod review, I leave that to the qualified people in this forum that have that expertiese.

    I'm in downtown Nashville now, staying at the Hilton on 4th street, getting ready to go out for a night with the work gang before our meeting tomorrow.
     
  13. RevToTheRedline macrumors 6502a

    RevToTheRedline

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    #13
    If you have any smaller Apple stickers I'd use those, I might go in to my stash of small stickers and use one of those, the one I used was a larger sticker so it's kind of hard to see unless at the right angle. Nice tripod legs btw, reading up on them it looks like the 055XPROB is what replaced my 3021BPRO legs. So I'm sure they are great.
     
  14. art gardiner macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Location:
    Cairo, Egypt
    #14
    One way to make the most out of what you are carrying with you, is to attach your backpack/camera bag to the bottom of your center column. (A "Bow-Tie" or "bungee" cord will work very nicely.) By doing this, you'll increasing the tripod's stability. While in your home these tripods may have worked wonderfully - keep in mind that most likely you wont be shooting on such level ground out in the field, throw in some wind and humidity, and you have a whole new ball game. But the above trick will help greatly.

    Just a note about the rating system for "Max Loads" on tripods/heads - they take into consideration the average environment in which they are most likely to be used, factored in with not just the legs rigidity, but the clamping assemblies ability to hold a given weight at T.D.C. - for each of the given angles of leg adjustment. This "Max" can then be lowered even further depending on the "head's" "Max" load given the same subjective criteria as for the legs. It's not uncommon to have a set of sticks "Max" load be 36 lbs, but only be able to hold 8 lbs, as that is all the head can hold before it may start to "creep". (Think of a slug crawling down a wall - this is how your camera's lens will look when you overload your head - if you're lucky.)

    HTH's,

    Art Gardiner
     
  15. Piarco macrumors 68030

    Piarco

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Location:
    Londinium
    #15
    Ditto - cheers for the review. I've got a middleweight Manfrotto and trigger ballhead as my main tripod, but have been toying the idea of a compact - and the Modo would fit the bill!
     
  16. Maldini macrumors regular

    Maldini

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Location:
    Riyadh
    #16
    Thanks for the review

    This is the coolest tripod, though its for P&S

    [​IMG]

    Gizmodo
     
  17. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #17
    more tripods to consider??

    Ok;
    I was going to get my hands on a Carbon Fiber F-1128 via flashpoint, http://www.adorama.com/FPTPF1128.html ,it seemed "compact" to fit my needs as a backpack fitting tripod, plus it's 9.9 lbs load capability is more than what I reviewed.

    [​IMG]

    However, I then saw it's 18.5" closed w/o the head, so adding 2.5 inches makes that 21" long closed, too long for a backpack fitting tripod. I do like the fact it's so lightweight @ 2,64 lbs and 9.9 lbs load carrying capability.
    Plus, just $169 (w/o head), so not in the stratasphere for cost.

    Now;
    Those Gitzo Traveler Tripods caught my eye, http://www.adorama.com/GZGT1550T.html?searchinfo=gitzo%20traveler&item_no=4 , just 2.2 lbs (w/o head), 4.4 lbs load capability, and 14.2" closed (w/o head), this seems like the "perfect" backpack tripod. Then, my bubble got popped when I saw that $$$ price tag, $640 :mad: :mad:
    I want one but a few $100's above my price point.
    [​IMG]

    So, for now I'm firmly sticking with my Manfrotto 785B Modo.

    If I win the lotto or get a BIG bonus check this year, then I would consider that Gitzo traveler tripod.
    Why the heck are they so expensive?? No competition? Carbon fiber is no longer an exotic material, more like a commodity. I'd call it exotic 5-7 years ago, but not now. Hopefully more carbon fiber suppliers can come on board and the price points of these will drop.
     
  18. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #18
    Status update after 1.75 years.
    Pros:
    -lightweight
    -small/compact, good for travel
    -good for P&S

    Cons:
    -legs not as stable as larger tripods
    -careful with SLR's (rated 2.2lbs )

    I've had to put these little felt pads on my tripod head to keep the heavier DSLR I've just bought stable.
    [​IMG]

    Besides that, this is a decent compact tripod.

    BB has an updated version, I saw that the other day in store. Supports 3.3 lbs vs my 2.2 lbs.
    It appears more stable legs, , triangular shaped vs mine which are oval. Plus the ball head seems better suited to go from horizontal to vertical shooting quickly.
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Manfrotto+-+56.3"+Tripod/9358081.p?id=1218090589604&skuId=9358081,
    here is Manfrotto site http://www.manfrotto.com/Jahia/site/manfrotto/cache/offonce/pid/18043
    [​IMG]
    If I was in market for compact/travel "$100-ish" tripod this newer one would be on my short list.
     
  19. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    Location:
    Alaska
    #19
    A tripod that I like and is not too expensive is Manfrotto 055X Pro B (legs). It costs $185.00 at B&H at the moment, minus a $25.00 rebate. A very nice head for it is Manfrotto Ball Head 488RC2 ($114.00). This tripod weights around 5 pounds, which is not too bad if you don't have to hike long distances. It holds 15 pounds.
     
  20. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #20
    Now, well here's the thing, if you can't buy it, then don't whine about it being $100 above your price range, if it's really important for you to have it, then just wait till you get $100.

    This reminds me of the usual PC fanboys complains about Apple product pricing. Gitzo did lots of R&D and strength & stress tests to ensure that this wont end up as those lightweight flimsy tripods. Besides, they got a name and reputation to uphold to.

    It's like complaining Merc/BMW pricing too expensive cuz some ppl cant own it and being a good company Merc/BMW should lower their car prices =.=
     
  21. mldenman macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2009
    #21
    wheelhot's comment was completely unnecessary. he didn't read that it was 100's plural and his tag shows him to be unaware of the definition of "art" - even if one were to argue the term to be subjective. thanks mbxdudex for your reviews.
     
  22. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #22
    I respect what member "wheelhot" stated, it's his(her?) thoughts and mindset and entitled to that.

    My background is 25 years in automotive engineering (engineering mgr level), including 4 years in Accessories Engineering.
    I've had parts with "high volume" - over 150k/year, and parts with "low volume" - say 100's/year. Plastic injected parts, metal stamp parts, electrical parts.
    Understand all about R&D, testing, validation, amortization in pc cost etc.
    Visited countless supplier, etc.
    Have friends in the supplier side for consumer products and understand their mark-up and distribution/supply chain/etc similarities and differences with auto market.

    I decided not to get into a un-winnable flame war with him, maybe he had a bad day at work and his post is a result of that?


    Possible I think too much like an Engineer Manager outside of work.
    When I'm in the market to buy some item I'm always looking at it and challenge their price from bottom up cost analysis and benchmark/compare. I also expect year-year efficiencies and improvements to trickle to the consumer via more features at same price point or reduced price for same feature set due to efficiency enhancements. I could go on-on but will end here.


    I am in the market for a "better" tripod than mine (load capacity and rigidity), with a target of buying May timeframe.
    I see a few other "which tripod" threads here and I've read with interest.
     
  23. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #24
    Funny, I was at BB 2 days ago returning some Blu-rays I bought during Black Friday and decided did not need.

    After, I went and looked at the carbon fiber rocketfish, $165 in my memory.

    I was dis-appointed at the rigidity of the cam locking mechanisms, that tripod felt wobbly to me. I saw those reviews in BB, I wonder what they compared the rigidity too??
    I did simple/common sense in store test. extend legs, twist at ball head.
    You'd be surprised how much diff flex/rigidity compared tripod vs tripod. The smaller Manfrotto they carry is vastly more rigid. The leg locking mech and leg shape I feel influence it.

    I'd not drop serious coin on any tripod w/o having the ability to touch/feel it in person. If than means buying from local camera store for slightly higher $$'s I'll do that and support local store for that. Pontiac Mich has Camera Mart, a decent store, I'll do my shopping/buying from there.
     
  24. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #25
    Did you do any shooting tests with medium to long exposures and compare the sharpness of the results?
     

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