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03-31-2012, 04:47 PM   #1
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Suggestions for a Tripod for 55-300mm Lens and K200D?

When I bought a Pentax 55-300mm telephoto, I reached the practical limit for my 25 year old Slik U-112 tripod, which still works fine for lighter lenses. But the legs are too flexible and the connection to the head too uncertain for the longer, heavier lens. So now I'm beginning to think about getting a new tripod to handle the weight. I'd like to spend as little as possible, and probably would rather not have a ball head because I like to pan sometimes, and also make small adjustments that a ball head doesn't seem to handle well. (I have a smaller tripod with a ball head and it can be frustrating to use.) Most of my tripod photography is of birds, long exposure landscapes, some macro (with a Raynox converter on the long lens), with some nighttime star or moon shooting.

I know that price and quality often go together, but does anyone have a recommendation for a tripod to meet my requirements for, say, less than USD100-125?

03-31-2012, 05:40 PM - 1 Like   #2
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There are a lot of tripods out there that will fit your needs that will fit your budget. They won't be the best (let's face it most decent heads cost more than your entire budget) but they should get the job done. I recently bought an Induro tripod & head combo (AKB1) for my wife and she absolutely loves it (cost me 159$) and it's a very nice tripod for the price I paid. Heck I've even used it a few times myself and it got the job done just fine, even considering I'm used to my tripo which weighs about twice of what the Induro weighs and cost more than twice also.
Slik, Sunpak, Vanguard, Cullman and Velbon has quite a few combos within that price range and they are not too shabby (for example this Slik).
One question though, I didn't understand the "connection to the head is too uncertain" part. Is it a tripod leg problem (it doesn't hold the head right) or is the head not sufficient to hold the camera either? Because if the head works for you, you could invest in just the tripod legs and place the older head on the new legs. This way you could get something better and stable and use the head you are used to.
I would suggest you head over to Adorama and search the tripod & head combos (or just the legs if your head still works). You can order the search by price and check the ones within your budget.
03-31-2012, 05:45 PM - 1 Like   #3
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03-31-2012, 06:01 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I was in the same exact situation with a Slick U-212 and a 55-300 lens. I ended up getting a Manfrotto 055XPROB with an 804RC2 pan and tilt head (Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Legs (Black) w/ 055XPROB,804RC2 B&H).
Couldn't be happier. At the time Manfrotto was offering a nice rebate that made the price very attractive. Now it's about 2x more expensive than your stated budget, but I think it's worth it.

03-31-2012, 06:41 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The problem with ball heads is that cheaper ones are really miserable to work with. Really good ones are a treat but they cost.

There are literally 1,000's of tripods and head combinations out there, and I think to get a really good setup you need more money than your budget. But if your heaviest lens is going to be the 55-300 then you should be able to find a good selection to choose from. If I were you I would go to the nearest camera store (or two or three) and look at what they have. You are budget limited so get the one you like the best within that price. In the range you are talking about features and ease of use are going to be the most important things, because you are just not going to get a tripod with huge weight carrying capacity. So find the one that has knobs, levers, and clamps that you like. I am sure you will get a bunch of recommendations for various brands but in truth all manufacturers have a range of products from cheap to expensive, and you can get a dud in anybody's range.

Please take a moment and read this article by Thom Hogan before you make a purchase. It is a bit dated but I am now on my 4th tripod, and would have saved a bunch of money if I had taken his advice years ago.
03-31-2012, 07:36 PM   #6
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Thanks very much to you all for your comments and advice. I've been using the same 'pods for a very long time and am not up to date on current models. The number I saw listed in the various online retail sites is daunting.

Jesus, you ask "One question though, I didn't understand the "connection to the head is too uncertain" part." I had a "brain fade" problem there. To connect the camera to the pan head of the U-112, you screw a quick-release post into the camera, then lock the post to the tripod head with a lever. The more you turn the lever, the tighter the grip the head has on the post. Sometimes this lever loosens just enough for the camera to rotate on the platform. The idea of the quick release post is attractive, because you can leave the post screwed into the camera and carry the camera around your neck on a strap, then lock it to the tripod when you want to.

Slackercruster, thanks. I'll check out the Tiltall.

Demp, that Manfrotto looks great. Handsome and functional. I might have to bite the bullet and spend more than I would like. If a new tripod lasts as long as my old one, I'll be set for a long time.

Jatrax, it's a good idea to go and visit a few shops, but I live in a very rural area that has a very limited selection of shops of any kind. Walmart is the most sophisticated photo shop within 150 miles or so . So I have to do my shopping online. Thanks much for the article link. I've bookmarked it to read when I'm more awake.

Much appreciated, you all.
03-31-2012, 11:29 PM - 1 Like   #7
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The first question that occurs to me is: How tall are you? I stand 190cm / 6'4" / 76in and almost all mass-market tripods are too short for me. My solution for supporting my K20D plus nearly two kilos of 1000mm mirror lens at a level I can use without breaking my back is the Opteka TR74 EVO, up to 74in tall. It cost me all of US$49 a couple years ago.


Last edited by RioRico; 04-01-2012 at 10:39 AM.
04-01-2012, 05:21 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The first question that occurs to me is: How tall are you? I stand 190cm / 6'4" / 76in and almost all mass-market tripods are too short for me. My solution for supporting my K20D plus nearly a kilo of 1000mm mirror lens at a level I can use without breaking my back is the Opteka TR74 EVO, up to 74in tall. It cost me all of US$49 a couple years ago.
This is one place where my short stature is a benefit. I'm not much over five feet tall, so a short tripod isn't a problem. Even so, that Opteka TR74 EVO looks like a great value. Thanks for the tip!
04-01-2012, 08:35 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tamia Quote
Thanks for the tip!
You're welcome. The Opteka has been a real workhorse, quite sturdy while not too heavy. My other tripod is a Velbron MAXI-347E (replacement for a lost MAXI-343E) that tops out at 61in / 1.5m, a small lightweight item that's great for a P&S (except in strong winds) and might work for a Kr with DA40 but is useless for anything heavier.

Ah, the wind. My first Velbron had a nice camera (Sony DSC-V1) atop it one evening in Arizona's Tonto Basin when a gust of wind blew them over, bricking the camera. The Opteka has a hook at the lower end of its centerpost. For additional stability, I just hang my camera bag from that hook. Then ain't no wind taking it nowhere, eh?
04-01-2012, 10:33 AM   #10
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Oh dear, RioRico. I like that hook on the bottom of the Opteka. A friend had a similar experience with a Slik U-212 (I believe) and a Canon SLR. He was asking for trouble by setting the tripod up on a sloping slab of bedrock so he could take a self-portrait. Not only did the wind blow the tripod over to smash his camera on the rock, but then the whole rig slid into a lake.
04-01-2012, 10:39 AM   #11
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If I'm really nervous about 'pod stability, like when shooting my monstrous Rubinar Makpo 1000/10 mirror (1800g), then besides the hanging weight, I may stake-down the legs and run a bungee cord around them, and/or put a sandbag atop camera+lens. Losing one camera to instability was quite enough, thanks.
04-05-2012, 11:12 AM   #12
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Manfrotto 055
+
Manfrotto 410

The 055XPROB give you the possibility to play with the central column, nice for macro, but if you use a weight head i don't known how much good could be a similar combination ...
So i don't known if could be better instead save some money for other edition and going for a good (even if weight) head.
04-05-2012, 01:29 PM   #13
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My early version Tamrac 706 bag (1982) doesn't have a handle on the top, and while I mostly use the shoulder strap, a handle is nice for things like lifting the bag in and out of a car. So I took a long nylon dog collar, attached a snap clip to its D ring (backwards from how a snap clip usually attaches to a dog's collar). I clip on the collar to one of the the bag's shoulder strap D rings, and use the collar's snap buckle to reach the other D ring. It works great as a handle - but in keeping with this thread, it serves one other important purpose ... it allows me to hang my camera bag from darn near any tripod. I leave the snap clip attached to the bag and buckle the collar around the tripod at the top of the legs. The weight is not precisely centered below the tripod, but close enough. Back in the day of film and steel lens barrels, that bag often weighed 20-25 pounds. The tripod was going nowhere and my bag stayed cleaner/drier.
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