Tripod Wishlist/Advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jeevesofRKdia, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. jeevesofRKdia macrumors member

    May 8, 2009

    I am back on the market for camera gear. Granted, I've only been shooting with a DSLR for a few months (like, 6). However, I would like to make the move and invest in a nice tripod + head.

    I've been reading the previous threads (as any good MR reader should do) and I think I've gotten it down to the Gitzo 2540. However, I'm not 100% which KIND of the 2540 I'd need.

    As for a head, I'm thinking about the Acratech GP-s. If you have a better suggestion, I'm completely open.

    To help you help me help make a good decision, here's a list of information.

    • Fits in a carry-on duffel bag
    • Can carry a T2i (perhaps a 7D or a 5D eventually)
    • Plus a 70-200mm f/2.8 (eventually. Currently a EF-S 55-250)
    • Not terribly heavy

    • Costs less than $600 (can be used) without a head
    • Carbon fiber
    • Since I'm short, I'm OK with the max height being under 60"

    I hope that I'm not being idealistic in my expectations and hope that investing once in a good tripod will end up saving me money in the long-run.

    For your viewing pleasure (or disgust if you don't like my photos), here's a link to my Flickr and you tell me if you think my photos would benefit. Granted, I want to try time-lapse shooting, so I'm getting one regardless. :D

    Thank you!
  2. munkees macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2005
    Pacific Northwest
    I have been looking at the Manfrotto 732CY M-Y Carbon Fiber Tripod for my next tripod, I have the 732YB, which is metal, light, and I found much better than my last tripods.

    the 732cy is only 2 lbs so great for humping around.
  3. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    Since you have a $600 budget, what brought you to select an $850 tripod and a $300 ball head?

  4. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    Dale, the OP's $600 "budget" seemed more like a wishlist in "niceities" and not the "Requirements" section :)

    I'm confused on your question though, jeeves. There is only one "kind" of GT5240 is there not? Barring the two models 2540 and 2541 which was a minor revision of the same tripod.

    I use a Markins M10 ballhead and I have been very satisfied with it. Handling a 70-200 is easy for almost any ballhead- the lens foot design means the weight distribution is much more balanced. In fact the 70-200 is one of the least demanding lenses to use on a ballhead (it's about the shortest/smallest/lightest lens that has a lens foot design). Your legs will matter more for that, but the Gitzo 2-series was designed to accomodate lenses up to 200mm without concern for performance.

    As an aside, can anyone tell me why the GT2541 is $200 more than the GT2531? Sure there's an extra leg section and 3 extra locking knobs, but that's nearly a 40% increase!
  5. Cliff3 macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area
    If a 70-200 f2.8 is your heaviest planned lens, then a Series 2 tripod might be overkill for your needs. You might be better off buying a Series 1, still with 4 sections since the short length will fit into carry-on luggage much more easily. If at some point in the future you move into exotic glass land by buying a 300/2.8 or larger lens (not to mention a body that will do justice to such a lens), you could purchase a tripod appropriate to that new payload.

    I've been shooting with an (G1127 - now discontinued) equivalent of the Series 1 for 8-9 years and it will handle everything up to my 300/2.8. It only gets too flexy when I add 1 or more teleconvertors to that lens.

    I would also look at Really Right Stuff and Markins ballheads. Both companies offer intermediate capacity designs.
  6. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2009
    I've been shooting with the Gitzo GT-2531 for the last couple months with a T2i, 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and 2X Extender II among other lenses... I would have gone with the 2541 if it were cheaper, but I've been very happy with the 2531 so far. For 70-200 use, the 2531 holds up great and works very well for producing razor sharp images. With the 2X extender however, I'm noticing some vibration with 15-20 MPH winds, even when the tripod is weighted down... this may be due to the 25-year old Slik panhead I'm using on top which is only rated for 5 pounds. :eek: I've been seriously contemplating the Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead as a replacement head. It looks remarkably solid and the reviews are good. I rarely see them on eBay which tells me nobody sells them after getting one.
  7. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    I have been using a Manfrotto 055XPROB with a 494RC2 ball head on it. This supports all my gear just fine, even the gripped 5DII w/ 70-200 f/2.8IS on the tripod foot. I would be hesitant to put any more weight on the small head though.

    I also wonder what attracts you to carbon fiber? Unless you plan on using it extensively on hikes or camping, I would personally put the money towards a nicer head and get a metal set of legs, or even put the extra money towards the "eventuallies" in your OP. I have never been bothered by the slight extra weight by the metal legs as opposed to CF.
  8. jeevesofRKdia thread starter macrumors member

    May 8, 2009
    Whoops! Some clarification:

    1) Thank you all for the advice. It helps.
    2) The $600 is for the tripod. The head I was just thinking about and would be a separate cost. I suppose my overall budget, therefore is around $800. Granted this does cut the 2540 out. Though I did find a nice used one for about $500...
    3) I think I will put some of the money towards my future lenses. That's probably a good idea.
    4) The 2531 is about $550 new. Given my gear requirements, I think that is a better tripod to look at.
    5) The different TYPES of the 2531: Explorer, Mountaineer, Leveling... I'm not sure what the difference is.

    I think I'll take a look at the various heads that you all are suggesting. Though, given that I underestimated the cost of the tripod itself (by kinda a lot :p), I think I'll have to look at a ballhead that costs around $200. Preferably with a QR plate or something.

    After looking at stuff, perhaps a BH-30 for the price? ($250 with all the bells and whistles)
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    The mountaineer is the "standard" flavor of tripod. Has a removable center column. The explorer model has an off-center column which can be used to mount the camera in many more positions. If you're a pretty serious macro shooter, this might be useful as you can place the camera with a lot more precision. However, the vastly off-center design of the column means it will not be nearly as stable in those configurations. So you may be compromising the key functionality of the tripod.

    The leveling model is useful if you intend on doing a lot of panos, although there are other solutions for that using a standard ballhead and a nodal rail. IMHO both the leveling and the explorer versions are pretty gimmicky and would only be useful if you were very dedicated to a very specific type of shooting.

    If you need your tripod to fit in a carry-on bag, the 2531 is going to be too long. I always put mine in my checked luggage. Honestly it's not that big a deal for me though because since I have the tripod spikes installed- it's very likely the TSA or the airline would not allow it onboard anyways. I'm too afraid to risk it, getting denied at the gate/security checkin, and then being forced to check it through unprotected.

  10. jeevesofRKdia thread starter macrumors member

    May 8, 2009
    Alright. More updates. After scouring the internet and really doing some soul-searching :)P), I've decided to look at the following:
    • Gitzo 1541T (I need to be able to stick it in a carryon)
    • Markins Q3T (so it's nice and compact)
    • QR plates for stuff
    Now the thing is that I don't know how annoying the knob QR release is and how difficult it is to get used to the detent pin being there. This is my first tripod, so I'm just trying to buy an excellent pair of legs and never have to upgrade.

  11. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    The 1 series gitzos may be a bit light for a 70-200. Probably works fine in ideal conditions but once you get a breeze or something going, you may run into trouble. These limitations are not about supporting the weight, rather having enough torsional rigidity to prevent twisting (and hence blurring of the pictures). Torsional rigidity is the basis for gitzos focal length limitations (1 series up to 100mm, 2 series up to 200mm, etc) which is IMO the best rating method. Other manufacturers mainly go by weight which has little to do with stability. Gitzo seems to be conservative with that rating but a 1 series is a pretty light tripod and honestly not that much shorter than the equivalent 2 series.

    screw vs lever clamp is like nikon vs canon. some swear by the screw release, saying it's safer (cannot accidentally unlatch the screw like you can on the lever). Others say the lever is faster/safer because you cannot tighten the lever unless the plate is seated properly, so you know you have it in right. There is no correct answer and they're probably equal in actual use as far as ease and security.


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