inexpensive but sturdy tripod?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rweakins, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. rweakins macrumors 6502

    rweakins

    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    #1
    what would be a good tripod for landscape and nature photography. obviously it would need to be somewhat lightweight but still be sturdy. not looking to spend a ton of money
     
  2. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    the cold dark north
    #2
    well i use this one...

    Slik 500BX Pro with the "kit" Pan head ... its damn sturdy and doesn't weigh a ton. plus it allows you to reverse the camera so you can take shots millimeters above the ground as well...
    costs less than 200 dollars and its WELL worth that money, quick release legs, multi adjustable ... i love it..

    //FR
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #3
    You say "nature". Does that include telephoto shots of wildlife? If so it NOT "inexpensive". But if your subjects are static or slow to move and you don't backpack the equipment then yes, a big heavy inexpensive tripod is perfect.

    I use a Bogen 32xx with a big ultra heavy duty #47 pan tilt head. The 32xx legs are heavy but under $200. The reversing colum works well for upside down shots close to the ground. But then Bogen makes an inexpensive "3D head" that allows the camera to by used upright on the reversed colum. Nothing is more stable than an inverted column where all the weight in between the legs.
     
  4. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #4
    Sturdy is in the eye of the beholder, as is lightweight, but the two are at cross-purposes, and you can have sturdy, lightweight or inexpensive. A lot also depends on what sort of weight you need to support. However, my personal measure is that I wouldn't use a leg set that's not rated for at least 25lbs.

    Anything else doesn't meet my definition of sturdy, especially for field use. You can get away with less with small lenses and perfect conditions, but if the wind picks up, you're on a vibration-prone surface or you need to steady a long lens with a teleconverter, then the smaller tripods are going to show their weaknesses in your images.

    Leg sets that generally meet my weight criteria and have some flexibility in shooting low start around $250. Add a good head, and you're talking serious money. The good news is that if you buy correctly, you only buy once.
     
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #5
    A common question and in my opinion a waste of money to buy an inadequate tripod.
     
  6. 103734 Guest

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #6
    I use a Manfrotto Ball Head, I think the model number is 486RC2 mounted on a Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod. Works good enough for me and pretty sturdy.
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #7
    It's rated by the manufacturer for 10lbs. A Canon 50D with battery, 580EX and 70-200/2.8 comes in at over 6 lbs. Add an L bracket and a good head and you're getting pretty close to the maximum weight. I think it'd be difficult to characterize any 10lb max load tripod as "damn sturdy" though- they certainly aren't in my experience.

    However, my heaviest lens is 9.7 lbs without a camera or a teleconverter, and I've shot 645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, 4x5 and 5x7- so what constitutes "damn sturdy" in my book isn't anywhere near the Slik you point out. I generally shoot off a full-sized Wimberly II head sitting on a Gitzo 1548 with a self-leveling base in the middle- my tripod is over the weight limit of the Slik!
     
  8. rweakins thread starter macrumors 6502

    rweakins

    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    #8
    most likely my use will be landscape, very little wildlife through telephoto. i shoot a 50D so that puts my camera weight around 7-8 lbs depending on the lens. i would like to be able to use it while backpacking as well.
     
  9. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    the cold dark north
    #9
    Compuwar, I agree with you that it is not the BEST and not the sturdiest one in the world, but about meeting the criteria of the OP : lightweight and sturdy enough, this isn't a bad tripod. That you shoot medium format and put 4.5KG lenses on your tripod has nothing to do with the question from the OP. Please don't tell me you consider lightweight but sturdy a tripod that weighs more than 10 pounds??? This is a beginner as far as I can tell.

    But hey, to each his own. I don't shoot professionally and even with a 80-200mm VR lens attached to my camera in a good wind this tripod has served me well and steady...
     
  10. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #10
    i have a bogen kit. I have the 322 RC2 head i have used for 6 years, and my legs 3021 i have had for the same amount of time. They are both rated for about the same weight, like 15lbs each. The legs are not the lightest, but oh well.

    I have hiked many miles at a time with this setup + an EOS 3 with battery pack+24-70L. I am not sure how much the EOS 3 weighs, but i never ever felt that my tripod was over powered by the weight of that setup.

    As others have said, if you go cheap with a vivitar or sunpak with hallow aluminum legs from target or walbogs, you will regret it. Shooting habits change, believe me. I was basically only landscape before, but not i am doing urban. I wish my tripod was lighter and newer (it is beat, but still ticks:), but i haven't had to replace it! I made the mistake of buying a vivitar tripod, and it sucked! Tipped over in a light breeze (i think someone farted and it blew over), and i wasn''t to happy to see my camera on the ground.

    You can't go wrong with Gitzo, Slik or Bogen (manfrotto).
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    I think it's a stretch to say it meets the criteria since we don't know if the OP intends to shoot in windy conditions, off boardwalks over marshes, etc. We don't know if they intend to spend time in the field in the middle of the winter when a metal leg set can hurt you if you touch bare skin with it. I also think that underbuying a tripod is bad- because when you start to approach the limits of a tripod, you potentially affect every image you take with it. If you under-buy at $100, then you under-buy at $200 a couple of years later, spending $250 up-front saves you money. If your intent is to take sharp pictures, then sturdiness should be a primary criterion.

    Actually, yes- I do consider it light weight. It's carbon fiber specifically so I can hike with it. It's a pound lighter than the Berlebach I used to shoot MF off of. I tried to convince myself that a really small and light Bogen leg set was "really sturdy" early on, since I could shoot MF and even 4x5 off of it, but when I actually tested it against a larger (Mamiya CF) tripod in a store, it was immediately obvious that I was deluding myself, especially when it came to sharpness at the long end.

    Beginning means you generally need a more sturdy tripod, not a less sturdy one- as your technique with telephotos isn't as practiced, and if the OP decides they want to do more nature photography and gets longer lenses, then they'll be buying a new tripod if they don't go with something sturdy up front (or they'll be missing lots of great shots.)

    How does "beginner" even enter into the equation? A tripod is either sturdy or it isn't. It's either going to last you a lifetime, or it's going to be replaced several times. None of that has any relation to how long the photographer has been hitting the button.

    You can spend a lot of money by going cheap early. Since nobody's yet pointed to the Thom Hogan article in this thread, I'll do it:

    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

    While the prices in the article are beatable with today's equipment, the premise is the same and the money you save in the long run ends up being a lot- trust me- I've been through it, and I spent more getting to a 1500 series Gitzo than the Gitzo was by a long shot. I've got not so sharp images from doing the wrong thing. Dramatic landscapes happen when the weather is moving in.

    More importantly, a sturdy tripod is just that- even when the legs aren't spread out fully because there's only so much room to set up. Even when there are people walking nearby. Even when there's a huge wind coming off the side. If you've got a decent camera store nearby, that stocks at least a dozen tripods, go and look for yourself. Set them up, press down on them and move around- see what materials and what sizes are and aren't sturdy- because I guarantee that if you actually test and you're honest about it pretty-much every leg set that's under $200 will be on the sucky side of the test. When you start to add in "Can I deploy this with gloves on," "what happens when I plop this down in a muddy marsh for the next five years?" and things that nature photography entails when it's not "pull over to the side of the road and snap a shot" the field narrows even more.

    I believe that you believe that the Slik is sturdy, but I gave my history because my perspective of sturdy includes a lot of landscape and nature photography with equipment that challenges the concept of sturdy. I haven't shot MF or LF in years, and likely won't again. I replaced the base of my Gitzo with a hooked one to hang a pack from it to increase stability even though I haven't needed to do so in years.

    I'm in ok, but nowhere near the best shape of my life. I'm probably older than 95% of the people here, yet, I'm the one who isn't ruling out carrying an extra 10lbs while hiking in the field. (I'm happy not to be carrying a 60lb pack, 20lbs of body armor, an M60 and wearing combat boots in 100 degree heat- 35lbs of camera gear and the ability to stop whenever I want? No worries.)
     
  12. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    Location:
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    #12
    Try Benro they have pretty light carbon fiber tripods. I have the one and it's light enough that I can bring it pretty much anywhere. Weight wise it's about little over 1KG and can support around 4KG without too much trouble(its rated for 12lb).

    I have had mine for about 2 months and taken it on a 3 day hike without feeling over burdened.

    Price wise it's cheaper than most popular name brands.
     

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