Need a tripod, What should I buy?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Atomicfission92, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. Atomicfission92 macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2009
    Hey guys,

    I am going into NYC on Sunday to pick up a few things from B&H. And I need to pick up a tripod. I was looking at purchasing this one, Slik PRO 700DX. It seems like good value for the money. But what other ones should I look at buying? I have no problem spending the money on a good setup, but I would like to try it below $200 possibly $150 if I can on the legs and head.

    Should I be buying a Pan Head or a Ball Head?

    Thanks for all the help guys.
  2. theDUB macrumors 6502a


    Nov 15, 2008
    SLT, CA
    Manfrotto. They be the bestest.

    As for the head, it depends on your use.
  3. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    Gitzo is the number one tripod among professional and most amateur photographers.... depending upon the type of shooting one does, either a Wimberley gimbal head or a good, solid ballhead such as one made by Really Right Stuff or Markins with the Arca=Swiss design is the way to go.

    Unfortunately, all of this would be out of your stated price range.....
  4. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    I would suggest searching the forum as this has been addressed numerous times. I would also HIGHLY recommend reading Thom Hogan's article on tripod.

    "Good" tripod leg/head combos are going to *start* around $500 and up. A painful reality that most refuse to accept, learning the lesson the "hard way". A Feisol or Hakuba set of legs may save you some $$, but don't skimp on the ballhead...get a Markins, Really Right Stuff or Kirk. Maybe best to start with a high quality pan since they are less expensive than hq ballheads.

    *I* like the Gitzo gt2932 Basalt for a value set of legs. $350

    The common wisdom is: it's MUCH better to save up and do it right once...the first time...than WASTE money on the less expensive, ineffective tripods.
  5. NStocks macrumors 65816

    Apr 3, 2008
    I also heard that they were very good, however when I purchased the Manforoto 190xprob I was not impressed. It didn't seem that strong so I took it back and bought a Giottos MTL9351B and this thing is solid !

    I use it for Macro work and it's centre colum if very moveable ( more than the manfrotto stated above), because you can swing it through 180 degrees vertically...

    Never regret buying it

  6. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    I bought a cheap manfrotto (~200) and the damn thing is heavy so it rarely leaves the house. Save up, buy carbon or basalt legs, I have always regretted not saving long enough. They are solid enough (190CLB with 486RC2 head), but just too heavy. The ball head is ok, it works, it isn't the smoothest and it has a single control that unlocks all axes at the same time. For the next one, I want a head that has a separate pan lock. I like the ball over pan/tilt as for things like wildlife and airshows it is much easier to swing the camera around on the ball. For composed shots, my head is barely adequate, expect to spend a lot of time fiddling to get everything the way you want it.

    My .02 is save until can spend 5-600 or you will always regret it. (btw, used market for ~200 tripods sucks, if you buy one and want to upgrade, but it could be an option if you need something now, buy a used one for ~100 and buy a good one later).
  7. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2003
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    Benro anyone

    You might consider the brand Benro. They make clones of popular Gitzo models and are about a third of the price.
  8. iTiki macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2007
    Maui, Hawaii
    Opinions needed

    I need a tripod/head, too. I'm thinking of the Manfrotto 190XPROB with the 488RC2 ball head for my D90. The largest lens I will use will be the Nikkor 70-300. What do those with experience think of this combo for my needs? Budget is less than $300.

  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Buy a pan head. Good ball heads start at around $250. Also they are a kind of specialty head. A good pad head is not expensive. You may want both so buy the cheaper kind first. Wildlife photographers like ball heads because you can track a moving animal with one then quickly lock it with one hand and shoot. If you are doing landscapes or building interiors you want to adjust one axis at a time and work slower. Put another way $100 will buy a hyper sturdy pan head but a quite poor ball head. The ball in a good ball head is large, maybe about 2 inches and has to by very accurately machined. so that when half tightened down is will move with very even friction and not bind or slip

    Bogen/Manfroto is the best quality and rigitity for the money

    Gitzo is the best best quality and rigidity per pound

    So are you looking to save money or weight? Depends on if the tripod is going to get lugged around. If you are backpacking and have a big budget the gitzo carbon fiber is the way to go but the Bogen/Manfroto will be as strong and last forever at 1/5th the price and 3X the weight.

    Tripods have three desirable qulaities: They can be Strong, Light or Inexpensice. But you can only pick two.
  10. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    If you can manage it, take a good look at the tripod offerings by Feisol. Their tripods are made of carbon fiber and my CT-3301 weighs just 2.5 pounds while it supports 20 pounds. It costs just about $200 and as for the head I would highly recommend the Manfrotto 488RC2 as it is a good ballhead. You might consider a slightly less expensive ballhead so you can put the money towards the tripod although don't skimp too much on it.

    I personally own the Feisol CT-3301 and can vouch for it, I've used it with a Canon 40D with grip and 500mm ƒ/4L IS before and it was solid. (I used that with a Gimbal head though. As for the Manfrotto 488RC2 I've stuck the gripped 40D and 300mm ƒ/2.8L IS on it and it took that without a complaint.) I've also had the opportunity to use a few Gitzo tripods in the past and honestly felt no need to upgrade from my 3301 even with Canon's Super tele lenses.

    If you can't quite afford the Feisol tripods then take a look at Manfrotto's tripods as they should be a bit more manageable in price but still are quality products. And as for your panhead or ballhead question, I would go for a ballhead without a doubt. They are much more convenient, although it costs a bit more for a good one you'll thank yourself later.

    Also, remember that they amount your tripod weighs will dictate how much you use it. Don't go into the store and say "this one is a bit heavy, but I can manage it" after each tripod until you get to the 10+ pound ones! That's why I bought the carbon fiber tripod, because I'm much more likely to bring it along with me. The tripod doesn't help you much if it is sitting in the car.
  11. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    i have to ask, since i don't know anything about tripods, does everyone really need to spend $500+ and get one of the really sturdy tripods? unlike Thom Hogan, most of us aren't shooting wildlife in inclement conditions, and our photos don't make us money and/or aren't gonna be blown up to poster-size. i just feel like a $200 tripod should do fine.
  12. sonor macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2008
    London, UK
    I have a 488RC2 ballhead on Manfrotto 055XPROB legs and I'm pretty happy with this combination. I could have paid 5 or 6 times as much for a magnificently machined ball, but I currently don't see the need. And for me the far greater expense of carbon fibre isn't justified by the fairly minor weight reduction.
  13. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Interesting, I'm not sure about tripods but in Mountain Bike, carbon bikes are now starting to be the better choice if the mountain biker is looking for a stiff bike at a lighter weight, and in MTB, carbon bikes are stiffer or as stiff as aluminum equivalent.

    So I think carbon tripods could be stiffer then the normal alu tripods.
  14. Dan-- macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2008
    I can't believe no one has asked how you expect to be using the tripod. Are you planning on doing professional landscape photography? Are you using heavy equipment (say, a D3 with a 2.8 Tele)? Do you plan to use it in high winds? Do you require ultra-sharp photos (for example, would you consider a Nikon 18-200 to be a good lens, or a crappy consumer lens that's too soft at most apertures and focal lengths)?

    These are some issues you should consider when considering changing your budget, as many here have suggested.

    That said, I have a Slik Pro 700DX also from B&H, and am quite happy with it for my uses. My only complaints are that it's a bit heavy, and the quick release mechanism takes a little getting used to, though I think its a decent design. I like the stability, the quick releases for leg extensions, the bag, the foam around the legs, and the fact that it can get LOW. (I don't use the center column extension.) And I can use the thing as a sledge hammer or other implement of destruction if I need to :). The pan head is fine, and pretty intuitive. I have not used a ball head.

    This tripod has been used (successfully IMHO) for moon shots, indoor family shots, outdoor group shots, night lake shots. Mostly it has been used for shots in which I want to be in, so someone has to hold the dang camera. I ain't a pro, although I do have illusions of grandeur.

    I have been pleased with the results. Since you're going to B&H, pick the thing up and feel it out. The weight doesn't bother me at all for the sorts of things I use it for (which has included hiking a couple miles) but it could bother some folks.

    I can't say that I'll never upgrade it, but I can tell you that it would be way low on my priority list.

  15. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    If you will be mobile at all you'll want a carbon fiber tripod. What good is a tripod if you always leave it behind because it is too heavy? The other thing you'll have to worry about is the height. Some people want more vertical reach than others.

    I got the Velbon 630 (El Carmagne), a little over $300. I like it a lot. 3.3lbs, 64" extended height. If you remove the center rod it will go as low as about 5".

    Being so light I can carry it when hiking.

    I got the GV2 Acratech ball head. Also graphite, less than 1 lb. Great design. Made in the USA. Kind of pricey. In my case the head was more than the tripod.

    The combination is wonderful. With my old aluminum tripod I was always taking multiple shots hoping one would come out because the camera would wobble on the flexible legs. Now this is perfectly steady. I take extra shots because I want different exposures, not because I'm worried about the tripod moving. I prefer the ball head to the pan head because I have much more freedom to compose the shot. I set the legs as needed on uneven ground to stabilize the setup, then rotate the camera to get the shot. Simple and fast. A pan head would be better in certain situations, perhaps at a race track, where you have lots of left right motion you'd like to track.

    Of course, this was quite a bit more than you planned to spend. It is a dilemma. I'd go to a large, professional camera store and look over the options, pick them up, feel the weight, check the prices and find what fits for you.
  16. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    And some are not clones and are better than other brands. I bought one of their tripods over a Gitzo. Though I would get something like a Manfrotto ball head.
  17. Atomicfission92 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2009
    I was at B&H today and I picked up a few tripods to see the weight and stability. And I am glad I just didn't order the Slik PRO 700DX. That thing is a beast! :eek: Although its only 7 lbs it feels like it weighs a good 12-15. So I was talking to one of the sales people there and told them the features I wanted in a the price point I was looking for and he went behind the counter and pulled out a brand new Manfrotto model. Its not even on the Bogen/Manfrotto website from what I can tell. He set it up and let me play around with it a little bit.

    It's the Manfrotto 7302YB. (LINK HERE). For the price it seems like a very solid base to work off of, and the ball head is as solid as a rock. Plus it comes with a nice carrying bag.
  18. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    Well, that tripod will work as long as you only use it with small prime lenses...and never buy anything bigger than a Nikon D90 or Canon 50D.
    Do you really want to limit yourself to that degree?

    There will be other issues when a car goes by or the wind blows, the thing is going to sing a tune it will vibrate so much.

    Trust me, I know what's it's like to have a limited budget, but there are reasons people strongly encourage others not to skimp on tripods. Unfortunately almost everyone learns this the "hard way".
  19. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Like I said earlier, you'll want to get a light tripod so it comes along with you ;). And I'll renew my suggestion of the Feisol line of tripods, if you can add another $100 to your budget you will be many fold happier and probably won't need to buy a tripod for a long time. It is always best to spend a few dollars more now than not being happy with your tripod and having to buy another one.

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