Need some tripod advice...

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May 5, 2011
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I hate asking, as this question has been asked a million times over, and beaten to a freaking pulp, but once again it is being asked...
I'm in need of a better tripod, at the moment I'm shooting with a $30 Sunpak, which just isn't going to cut it:
http://www.amazon.com/SunPak-620-080-Sunpak-Tripod/dp/B00009UT3F?tag=53361059562-20

Ok, I'll try and make this as painless as possible.

Future equipment: The heaviest equipment this new tripod will see is a large Dx body, and a 70-200 f/2.8 VR1. If I ever have the funds, or will to go Fx, I will surely upgrade tripods again then. So for now, like I said, large Dx body with a maximum lens size of a 70-200 f/2.8 VR1.

Budget: I'm actually not sure... Whatever I can get by with for the equipment I listed. In all honesty, I don't think I can possibly justify spending over $300 for a nice combo. I mean, I understand buying a nice model now to save me money/frustration later, but those recommending a $5,6,700 tripod for a person with non-professional use, and a Dx body, is just going too far in my opinion... Especially with all the talk I've seen about quality tripods having a decent resell value. Yes, if I could afford it I would buy a $1000 carbon fiber piece that will last me my entire life! But that is not the case, or is it even necessary. I'd much rather buy a decent priced, nice unit now that will last me 5 or 10 years, and replace it when it fails.

What I have in mind: Once again, no idea. There are just so many damn choices! It's like I'm looking at new lenses all over again.. except theres 10 times the choices...


If you don't want to give the same exact advice, again, I completely understand. Please just point me in the direction of a thread, or a review, that can help me out.

Thanks!

Max
 
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Jan 15, 2008
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Hi,

I won't recommend any particular brands or models, since there are a lot lot of good gear around. The one thing I'd like to point out is the manufacturer's weight ratings, which are way too optimistic. I have found out the hard way that you need to at least quadruple the figures to get adequate stability.

For example, if your gear weighs (D300 + 70-200vr) 5 lbs, get a tripod and ballhead that are rated at least 20 lbs.

I am using a Gitzo 5541 (rated 55 lbs) and an Arca-Swiss ballhead (rated 122 lbs). My heaviest gear is 9 lbs (D3x + 300vr).
 
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Hi,

I won't recommend any particular brands or models, since there are a lot lot of good gear around. The one thing I'd like to point out is the manufacturer's weight ratings, which are way too optimistic. I have found out the hard way that you need to at least quadruple the figures to get adequate stability.

For example, if your gear weighs (D300 + 70-200vr) 5 lbs, get a tripod and ballhead that are rated at least 20 lbs.

I am using a Gitzo 5541 (rated 55 lbs) and an Arca-Swiss ballhead (rated 122 lbs). My heaviest gear is 9 lbs (D3x + 300vr).

Thats some great info, thanks for the heads up. I had not even considered that aspect of tripod selection. I will make sure to keep that in mind, thank you.





After some further investigation, I've found one particular combo that people absolutely rave about (on the Canon forums anyways)! The Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs with the Manfrotto 488RC2 Midi Ball Head - $285 for the combo. Although the legs are only rated for 15 pounds...
Still a bit on the spendy side for my taste, but its a start.

Legs
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-055XPROB-Tripod-Legs-Black/dp/B000UMX7FI
Head
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-488RC2-Rapid-Connect-System/dp/B00009R6N0
 
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Thats some great info, thanks for the heads up. I had not even considered that aspect of tripod selection. I will make sure to keep that in mind, thank you.





After some further investigation, I've found one particular combo that people absolutely rave about (on the Canon forums anyways)! The Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs with the Manfrotto 488RC2 Midi Ball Head - $285 for the combo. Although the legs are only rated for 15 pounds...
Still a bit on the spendy side for my taste, but its a start.

Legs
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-055XPROB-Tripod-Legs-Black/dp/B000UMX7FI
Head
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-488RC2-Rapid-Connect-System/dp/B00009R6N0

Manfrotto are one of the most conservative when it comes to load ratings. I've got an older pair of 055 legs, rated for 17lbs - while they'll hold my 200-400 lens (about 10lbs with Camera), it's not the most stable setup, however they are much more stable than a lighter tripod I have that is rated for 22lbs, which I'd never even dream of putting a 200-400mm on.

The 055 Series should be fine with what you want to put on it. They are good legs. My issue with them was the weight - they weren't really stable enough for a telephoto setup (not an issue for you), but they were too heavy to haul around everywhere. Initially I found myself leaving them in the car. Then the hotel room. Then at home. I ended up with a 5-Series Gitzo for telephoto work, and an extremely light weight Feisol that goes just about everywhere else with me - not quite as stable, but it is light/small enough that it never gets left behind.

As for heads, in general I like Manfrotto heads, but if you are looking longer term I'd suggest looking at an Arca-Compatible head, should you ever want something like a macro rail, pano gear, gimbal set up, or even put an Arca foot on the 70-200mm and so forth. The RC2 quick release system works fine, but it ties you in to Manfrotto and Arca is much more widely supported. Maybe look at the Photo Clam heads if your budget allows? (http://reallybigcameras.com/).
 
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Fiesol and Photo Clam are a good combination. I have 055 legs and they are well made and sturdy enough for your set up and then some but as Steve says they are heavy and I leave them home most of the time in favor of the lighter combo.
 
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Weight is definitely something on my mind, and it is definitely a concern of mine when speaking about the 055X/488R combo, which come out to just under 7 pounds total. Really, that doesn't seem all that bad... my current crap-tastic tripod weighs in at 4 pounds. I can't imagine the difference in weight between the two being completely detrimental.

I would love a lighter combo, but when it comes to weight vs cost, tripods are like anything else and get more expensive as they get lighter (while retaining strength). Unless someone can recommend a lighter combo for the same cost, I can't imagine finding anything significantly lighter in the same price range.
 
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Weight is definitely something on my mind, and it is definitely a concern of mine when speaking about the 055X/488R combo, which come out to just under 7 pounds total. Really, that doesn't seem all that bad... my current crap-tastic tripod weighs in at 4 pounds. I can't imagine the difference in weight between the two being completely detrimental.

I would love a lighter combo, but when it comes to weight vs cost, tripods are like anything else and get more expensive as they get lighter (while retaining strength). Unless someone can recommend a lighter combo for the same cost, I can't imagine finding anything significantly lighter in the same price range.

It all depends how you plan to use them. I'll happily carry a 5 series with gimbal head (10+ lbs) with a big telephoto set-up a mile or more at most altitudes.

Climbing to the top of the sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park (i.e. big climb on steep sand) when you're not used to the altitude yet (park altitudes range from 8,200 to 13,600 ft), and pretty much every ounce counts... all depends on how and where you are going to use the tripod. If your not going to venture far from the car, weight of the tripod will never concern you. If you are hauling it over your shoulder all day, especially over rugged terrain and/or at altitudes you haven't acclimatised to yet, you'll really feel it.

The 055 series are a very good set of legs, many people are very happy with them. They just don't fit the way I travel/use my gear for the reasons stated above, and because of that I ended up leaving them behind more and more... others on this board will have very different experience.
 
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Cheap, Light, and Stable - pick two, you can't have all three :wink:

Every tripod is a compromise. How tall are you? Are you comfortable bending over all the time to compose? Do you have a minimum requirement when it comes to folded length? Do you prefer flip locks or twist locks?

Taking your budget into consideration, this is what I would recommend: Check out the Manfrotto (carbon fiber) 190CX3 for $269. Add the 494 mini ballhead for $69 (with quick release) and you'll have a nice lightweight rig. You'll be slightly over your $300 budget but keep in mind that this is something that you will use for many years. I've owned this combo and I can vouch for it - I used it with a D700 + 70-200 and it held up fine.
 
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Benro makes some nice tripods at reasonable prices. I have 2 - the c297ex and the c358m8. Either can effortlessly handle a 500 f4 vr. Sometimes you can find an older benro on closeout - thats what did - paud 220 for each.
 
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I own the Benro C298M8 flexpod. It is a great tripod. Very versatile and fairly light weight. I also own the Iduro CX114 flexpod that is similar but much lighter. I love them. Now I am in the process of upgrading the ball heads.
 
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One area that is frequently overlooked when looking for a tripod is height. Get a tripod that is tall enough, without extending the center column (if there is one) much or at all, so that you don't have to bend over to use it. Otherwise, get ready for lots of lower back problems from stooping down while using the tripod.
 
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One area that is frequently overlooked when looking for a tripod is height. Get a tripod that is tall enough, without extending the center column (if there is one) much or at all, so that you don't have to bend over to use it. Otherwise, get ready for lots of lower back problems from stooping down while using the tripod.

...and is capable of placing the camera on/near the ground without reversing the column if possible. Independant variable angle legs are a great advantage. I have had all 3 legs at different angles and lengths at the same time.
 
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The heaviest equipment this new tripod will see is a large Dx body, and a 70-200 f/2.8 VR1.

i've had a Manfrotto 055 with a #222 head on it for over 15 years.

buy a decent tripod and they'll last you for years. buy crap and you'll have to buy another tripod, and possibly camera+lens, before too long.
 
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I bought an older manfroto all aluminum tripod and Will be selling it eventually for a carbon fiber model, they are heavy to cary around all the time. Just another point to consider. I got mine here at a great price from a member who was upgradding. The one thing i will mention is take your height into consideration. I am rather tall at 6'6 ish and finding a tripod that went up high enough so that I didnt look like a hunchback after using it took quite a bit of research
 
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One area that is frequently overlooked when looking for a tripod is height. Get a tripod that is tall enough, without extending the center column (if there is one) much or at all, so that you don't have to bend over to use it. Otherwise, get ready for lots of lower back problems from stooping down while using the tripod.

I couldn't agree more. I was also using a $30 WalMart special. It was only like 5' high. I did a small wedding with this and almost died (I'm 6'2") I bought the Manfrotto 055XPROB with Vanguard SBH Ball Head and life is wonderful. I should never have skimped on something so important!
 
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