Best *compact* travel tripod?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Snap Happy, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. Snap Happy

    Snap Happy TPF Noob!

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    Hi all, I'm headed back to Europe (Eastern, this time), and my old crappy travel tripod isn't gonna cut it now that I have some heavier lenses --namely the Nikon 18-200mm VR.

    My old travel tripod is small enough to fit in my backpack (a must) - about 9-10" folded, but it can't handle the weight of that lens + a D70s. I'd like to find something as short as possible when folded that can. Budget I'd say is under $120. Since I'll be carrying it around for probably 16 hours a day, light weight is a priority as well. Max extended length doesn't have to be extremely tall since I mostly shoot buildings and do so from lower than eye level usually.


    I've been checking out some Slik tripods on Adorama's site, but the folded lengths are nearly 2 feet, and that's not gonna fit in my backpack! (This is key since when NOT taking pics, this backpack looks like a purse, lessening the chance that I'll be mugged for my dang camera in Slovakia - thanks for any recs!) :D
     
  2. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    Cullman has the magic 2 tripod. It looks pretty small (13.5") and can hold about 8lbs. B&H carries it. Dunno much about the brand though but with your budget teh Gitzo Traveler is way out of range. Hope that helps.
     
  3. Snap Happy

    Snap Happy TPF Noob!

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    Wow, thanks. Pricing the Cullmann around.

    Yeah, the Gitzo Traveler says it can only support about 4.4 lbs with the standard head - that's like $110+ a pound. :lol:
     
  4. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use the Cullmann Magic 2 tripod with my rangefinders all the time.

    * Wonderful design
    * lightweight
    * ball head
    * leg and center column connect to form a monopod
    * folds completely FLAT. Fits right INSIDE my messenger bag.

    BUT

    - not the most stable
    - Only for the lightest of camera+lenses.
    - Not something I would feel comfortable setting up and walking away

    As I said.. I use it for my rangefinders which tend to be relatively much smaller and lighter than SLRs.

    Small light and sturdy are very hard to find in a tripod. I would look into Gitzo mountaineer tripods but be prepared to spend some money. As with many things, light weight often means more expensive. Unfortunately, light weight is usually counter to the purpose a tripod too.
     
  5. Snap Happy

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    Yeah I basically just need something to hold the cam/lens combo I mention above, which is less than 2.5 lbs - that's my heaviest. On these trips, I tend to have to set up very quickly, compose a few shots, and go. Not really taking timed-exposure shots or anything like that. I just need something that is small but won't go collapsing with the weight (above) on it.

    Current crap tripod was an emergency buy - with that lens on it, at least one leg gives way and/or the ball head won't hold position. I have serious weight/luggage restrictions on these trips, so the lighter the better (within reason, weighing quality!). I'll be pricing that one this week, but if anyone else has any suggestions suitable for this use, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
     
  6. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    btw....

    THere's another version of the traveler that is rated for 9.9lbs.

    BUT

    lets put things into perspective. I have a lot of customers in your boat and they want light weight and packable tripods for hiking trips etc. After a little bit of discussion, I recommend a few tripods. Without a doubt one of the first responses is... "that one only supports 4lbs.. and that one supports 13lbs... but that one supports 20lbs". Then they pickup the tripod rated for 20lbs and then complain that it is heavy. You end up going into a circle and forget that sturdiness and weight are related. Tripods that provide relatively more sturdiness with relatevely less weight are going to cost big time.

    Put things into perspective.... examine your equipment and purchase accordingly... ask yourself... How much weight does the tripod need to support.

    You camera body without battery and lens is only 21oz. Thats less than 1.5 lbs. start from there...


    Me... Most of my full height tripods are heavy.. but I need them heavy. Lightweight camera equipment gets matched with the cullmann. Heavier gets matched with my aluminum Manfrotto shorty or full height 3011. Someday, i'd like to have a gitzo traveler.. but thats a lot of money.
     
  7. Snap Happy

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    Thinking like an engineer here, with that lens fully extended to 200mm, that's a sizable moment arm that would have a weak ball joint flopping in the wind. The Cullmann sounds up to the task, just seeing if there are any more recs.

    I got some damn fine shots off the $19.99 tripod, so let's be realistic. I need some more margin on weight and stability without remotely approaching the cost of my airfare.
     
  8. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    another one to look at...

    Velbon Ultra MAXi (for some reason my mind always thinks "pads" afterwards... guess advertisements work hehehe lol). Never used one but I've handled one... they are built well and pack well too.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Another advice I usually give out...

    Know your equipment before going on a trip... you'll probably want to try out ( and exchange if necessary) the tripod prior to your trip.

    Unfortunately, Cullmann doesn't specify the weight rating on the Magic 2 (mine was not specified)... I'm trying to locate where on the internet 8lbs is specified.

    Your camera + that lens is about 2.5lbs already.


    -- edit---


    http://camera.hownd.com/product-2132-cullmann-2722-magic-2.html

    They say 2.5kg which is about 5.5 lbs... my docs and most websites I've seen are unspecified...
     
  10. Snap Happy

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    Looks like various users on the web say you can get a 5 lb + load on the Cullman. Not a huge margin, but should keep it in consideration.
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    don't forget that monopods are also another option...

    On really long walking trips... I'll leave with the monopod and a couple bungee cords. You can always strap the monopod to a tree or something.
     
  12. Snap Happy

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    Yeah I've pretty much ruled those out. I don't do nature ;) Mostly shoot street scenes, urban settings, buildings, squares, etc. And I'm on vacation, so there is a high likelihood of me being tipsy.
     

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