Tripod Advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by thebreadking, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. thebreadking macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    #1
    I was hoping you guys could give me a little advice on actual tripod models to make my decision to purchase easier. I'm currently shooting with a Canon XSi and kit lens, though obviously I need something that I can use with heavier lenses. I'm doing mostly urban landscapes, but I like to shoot whatever's interesting. However, my two constraints are these: I'm a slightly taller gentleman, at 6'2", and I'm on a fairly limited budget of ~$250 for legs and head, which I understand is pretty small beans where tripods are concerned.

    I've done research into brands, weight, and head types but I find it hard to pull the trigger without getting some outside advice first. I was looking at the Manfrotto 190xb legs and 486RC2 head, but see some discrepancy in reviews across the web. What do you guys think? If not that set, is there a better option for the money? This likely won't be the last tripod I purchase, but one to get me started and shooting for the next couple of years. Thanks for the help!
     
  2. munkees macrumors 65816

    munkees

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    #2
    I just picked up a quantary by sunpak QSX9002TM, they have different sizes, I tallest one which was over 58" was $59. They had some other brands (rtiz camera) but the sales guys said the build was poor on them, and for my camera Canon T1i he recommend the quantary by sunpak.

    would work for a guy your size, also has a monopod.
    it seem very sturdy, so far no grumbles.

    I just noticed sears carries a good selection of tripods, if you live near one might be worth while going an checking them out. just noticed they sold the one I got for $34.
     
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #3
    Wow. Talking a guy out of a ~$250 tripod for some POS $40 tripod? Never take this advice. You'll be painfully sorry.

    OP what poor reviews are you reading about that head? The legs seems just fine to me.
     
  4. Acsom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #4
    Tripods: cheap, light, sturdy... pick two. I picked cheap and sturdy, I don't carry it too far.

    I spent 3 weeks screwing around with a really cheap tripod... except $70 isn't really that cheap. It's cheap for a tripod, but it's still $70, y'know? And it was actually the second tripod; the first one was $25 wasted. So, $100 on crappy tripods before....

    Anyhow. After 3 weeks of being frustrated by the goofy 3 way knuckle movement at the top, and joint lash causing movement after all the clamps were set, I ordered the Manfrotto 055ProXB and the 488RC2. That would be a little over your budget, but not much; $165 + $115 = $280.

    The difference in build quality (from the cheapies) is substantial. Even as a starter unit, this is absolutely a quality tool, which makes the other tripod seem like a toy.

    Word to others: don't waste the first $100; either stick to hand-held, or save for the good tripod. A cheap tripod is the worst of both worlds; more difficult to use than hand-held, and not steady and stable enough to be worth the trouble.

    I use the other tripod as a light stand.
     
  5. Narcosynthesis macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2008
    #5
    I use a similar setup to your proposed one - Manfrotto 486 head on a set of Giottos legs (pretty much equivalent to the Manfrotto ones).

    I have no complaints so far, nice and tall, very sturdy, fairly light to carry and pretty adjustable to setup. It ticks all the boxes I need so gets a thumbs up here.

    It was replacing an older tripod that was lost - same Manfrotto head, but a set of older and cheaper Velbon legs - the difference is staggering between them and definitely pints int eh direction of 'pay a bit more and get a decent unit now'
     
  6. Molnies macrumors member

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    Jun 7, 2006
    Location:
    Sweden
    #6
    I really agree with Acsom, and I've got almost the same setup (Manfrotto 055ProB + 488RC2). I would also recommend this legs+head combo, it's simply amazing to work with. My heaviest lens is a Canon 100-400L and all cheaper tripods I've tried have been more hazel than help, so yeah I recommend spending the little bit of extra cash.
     
  7. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

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    #7
    I would agree that a touch more spent is a good idea however you can get a very nice combo of legs and a head unit which would support your gear in the 15-17.5lbs. area for some growth in the future. The Manfrotto 055xd units support 15 pounds and a nice head support around 17 pounds would serve you well within your budget. Here is an example but they have plenty to choose from: http://www.adorama.com/BG055XDBKB.html Nice kit with some room to grow and still in the budget. Also try B&H Photo for stuff as they have good combos and great CS.
    Good luck and enjoy what ever you decide upon.
     
  8. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    #8
    If I were you, I would save up for a while longer. I bought 190CLB legs and a 486 RC2 head as my budget was similar to yours (a few years ago). The damn thing is so heavy that it is rarely with me. Double your budget and get something that can always be with you. It may seem expensive, but it is more cost effective to have a $500 tripod that you use than a $250 one that you don't.
     
  9. JohnMC macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 5, 2006
    Location:
    Duluth, MN
    #9
    I just came back from Yellowstone National Park where I used a Manfrotto 190XB with a Vanguard SBH-100 ball head. I bought the head for ~$60 on amazon and the legs for ~$130 at B&H. I love this combo, I carried it all over and it had no problems supporting my Canon 70-200.
     
  10. thebreadking thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    #10
    Its the legs that had me worried, and in looking back its not really an issue of a bunch of negative reviews...just more like this one cross posted on various sites throughout the net. Granted, you've gotta draw the line somewhere, and his test was not entirely scientific, but it still made me second guess, y'know?

    Thanks for the good input, everyone, and the suggestions. Here's another question that I hope you can help me with: having never used a tripod before, is there any stability loss with the center column all the way extended? It seems like a necessity for me, being slightly taller, and though I don't want to have to hunch to make a shot, but I will if it means that the tripod is more sturdy for it. Advice?
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    1. It's about stability. Yesterday another photographer saw my tripod/head combo and swore he'd never carry that much weight- me, I'd have to see no resonance and have confidence that the tripod would work well not splayed all the way out (because I'll often have to compromise on positioning.) I posted my minimum weight requirements in another thread, but I'll say again, it's about stability- buy the most stability you can haul around, any compromise is going to be a compromise when you have wind, a resonant surface, water, mirror slap (especially a full-frame mirror,) or a long lens. A big stable tripod will give you sharp images in bad conditions, a smaller one may give you sharp images in good conditions. I'll take will over may any day- even if my tripod/head outweigh what some other photographer is carrying in camera/batteries and lenses alone.

    2. Extending the column negatively affects stability. I don't even have a column on my tripod, and I changed out the base plate for one with a hook so I can hang weight from it to increase stability when necessary.

    3. Extending the legs will also negatively affect stability- go as low as you can for any shot. Carry kneepads.

    4. I've never seen anything approaching a stable tripod at Ritz.
     
  12. munkees macrumors 65816

    munkees

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    Sep 3, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    #12
    you guys now how to make me feel, bad, I will be honest, I really know zippo about tripods, lenses and cameras, this week I just got my first DSLR, before that I just been with happy snappy cameras.

    After hearing all your reviews, I regret my tripod purchase, and will in the future, get something better, I am more educated after reading your guy's reviews and thoughts. I will never go back to ritzs.
     
  13. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

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    #13
    I wouldn't worry about it as at one time or another it has happened to a lot of folks. I had a cheap tripod because I spent all my money getting a D50, 50mm lens at the time and a few odds and ends leaving nill for a tripod. Three years later, tripod crapping out and some photos that were bad got me to buy once or at least try to buy once concerning a tripod and head. So the outcome is sweet but hoping to get by with a bare bones tripod cost more in the long run but boy did I learn. Always get the most you can afford or ask for gift money to help out if at all possible cause it sure does pay off :D
     
  14. Acsom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #14
    Shoot man, don't feel bad; everyone does this. I did. It's a running theme at dedicated photography forums. The inexpensive tripod really does make a good light stand later on, so it doesn't go to waste.
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #15
    My intent wasn't to make anyone feel bad, I was just stating the truth as I see it. Ritz is supposed to be a camera store, so their lack of really sturdy tripods is much more disappointing than never seeing a sturdy tripod at Walmart or Target. I've spent a lot more than you on bad tripods, so consider yourself not that bad off- after you've gone through four or five bad tripods, then totaled it all up, then spent real money on a good one- that's when you should feel bad.

    As always, the penultimate tripod article is Thom Hogan's

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

    I think a lot of us, not just Thom learned the hard way and spent the extra $500-700 getting to a good place.
     
  16. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #16
    Actually, that would be ultimate. Not sure who's got the second to the last word (i.e.: penultimate) on camera support.
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #17
    I always consider actual user reports and real-world tests to be the ultimate source of information, but Thom's article is a great overview- though the pricing is slightly dated and it doesn't necessarily discuss particular options or manufacturers.

    That is to say that while Thom's article is very good, it doesn't take into account specific models, changes in the market or specific feature changes like the specific model review linked above, so while it's the ultimate background article, I think it's secondary to an actual hands-on review by a competent reviewer.
     
  18. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #18
    This goes a little beyond the scope of the OP but keep in mind to use the full range of the tripod's height. Even though it is convenient to set up and shoot the tripod at eye level, it makes all of your shots taken from eye level and can make them boring. Make sure to use the holding power of the tripod to get your camera in positions you would not (easily) be able to get by handholding. Stability aside, getting the tripod low to the ground also opens up a lot of compositional possibilities.

    Ruahrc
     
  19. thebreadking thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    #19
    I'm glad to see this topic evolve into more than what the original post was intended, and I'm glad that I'm not the only one getting something out of it. Thom's article was one of the first that I read when I started looking for tripods. Though its not a set of rules by any means, and its pretty pie-in-the-sky when it comes to what to spend, its a great annecdote to learn by.

    I ended up ordering a set of Manfrotto 055PROXB legs and a 486RC2 head; I hope this will give me a steady base to work from for the next couple of years, and until I'm decent enough to upgrade.
     
  20. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #20
    Good choice.

    Your upgrade path is probably with a nice 190CXPRO4 set of legs (carbon fibre) and a ballhead of some kind (I have a 322RC2), or if you really need the height of the 055 series, then the carbon fibre equivalent of what you have now.
     
  21. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

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    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #21
    I think you'll be happy with this. I"m 6', and after spending some time looking around and reading reviews, I also went with the 055XPROB (but with the pan-tilt 804RC2 head, as I prefer pan-tilt heads for landscapes).

    You'll probably be able to use it at full height with the centre column raised only slightly, a much better setup than you'd be able to get with the 190 series.

    Edit: If you don't have a bag for it, the MBAG80 is a perfect fit.
     
  22. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    Feb 24, 2008
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    Over there------->
    #22
    For those of you worried about comfort with a tripod that is not at eye-height, I recommend an angle finder. I have been using one for about six months now and can't imagine using my tripod without it. The one I have is at least twenty years old, but apparently the viewfinder eyepieces on DSLRs are all standard, so the vintage angle finder slides right on there like it was made for my camera.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. caonimadebi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    #23
    I just purchased my first quality tripod, and thought that I'd mention the Bogen/Manfrotto rebate that's going on.
    I was looking into the 190XPROB+486RC2 as well, which would cost $160+75. However, Manfrotto currently has a $25 mail in rebate on that set-up (aluminum legs+head combos) and $50 rebate for CF legs+head combos. So I went ahead and bought the CF 190CXPRO3 (which is < 3lb)+486RC2 (ya i know not the best head out there but it's enough for now). Using Bing Cashback and the mail-in rebate. I got the Manfrotto CF legs and head for under $300.
    I decided on the CF legs over aluminum mainly for the significant difference in weight, and the magnesium joints which i hope are more durable. I use a Nikon D90, so it's unlikely that i'll exceed the 11lb limit even with a full setup.
     

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