Sub-$100 Tripod Options

gckless

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So, I've begun using my tripod a bit more lately. I really haven't too much in the past, so I've lived with some things, but I think it's time to upgrade. I have this tripod right now: Davis Sanford Voyager Lite with BHQ8 Ball Head VOYAGERLTB B H

I love it because it folds down pretty small, which is necessary because I often travel on my motorcycle, and this fits right in the saddlebag. It's cheap, light, pretty sturdy, and overall gets the job done. I guess I have no real complaints about the tripod legs/body itself.

However, been noticing some issues with the head. I do have a slight amount of creep when shooting vertically (90 degrees, whatever you want to call it), and the quick-release does not stay tight on the camera body, I have to constantly re-tighten it. I don't have a super heavy rig either, just a D7000, and I think my heaviest lens is a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. I guess I don't know if I should be getting a whole new tripod, or just a head. So here are my questions, in this order:

1. Would it be better to get a whole new tripod (that has a better head) or simply a head? I think I pretty much answered this myself, but I don't know what options are out there.
2. Which [tripod or head, whatever you choose in #1] would be the best options for under $100?

There's a pretty large selection of gear out there, and I'll admit I don't really have the time lately to scour the internet for reviews like I normally do. If you know of some sub-$100 roundups or reviews or something like that, I'm fine with just a link.

Thanks in advance.
 

tirediron

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<$100 doesn't get you a lot in the tripod world. Unless... you buy used. Check out Craig's List and similar local 'sites for names such as Manfrotto, Giottos, and Benbo. You can generally get at least half again if not twice as much for your money.
 

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2. Which [tripod or head, whatever you choose in #1] would be the best options for under $100?

There's a pretty large selection of gear out there, and I'll admit I don't really have the time lately to scour the internet for reviews like I normally do. If you know of some sub-$100 roundups or reviews or something like that, I'm fine with just a link.

Thanks in advance.

I use a Dolica with ball head, works great, cost less than $100
 

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2. Which [tripod or head, whatever you choose in #1] would be the best options for under $100?

There's a pretty large selection of gear out there, and I'll admit I don't really have the time lately to scour the internet for reviews like I normally do. If you know of some sub-$100 roundups or reviews or something like that, I'm fine with just a link.

Thanks in advance.

I use a Dolica with ball head, works great, cost less than $100

Same here - got one recently and it seems to do fine for my needs.
 

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to be honest if you are cash strapped then get a reasonable ballhead. I looked at your rig and I wouldn't trust that head with a $10 P&S on it. Adorama has their house brand 3Pod size H1 around the $50-$75 range. I have one on a monopod and it works quite well with Canon 6D and 24-105 lens.
 

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So, I've begun using my tripod a bit more lately. I really haven't too much in the past, so I've lived with some things, but I think it's time to upgrade. I have this tripod right now: Davis Sanford Voyager Lite with BHQ8 Ball Head VOYAGERLTB B H

I love it because it folds down pretty small, which is necessary because I often travel on my motorcycle, and this fits right in the saddlebag. It's cheap, light, pretty sturdy, and overall gets the job done. I guess I have no real complaints about the tripod legs/body itself.

However, been noticing some issues with the head. I do have a slight amount of creep when shooting vertically (90 degrees, whatever you want to call it), and the quick-release does not stay tight on the camera body, I have to constantly re-tighten it. I don't have a super heavy rig either, just a D7000, and I think my heaviest lens is a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. I guess I don't know if I should be getting a whole new tripod, or just a head. So here are my questions, in this order:

1. Would it be better to get a whole new tripod (that has a better head) or simply a head? I think I pretty much answered this myself, but I don't know what options are out there.
2. Which [tripod or head, whatever you choose in #1] would be the best options for under $100?

There's a pretty large selection of gear out there, and I'll admit I don't really have the time lately to scour the internet for reviews like I normally do. If you know of some sub-$100 roundups or reviews or something like that, I'm fine with just a link.

Thanks in advance.

Since you travel a lot on your motorcycle, I suggest you think creative. How about something like a gorillapod and a bungie cord? Or a clamp (that you clamp on to a fence or your M-C)? If you are staying pretty close to your M-C than see what options you might have that would attach to it for shooting. It will be smaller and less expensive.

Otherwise, if you're going for a tripod, two suggestions:
1. Don't consider price. A tripod that doesn't do it's job well is worse than no tripod at all. Seriously. You lug it around, you take time setting it up, you shoot assuming you have stability...and you don't. When if you were in low light and KNEW you didn't have a tripod you'd...brace yourself against your bike or a tree, or you'd set the camera on a beanbag. Or you'd jack up the ISO. Or narrow the DoF. B/c you KNEW your platform wasn't stable. I know you can't spend thousands....I get that. Nor am I telling you to spend $500. But don't start by identifying tripods that cost $100 and picking the best one. Start by identifying stable tripods that do what you want them to do and are good for travel. And then look at the price. And if you don't find one that is under $100, then look at other alts. (new ball head, or the options I gave you upfront).
2. All tripods are compromises. No tripod does everything well. A tripod that is small either forces you to bend over when you shoot (which is a hassle with lots of frames in that position). Or it has 4 segments per leg (which reduces stability). A tripod that is light (and therefore good for hiking) either isn't sturdy or it's expensive b/c it is made of composite materials. A tripod that is good for product and food photography will have a center column that can go horizontal. A tripod for macro photography will allow you to set your camera a couple of inches off the ground. A tripod for shooting in rough weather and terrain will have provisions for sandbags or spikes and likely be heavier. So think a bit about what you primarily shoot. Doesn't sound like it's wildlife (if you're using a 17-50mm zoom). If it's group photos and some scenery than unless you're hiking a long distance, you may not need a tripod...you might be able to make it work with a gorillapod, clamp and bungie cord options.
 

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Dolica seems to keep coming up in the "cheap,small,light tripod" threads, and seems to receive generally favorable reviews on amazon.com. A number of small, inexpensive tripods do not have interchangeable heads, and yeah, they often seem to have some weaknesses. I think there's a HUGE over-emphasis on tripods that weight 15 pounds and cost $599, and are stable in wind storms....way,way too much emphasis on rock-steadiness for people who are using the tripod as just a way to HOLD/POSITION the camera for a quick snap or two...

If you can accept aluminum instead of carbon fiber, then you can find any number of small,portable tripods that cost $100 or less, and which will be compact enough for your bike's saddlebags.
 

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As you move up in the tripod selection, the better tripod separate the leg assembly from the head assembly (you can swap heads).

I have a few tripods. My best "travel" tripod is extremely light and small... but not particularly beefy. The decent amount of wind will vibrate that tripod. I have some tripods that are extremely rugged and I feel as if you could toss a sick of dynamite under them while taking a photo and the thing wouldn't budge... but I sure wouldn't want to have carry it on a long hike (they are heavy... very heavy.)

Manfrotto makes their "BeFree" series travel tripods.
Benro makes their "Travel Angel" series travel tripods (as well as their "Travel Flat" series which fold to a very good space-saving design.)

But these things start at around $200 and go up. $100 isn't really a lot of money to spend on a tripod. Good tripod/head combinations can easily run the better part of $1000 or more. But given your need to travel light, I think you should stick to the $200-300 range.
 

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Subscribed and watching this thread! Thanks all.
 
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gckless

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Well thank you all for the responses. Instead of multi-quoting everyone I'm just going to type it out, and hopefully respond to everyone in order.

I realize that $100 isn't the best budget for a head/tripod. As I mentioned, I think the base of the tripod is fine for me right now, and I do have the ability to remove the head on it. I don't really do much in bad weather, I haven't really noticed much that would make me need to replace it right now. Most of the time I don't even use a tripod to be honest. Like I said, all this stemmed from the creep in the head. So because of that, and the budget, I think I will be better off getting just a head right now, and going back and getting a base later when I feel I need to. Sorry to those that gave tripod options, don't mean to lead you astray, but when I come back to this thread later I can use those suggestions (and I'm sure there are people viewing this that can as well).

With that said, I think I can get at least a decent, usable tripod head for around $100. I know it's easy to get caught up in the "I need next to the best, it's only a little more..." mentality, I tend to do it with my other hobbies as well, but I'm trying to keep this budget here. Got too much else going on in life, and I'm not really a pro, this is basically just a hobby for me. I'm going to keep looking used locally, but I also want to explore new options. So here are the ones I've been looking at:

Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi Ball Head with RC2 Quick Release 498RC2
Giottos MH-1302 Pro Series II Medium Ballhead MH1302-655 B H
Vanguard SBH-100 Ball Head SBH-100 B H Photo Video
3Pod H2 Magnesium Alloy Tripod Ball Head with Quick Release Plate 3P-H2

I think the Manfrotto is probably going to be the best bet, but can I get away with saving some money by going with one of the other ones? I don't really know how good Vanguard is. Has some good reviews, and looks pretty solid. Rated to support more weight than the Manfrotto as well.

I appreciate all the help folks.
 
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gckless

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