Looking for Tripod Reccomendations

Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
3,185
Location
Westchester County, NY
Since you mentioned that you are buying used, if you find a Gitzo, be sure to check out one thing about the twist locks. As Alvin pointed out, the ability to unlock multiple leg sections with one twist is very valuable. The old Gitzo's required that you unlock/lock each leg segment independently. This is way slower than the lever locks used in Manfrotto (Bogen). The problem though with lever locks is that always loosen over time (almost always at the wrong time) and you need a wrench to tighten it. And, again as someone above noted, the lever locks always seem to snag something.

The more recent Gitzos have some sort of clutch mechanism that allows you to grab 2 or 3 locks at the same time and twist allowing you open/lock much more quickly. So if you look for a used Gitzo, I recommend that you get one with the ability to twist more than one knob together.

And as you might imagine, I much prefer twist locks over levers. As for the head - agree that you need to buy a good one so as not to have to buy another when you discover that the weight rating is less in the real world than it says in the promotional ads. Remember that a head that will support your current rig may not be useable if you buy something larger like an 80-400, etc.

And lastly - I strongly recommend that you do not buy a Manfrotto head, not because they are bad heads, but because it uses a proprietary QR system rather than the ubiquitous Arca Swiss style clamp.
 
Joined
May 11, 2006
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Randy
my 3541 does d800 + 24-120 on a bh55 and it does my D4+500/4, I only bought the 0 for hiking and my big gitzo is FS
My point is buy 1 great tripod vs 2 or 3 great ones.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
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Redwood City, CA
From my experiences a 2 series from RRS or Gitzo with a good head should handle anything other than extremely long exposures or really massive lenses (more than a 200-500VR) and still be very portable. My Gitzo 2 with Arca Swiss Z1 weighs just over 4 pounds and has been capable of anything I've asked of it.
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
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N Idaho
I like RRS, I call them and talk to a person. I've called them a couple of times and the owner has answered the phone, everyone I've talked to seems to be a photographer. Years ago I had a Gitzo, forget which model. A screw fell out of it, I called Gitzo to get a new screw. It took a month of almost daily calls/emails to get the screw - when it came I replaced it and sold it. At that time their service was in New Jersey and the person I was dealing with was a real jerk. I've heard they got bought by someone (Manfrotto?) and moved the service group to Arizona. I not had any dealings with them and I hope that person I was dealing with in NJ didn't move with them.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
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UK
FWIW I believe that Manfrotto and Gitzo are owned by the Vitec group which is a UK company and they are distributed in many parts of the world by Manfrotto Distribution including the US and the UK.

Manfrotto is italian origin. Gitzo is of French origin. I believe both are now manufactured in Italy possibly at the same plant but I do not know for sure.

How good your local supplier is for spares and repairs may have some influence on your decision. Many years ago I had a Gitzo Studex (French made) suitable for 10x8 camera. I was given this in lieu of money owed but unfortunately it had some problems with the legs and collars - I tried for quite some time to get spares in the end giving up and consigning the tripod to landfill. I hasten to add that this was before the Web but it did, at that time colour my view on what I would buy in the future.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
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Location
Redwood City, CA
FWIW I believe that Manfrotto and Gitzo are owned by the Vitec group which is a UK company and they are distributed in many parts of the world by Manfrotto Distribution including the US and the UK.

Manfrotto is italian origin. Gitzo is of French origin. I believe both are now manufactured in Italy possibly at the same plant but I do not know for sure.

How good your local supplier is for spares and repairs may have some influence on your decision. Many years ago I had a Gitzo Studex (French made) suitable for 10x8 camera. I was given this in lieu of money owed but unfortunately it had some problems with the legs and collars - I tried for quite some time to get spares in the end giving up and consigning the tripod to landfill. I hasten to add that this was before the Web but it did, at that time colour my view on what I would buy in the future.
I have an aluminum studex from the late 60's-early 70's and when the rubber on the legs dried out by the early'90s, I brought it into a local store that carried Gitzo and they replaced the nine pieces of rubber for me on the spot. Everything still works as new - the geared column and all.
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
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Kalamazoo, MI
I'm sorry, I didn't realize that there had been so many responses, notifications weren't on! Oops!!

I shoot with a D700 most of the time. My large glass is the 70-200 VR II. So 4 1/2 to 5-ish pounds of camera and lens. I also use the 24-70, which is a little lighter, but not much.

I need something that is somewhat compact. I've only ever had the tilt and pan tripods though the ball heads look very interesting.

I tend to haul the camera with me a lot, so able to withstand bumps and bruises is essential. Especially with two kids under three to trip over - and get into my stuff. All. The. Time.

I'll go take a look at that article. Thanks!
It's tough to have a support rig that is truly well damped for long exposures with the gear you listed. I'd want at least a 2-series set of legs from Gitzo, or a 1-series from RRS. The 2-series vs. 3-series leg sets from Gitzo don't have much of a weight difference unless things have changed in the last few years, but you gain significant stability, so just go for the 3-series.

Going the used route, I'd get a 3-series set of legs from Gitzo. Like Randy I have a 3541LS (systematic, comes without a center column, but has an interchangeable center to add a column or video bowl). I always hated the build of the spider, so I purchased a Markins TH-300 to replace it, which is awesome. It's lighter, more sturdy, and less bulky. They periodically come back in stock, and you can mate many different Gitzo leg sets to the tripod hub as listed on the Markins website. Just make sure you get legs with the G-locks.

Going the new route, I'd get the RRS TQC-14. It should be fine with your gear, and is much more compact, but also more expensive.

You'll also need a proper ballhead. Most people use heads with Arca-Swiss compatible clamps. Screw knob clamps are cheaper, lever release clamps are pricier and more finicky in terms of how well they accept plates/brackets made by different companies. In your use case I'd consider the RRS BH-40, Markins M-10, or other ballhead with a diameter of around 40mm for smooth motion. Smaller ballheads are more challenging to use with bigger gear sitting on them to get accurate framing.

Lastly you'll then need either a plate or L-bracket for your camera, and a dedicated plate for the foot of your 70-200 lens. RRS is the Cadillac, or you can go Kirk, Hejnar, Sunwayfoto, Neewer in order of descending price. I tend to go cheaper on the plates and brackets to save money, as you need a new one any time you change cameras or long lenses. The tripod and head, properly cared for, will last at least a decade .
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2008
Messages
259
Location
CH
Thom's article is 100% accurate. Buy cheap buy twice! To save money on tripods buy a good expensive one. And the same for a good head.

I went on a one week photo excursion with my rarely used Manfrotto Carbon fibre 3 section twist to open tripod plus a brand new Sirui ballhead that was rated to 20Kg. I should have taken my older Manfrotto ball head. The Sirui with its two twist to lock screws for the ball, took multiple alternating turns of both screws to secure a body+lens combo of about 3.5Kg in portrait mode. And it still slipped. I came back and bought the Arca-Swiss P0. Wonderful, simple, secure and fast to use. I have also ordered the RRS L Plate for my main camera and an Arca Swiss universal L plate for other cameras I use. The ability to have the camera still over the head is inherently more stable than a ball head that goes 90 deg to the side.

The tripod was fine though. Less expensive than the Gitzo but also less sturdy. A colleague had the RRS tripod with him which was huge but he had no problem with 8 min exposures by the beach. I only did 60 sec exposures as I did not trust it to go that long. If and when this tripod breaks, I will buy a Gitzo or RRS. I admit to not liking levers on the legs and prefer twist locks.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
15,253
Location
Marysville, WA
Just a couple of added comments, you have gotten enough info on the tripods to last you a lifetime. The one bit of advice on the tripod, carry a bag to hang extra weight off the bottom for added stability.

On the head issue, my personal favorite for utility and weight is Acratech. Give them a call, they often have used or factory seconds for sale, which can save quite a bit. Simple as all heck to use, and you pound nails with these suckers if you need to.

For reference, I use a Gitzo 3531, Jobu Pro Gimbal, to support a D500 with a 600mm f4. When I go "shorter" I swap out to an Acratech ball head.
 
Joined
May 11, 2006
Messages
42,051
Location
CHARLOTTE
Real Name
Randy
My Gitzo 1325 and RRS 55 were over built when I first got them, but now I'm glad to have a solid, rock-steady platform for my 200-500.
The 1325 was the 1st great tripod
The bh55 continues to be an amazing ball head.

RRS has probably passed Gitzo in features and maybe even quality but they are expensive. If I didn't have 3 Gitzo-s that appear to last forever I'd go RRS
 
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