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08-06-2011, 01:48 AM   #1
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the old question: which tripod?

I am looking to buy a tripod with around $200 AUD price tag, after did bit of research I found these few models, which I think are quite nice, well, they are all from Vanguard

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT with SBH-30 ball head, sure this is a pretty good tripod, TIPA 2009 best tripod. costs $210, weights 2kg (hmmm), 1650mm tall, one of the best thing about this tripod is it has HORIZONTAL COLUMN! suits my little DA 35 macro

Vanguard 263AP Tripod with PH-32 Pan Head, $170, it's cheaper and pretty much the same as 263AT except tat the column doesn go horizontal, and I kind prefer pan head.

Vanguard 233CB with SBH-20 ball head, I was surprised that there is a carbon tripod within my budget, it's almost the same as the 263AP but lighter (1.3kg vs 2kg), costs $190

I can hardly find any reviews on these tripods, any sugeestions? or recommends? (190 XPROB? $180 without head but how much will a head cost?)

(the longest lens i ll prob use is the cheap sigma 70-300 and 50-135)

cheers

08-06-2011, 02:08 AM   #2
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The 50-135 is bulky enough to give those more flimsy aluminium tripods a tough time in anything other than optimal conditions.

I swear by the larger, heavier Manfrotto series (particularly the 190 and 055 series - I have the older 190XB) as I can attest to their durability and stability in all sorts of conditions.

The heads are just as important. I have a basic 486RC2 and it's very sturdy for any combination of gear I put on it. It's rated for much more weight than I'll be putting on it but I wouldn't go for any smaller/lighter a ballhead or tripod since they have that much more stability in rougher winds and tighter angles I put the camera on.

Ultimately it's up to you and how much money you're willing to invest in a tripod.
08-06-2011, 02:35 AM   #3
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When it comes to tripods, buy cheap and repent at leisure! Same with heads.

Agree with recommendation for Manfrotto, but also Giottos and Gitzo. There's a reason why professionals buy them. What you buy is determined by need.

Light weight = carbon fibre - not cheap! Light weight metal = waste of money.

Travel tripods are size and weight dependent; no good in windy conditions.

Heavier 'normal' tripods are cheaper than their carbon fibre equivalents, as robust, but seem to increase exponentially in weight the longer you carry them, so not so good for hiking, etc.

As to heads, depends on what you want to photograph. It's not just the weight the head will support, it's also what it's supporting and what you intend to do with it.

Ball heads are good. Very flexible but with one inherent risk. Don't tighten it enough, especially with an unbalanced lens/body combo, and it could 'drop' the lens down to hit the tripod. Longer/heavier the lens, more imbalance.

That said, I use ball heads, plus 'joystick' types (although they have the same risk).

Ball heads are not too good for panaromas unless you buy more expense ones, and in my view are useless for macro - can't do fine adjustments.

One tripod head does not do everything. Be prepared to invest in a number of heads to meet different situations, etc, in which case ensure thay all share the same fixing plates so you can swap kit as required.

I use Manfrotto RC2 family heads. Each body, etc, has a fixing plate attached so I can swap kit quickly instead of using a single plate shared between kit. Extra plates are not expensive.

I'd suggest you work backwards from need/use, then research within budget. If insufficient budget, don't buy until you've saved more money!!

Last edited by JohnX; 08-06-2011 at 02:41 AM.
08-06-2011, 02:42 AM   #4
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the rule of the thumb is that the tripod needs to be twice as heavy as your camera with the heaviest lens you own attached to it.

08-06-2011, 04:07 AM   #5
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What purpose, and in what circumstances and at what budget???

Answer those three questions and you probably have a limited number of models to choose from - same as for bags...
08-06-2011, 05:12 AM   #6
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Price limit of $200 won't get you a decent tripod+head, and I personally wouldn't bother with the cheaper aluminium tripods. I'd suggest saving your pennies for a little longer.
08-06-2011, 05:23 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Price limit of $200 won't get you a decent tripod+head, and I personally wouldn't bother with the cheaper aluminium tripods. I'd suggest saving your pennies for a little longer.
Agreed. Ask yourself some questions. Do you want to keep buying tripods or do you want to invest once and then forget about it? How much do you spend on camera gear in a year? How much of that do you think should go to your tripod?

If you want to spend $50 a year to have a good tripod, one that might last ten years or more, then look at a purchase budget of $500. Save your money for this, and in the meantime take advantage of IBIS. A small table-top tripod or GorillaPod can also help a good deal. These do not substitute for a "real" tripod, but might give you a year of service while you save pennies.

QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
Light weight = carbon fibre - not cheap! Light weight metal = waste of money.
I don't get this. For me a carbon fibre tripod is essential, since a tripod that hurts my shoulder is one I do not use. Since your advice was otherwise good I must be misunderstanding.

QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
Travel tripods are size and weight dependent; no good in windy conditions.
Some have a hook underneath so you can hang a heavy pack and get more stability. Best of both worlds for those who actually have a heavy pack with them! (A mesh bag into which one can put stones also works.)
08-06-2011, 05:49 AM   #8
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After my initial proviso I will nonetheless make a tentative recommendation. I have less disposable income than most people, but I put the entire proceeds from a paid photographic job into a tripod. So far it's working out well.

My criteria:
1. Light-weight because I sometimes climb (small) mountains.
2. Compact folding for ease of transportation.
3. Solid build so it doesn't fall apart.
4. Legs that are quick and easy to extend.
5. Ball head that permits panoramas.
6. Full extension without central pole (they introduce instability).
7. Decent warranty.

I ended up with the Feisol CT-3442 Tournament Rapid, which is plenty tall without the optional centre pole, but which nonetheless folds down to 48cm. The legs are robust and support the head firmly. The solution for greater stability is to not extend the legs any more than you need to. And if you notice, nowhere in my criteria did I require a heavy load capacity. Your best solution may be different!

Rather than splurge on third-party brands I made things simple and got the Feisol Ball Head CB-40D which lets you adjust the tension on the ball separate from the ball release pin. It has an integrated panorama base so you can keep the ball fixed while rotating the base. Another nice thing is the slot that permits tilting the camera almost directly downwards. Not a perfect setup for macros but it helps a lot. I could have gone for a smaller model except I would then not have had the pan option.

If you do a lot of portraits a different head or an right-angle plate might be what you need.

Please note that this head uses the Arca Swiss type plates, which are generally not available in high street shops and often sell for insane money. I actually think some of the "non-pro" systems like Manfrotto are easier to use. But that's not a make-or-break point for me.

Warranty is 3 years, which is OK. The whole thing weighs about 1.5kg. I can take it anywhere in the supplied (cheap) bag. Including shipping it came in just under 500 euros. Which is about half the price of other systems with all these benefits. And about twice the price of the run-of-the-mill stuff.

08-06-2011, 05:55 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by fcqhnbaby Quote
190 XPROB? $180 without head but how much will a head cost?
About as much as the tripod for a good one that you can use easily

Amazon.com: Manfrotto 324RC2 Joystick Head with Quick Release (Black): Camera & Photo

You can get cheaper manfrotto heads but the ease of use is not always there. Personally I wanted something that could also move from landscape to portrait and back very quickly hence the joystick head was a godsend.

As others say, if the tripod/head combo is not something that is not light enough or not easy enough to manipulate you will not be willing to carry it around. I have the 190xprob and joystick head. It gets heavy on occasion but its worth it.
08-06-2011, 06:01 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
... I swear by the larger, heavier Manfrotto series (particularly the 190 and 055 series - I have the older 190XB) as I can attest to their durability and stability in all sorts of conditions.

The heads are just as important. I have a basic 486RC2 and it's very sturdy for any combination of gear I put on it. It's rated for much more weight than I'll be putting on it but I wouldn't go for any smaller/lighter a ballhead or tripod since they have that much more stability in rougher winds and tighter angles I put the camera on.

Ultimately it's up to you and how much money you're willing to invest in a tripod.
I was able to pick up a used Manfrotto 3001 with a 486RC2 head for a bit over $100US (craigslist). I like the legs, absolutely hate and detest the head - personal preference. The head is large, and will hold a lot of weight, but I find it difficult to set with out a friction control, and I need 3 hands to hold the camera, and work the "quick" release on the plate.

QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
... Ball heads are good. Very flexible but with one inherent risk. Don't tighten it enough, especially with an unbalanced lens/body combo, and it could 'drop' the lens down to hit the tripod. Longer/heavier the lens, more imbalance.

That said, I use ball heads, plus 'joystick' types (although they have the same risk).

Ball heads are not too good for panaromas unless you buy more expense ones, and in my view are useless for macro - can't do fine adjustments.
I wound up getting an Acratech GP ballhead, which set me back a small fortune, but has it works very well. The additional plus was I can invert it and use it for panoramas (level panning) - and it works perfect. It did take a bit of saving to acquire, however I found it worth every penny.

Acratech uses the Arca-Swiss plate system, so everything is interchangeable.


Last edited by interested_observer; 08-06-2011 at 11:03 AM.
08-06-2011, 06:18 AM   #11
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I am not up to day but Vanguard (Chinese brand) used to make crap. Consider things are very expensive in Aussie, Manfrotto 190 is probably the only decent tripod you can buy there.
08-06-2011, 06:24 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I don't get this. For me a carbon fibre tripod is essential, since a tripod that hurts my shoulder is one I do not use. Since your advice was otherwise good I must be misunderstanding.
The point I was trying to make (but badly ) is that if light weight is a must have, the only solution is carbon fibre, but it doesn't come cheap. To buy a light weight metal tripod is a waste of money.

The OP seems to be coming at this backwards, ie budget, which I appreciate is important, but...buy cheap, buy twice!
08-06-2011, 06:29 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
but...buy cheap, buy twice!
Couldn't agree more.
08-06-2011, 10:21 AM   #14
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thx guys!!
after read all the replies and i have dicided to rise my budget to $450 AUD
yeah, things at AU are expensive but anyway..

recommends? =D
08-06-2011, 10:26 AM   #15
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or maybe lower XD
budget is always bit of problem, wants a big bang for the bucks since im not a professional photographer
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