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Tripod Vibrations?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scott Sherman, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. I hear the term vibrations associated with tripods and wonder why. I have a Slik 804 CF pro series. It is a 4 section very compact/lightweight tripod. I think it is rated to carry up to 12 lbs. (The predecessor of the 814) http://www.thkphoto.com/products/slik/slik-cfs2-b.html

    This should hold a D2x and a 200-400+BH40-(1lb+3lb+8lbs=12lbs) and function well. But I read that this is not a good setup for this combo because the weight will cause the legs to vibrate.

    I don't quite understand. Assuming we are not having an earthquake and the winds are not a factor, I don't see any vibration. Now at least for now this is theoretical for me as I am still waiting for my 200-400. But I do use it frequently for my D2x/70-200/TC17 with no problems.

    There are numerous threads in which folks speak of the new tripod they just bought or want and discuss how solid it is for whatever combo they are using.

    My thinking is that it is better to bring a tripod that is as close to the capacity as is possible to keep the weight/size ration of the tripod as low as possible. Before I got the Slik, I had only the Gitzo 2228. this is a great tripod and does all kinds of tricks, but it is very heavy/large (compared to the Slik). Frequently I would not carry the tripod or use it just because of the hastle or weight factor. The Slik is so light/compact, it hardly even registers and I will almost always carry it and use it when walking around with a full kit or several lenses.

    I think that any tripod (assuming it will hold the weight) is better than no tripod under most circumstances. I do use a remote trigger and if it is low light, I will use the mirror up setting, but even just pushing the shutter, I don't normally feel this vibration that others refer to. It feels perfectly still to me.

    If the vibration is caused by the mirror slap, I would be surprised. It seems that the weight of the cam/lens would offset that at normal shutter speed. (say over 1/30 sec)

    I would spend the money to buy the most expensive tripod out there if I thought it would make a difference. (I have already paid multi thousands for the equipment that sits on top of it). But i don't see that it makes that much difference and the more you spend, it seems the bigger the tripod (which goes back to the argument that a big tripod in the closet is not nearly as effective as a light tripod under the camera in the field).
  2. big tripod should be in the field, not in the closet but I understand your point.
    I think if you do a light "thump" test on your set up you will see the vibration through the viewfinder or on the image. I do not have the most expensive tripod out there by any means although i do have over 2000.00 invested in 2 Gitzo 1348 and 1548. I think it wise to exceed the capacity by a fair margin, but even though this is the most tangible method of determining that for most of us, it is probably not the real way to determine the right tripod for the job. Just my take on it Scott.
  3. nfoto

    nfoto Guest

    Tripods are not an easy number game. Many variables are involved. It is fairly easy to achieve sharp images at high shutter speeds (1/500 to 1/1000 or faster), less easy at 1/125 sec and most outfits get into real trouble below say 1/30 sec. A 300 mm lens gives more trouble than a 200 mm lens, while a 1000 mm or longer lens cannot be held safely by a majority of tripods.

    Vibrations are generated, maintained and even amplified within the entire lens/camera/tripod system. Suffices to say that a few practical tests will reveal the truth about any tripod. Tap the end of the lens and look into the viewfinder. If you can see movement and/or these aren't immediately dampened out (within less than 1 sec), you are virtually guaranteed to encounter a lower limit to the shutter speeds you can employ while still obtaining sharp images.

    With a 1200 mm lens and a high quality tripod, you can get tack sharp images at 1/2 sec. The same lens on a lesser tripod may need 1/2000 sec to give sufficiently sharp images. This is the variation range which applies to tripods. Fortunately, the price range is slightly less than this :biggrin:
  4. It seems to me that it is almost as or maybe more important to have a balanced strong mounting/attachment than to have a hefty tripod with a capacity 2 or 3x + that of the load. In other words, an Arca foot and clamp that is centered at the midpoint of the camera/lens combo (considering weight and length of cam/lens) would yield a sharper picture for example on a lightweight tripod than say a heavier tripod (greater capacity) on which the camera is screwed into the mount with a somewhat heavy lens in front or lens not mounted at the center of gravity (so weight is distributed on both sides of the mount).

    It is a given that a sturdy tripod and good attachment technique is optimum. But again the question is more aimed at; is it better to carry a lighter (less sturdy) tripod than to feel overburdened and chose to leave the great tripod behind. Or is it better to just bite the bullet and carry the heaviest (sturdiest) tripod you are capable of, even if it taxes your strength and tolerance to the limit (or beyond by the end of the day)?
  5. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Scott :

    There was another discussion on this in Can I go wrong... (later in the thread) that addressed some of the points you're asking about. As a summary, the weight of the tripod isn't intrinsically going to change the overall potential for vibration, but can be related to this.

    The issue of bigger, more robust tripods that you don't bring because they're unwieldy is a fair question to pose. However, I think Bjørn's addressed this concisely with this remark, "...you are virtually guaranteed to encounter a lower limit to the shutter speeds you can employ while still obtaining sharp images." In essence, the easier to carry tripod could limit the types of shots that you take.

    All the more reason to take up weight-lifting to support your photography (and I'm less than 1/3 joking there - it's what allows me to use heavy gear handheld and get it where I need to shoot). :wink:

    John P.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  6. nfoto

    nfoto Guest

    It is false to assume that "sturdy" implies "heavy", as far as tripods are concerned. This will entirely depend on the design of the tripod, and the materials used. All my tripods can support 20 times or more their own weight, yet the heaviest of them doesn't weigh more than 4 kg. My all-purpose travelling tripod weighs 1.8 kg, and my "flower" tripod tips the scale at 1.2 kg. Yet any of them can support a 1000 mm lens.

    I agree that carefully balancing the equipment improves performance on any tripod, but again, you need sufficient torsional rigidity to prevent horizontal movement (which is not influenced by balancing).
  7. I used to use a Gitzo 1227 - which was fine for my D70 and 70-200VR with TC17 and I never noticed any vibration at any shutter speed)

    Now that I've replaced the D70 with a D2X and all else being the same, the Gitzo 1227 is no longer enough because there was highly noticible post shutter vibration visible in the viewfinder - even with a "bean bag". I upgraded to a Gitzo 1327 and now shoot using the 0.4 second shutter delay. I'm still thinking this is not enough, because I am still seeing some blurryness in the 100% crops, even shooting at 1/250. Today I removed the TC17 and see better pictures, so I thinking the shutter-slap of the D2X sets up a resonance in the 70-200 + TC17 + D2X system. This is a work in progress.

    Next I will shoot with 70-200 + TC + D2x, but entirely in pure "mirror up" mode and wait at least 3 seconds.

    I will entertain other suggestions (even God forbid D2X focussing error)
  8. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    You've got variables, too. The wind can and does induce some level of vibration. I have a Bogen 3021 that can just handle my 4x5 view camera. If all is calm, I can do ok, and it is a light enough rig to carry. Add a breeze, and I'm in trouble and need the 3036 at almost twice the weight. Years ago, there was a big ad campaign by Reis that stated all metal tripods were very subject to vibrations from any source and the metal kept the vibrations going and even amplified them. Wood, they said, dampened out the vibrations. They were selling wood tripods, mind you, so consider the source.
  9. nfoto

    nfoto Guest

    Wood has its benefits and drawbacks used as material for a tripod. Vibrations can be quite well dampened, but weight tends to be an issue, and dimensional stability is clearly less than metal or carbon fibre. Plus, legs can break or twist when inserted into wet or muddy substrates. For underwater use (yes, I do use tripods under water!), tripods made from wood are pretty much useless. I own one wooden tripod and one monopod, never was satisfied with either.

    I think we have to consider that there is no such thing as a tripod to suit all users or needs.
  10. Thank you for your contributions everyone. I will post this question for any one of our resident experts. Knowing what you know now, if money were not an issue, what tripod would you buy first or consider buying first in this scenerio;

    qualifying statement:
    I ask this knowing that there are many options and no one is neccessarily the best. I am just curious if anyone would care to offer a suggestion as to what they think might be the best for me (and probably others like me who will read this and have the same question). I just want to know the lightest most compact tripod that will still be portable enough to carry and be steady enough to do the job well. I know that many of you have aquired a variety of pods and some fairly recently. I would like to tap some of this aquired experience that is available here. If you over did on a previous purchase on a carry around tripod, and would not mind sharing or if you under did it and wish you would have gone with a "better or sturdier" pod and would not mind sharing so we could benefit, that would be very appreciated. Who among us has not done at least one of these things?

    I will use myself as an example because, from what I have seen, I am somewhat average for many on this forum dealing with this issue. (Not to ignore you young healthy guys and gals, but if you can still carry 40 lbs of equipment up a mountain side or on an all day hike without tiring, this is probably not a question you are considering, so this is probably not an issue for you). I am Sixtyish years old, okay shape (for the years on the chassy) (a bit of arthritis, a bit of extra weather insulation (euphamism for, well... you know) let's say, not running any marathons, about 5'10" tall. To be used for a D2x w/ 200-400 (occassionally with TC17). Actually, in the city it might be more common to use the 70-200/TC17/D2X, but should be able to handle the big gun also for all the other times.

    But in addition to using this/these setups on a tripod in my travels, I will also carry in addition to the pod and long lens setup, two or three other medium teles and/or wide lenses and related stuff, ie; batteries, digital wallet etc. To be used mostley in suburban day long trekes with a wife in tow (who who refuses to carry), I would probably be living out of a hotel for several days or more typically when I need this tripod, so I tend to want to carry as much as possible, usually too much, in addition to the tripod.

    Can you relate?
  11. This reader will be very interested in the answers.
  12. Wow, that's impressive - which are the 1.8 and 1.2kg tripods, Bjorn?

  13. nfoto

    nfoto Guest

    Cut-down Sachtlers. The first approach to having lighter yet sturdy tripods for hikes is to realise you can't stand upright all the time. So having a ultralight camp stool (those collapsible constructions) on top of the backpack gives the appropriate foundation for a nice working position. For work on details or flowers and suchlike, you sprawl on the ground anyway.
  14. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;

  15. Thanks. I'm not sure I'd have the courage to hack my tripods like that though :eek: 

  16. Let me say right off that we, the members of NC, are very very lucky and privilaged to have Bjorn as a member especially as he is so willing to let us have the benefit of his expertise. I for one value all that he says very highly and I found his answers on this thread very constructive and informative.

    I have had some success and some failures with tripods. Slik are good and many moons age, 1970s,I had one of the biggest they made. I then swopped this in 1979 for a BENBO. What a tripod this was, but phew, what a weight. Back then I was very fit and carried it for miles and miles and it really did me proud, but one day it let me down very very badly. But then again it could have been my lack of knowledge.I was shown one of the only sites for an extremely rare flower but very small flower. In fact tiny. It was in somewhat marshy ground, so I set up my Leica R4 and 60mm macro plus X2 converter and I rolled off 36 pictures at a very slow speed and small aperature. 14 days later they came back from Kodak and all except one was blurred. Mirror slap or something else had occurred. Never had the opportunuity to take it again.

    I now have a carbon fibre 441 Manfrotto/Bogen tripod and 460 head, and have never had any problem at any focal length or at any speed with this equipment.

    BW. Bob F.
  17. If I'm not hiking I prefer a big tripod (overkill). I see a lot of bird photography done within a few feet of the photogs car. I had a 600mm f/4.0 lens (about 13#) quickly tilt forward and my big wide legged gitzo 410 kept it from falling into Reelfoot lake. This had nothing to do with vibration. Just thought I would throw out another factor. I want my tripod to safely support my equipment. If I specialized in birds, I would want a Wimberley head, but I wanted one head for multiple uses: 617 pano landscapes, wildlife, closeups, fine art. I use Arca Swiss style quick release and L-brackets on my camera bodies. There are a lot of right answers, but here's what I use right now.

    My current preferences:

    'Heavy(big but not really heavy)': Gitzo 1548 w/ center column and Arca Swiss B1G

    'Light': Hakuba HG-503MX w/ Acratech head (3+#) This setup can support a big lens if you're careful.

    Note: The head and platform size is very important in terms of support and vibration. In special situations, like when using a 2x on a 500mm lens photographing bears, I might use a Bogen brace between a tripod leg and my camera, essentially making a 4-pod. This can greatly reduce vibration.
  18. Okay, I have been doing some research and this is what I came up with for the best support for long lens (200-400 + TC17) config on a D2x for me. If I were just starting out, this is probably what I would have picked up. Alas... I am in the process of retrofitting my kit. I actually did not think originlly that I would want a long lens. (my bad... I should have known).

    gitzo 1348 (for it's 65.7" height) instead of the 1325 which is only 58". Don't need the leveling head as I already have the RRS leveling head for pano work.

    Wimberly has a new setup that is coming out mid January (see it here)


    It's a pound lighter a bit more streamlined in design and according to Wimberly it is improved over the current offering.

    I am currently using the Gitzo 2228 and Arca Swiss B1 which is a very nice setup and much more versatile since it will manipulate to any angle or configuration you can think of. I have not received my 200-400 yet, but when it arrives on Friday, I will be testing it out on this setup. I assume that the 200-400 will be too heavy for these legs, although the legs are rated at 16 lbs (from memory).

    I still have the RRS BH40 and the Slik 804CF Pro for my lighter stuff, 70-200 etc. So if I get the Wimberly head, I won't need a B1 and hopefully can sell it and possibly the 2228 to offset some of the cost. I sort of hope that the 2228 will support the D2x + 200-400 + TC17. If it does, I may just keep the 2228/B1 and put on a sidekick. This will allow me a much more versatile setup for macro, and odd terrain setups. I mostly prefer scenic photography and so far I don't really do much bird stuff, (of course that could change now that I am starting to use longer lenses).

    Comments or thoughts appreciated.
  19. Scott, I used a Sidekick for over a year, after seeing the setup that Ron R. used. At the time I had it mounted an a Kirk BH-3 and over time this became a bit of an issue as the whole thing was not able to lock down tight enough for an "over the shoulder" carry. I used this with a 500mm f4.5 Sigma, about the same weight and size as the Nikon, on a D2H. Great setup, worked much better than trying to mount the longer lens directly to the ballhead. What I found with a mount on the ballhead was that often as I was following a bird if I was in the right orientation the head would drop into the vertical slot. I keep the tripod collar loose so that I can attempt to maintain something of a level horizon. The other problem with mounting directly to the ballhead is that you have to keep a hand on the camera, you don't have as much option to balance the combo. As to the Gimbals, I like the new design of the Wimberly, looks better and being 1lb. lighter it is a good thing. I, personally, have a Jobu Black Widow. One of the things I like about the Jobu is that you can buy it as a "sidemount", like the Sidekick which is what I currently have, or you can add the horizontal piece which makes it work like the Wimberly.

    I will tell you that I found a huge difference in following moving objects with the gimbal type heads. It is not too difficult following things that move in 2 directions, deer for example, off a ballhead but when you add in the vertical aspect the gimbal really helps.
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