Tripods: How are they different? Any recommendations?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by beala, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. beala

    beala TPF Noob!

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    So, I'm in the market for moderately priced tripod ($100-$300) but after just getting back from the local photo store, I'm pretty lost. Basically, I'm not sure what the difference is between all of them. They carried Promaster (store brand?), Manfrotto, and Gitzo, and the only difference between them seemed to be the price tag. All of the aluminum tripods, no matter the brand, seemed to be about the same. I'd pull out the legs and try to wobble them around to see how sturdy they were. I really couldn't tell the difference between the $600 Gitzo and $100 Promaster (albeit, the Gitzo did look cooler ;)).

    So does anyone have any suggestions on a tripod? I'm in the $100-300 price range and looking for a light tripod that can, at most, support a fairly hefty 90-180mm lens. It's an ancient Vivitar Series 1 screw mount zoom lens, so it's hefty for its focal length, but that's the heaviest thing I'll be putting on it. The carbon fiber tripods are pretty sexy, but I'm wondering whether I can get more bang for my buck if I just settle for a aluminum one. Also, it'll probably get a fair amount of outdoor use so the fact that CF doesn't rust is a plus, too.

    Any suggestions/comments welcome! Thanks!

    EDIT: I think this is the CF Manfrotto I was eying in the store. It was the only tripod that really stood out, but only because it was the only CF one they carried: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...maging_190CX3_190CX3_Carbon_Fiber_Tripod.html
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  2. Josh220

    Josh220 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The major difference is material and weight. Carbon fiber doesn't vibrate like aluminum tripods do, giving you a more stable shot. Also the weight is a factor if you don't want to be carrying around a 15lb tripod.

    Gitzo is arguably the best manufacturer, but as you already noticed, you pay the price for it. A Gitzo becomes necessary when the smallest vibration will ruin your shot (600mm lenses with teleconverters, etc)

    I would just suggest lookiong for a good brand like Manfrotto, make sure it has a tall enough maximum height, and see how it feels to you. Make sure it's not too flimsy feeling, etc.
     
  3. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    I use both Manfrotto and Gitzo carbon fiber models. I can strongly recommend both.
     
  4. beala

    beala TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the quick replies! A few more more question: I like the CF manfrotto tripod, but after trying it out in the store, its max height only gets up to about chin/shoulder level. Will I regret getting a tripod that's shorter than me?

    Also, the joints/clips are made of plastic, which is nice and light, but has anyone had any problems with this? Will they get brittle with age and/or crack easily? I'd like to get this and never have to buy a tripod again.

    Also, any tips on getting a good deal on it? I can't find anywhere that has it for less than $250 (checked ebay, amazon, bh, etc).
     
  5. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  6. sween

    sween TPF Noob!

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    Here's where I could get myself in deep doo-doo. Unless you're shooting wildlife with a really long lens, where shutter speed will need to be high anyway, you might be able to live without a tripod.

    Do I have a tripod? Yes, a really nice set of Manfrotto-Bogen legs with both ball and pan/tilt heads. Their about ten years old. It's a heavy rig.

    When might be the last time I used this tripod? Let's guess that it has been at least three, if not four or more years.

    Somewhere back a month or so ago, a poster here posited the theory that lens-protecting filters (Sklight 1a/UV, etc.)were pretty much a scam to sell more filters. Could be.

    Related, perhaps, is the idea that a tripod is a must-have, that it could be the most important piece of equipment you'll ever own - and, yes, there are those who will swear to that - but it's a claim I've long held suspect, and still do.

    You're going to buy a tripod, as I did and would if I were you. Just beware that you needn't remortgage your house to get one. While cheaper isn't better, outrageously expensive isn't either.
     
  7. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Check out Craig's List and your local used gear stores for a good second-hand Manfrotto, Giottos, or Bogen. Tripods are a great thing to buy used; they're very easy to check for problems, and you'll get twice the tripod for the same money output.

    A set of Manfrotto 190 Pro legs and a 488 ballhead is an excellent all-round setup that won't break the budget.
     
  8. beala

    beala TPF Noob!

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    Good read, but his recommendations seem a bit out of my price range. I can see how this could apply to someone who has enough money for a $1000 setup, but is being stingy about it. Unfortunately, it's not just that I'm stingy, it's also that I don't have enough for a $1000 setup to begin with!

    Good advice, and it's actually not the first time I've heard it. Ken Rockwell argues that tripods have been made obsolete by Image Stabilizing lenses and now-a-days all they do is hinder creativity. I don't disagree with him, but his advice doesn't apply to me. I'm still shooting film on an old Fujica. No IS lenses here! Tripod Test Review © 2005 KenRockwell.com

    I will try not to get too carried away though. As sexy as those $600 Gitzos are, I don't think I'll be spending more than $300 tops.

    I actually have been prowling craigsList, but haven't found quite what I'm looking for. It's either pro photags trying to unload their ridiculously expensive gear, or amatuers trying to get rid of their $50 walmart tripods. I'll def give the 190Pro a look, though!

    Thanks everyone!
     
  9. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I bought a Manfrotto pod and gitzo ball head on e-bay for far less than 50% of new cost ... both in good condition. The pod looked quite used, but worked fine. There are no optics or electronics involved, so you are reasonably safe buying used.
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You don't have to spend that kind of money unless you are using the kind of gear that Thom uses. But his point is valid. For $300 -$400 you can end up with a setup that will last you a lifetime of shooting instead of spending that or more upgrading from one unsuitable tripod to another until you finally decide to spend the money on a good setup.

    If it was me I would look at the 055xPROB legs from Manfrotto and a Giottos ball head. I know a lot of people recommend the 488RC2 from Manfrotto, but the lack of a separate friction control knob makes this a less than ideal choice to me. I've owned the 488 and didn't like it for the lack of a friction control knob. Now it just gathers dusts on a shelf.
     
  11. beala

    beala TPF Noob!

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    Hi guys. I just thought I'd drop by and give you an update by telling you that I bought this combination:
    Benro CF: Benro | C-158M8 Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs - Supports | 455-158
    Giottos Head: Giottos | MH 1302-210C Pro Series II Ballhead w/ | MH1302-210C

    Initially, I was very interested in the Manfrotto 190 carbon tripod (190cx3 and 190cxpro3) but got drawn away from it after reading about a lesser known chinese brand: Benro. It's taller, lighter, and cheaper than the manfrotto, especially considering that it comes with a travel bag and a set of spiked feet. Unfortunately, though, there's definitely a lot of mud-slinging surrounding this brand. Lots of people accuse it of being a cheap chinese knockoff of Gitzo, BUT actual owners of Benro tripods seem to love them. I'll let you guys know what I think once I receive it.

    I went ahead and took the recommendation for the Giottos head. I wish it had a quick release, but I figured I could forgo that after spending so much on the legs. Any comments on this particular head?

    Thanks!
    Alex
     
  12. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Can you remove the spiked feet? I wondered if TSA would flag that and not let them on a plane.
     

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