A rock solid tripod

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Kamera RAWr, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    I'm where I need to be
    #1
    Well, I'm looking for some advice for a nice, solid tripod. I have a cheapo that I received as a gift. Its ok for now, but I'd like to move into a better one. Looking for a good all around tripod... solid on the ground, not terribly heavy, able to hold my D80 and soon to be D300 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 at most, in terms of weight. I've sorta looked at the two "mainstream" manufacturers Gitzo and Manfrotto, but even they have many models. I think the task of finding and choosing one is quite difficult.

    Second part of my question regards heads. What should I look for? I know there's ball heads and other types... not sure of the benefits of any of them.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. Piarco macrumors 68030

    Piarco

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Location:
    Londinium
    #2
    I current own a D70s (to be a D300 when they are readily available!) which usually has the 18-200mm VR attached and use a Manfrotto kit:

    Manfrotto 190XPROB Aluminium Tripod Legs

    Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head

    And they work a treat. I'm off to Iceland again on Saturday, and I'm expecting the difference they'll make over the el cheapo tripod (an Amazon £12 special :eek:) I had last year would be huge.

    Very quick to set up (IMHO the twist type locks are slower) and the ability of the 190XPROB to have the centre column flip to the horizontal is brilliant - and it really is rock solid. The grip ball head is great at lining up the angle you want faster than a conventional ball head and definitely more so than a 3-way head. Can't recommend the combo highly enough.
     
  3. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    #3
    Bought my Slik Tripod in the 70's, still use it today. Well worn but works like a champ.Make sure the legs extend and retract flawlessly, and have sturdy locks to keep them where you put them. A level bubble is mandatory to ensure your camera is on the level .Tilt/ Pan head with quick release. Get the most you can afford now it will last a lifetime. Don't know what's out there today, but Slik does it for me
     
  4. walterm79 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    #4
    Can't go wrong ...

    I also have to second the choice of the Manfrotto 190XPROB Aluminium Tripod Legs and Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head. I picked both up a few months ago for a variety of reasons but have found that even at sand dunes it is rock steady. The quick release locks are also a godsend as they only require a simple flip and they're in place. That combinded with the ability to practically rest the camera on the ground and it makes for a great modestly lightweight unit.

    For reference, I have a Canon Xti with a 70-200 4L USM IS and it handles it just fine.
     
  5. juanm macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    Fury 161
    #5
    Manfrotto 055 MF3 Magfiber 3 section. I just bought it and like it a lot.
    You can either buy a ballhead, or a 3D head and a 438 Ball leverer to get the best of both systems...
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    Ball heads are rather specialized devices used so that you can track a moving subject then quickly lock the head and snap a picture, unloack and continue tracking. Goodd ones, no, decent ones are very expensive with mid three digit prices. Buy a pan tilt head first these are sturdier and 10X cheaper. I have the Bogen#47 head. It is way overkil for a Nikon system. I bought it for medium format. I also havethe Bogen "3d head" which is in expensive but ideal for field macro photography with the center column reversed (camera between the legs, The 3d head allows right side up camera use on the upside down center colum. I can get the camera inches off the ground this way for wild flowers, bugs and such.

    I have a Bogen 32xx serie. I like they way the legs adjust to three different angles and the colum is reversable. I can cary it but it is not light weight.

    Bogen rates their equipment by how much weight it can support. They are fair for most uses. Add up the weight of a 70-200mm and D300. But if you say "rock steady" then cut their estimate in half. Bogen and Manofroto (SP?) are the same company same products.)

    Gitzo makes good stuff too but I don't like their heads.
    I also prefer Bogen's lever style leg clamps and do not like either company's twist locks. Other people prefer the twist kind because there are not levers to catch on stuff.
    My opinion is that Gitzo offers the best rigidity or stability per weight while Bogen offers the best rigidity or stability per dollar.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    A quote from the above web site. The manufacturer says this is for "cameras with short and/or light fixed-length lenses" The person asking this question says he will be using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. That lens in not "short and/or light fixed-length"

    Cheap ball heads are not worth buying. They are also a pain to use when yu are trying to do critical work. Better to get one where you can adjust each axles one at a time

    Read the manfrotto web site carefully. Read where it says " Suitable for:". Their advice is mostly good.
     
  8. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #8
    A combo of Gitzo legs and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead will work nicely! If you're shooting with longer, heavier lenses and doing nature photography at some point you'll want a Wimberley or other gimbal head to put on the tripod legs.

    The Wimberley gimbal works best with 300mm and larger/longer lenses. The RRS BH-55 ballhead works well with lenses up to and including the 300mm f/2.8, but really is more suited to the shorter, lighter weight lenses.

    The 70-200mm f/2.8 VR works fine on the BH-55 ballhead. When ordering the ballhead it is advisable to also order either the L-bracket or plain camera plate for the camera body and lens plates for all footed lenses.

    The system I have set up now is quite versatile and flexible. All of my footed lenses have plates and my camera bodies have the L-brackets (which can be used to quickly switch the camera body from portrait to landscape orientation on the tripod). I can quickly set up the Gitzo tripod with the BH-55 ballhead and slip the camera body into position and begin shooting. If I need to use a longer, heavier lens for birding and capturing BIF that's when I pull out the Wimberley gimbal head. I also have a Wimberley C-10 clamp on my Gitzo monopod so that I can easily pop the camera, with or without a long lens, on it and start shooting....

    Warning, though: this setup is not inexpensive!

    I personally don't care for pan-tilt heads for still photography; they may work fine for digital video photography, as that is the purpose for which they were designed. Probably the best thing to do is to go to a camera shop and experiment with the different setups they have there, see what feels good to you and works for you.

    Check out Really Right Stuff at http://www.reallyrightstuff.com and it will be very useful information for you.
     
  9. stevo.k macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    #9
    It depends...

    It depends on what your needs are. Will you be hiking with it? What camera and lenses do you need to support? Is cost an issue?
    The answer to these will best help determine what is best for you, but if you're looking for a good all around performer that is reasonably priced and will last a while, the previous recommendation of the Magfiber 055 would be a good choice.
    Carbon fibre is light, strong, and resistant to vibration. Performs well in all temperatures and won't corrode. Cost is the only downside.
    By all means get a good ballhead. As with all photo gear, buy the good stuff and you only need to buy it once. The Really Right Stuff is the ticket.

    ~Stevo.K
     
  10. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wenonah, NJ
    #10
    I use a Dynatran set of carbon fiber legs that I got on ebay for $60 or so. You can get them from user amvona.com and the quality is damn good. Pair it with a nice head and you're in business.
     
  11. Kamera RAWr thread starter macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    I'm where I need to be
    #11
    Cost really isn't an issue, if its going to be a good piece of equipment that will last me years into the future.

    Piarco, that aluminum tripod looks nice, but if I'm reading right, it only supports about 10-12 pounds. I want something I can grow into a bit. I'm thinking support of at least 20lbs, probably more.

    Clix, thanks for the advice, especially on the Really Right Stuff ball heads. I've been looking into them for a little while and will probably get the BH55. Looks solid and I'll grow into it, seeing as I plan to add at least a 300mm f/2.8 in the future.

    Thank you all for your suggestions so far :)

    Edit: Side note, just saw I became 6502 :D. Promised myself I'd become a contributor if I stayed around long enough for this.
     
  12. Piarco macrumors 68030

    Piarco

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Location:
    Londinium
    #12
    Thanks for the disparaging comments.

    As I'm actually using it with the 18-200mm, a 70-300m with a SB-600 flash mounted at times and its absolutely rock solid, which by the way agrees with every review out there, I have a tendancy to err on personal experience of the head.

    Soooooooooo, swiftly moving on, it should fit your above needs well apart from my usage a friend with a 5D with some monster lenses borrowed it and had no complaints - in fact the opposite, he was very complimentary. Still, if money is no object, there are more suitable heads out there - I was working to specific needs. I think its a gem though :D

    As to what head is suitable, it depends on what type of photography you're into. If you need to adjust quickly or often, then a 3-plane head is not the way to go. But if you need to line up shots precisely (like architectural photography) then a 3D head may be preferable...
     
  13. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #13
    The combination of the D70/s and either of the two lenses you mention is substantially lighter weight than a D200 (or the upcoming D300) and, say, the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, the 300mm f/4 or the 300mm f/2.8. Your current tripod setup may work just fine with your present gear but I think it is important to realize that heavier gear requires a sturdier tripod. The type of head one chooses to put on the tripod legs depends partly on personal preference and partly on what one is shooting. Years ago I tried a couple of Manfrotto heads and didn't find them as quick and responsive as the RRS BH-55 for the type of shooting I do. When beginning to shoot birds I quickly learned that a gimbal head is the way to go. Each of us is different and has different preferences and needs.
     
  14. littlerob macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    jacksonville, fl
    #14
    re: rock solid tripod

    Have to add my two cents worth.. nobody mentioned Giottos.. they are made in china but are well made and very well designed.. Many models both of carbon fiber and alum. A good range of sizes and features. Probably won't match the $500+ gitzos but a darn good choice for the bucks spent.. check out at giottos.com. forgot to mention a very nice bag included... both adorama and b&h sell them... no I'm not a salesman, just a well pleased customer... I have MT9370 tripod topped with MH3300-658 head and quick release, and the MM9170 monopod with the MH7001 head and a quick release to match the tripod.. I shoot with nikon D80 and D70 and 18-200mm vr nikkor and the 80-400mm vr nikkor.. My D80 has battery grip. This brand is not as widespread or as well known as bogen-manfroddo but well worth checking out ..... The Giottos center post is more adaptable/versatile than any other I've discovered... Giottos has some good accessories available for these units... Models for most load weight ranges up to 20+ lbs.
     

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