Tripod buying advice

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

  1. ThunderRobot macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    Aug 10, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    #1
    Hi – I’m looking for some hopefully helpful buying advice. I’m posting this in the digital photography forum because I suspect that where the most useful advice will come from.

    I’ve tried to do a lot of research, but I’m finding it difficult to find out much about tripods.

    I want a tripod which will last me many years, be lightweight (ish) to carry, able to comfortably hold my Canon 50D at 822 g (1.8 lb) and at least my 18-200mm lens at 600 g (21.2 oz).

    I know I want a quick release system on the head (with a plate which isn't too big or makes the camera uncomfortable to hold when not mounted on the tripod) and based on what I’ve read would like the tripod to come pretty close to my eye level without raising the centre column (I’m 6”2’).

    I don’t know whether I’m best looking a tripod with a built-in head or get a legs and head kit. If the kit do I go for a pan and tilt head or a ball head? Or something else. I think I’d like the head to have a spirit-level but I’ve read some are obscured by the camera body.

    In the main if I’m using the tripod I’ll be taking architectural and landscape shots, probably in dim lighting. I also want to try some experiments with lighting effects at night, like the cliched but fun cars travelling on a road.

    Budget - Ideally I'm looking at no more than £200 GBP. However, I want to get this purchase right and have a tripod which will be with me for the best part of forever so will spend more on the right unit.

    All input is welcomed as this is the one area I’ve not been able to find much about and my local shop (Jessops for UK users) was quite frankly, useless. They wanted me to buy their kit and get out as quickly as possible it seems.

    If the advice I get was as good as the advice I got from posters when purchasing a lens, I'll be a very happy man.
     
  2. numbersyx macrumors 65816

    numbersyx

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2006
    #2
    Look for a Gitzo or Manfrotto Tripod. Go to their websites and check out what you see. The one piece of advice that you will get from me and most others on this thread will be: DONT GO CHEAP on the tripod! A well made tripod from one of those two manufacturers will last you for life. And this piece of equipment is one of the most important you can get.
     
  3. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816

    Mr.Noisy

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    May 5, 2007
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    UK™
    #3
    Another vote for Manfrotto, dont get a tripod with the twist/screw locking legs, when buying a tripod you need to see what load the tripod can hold, but you also need to see what weight the head can hold too plus consider the weight of your future camera + lenses, will they be heavier than your present set up ;)

    If your in the UK (u mention £200 GBP) try Bristol Cameras, I use these people 99% of the time, the other 1% i use microglobe.

    I'm 6'2" also and find Manfrotto comfortable to use,

    Manfrotto heads are nice, the quick release systems are good, work great but your best option is a pan & tilt head but at the end of the day it's you making the final choice, there are a few places that do kit's but use the internet to research heads, plus get along to a shop that sells the stuff and try it out, then order online :eek:

    From what the OP describes it sounds like Manfrotto is the way to go
     
  4. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #4
  5. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    #5
    Thanks for the replies so far - and Cliff3 for the link to the article. Manfrotto and Gitzo both look like the kind of manufacturers I'm looking for. Now I need to try and get my heads around their product ranges.

    Sadly there doesn't appear to be anywhere local that will allow me to get hands-on with the kit which means I'm dependent on the interwebs for information and feedback, which is really frustrating when looking for a tripod with no tripod knowledge or experiance!
     
  6. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #6
    I want to STRONGLY second CLiff3's recommendation to read Thom Hogan's article on tripods. OP...it will save you a lot of money....in the long run.

    With tripods, my experience is do it right from the start or you're just wasting money.

    The Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 legs would be the lowest end I would recommend ($260). Supports 11 lbs, which is good for lenses up to 70-200 zooms.

    Just got a Gitzo GT2932 for my girlfriend. Awesome value. ($350.)

    Now you need a head....Markins M10. ($340) For my girlfriend, I found a used M20 for less than a M10 so went with it, but it really is overkill for my girlfriend. It's what I use too. Kirk and RRS (Really Right Stuff) make great products too.

    At a recent Nikonians shoot....out of 25 people, 21 were using Markins. Hint.

    Next up, a plate for your camera. Kirk or RRS. I highly recommend a "L bracket" for easy switches between landscape and portrait framing. ($130.)

    As you can see, I've basically doubled your budget. Sorry, but again...it will save you money in the long run and I'm speaking from experience! A $300-400 tripod will only work well in *ideal* conditions...if you're lucky! How often do you find ideal conditions??? Rarely in my experience. Street shooting? Legs (aluminum) will resonate from car traffic, etc. as just one example.

    Make a good, long term investment and you'll be happy.
     
  7. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    #7
    Love the advice and the budget was mentioned purely as guide. I've no problem in spending more - as long as I know I'm getting value for money and the kit will last me for years to come. I'm an advocate of looking at the price of a produce over the lifetime of it.

    Unfortunately (for me) this is an area where I have little knowledge, but as with every request I've made on these forums, help is quick in forthcoming.

    Further question: Many tripod manufacturers give details like max-height. As an example the Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 mentioned below have a max height of 146cm. Is this height generally before or after the centre column is extended?

     
  8. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    SF Bay Area
    #8
    While you may not be doing business with B&H, their site is still a useful resource. This page indicates that the base height is 122cm and the extended height is 146cm. It looks like the Manfrotto site has that info too, but it's obfuscated a bit through the use of icons rather than text.
     
  9. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    #9
    Thank you. I found the manfrotto site slightly confusing in general and never thought of checking a site I couldn't buy from. Rookie mistake.
     
  10. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    #10
    From Manfrotto's web site, I was able to download a PDF brocure of every tripod they make, and they have the specs of all of the tripods (tripod weight, tripod capacity, max height, min height, etc) all lined up for easy comparison for all of the models. It's how I was able to select the tripod that was right for me. Look for their downloadable PDF brocure that includes the specs on all of the tripods they make.
     
  11. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    #11
    Great tip. For others the Manfrotto link and Gitzo link.

     
  12. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

    Joined:
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    #12
    Having looked at the Markins M10 (which looks excellent) can you explain why the L bracket is benficial?

    It looks to me like the M10 allows very easy manipulation of the camera allowing a switch from landscape to portrait without such a bracket.

    [​IMG]

    However, as I said, my knowledge in this area is less than limited so will be happy to be told otherwise.

    In the meantime I'm probably looking at

    Manfrotto 190CXPro4 - £205 (warehouseexpress.com)
    Markins M10 - £298 (photoproshop.com)
    Markins P50D plate - £48 (photoproshop.com)

    Total £551

    Which is well over double what I originally considered. As I said the cost doesn't really upset me - if I'm getting value for money and the kit will last so I'd like some feedback on those choices please. Also, if there's anywhere better than the above named sources I'd love to hear from people.

    Thanks.
     
  13. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #13
    It is easier to change the orientation of the camera than it is to change the position of the ball head and re-level it. Also, you might be using an accessory (such as the pano clamp in this photo) that would not work when the head is dropped into the notch.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2003
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    #14
    Does anyone have recommendations for the kind of $75 tripod Thom Hogan has so much disdain for? I'm just playing around with photography, and I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars. What's a step up from the really cheap stuff they have at Best Buy?
     
  15. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816

    Mr.Noisy

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    #15
    Take a look at bristol cameras prices:
    Manfrotto 190CX3 carbon fibre tripod £145
    Manfrotto 460mg Magnesium 3d head £55
    total kit = £200

    personally ive used the Manfrotto 055XB (£95) for a while now with a D70s, D300 and a D2Xs and i'm happy with it.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #16
    I'll just say that my experiences have been different. I've been through about five or six Bogen/Manfrotto QR systems in the last 25 or so years, and none of them have lasted more than about a year (the old tombstone ones were the best, especially after they switched from cork to rubber.) Once I switched to an Arca-Swiss style QR system (with screw stops in them,) I haven't had to replace a single plate. I could have saved a lot of money by just going with an Arca-Swiss style plate up front.
     
  17. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    Glasgow, Scotland
    #17
    Bristol cameras will definately save me some cash on the legs - good shout Mr Noisy.

    But I've now got a real dilemma over the head.

    The Manfrotto head seems pretty decent. The Markins is undoubtedly better but at 4 times the price.

    I'm a hobbyist - not a pro. Will the Markins make that much difference to me really?

    Arrghhh. I wish there was somewhere locally I could sample them.
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #18
    You'll only buy the Markins once. I'm not sure about that particular Manfrotto, but I'll say that I've yet to have a head that was under USD$225 last me more than a couple of years- but most of my later purchases were ball heads and the occasional pan/tilt and one gimbal. I do find a ball head much easier to work with than anything other than a properly balanced gimbal head though.
     
  19. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #19
    Yes..it will. Markins M10 rocks in terms of stability(!), weight/load ratio, ease of use, etc, etc. It will last you, with good care....a LONG time.

    Good set up...smart choices! Enjoy!
     
  20. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    #20
    Having put a fair amount of work, reading and research into this I'm ready to make my order. I'll be going for

    Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 - £205 (Bristol Cameras)
    Markins M10 - €357.92 [£298 approx] (photoproshop.com)
    Markins P50D plate - €56.62 [£48 approx] (photoproshop.com)

    After spending a bit of time with the Manfrotto PDF I've changed my choice to the 055CXPRO3. This is because it reaches 140cm without the centre column extended but remains a managable 65cm closed. It also has the Q90 system, the leveling bubble and is made of carbon fiber. It only weighs 1.65kg but will take up to 8kg.

    The 190CXPRO3 I was looking at is lighter (1.29kg) but has a lighter load (5kg) and only reaches 120cm without the centre column extended.

    I'm placing this order later today so if there's any last minute input, please feel free to weigh in.
     
  21. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    #21
    Now Ordered!

    [​IMG]

    (Not my original pictures obviously)

    Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fibre Tripod
    Markins Q-Ball M10-L Head
    Markins P-50D QR Plate
    Manfrotto 80cm Padded Tripod Bag (MBAG80P)

    Ordered today. Legs and bag should arrive Tuesday :D, but I probably won't receive the head and plate for about 10 days or so :(
     
  22. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    Glasgow, Scotland
    #22
    Finally received all of the kit today - almost a full month after I ordered it.

    For those who may have ever been tempted to cheap out on support, all I can say is - don't.

    The build quality and action, of the legs and head are outstanding.

    The legs feel strong, sturdy and very capable. They reach a great height allowing me to use the tripod extended (without extending the centre column) without hunching (I'm 6"2') but can also go almost flat to the floor if needed.

    The Q-M10 head - well it's stunning. Mounting my 50D with the 18-200mm lens and it feels solid as hell, but with just a twist will go anywhere I want.

    I am delighted with this kit and would happily recommend it to anyone thinking of investing in a good support system.
     
  23. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #23
    Perhaps you didn't need the carbon fibre version. The 190XProB is far cheaper, still be rather lightweight (although not as much so as the carbon fibre version), and just as good in terms of functionality.

    For landscape and photography, a tripod that's slightly heavier isn't necessarily bad if you're not going to be carrying it for long periods of time. A Manfrotto 055 version, which is heavier than the one you purchased, would have been OK for you. I have the regular 190XProB and don't miss not having the carbon fiber version. Heavier tripods with thicker legs are beneficial for photography because they're more stable, particularly when it's windy outside or you're on ground that vibrates a bit (standing on a bridge watching cars pass by).


    Anyway, did you have to buy the tripod bag? :confused:
     
  24. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #24
    Especially at a cost of $80 (B&H). I just use a sling strap from Optech when I go hiking, and I bought a big Tenba bag for $30 to hold all my support gear together (several lightstands, umbrellas, tripod, monopod).
     
  25. ThunderRobot thread starter macrumors regular

    ThunderRobot

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    Glasgow, Scotland
    #25
    And where were you when I posted the original thread asking for advice? ;)

    Having received the tripod and used it a little - it's fantastic. I'm delighted and can't imagine it not doing everything I want it to.

    I don't know. I like all of my kit to have a home for storage and carrying purposes. Apart from anything it was exceptionally inexpensive - almost free - as a token of gratitude for accepting a long delay with the order.
     

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