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12-21-2012, 02:31 PM   #1
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Need Help with Tripod purchase

Well, I need help:

I have been mulling over and over regarding which tripod I should purchase.
I have kind of narrowed it down to two, maybe three -

  • Manfrotto O55XProB with 498 RC2 ball head,
  • Vanguard 263 with BBH-100 ballhead or SBH-250,
  • I am also looking at the Benro A2970F with the BH2 or B2 ballhead.
  • And then there's the Induro Alloy 8M AT213 not sure which head.


Things I like about each model:

Vanguard 263:
I like that there is a lifetime warranty
I like the multi-angle center column that rotates 180 degrees vertically and 360 horizontally
I like that it comes with a carrying case, spiked feet
It has a vibration reduction ring on the center column in case the column slips
I DON'T feel comfortable with the slide-in release plate, the click plate seems to be more secure
Not sure about long-term quality

Manfrotto O55XPROB:
It is the most popular and used and endorsed by many pro-sumer/ enthusiasts
There is only a 5 year warranty
Legs rated at 15.4lbs
I don't like how the center column collar is a split design - its not a solid piece
Center column is not variable angled - only 90 degree position
Leg locks are plastic and I've read become loosened over time



Benro A2970F:
I just saw a youtube video that compares this one with the Manfrotto and it seems to have a bit better specs than the frotto
Center column is the same as the vanguard in that it has 180 vertical, 360 horizontal movement
Legs rated at 22lb capacity
It seems to be sturdier than the manfrotto.
Don't like that the BH2 head has only 1 control, but i do like that it has the click release plate
the B2 head has multi controls but it has the slide in plate (Arca Swiss style?)



Induro Alloy 8M AT213:
This one I just discovered from a photography blog and it is rated as being one of the best tripods to purchase in my price range
The legs are very thick and sturdy
Not sure what head I would place with this one

I have a k5, and plan on doing macro work (no macro lens yet, but I'm looking for the old FA 100mm 2.8!). I want something that is super sturdy, less than 300 and that will last a while. I am a noob, but I want something that will grow with me as I acquire more lenses. I have the 18-55 kit lens, DA 55-300, Sigma 28-105 UC III, a sears 135 2.8, a couple of vintage 50s(1.7,2.0).



I donít care about it being lightweight and carbon fiber at all, I want something heavy/sturdy. All four are very similar - which would you all choose?
Help!


12-21-2012, 03:14 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I started out with a plastic tripod about 8 years ago. Won a bid on ebay for 22 cents, and $7 shipping. It did teach me a lot and broke after a few years of use. I have a Benro travel angel that does fit in my carry on for traveling, and an old used Manfrotto 3001 that I found on craigslist for a song. Its big, heavy, old, and will not fit into my carry on luggage, and I use it the most. Both are excellent for what they do. A lot of it is personal preference.
  • Flip leg locks I have found to be easier that the twist type.
  • Same with the central column lock.
  • Tripods without the central column are more stable
  • Tripods with fewer sections are more stable (2, 3 or 4 leg sections).
  • Tripods with more sections are easier to transport (carry on for airplanes).
  • I would think that one with a central column that lays over to the side would help in Macro shooting, especially close to the ground.
  • Again for Macro use, something that can get low to the ground, will help.
The head is an all together different set of decisions. The heads screw on the tripods so that you can put any head on any set of legs.
  • Ballhead or Pan&Tilt. - again another personal preference.
  • Pan&Tilt for video, and Ballheads for still images
  • You are not interested in landscape panoramas, so I will not go into that.
  • A head of what ever type that once you set it, does not slip.
  • A friction adjustment is well advised, so as to set the head where it will not slip.
  • Heads can come with clamps which require a plate on the camera - for quick and easy release.
You can buy the legs with out a head and make a separate head decision. They all look like very good and sound choices. There are folks on the forum that use each one, that can provide additional information. It looks like your gear will come in at around 4 pounds. So I would look for something (legs and head) that are each capable of holding 8 to 12 lbs (or 2x to 3x margin).

On the head, you will probably want something that uses a clamp and plate, so that you can detach your camera rather quickly. The Arca Swiss system works very well for this (its also somewhat costly, but very worthwhile if you use your tripod/head a lot). Also, an L bracket works well so that you can easily go from landscape to portrait orientation quickly and easily.


Last edited by interested_observer; 12-21-2012 at 03:20 PM.
12-21-2012, 03:14 PM   #3
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Benro makes quality tripods. I have 2 of their Travel Angels because I wanted the small size (for travel, of course!). Induro is essentially the same company, so you might find a good deal on one of those.

You can save a lot of money by getting the non-carbon fiber versions of the Benro/Induro tripods. Only one of mine is carbon fiber, and I only opted for carbon fiber on it because I got the demo model for 1/2 price on closeout! It's lighter, but it doesn't work any better or worse. The other one is actually more stable, simply because it's a slightly bigger model with larger legs in fewer segments.


If you get serious about the macro shooting you might want to look at some slider focusing rails.
12-21-2012, 03:21 PM - 1 Like   #4
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The only one of those I own is the 055xprob. I can tell you it is quite heavy and large, so it may be overkill if you want to walk around the woods with it for macro.

For telephoto work as a solid platform for long lenses it is excellent, and that is my primary use for the tripod.

12-21-2012, 05:23 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Hi FenderGirl,

Out of these. I'd probably go with the Vanguard. I don't own any of their legs, but have played with them in stores, and could find nothing objectionable. Lifetime warranty is assuring, and they seem to be appearing at more stores as time goes by, so support is probably not a problem. I have two of their ABH 120K ballheads, and the quality is very high, especially for the price. This is the smallest model in the series, and it works amazingly well with my heaviest lenses (300mm f2.8 class lenses at over 6 lbs). I'm fussy about ballhead performance, and don't have any complaints about these. The 263 Pro with the variable angle center column would be helpful for macro since you'd have much more positioning versatility. The stuff I've seen from Vanguard is inexpensive, but well made.

The ultimate for positional versatility for tripod legs is the bent bolt system used by Uni Loc and Benbo, but that's a different story...

If you decide on a Vanguard head, I'd go with the ABH series. It's the only series that uses Arca Swiss compatible clamps and plates. This might seem trivial, but it can make a big difference if you want specialty plates or other gear that will work with it. Arca Swiss compatible is the closest to universal in camera support gear -- RRS, Markins, Wimberley, Jobu designs, Acratech, Benro, and most major mfgs conform to Arca compatibility in the QR clamps on their heads, and 3rd parties make an astounding variety of plates and other support gear that can be used with this standard. The screw clamps are not the fastest, but they are simple, reliable, dead solid, and versatile. I started out with Manfrotto RC2 QRs, and after getting a couple of heads and plates, found that I'd outgrown the system with my first 300mm f2.8. I converted the best of the heads (468 MG), gave away the other heads an plates, and went totally with Arca compatible stuff -- and couldn't be happier. ..

Good luck in your choice.

Scott
12-21-2012, 08:54 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
It's the only series that uses Arca Swiss compatible clamps and plates. This might seem trivial, but it can make a big difference if you want specialty plates or other gear that will work with it. Arca Swiss compatible is the closest to universal in camera support gear -- RRS, Markins, Wimberley, Jobu designs, Acratech, Benro, and most major mfgs conform to Arca compatibility in the QR clamps on their heads, and 3rd parties make an astounding variety of plates and other support gear that can be used with this standard.
This is excellent advice. I think Manfrotto tripods are the best (better than Gitzo, having owned both), but their non-standard ball heads are a PITA. Arca Swiss-compatible should be a strong requirement for the OP.

QuoteOriginally posted by FenderGirl Quote
I am a noob, but I want something that will grow with me as I acquire more lenses.
Many of us have multiple tripods that fit different contexts. I'd recommend you purchase a used Manfrotto 3021; you can find these on Craigslist for under $80. They are professional and bombproof. Once you figure out what kind of shooting you really like (and that may take a year or two), then you can purchase a lighter, more expensive tripod.

I'd spend more money on a ball head as that can be transferred to any of your future tripods. I recommend an Acratech as they are relatively light, easy to clean, weight bearing, and top quality for the rest of your life. Because you depend on a tripod and ball head to directly support your precious camera and lenses, it is important not to skimp quality. I'm not a fan of most of the knockoffs out there.

M
12-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #7
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B&H have a couple of the Oben kits on super sale. I just picked up the 3410 for $120 off. I've only played around with it for a few minutes, but so far I really like it.
12-21-2012, 09:48 PM   #8
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Than you so much to all of you for your extensive advice - it is very much appreciated!! It seems as though I cannot go wrong with any of the choices I am considering as there are endorsements for each one. I originally wanted the Vanguard as soon as I discovered them because I thought that they were so uniquely designed and innovative. However, upon further research, I didn't have much to go on regarding longevity and durability which is why I started to research the Manfrotto, Benro and Induro brands. As a student, I am able to get a pretty good discount on the Induro and Benro brands which of lets me purchase a better than entry level tripod at the entry level price.....decisions, decisions.
Oh, I'm a little apprehensive about the Induro as they only have twist-lock legs and this doesn't seem to be desirable among the pros of this forum, although Induro advertises this as being superior to flip-lock legs......Than you so much to all of you for your extensive advice - it is very much appreciated!! It seems as though I cannot go wrong with any of the choices I am considering as there are endorsements for each one. I originally wanted the Vanguard as soon as I discovered them because I thought that they were so uniquely designed and innovative. However, upon further research, I didn't have much to go on regarding longevity and durability which is why I started to research the Manfrotto, Benro and Induro brands. As a student, I am able to get a pretty good discount on the Induro and Benro brands which of lets me purchase a better than entry level tripod at the entry level price.....decisions, decisions.
Oh, I'm a little apprehensive about the Induro as they only have twist-lock legs and this doesn't seem to be desirable among the pros of this forum, although Induro advertises this as being superior to flip-lock legs......

12-22-2012, 12:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by FenderGirl Quote
Oh, I'm a little apprehensive about the Induro as they only have twist-lock legs and this doesn't seem to be desirable among the pros of this forum, although Induro advertises this as being superior to flip-lock legs......
The difference between flip-locks versus twist-lock (having owned both) is that the flip-locks can be loosened or locked with a flick of the the thumb (substantially more force needed to lock) while the twist-lock need to be grasped with the thumb and the forefinger or more fingers to twist the lock loose or tighten depending on how solidly locked you want the legs to be. They both work equally well, and take about the same time to set up or collapse the tripod. I would not let the type of lock a tripod legs have become an issue in your buying decision process.
12-22-2012, 01:01 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by FenderGirl Quote
I'm a little apprehensive about the Induro as they only have twist-lock legs and this doesn't seem to be desirable among the pros of this forum, although Induro advertises this as being superior to flip-lock legs
I find both types to be quite sufficient at doing the job. What's better is quite subjective. The reason I favor flip-locks is that they provide quick visual confirmation that they are engaged. Sometimes I'm setting up the tripod in a hurray against light or some happening, and it's easy for me in my haste to skip tightening a leg segment. Really bad, I know, but at least I can glance at each leg prior to setting the thing down and see what's tight.

M
12-22-2012, 05:49 AM - 1 Like   #11
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After owning many tripods over the years, I now have the Manfrotto O55XPROB, and I love it. It's built very well, it's extremely sturdy, and the horizontal center column is very useful. There's really nothing I don't like about it, other than the fact it is on the heavy side. I don't have the head you mentioned so I can't comment on that, but the tripod itself is awesome.

I wouldn't worry about the leg locks loosening up over time. There are tension adjustment screws you can turn to easily tighten them back up. Any flip-lock, metal or plastic, will eventually loosen. I wouldn't worry about the warranty, either. It's not gonna break unless you seriously abuse it.
12-22-2012, 06:09 AM   #12
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Another vote for the 055XPROB which is very well made, I also wanted to comment on the ball head, I use the predecessor to the 498 RC2, the 488 RC2 and I have had a very good experience with it. I personally have had no issue with the RC2 plates, they are offered as option on almost every accessory I have needed or wanted. One note I had to read about was if it has the video alignment post installed, (they normally do) you just simply pull it out with pliers for still camera use. No problem what so ever.
12-22-2012, 09:41 AM   #13
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Let me add, clarify and amplify on some of my previous remarks. As I posted before, I find that there is a lot of personal preference (i.e., subjectivity) especially in tripods, and then there are heads. So, take my remarks as personal preferences - not objective in the least.
  • Twist vs Flip Leg Locks - My first plastic tripod had flip locks. I liked them a lot - also, interestingly enough, they were the items that did NOT break on it. The Benro, I like for traveling as its light, small (4 leg sections) and has the twist locks on it. I had taken a weekend photography class and it involved a lot of tripod work. It just literately wore out my hands in terms of twisting and untwisting the locks in terms of adjusting the legs all the way up and then all the way down. At the lunch break - I went home and picked up the legs with the flip locks. Normally, up till then - the type did not matter all that much (with a slight preference to the flip type).
  • Heads - First of all, I don't do Macro nor Telephoto work. I can see how the pan & tilt would work well for those types of applications. My first 22 cent plastic set had a pan & tilt and it did not really appeal to me in terms of how I was using the system - but it was cheap and met the need for several years. When I acquired the Benro, it came with a head (NOT their BH1. B2 or whatever). It lasted a single use, before I went shopping for another head. I subsequently picked up a ballhead (Acratech GP), and loved it (unfortunately it costs an arm and a leg). Interestingly enough, when I found the Manfrotto on craigslist, it came with a 486RC2 head. Loved the legs, hated the head (I was VERY use to the Acratech's ArcaSwiss clamp and plate system). The 486 is very large and sturdy (liked that a lot), but had a single lever and no tension control (I did not like - I was very use to the Arcatech with the dual tension and tightening knob set). The RC2 clamp (absolute despise) assembly that was on the head had a locking mechanism that required (at least for me) two hands to work - so I needed a third hand to catch the camera as it fell off when the clamp was opened (not good). Manfrotto may have changed this - I don't know. I sold the head. I now move the Acratech between the two sets of legs - one set is in my carry on luggage, while the Manfrotto resides in the back seat of the pickup truck. So, let me also touch on the actual RC2 shoe or plate. It only goes in one way, as opposed to the ArcaSwiss which is directionless (can go on either way - i.e., there is no front or back). I was use to the AS design and although the RC2 in terms of the shoe (plate) design was not bad - I just preferred the AS design that much more. So much more, that I have a AS L bracket for my K5, had one also for my old K20, a AS plate for my K100D (that I still have) and picked up a flat generic AS plate for the base of my Pano head and put a AS clamp on my Pano head (arm assembly). Now, everything is interchangeable which makes things a LOT easier - the down side was it consumed a fair amount of pocket change (a little bit here and a little bit there which all adds up to a real chunk of money).
Here is a suggestion - I bet you can find a tripod and head (probably a pan & tilt) for $10 on craigslistf (and I would bet that the local Goodwill store would have one). I would pick that up, and use it for 6 months, figuring out what works and more importantly doesn't work for you. Based on your findings - then pick up what really appeals to you, along with your intended use.

I have also read on another site that the Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod. The legs can go flat and the center column goes sideways and becomes a boom.

Yet another option is the Dolica - which comes with a ballhead and is very reasonably priced at around $60. There are a several threads on this on the forum.There are also a lot of instructional videos on tripods and heads out on the web....

Last edited by interested_observer; 12-22-2012 at 09:49 AM.
12-22-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
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I have the Vanguard 283CT, which is a bit heavier than the one you are looking at. I've had it for almost a year, and think it is pretty good for the money. Anything you get and use will loosen up, this one has hex bolts that allow adjustment of the tension of the leg swing hinges as well as the clamp for the center post. If the 263 is lighter than this one, I'd look at the heavier model; a K5 with 100mm out on the center post will need the added stiffness.

As for twist vs. snap levers, if you are going through bush a twist lock will snag less. I would definitely look at arca-swiss plates and ball head. A bit more money but far better.
12-23-2012, 03:43 AM   #15
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tripods

May I ask how tall you are? Do you use a grip or L-bracket, and do you plan to ever use a leveling base? All these things add up to more vertical height and will influence which tripod you choose. You current equipment is pretty light so most reasonably sized tripods will handle that but not all tripods are SHORT enough for an average sized person with a panaoramic/leveling base, grip and L-bracket unless the legs are collapsed a bit. You might not think that is important but it will bug you every time you use the tripod.

Personally, I would consider the Manfrotto 190 XProB. No, it isn't as stout as the 055 but given your equipment it will suffice. More importantly, it is small enough to fit a person up to 5'8" tall with the above mentioned add-ons (grip, etc.) without having to collapse the legs. It is light enough to not be objectionable and it allows you to mount the column sideways like the 055 should you ever have the need. I own both the 190 and 055 and like both but the 055 only comes out when I need to use bigger lenses. I do a lot of macro work and find the 190 more than adequate for that purpose. It will also get down low enough for almost any purpose I can think of.

When choosing a ballhead I would advise you to buy the very best you can afford. In fact, I would compromise on the tripod before I compromised on the ballhead. I own ballheads from Benro, Giottos, and Markins. I have also owned and sold several Manfrotto ballheads and have tried my brother-in-law's Acratech. Of all of these, the Markins is the smoothest, most trouble-free ballhead I have used. Looking back, I would have saved a lot of money by just buying the Markins at the outset. I haven't used a Kirk or RRS ballhead but understand they are also pretty good.

I also use a Manfrotto 410 Jr. geared panhead (mounted on the 190) for macro. It is really tough to beat when framing precisely. Combined with a focusing rail, this is about the best set up I have used.

Sorry, I probably am adding to your confusion but here is the bottom line: Buy a good head. Buy a tripod that will support your current and anticipated gear and that fits you without any fuss. Go to a store and handle the tripods, and take your camera with you; that will tell you more than any of us can.

Good luck!
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