What Tripod Do You Use?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by JG_Coleman, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. JG_Coleman

    JG_Coleman No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For the last year and a half, I've been working with a $40 or $50 aluminum tripod. In short, I'm ready to buy a new tripod and I've been looking around at different models for a month or two now.

    So, I was wondering: what brand and model tripods are people on the forum using? And, from your personal experiences, would you recommend the model you're using now?

    I ask because I'm finding it difficult to home in on a tripod model that I really feel confident dropping some cash on. It's easy enough to home in on the good brands... I'm familiar with them. But, basically, I've got a budget of $200, definitely no more than $250... so I'm trying to find a few specific models to help narrow down the search.

    By and large, my cheap aluminum tripod has done remarkably well by me... much better than many people would ever let you believe it could. I haven't had any problems with stability whatsoever, even on very long exposures. My only complaint is that the legs are attached to a center-column, which greatly increases the minimum functional height of the tripod. I really need one that has legs which can move independently of one another... preferably one in which the legs can be splayed out far enough to drop the camera within 10" or 12" (or less) from the ground.

    I've borrowed some nice ones, all of which, as far as I know, are discontinued models. Now borrowing time is up, and I'm lookin to get myself something nicer.
     
  2. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    My recommendation is to go for used equipment here. Unlike the delicate electronics of your camera or the optics of your lenses, little can go wrong in tripod-land and you can save a lot of $$. I have the old standby -- a Bogen 3021. Although mine doesn't do it, I believe there are versions of this pod that the legs splay out far like you want (maybe in the slightly newer 055X series). I got it off e-bay for about $100. The aluminum legs look a bit beat-up, but it works perfectly well. I don't see replacing it until I can afford a Carbon Fiber pod. The head, an excellent Gitzo 1377M, cost me about the same as the pod on e-bay and it works fine with my longest lens (the Canon 400mm f/5.6 + TC) as well as my slightly heavier Sigma 100-300mm f/4.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Bogen 3040 legs. Dual-strut or "crutch-style" upper legs. Pluses: sturdy, supports a lot of weight, older technology, simple to maintain, locking system is foolproof and damage proof. Minuses: a bit slow to set up. Two-section design means it's longer overall than 3- or 4-section legs.

    Bogen 3051 or "automatic tripod": This model has been re-named....it uses "triggers" which allow for INSTANT raising and or lowering of he tripod, and INSTANT re-positioning of the tripod, making this an excellent tripod for portraiture or macro type shooting where speed is of the essence. There is no other tripod like this on the market, but there is an even-taller, heavier model that uses the same trigger-locking and releasing system. You can set this tripod up, shoot three frames, and re-set to waist level faster than a Gitzo user can even unlock, pull out, and lock-in his multi-section legs...

    For portraiture, studio work, babies, families, or macro where you want to move the camera to the proper level, this tripod makes it easy and no-excuses...it is however too heavy to carry very far.

    Neither of these are portable, backpackable tripods. You can find these used.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Definitely go for used - I prefer Manfrotto gear. Good quality at a reasonable price - I use a 190 Pro and 055 pro legs with 468 and 488 ball heads.
     
  5. JG_Coleman

    JG_Coleman No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'll definitely be checking these recommendations out... probably looking around on eBay and maybe Amazon's used gear. Thanks for the help everyone!
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    By all mean, check out the 3051....
     
  7. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    vanguard is a new company that is making some nice tripods. One of my students got a nice carbon fiber one in your price range, sorry i don't remember the model number, and it did have a panning head which came with the legs. That may not suit you, but a ball head is going to run the price up a bit.

    i have several tripods, gitzo, manfotto, bogen and several monopods as well. different sizes for different type cameras

    used is certainly an option as a good tripod will last more than one life time.
     
  8. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My current and only working tripod is a Manfrotto 055XPROB and I have to say that from loving it (I upgraded from a cheap £5 one) I've come to dislike it for a few key reasons;

    1) Low angle photography - at low angles the middle of the tripod rises up and slips around to the side; letting you have an arm that slides from side to side and means that there is no column sticking down - so you can go right down flat with the legs. However the downside is that the extended arm is not that stable - so you end up using it right in the middle of the tripod almost every time. This is a pain on 2 fronts:

    a) Because you arn't using the arm extended you end up with a long bit of waste length flicking around your setup as you use it

    b) Because you put the middle column at right angles to the vertical your tripod head also ends up at an angle - so you instantly have to dealwith reduced motion control options in your tripod head. There is a right angle bracket that helps counter this; but to be honest I've got one and I hardly use it because I often don't want to be swapping tripod heads around out in the field for low and high angle work.

    So for low level work I really recomend designs that have a removable (or no) centre column so that you get low but don't have waste parts getting in the way and your tripod head remains at the same angle no matter what height you work at

    2) Weight - carbon fibre costs, it really costs, but lighter is better and really makes all the difference if you happen to do a lot of walking around.

    However I honestly think that tripods are one of those things that can be hard to get right first time or even second time - you need field experience of using them for a while before you come to understand them and I suspect that for many its not going to be a case of finding the perfect tripod, but of finding a selection of legs (and heads) that suit your different needs at different times - letting you have the choice of the best tool to choose.
     
  9. JG_Coleman

    JG_Coleman No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I see. The 055XPROB was actually a unit that I had been seriously considering, too... perhaps it wasn't a bad idea to get some opinions on other models. Thanks for the overview on the 055XPROB.

    And, yeah, I have the feeling that no matter what I choose, I'll probably still not like one or two things. But I suppose that, like you say, it's all part of the learning experience.

    I've definitely gotten to the point where I've "out-grown" my current tripod, though, so any improvements will be welcome changes.
     
  10. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Excellent points, Overread. I could see owning several pods eventually (I do also own a small table-top gizmo with a clamp that comes in handy when I want to do static work). Your 055, if I'm not mistaken, is a modernized version of my 3021, although I don't have all the ancillary stuff to get in low. If I want to go low for bugs, I'm afraid I just get stuck crawling on my belly like a reptile :p
     
  11. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Manfrotto 190 legs with Fancier 6665 ball head
    - light but sturdy
    - low angle for macro ... though I wish I had the XPROB version
    - ball head was cheap but does the job

    Cullman Magic 1 (ball head)
    - very compact

    I used to have the Manfrotto 055 legs ... but I found them too heavy for hiking (great for studio) ... I would suggest the 190 or equivalent.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I recommend Giottos tripods in the MT line, 3 leg sections, aluminum.

    Pick the height that works for you, without the center column being raised.

    www.giottos.com
     

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