Tripod + head suggestions for hiker

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by dakkon76, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. dakkon76

    dakkon76 TPF Noob!

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    So I would like to start looking for a good tripod and head to take on day hikes as well as 2-3 overnight hikes with me. I don't want to spend the $300 for a carbon fiber either, so I'm hoping I can find a decent aluminum one for about $100 to $150?

    Also, as far as the manfrotto heads are concerned, which do people prefer?

    The:
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-322RC2-Horizontal-Action-Connect/dp/B000184N22/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1236699679&sr=8-1"]Manfrotto 322RC2 Horizontal Grip Action Ball Head with RC2 Rapid Connect Plate (3157N)[/ame]
    or
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-488RC2-Rapid-Connect-System/dp/B00009R6N0/ref=pd_bbs_sr_5?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1236699679&sr=8-5"]Manfrotto 488RC2 Midi Ball Head with RC2 Rapid Connect System (3157N)[/ame]

    The grip action ball head just looks kind of cumbersome so I'm not really sold on it...

    I've got a Canon XSi and a 70-200mm f/4L lens (plan on getting the 2.8 eventually) that I am going to be packing hiking with me. The grip head sounds pretty nice, but not sure which one people prefer. I won't be looking for birds in flight or anything... at least not much, that's not my thing. So this will mainly be used for landscapes and such, with some HDR photots.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  2. tijean

    tijean TPF Noob!

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    I have the a nice set of Bogen legs with the 322RC2 Ballhead. I LOVE the ballhead. After fussing with a pan/tilt head on a cheap set of legs for years, I don't think I will ever use anything else (except for macro/microphotography work). It is the least cumbersome setup I have ever used.

    The disadvantage of a ballhead is that it will not lock into place as tightly (but takes much less time to set), so if you are doing super close macro work, you will be better off with a pan/tilt. The pan/tilt is actually significantly more cumbersome than the ballhead, IMHO.

    That said, I don't know how important weight conservation is to you. My setup adds about 5½ pounds. That is 2½ extra liters of water just for a tripod, and carrying the legs so that they don't smack me around a bit is challenging for my 5' 2" self.

    All that said, I adore this tripod pair - the 322RC2 Ballhead and a nice set of legs.

    However, I have been looking into getting a Gorillapod for hiking: Joby | Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Flexible Mini-Tripod with Medium

    The size, weight, and flexibility is really appealing. Obviously, I would take the full tripod for serious stuff, but the Gorillapod is small enough to stay in my pack all of the time. I can't give testimony on them though as I don't actually own one yet. Just something else to throw into the decision making mix.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2009
  3. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    I have the 322RC2 and Manfrotto 055XPRO legs. I do mostly wildlife and this setup has worked great for me. This is not the lightest set up, mind you, but very solid. If you don't want to spring for graphite, I would suggest the 055X or 190 legs.

    The choice of ball heads is user preference. I have my 322 set up for my left hand, so my left hand is controlling the grip and used to move the camera, while my right hand is on the camera ready to shoot. I can pan and lock quickly. The 488 and similar heads appear to be lighter and I would like to play with one to see how I like it.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have a 322 head and I really like it - its very versatil and simple to use - however it has some drawbacks I find. Namly it has no grip off button - so you have to keep your hand gripped on the gripper to keep the pressure off and allow free moving. That is fine for lighter prime lenses with AF on, but if your using heavier lenses, zooms or manually focusing you want your hand on the lens not the gripper I find (either for support or for changing the zoom/focus). You can use a cabletie to hold the gripper for you though if you want.
    Ballheads also come in many shapes and sizes and are a lot more free in how they move - you can turn all the pressure off and keep it off if you want = thus keeping both hands free for holding and controling the camera.
    However both the 322 and many regular ballheads don't have a panning plate - so when you release pressure on the ball you get all 3 axis of movement - that can be a pain if your panning for a stitched shot. Some of hte better ballheads have a dedicated panning plate attached and there are also panning plates sold separatly as well.
    For landscap type work a 3way head is the better option I feel since you don't really need speed to setup and are more in need of precise setting of the setup. For generalist use they are a bit slow for free moving and tracking of moving targets - then we are back to ballheads.

    PS tijean - for macro I have also found the 322 is not very good and from what I have heard from other macro shooters other ball heads also suffer similar problems. Many are recomeneding the manfrotto 410 (junior geared head) instead which allows precise 3 axis positioning of the setup. Its heavy and a lot slower to use than even a 3way head - but for macro setups where framing is key its a great thing to use. Some landscape shooters might also benefit from this sort of head - though it is a heavy thing so is not best suited for hiking I think
     

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