Carbon Fiber Tripods...height suggestions?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Sdashiki, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
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    Behind the lens
    #1
    Im 6' 2" and its time for a new tripod.

    Its time for a GOOD tripod. Time for a tripod I can keep forever (knock wood).

    Since this should be the last, or one of the last, tripods I buy, I gotta go all out...to an extent. This has had me focusing on carbon fiber instead of metal. The pricing is 2X but the weight difference is well worth it. I dont want a tripod I like to use one place and not another. My main focus being tabletop work and outside without any emphasis on crazy things like 100mph wind on a sea cliff with salt spray.

    Manfrottos 190CX and 055CX series have models which have the horizontal pivoting center column. Good for tabletop work and a load of other odd situations. So that leaves me with the 2 "better" models of each of the Manfrotto 190/055 series, as the basic models dont have it.


    Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 seems nice, but it only goes to 48" (58" extended)...kinda short for my height.

    Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 goes to 55" (69" extended).

    A price difference of about $150 for about 7" of working height.

    Is it worth it? The cheapest I have found the 055CXPRO3 is $360 from Adorama.

    Ill be mating the legs with the Manfrotto 322RC2 ball head.
    51JHNGDYQML._SL500_AA280_.jpg .
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #2
    Just one bit of advice: Never buy a cheap ball head.

    The ball head you picked out is a cheap ball head. Good ones cost a lot more, they start at about $250.

    Also you don't want even a good one for your intended use. Get a very sturdy two axis pan tilt head. Get one with a hex plate quick release. The good news is that $50 will buy one. So for lless than 1/2 the price you get somethings that is both 4x stronger and easier to use.

    Ball heads are ideal for wildlife photos. you lossen up the head and can track the animal then with a twist of the wrist lock the head for a shot, release it and continue tracking. For every other use you need to be able to adjust one axis without messing up your careful adjustment of the other axis. You want to be able to set the up and down with out having to readjust the level or pan. For in-door work especially macro work you really do want a pan/tilt head.

    Also those cheap ball heads (the ones with balls under about 1.5 inches in diameter can't be trusted and you could not want to take your hands off the camera and walk away.

    Your hieght should not matter much. You put the camera at a height so as to get the image you want not to suit your eye level. I will get on my knoees or stand on a box (one of my camera cases) as required.
     
  3. numbersyx macrumors 65816

    numbersyx

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2006
    #3
    I'm 6' 3" and have always found the smaller tripods to be a pain. Go for the bigger tripod it will be worth it on your back....
     
  4. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #4
    I'm going to disagree with you a bit here. Gimbal heads or accessories such as those from Wimberly or Kirk are ideal for tracking fast movers (birds, aircraft, etc) using a long lens on a tripod. Ballheads don't replace a gimbal head, but are otherwise excellent for anything but copystand work. Pan/tilt heads will accommodate copystand work, but were designed for use with movie/video cameras and aren't as rigid as ballheads.

    To the OP, be wary of extending the center post of the tripod all the way to accommodate your height. Doing so reduces the rigidity of your camera support and increases the likelihood of vibration, which you're trying to avoid in the first place. I know Gitzo makes tripods with longer leg lengths, and I would imagine other manufacturers do as well. You probably ought to be looking for those sorts of tripod legs.
     
  5. Sdashiki thread starter macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #5
    Ok, now since I want this tripod for "life" and not need an upgrade, except to get the opposite head from what I buy first, its hard to not want to tailor it to my upcoming (summer) needs:

    the southwest american national parks, Zion especially :rolleyes:


    Regardless, id need the tripod to not only be able to travel easily (i think im going with 4 sections just for the 11cm height difference when collapsed) but also do what I need at home on the tabletop.

    055CXPRO4 is basically the same price as the PRO3

    Im still leaning towards the Manfrotto 322RC2 as my head choice I think it works best for how I like to work my camera(s) on the tripod. Ive never owned a ball head and always seem to find myself working the tripod controls in a way that a ball head would make easier.

    Im NEVER (yes, I can say that with confidence) going to shoot greater than 500mm lenses. Not my arena, creatively or economically. And I dont see any of my equipment being anything but center balanced for the most part.

    A Mamiya Universal Press is my heaviest camera to date.
     
  6. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #6
    imo..the 055CXPRO is just above the entry point of "good" tripod legs. If you were to combine it with a *great* ballhead, you probably would be very happy.
    Sorry, but the Manfrotto 322RC2 is not in the "great" catagory. Skimping on the head versus the legs is the opposite of "common wisdom" with regards to tripods. If you think you would ever use a 400mm or 500mm, then you definitely need a "great" head. Imo, your choices are the Markins M20, Kirk BH-1 or RRS (Really Right Stuff) BH-55. *I* prefer the Markins, but the RRS is awesome as well.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    I agree this the above. You want a quality head. That is why I suggested a three axis head. Because for the OP's budget he can afford a first rate, top line three axis head.

    The other thing is that you will want more then one head. It's OK the have three. So start with a top line inexpensive unit.

    I have Bogen's "3D head. It really looks weird and like it would be hard to use but it's not. And it's only about $35. The 3D is ideal for field macro work. It alloes you to have the camera right side up when working with an inverted center column. If I'm shooting a wildflower clost to the ground i"ll invert the column and use the 3D. The camera is very, very stable this way becasue the weight is between the legs. I bring this up just to show that there is good reason to own several heads and they need not cost a lot of money.

    But a good ball head is very expensive. I'd buy one of those only after you have the more basic pan/tilt head

    As for over all stabilty you can have that for cheap too. get a 1 galon plastic milk jug, fill it with water and hang it a couple inches from the ground between the legs. the weight will mash the feet into the dirt and lower the overall center of gravity. A bag with rock inside works too. The guys ing the film industry will routinly shot bag the legs. But water and rocks do the same job and you don't have to lug them home with you after.

    Legs are the same way. It's good to have two. One that is big and heavy for when you are near home or a car and a light weight set for if you need to backpack your gear. There is zero need for carbon fiber in a studio. In the studio people use "camera supports" made rom 4 inch diameter steel pipe.
     
  8. Sdashiki thread starter macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #8
    Ill never use this tripod for anything larger than the Mamiya, which by most dSLR long lens standards, is a featherweight.

    Long lenses dont interest me, and if I ever got anything bigger than 4x5, id be rich enough to afford a different tripod than Im going for here.


    So for legs methinks the 055CXPRO(3/4) is best for my needs, current and future. Or if for some reason i choose metal, Id go for the 190XPROB (at 1/3 the price!)


    As for the head, Im still in the air. From what I read, $$$ heads are for HEAVY equipment which is also $$$. So, expensive begets expensive. Make sense.

    But, ball vs 3axis...

    with 3axis, id only buy the compact kind with knobs, not handles. (Manfrotto 3275 / 410 comes to mind)

    the ball head, i still like the 322RC2 pistol grip action, seems like how I would work with that type of head.

    im curious to know the reasoning behind the distaste for it, im easily swayed by more informed opinions than my own.
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    A cheap ball head _will_ fail. It may fail quickly because of weight, or over time because of wear, but it's going to fail, and it's going to fail while your camera and lens are on it. You're going to high winds, salt water, sand and grit environments. Looking just at the image, I can't imagine that you're not going to have salt and sand issues.

    It looks like it won't be easy to travel with the grip sticking out, and I'd guess that it'll get in the way for some shots.

    Here's one metric I tend to use for ball heads- how easy is it to disassemble and clean? This one looks like a nightmare. (Acratech UBH is the current winner.) Grit/sand/salt in the mechanism is going to make it fail sooner, so the ability to clean it out is important, adding more moving parts isn't going to be an advantage.

    FWIW, I've yet to find a Bogen/Manfrotto quick release plate that works even as well and lasts as long as a cheap ball head.
     
  10. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #10
    Very solid advice. I don't use the "hang weight" trick as often as I should. Generally I find, very few people will learn from the experience of others when it comes to tripods. I know I didn't. :) They read Thom Hogan's article and just say "yada, yada, yada" in reply...and then waste money just like he said they would. Quite entertaining! :)
     
  11. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 12, 2005
    #11
    My distaste is based on disappointment and wasting money buying products that just don't cut it. Believe me, I wish good tripods were cheaper, but they just ain't.

    I love going cheap when I can. Build my own snoots and gridspots for example out of cereal boxes. I don't get an attitude if I have to use a 85 1.8 vs the 1.4.

    I use big heavy gear a lot, but....my girlfriend uses a Nikon D90...a pretty light weight cam. Her heaviest lens is a 70-200. She mostly shoots with primes.
    Knowing that, I bought her a Gitzo GT2932 with a Markins M20 ballhead. Granted the M10 would have been plenty and the M20 is indeed overkill, but I got the M20 used in mint condition for less than the price of the M10...so why not go for it?
    Anyway..the point being...even with a D90...a rock solid base that doesn't vibrate every time a car goes by or "whistles in the wind" cannot be overvalued.

    I suggest you go rent two or three tripod combos...Get the 055 legs and the Manfrotto head. Also rent one of the following: RSS, Markins or Kirk head. Maybe get a good pan/tilt like Chris is suggesting too.
    Switch out the heads....take shots of a non-moving subject. Take note of which shots are with which. Test the stability in various ways. View the images. I think you will have an "aha" moment. :)
     
  12. Sdashiki thread starter macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #12
    Sounds like I should just buy the damn things, try em, and if I dont like, return and swap?

    Whats the argument for 3axis but against ball?

    Since Im not going super heavy anytime soon, i certainly could get away with mid-level ball heads. The M20, too much for me. RRS BH-40 seems a better choice than the 55 for example.

    $300 for a head...ouchy.
     
  13. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #13
    Sounds like a good plan. RRS BH-40 would be a very good head. It will last you for YEARS.

    Here's a used pan/tilt on Nikonians.org:
    http://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcb...&forum=137&topic_id=59558&mesg_id=59558&page=
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Northern/Central VA
    #14
    The problem with that strategy is that by the time a ball head fails, you'll have figured it was the best thing since sliced bread and be past the return period. The last time I made that mistake it was over $190 worth of Gitzo ball head, and it went bad inside two years. Unless you're going to really hit the tough places first, your leg set is also going to be fine when it's shiny and hasn't gotten stuff in all the wrong places.
     
  15. Sdashiki thread starter macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
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    #15
    Well, theres a difference in buying it waiting to hate it...and using it and seeing whether I even like it.

    Cost aint my biggest problem, its confusion and lack of action! Though im never going to buy a Gitzo just based on price alone, same goes for Leica stuff. Not my bag.

    The head is the hurdle and without just buying a good one, and seeing if its for me, Ill never know. I suppose Ill bite soon enough and go with recommendations here.
     
  16. stevo8 macrumors 6502

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    Jul 3, 2007
    #16
    I have the 322rc2 and absolutely love it. I have used crazy expensive ball heads before and really didnt see the benefit for what I do. As for height, its going to depend mostly on how and what you shoot. I have found having the extra height really nice for a lot of landscape stuff as it has been useful if I needed to place my tripod on a ledge or incline below me, and several times where I needed to extend it up and use live view to get over something.
     
  17. rouxeny macrumors 6502

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    #17

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