Tripod Setup

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by baby duck monge, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #1
    Having broken the 30-year-old tripod I had been using, I have finally decided that it's time to think about replacing it. I am going down the path of separate heads and legs, but don't want to break the bank (and we all know how easy that can be when it comes to camera support). I intend to use the tripod for: macro photography, night/long exposure photography (I have a remote), and limited landscape-type photography. I am also considering trying my hand at sports-type photography, portraits, and panoramas (which I have been doing small amounts of now, handheld, with surprisingly satisfactory results).

    Because of the variety of shooting I do, and my possible interest in moving into the photographing of moving objects (as in sports), I thought I might want to go for a ball head. After doing some looking, I thought that perhaps the Bogen 488rc2 would serve me well. I also understand that it has a separate adjustment for panning, so I can move laterally without losing my frame. And luck of lucks, I can get this for about $105 from Adorama.

    For legs, I was thinking that I might go with the Bogen 3021Pro. The 3021 line seems to be well-regarded, and the ability to rotate the center column (as well as the low minimum height) sound like they would be very helpful for my macro shooting. I have found this for about $170 on Amazon, but may be able to find it less somewhere else (I haven't really looked).

    My current camera is an Olympus E-500, and my largest lens is a 40-150mm. I'm strongly considering switching to Canon sometime in the future. If I did that, I would probably move to either an XTi or 40D (depending on how far in the future we're talking). I don't anticipate having any lenses that are much larger unless I really decide I love shooting sports (right now I can get right next to anything I would be shooting sports-wise, so the lens length shouldn't be a problem).

    Any feedback on the legs or head? Any concerns with those parts and my current/proposed setup? Any suggestions for alternative components? Any place with a lower price? I could go more expensive, but would prefer not to if I don't have to (and would have to wait a bit longer to buy).

    Thanks!
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #2
    I think the 3021 legs are bad for a 300/2.8, which is the main sports lens. So if you're at all going to go that way, I'd suggest heavier legs. As far as ball heads, I'd really advise getting a heavy one that won't start slipping early, and all the cheap ones seem to lose it pretty quickly- though I shoot with longer/heavier lenses so that probably speeds things up. The Acratech Ultimate is probably about as far down as I'd go if it were my money, and a Kirk BH-1 or BH-2 would be pretty high on my list. Benro and one of the other knock-off companies make some pretty good lower-priced stuff.
     
  3. baby duck monge thread starter macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #3
    As for the 300/2.8, that's a $5000+ lens. That's so far in my future as to be moot. I also doubt that my sports photography will extend any further than 1.5 years of inter-murals as I wrap up law school.

    Do you have any experience with the 488rc2? All the reviews I saw were very positive, and no one mentioned anything about slipping. I will look into the three you mentioned, though.
     
  4. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #4
    I don't have direct experience, but every ball head I've bought that cost $190 or less has lasted less than 18 months before it wouldn't lock down tightly anymore. I agree with Thom Hogan's tripod advice...
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    There are no good and inexpensive ball heads. For most of what you say you will be shooting you want a pan/tilt head. Get one of those and it will be much sturdier, easier to use and less expansive. For landscapes and macros I like to be able to adjust each axises one at a time. Those subjects can wait while I fine tune the framing. Ball heads are for fast action and long lenses. The way I figure it is if you can afford that 400mm f/2.8 lens and the travel to Africa you can spend the extra $500 for a good ball head but with the bigger lens and ball head you might be looking at the 32xx series legs Put off buying the ball head until you really do need it and then don't go cheap.

    Buy a monopod for sports. Much cheaper then a ball head and makes the system more portable too.

    You never want to really take you hands off a camera mounted to a ball head, and certainly never walk away and leave it. Not unless it is one of the Acra Swiss units that you can really trust.

    I use the 322xx legs with a large pan/tilt head (#47? Its the one with the hex QR plate) it is overkill for my Nikon system. I bought it for a medium format camera but I'm glad to have it. For field macros I will many times invert the center column the use the camera either upside down or I also have Bogen's "3d head" that allows right side up camera on inverted center column. Both the #47 and 3D are not expensive, cheap enough that you can have both and a monopod with the money saved from not buying the ball head..
    I do use the built-in bubble level on the #47. It's handy. I used to always carry a small 6" carpenter's level. You do need a level for those landscape and panoramas

    If you do go for the lighter tripod you can always weight it. Suspend a weight (big rock in a bag, water jug,...) and the legs will be firmly pushed into the ground
     
  6. baby duck monge thread starter macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #6
    Fair enough. It just seemed that the vast number of people out there were recommending ball heads instead of pan/tilt.

    If I wanted to look in to pan/tilt heads, do you have any suggestions for which one(s) I might want to check into?
     
  7. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #7
    I use a Gitzo 1325 with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead for my shorter lenses and for macro work. For shooting birds and wildlife I use a Gitzo 1325 and a Wimberley II gimbal head. For the long, heavy lenses (300mm f/2.8 and longer), IMHO a gimbal head is better than a ballhead. I've never tried a pan-and-tilt head. I have a Wimberley C-10 clamp on my monopod for quick release so that I can use my camera bodies and all of my lenses on there as well.

    The Really Right Stuff BH-55 is a very nice ballhead and I have been quite satisfied with it. Check out their website at http://www.reallyrightstuff.com.
     
  8. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #9
    I've been wondering about Adorama's carbon-fiber knock-off tripods - the specs sound like they're modeled after Gitzo's.

    When I (eventually) can afford to buy a decent tripod, I'm 99.9% sure I'm going to put one of the Acratech ballheads on it.
     

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