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08-25-2013, 01:14 PM   #1
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How about cheap Triopo tripod legs?

Hi, I've been doing some long exposures with a small gorillapod lately, but things are not that well, because the low perspective forces you to see things just one way, and as such, I'm looking for a full-sized tripod that will not break the bank.
I came across the Triopo brand and it seems to provide reasonable quality for the price they ask (which is more important to me right now), and they sell both legs and ball heads. Honestly, I am not looking for the absolute best quality (what can you ask for in this price range), and I'm ready to deal with some fiddly stuff, but before I bite the bullet, I just wanted to be sure by asking you first that I don't make a major mistake.
So here are the two leg models that caught my attention:
Triopo MX-1128. This is a cheaper model, only 1.5 meters tall and 1.5 kg weight. It has 4 leg sections and cannot fold the other way.
Triopo MX-1327 This looks better, honestly, being capable of 1.8 meters, only 3 sections which should mean it's sturdier, although it's 60% more expensive and 2.2 kg heavy.

Regarding the ball heads, the Triopo ball heads seem well-regarded, and are priced accordingly (high as hell), so I figured why not try some cheapo ebay heads, which only cost about $30. After all, what can be so bad about them? Here are some alternatives that I found for a head, although it seems like they're the same basic model:
Head #1
Head #2
Head #3
Head #4

If you do make other suggestions, please keep in mind that I am on a very tight budget (only about $140 max), so if these are absolutely shitty and I won't be able to find any better in the price range, please kindly suggest so and I will keep saving for later.
Unfortunately I am kind of in a hurry, so fast replies are appreciated, because I am going to bite the bullet tomorrow.


Last edited by vladimiroltean; 08-25-2013 at 01:31 PM.
08-25-2013, 01:49 PM   #2
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I recently got the Carbon fibre set of these, they are rock solid, the mounting thread is really cool you just screw it out and flip it over and screw it back in to change between 1/4 and 3/8 mounting threads, the centre column lock ring with the big tabs on the sides is excellent to use (easy to grip) the legs are also adjustable to different angles as well. Good legs I say.

I use it with a Sunwayfoto ball head, a bit more expensive than you want, cheaper heads can be a bit dissappointing, not very smooth, tend to move a bit, look for one that has sep ball locking and panning locks.
08-25-2013, 03:16 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input. Unfortunately, after reading a bit about them, I believe that Sunwayfoto heads are both too expensive for my liking and too high-end for my needs. I really wonder how bad can those $30 heads be. I found some videos on youtube, but nothing truly convincing.

Also, how can I find out if a quick release plate is Arca Swiss compatible, and why does it make such a big difference?
And can you please answer my question, do you think the extra features of the MX-1327 are worth the extra 60% in price over the MX-1128?

Last edited by vladimiroltean; 08-25-2013 at 03:27 PM.
08-25-2013, 04:43 PM   #4
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I don't know anything about these two tripods. I do know there is almost always a price justification for the difference.

The images make the 1327 look to be a sturdier build, for sure the extra capacity is there in the max load figures. I would figure real world load to be about 60% of stated value. How much does your gear weight?

Other than initial price laments there have been very few times in my 62 years of life where I regretted one bump up in price and quality.

You roll the dice when you buy and unknown / unhandled brand. If you go with the better one you know you took your best shot.

08-25-2013, 04:45 PM   #5
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Yes, The sunnwayfoto one is a bit higher end, Arca compatible seem to be what all those in your links are, the dove tail generally means you can buy a heap of different release plates for lenses and cameras. Look for 20-30 dollars you can give one a go.

As for thr two tripods, looks like the more expensive one is mainly taller, 3 sections will be more stable than 4, but less portable, just depends on what you need, I have seen other brands out there that come with a ball head around the 70 - 130 mark
08-25-2013, 05:46 PM   #6
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I don't know the Triopo, but I own four sets of legs, including one Chinese and one Korean carbon set that were relatively inexpensive, a Manfrotto heavy duty aluminum set, and a top of the line Gitzo 3 series. My advice would be a) buy carbon rather than metal -- the difference in vibration transmission is substantial, b) if you're tall make sure the legs are long enough so that you don't have to bend over, c) get something with a load rating that is 3 times the weight of the gear you anticipate using, d) understand that there is likely to be a point when you will wish that you had bought the best to begin with (if I had followed my own advice I would own 1 set of legs instead of 4).
08-26-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
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OK so there is a difference between the ball heads too - some are KS-0 model, and some are KS-1, both being copies of Benro models of the same name. Some reviews are here, here and here. The main difference between the KS-0 and the KS-1 seems to be the ball diameter, 36mm vs 44mm, quite impressive.
In the available online reviews, the only detractors to these ball heads seem to be people who never tried them. Now, having that said, I don't expect them to be the very best, just to hold my load (K-x / K-5 with small Takumars and M lenses) well without creep. In fact, they seem to be really basic, but who cares. I think I'm sold on the ball head. But what about the legs? As I said, the price difference is of almost $30, and in the cheap world, that is quite a lot.

08-27-2013, 05:46 AM   #8
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Hi there!

If you want a good balance of inexpensive and reliable, look at the Dolica Proline 62 inches tripod. I got mine from Amazon for 40$. It includes a head. The head is ok, not fantastic, the tripod is surprisingly good. Solid, light, bears a good load, comes with a carrying case, reverses for macro, etc. Nothing innovative in the design, but it works well. It has rubber feet that screw in to reveal spikes, it can get pretty tall, the levers operate well, there isn't much not to like. I use mine with a Vanguard ballhead that cost twice as much as the tripod and the pair fills all my needs.
08-27-2013, 07:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
If you do make other suggestions, please keep in mind that I am on a very tight budget (only about $140 max), so if these are absolutely shitty and I won't be able to find any better in the price range, please kindly suggest so and I will keep saving for later.
I guess if they hold your camera up higher than a gorrillapod and fit in your budget, you really don't need our sage advice. As time has proven over and over, you will either be happy enough with what you get, or go through lots of crappy equipment and money before your own experience tells you to save up for something better...

The tripods you linked to might not be horrible (I've really no idea), but the $30 ball heads will suck. A long time back, I had a KS-1 (same as those "Keep" models) and it was sticky, creeped, sagged, and then literally fell apart in a few months of very light use. Heck, the "lock" wasn't really doing anything at all unless I really torqued it, which may be why it failed... so maybe your experience will be different! Good luck.
08-27-2013, 03:24 PM   #10
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I'd buy used. I just picked up a Bogen 3028 head on the forum for around $20. It's a rock, and easy to use. Pick up something like that and a used set of Bogen/Manfrotto legs & you could probably spend half (or less) of your budget and have a really good tripod that'll last forever.

My wife bought me a store demo Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod with an excellent German-made Davis & Sanford (FLM) Centerball 38 head for around $125 online, so it can be done.

Buy something cheap and it may work for awhile, but you'll want to replace it. Buy something good, and you won't have to buy again.
08-30-2013, 02:36 PM   #11
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That Dolica looks really great, hard to believe one can get all that in just $45. Spec wise, it is surprisingly similar to the Triopo MX-1128, and half the price, and with a ballhead as well. And it's said that Triopo is a cheap manufacturer, so I really wonder what's happening here.
From the reviews I found online (also read responses), it looks like the clamp and quick release plate are proprietary, not Arca compatible (whatever that means), the legs are kinda wobbly when fully extended (at 150 cm, that is, which makes its useful height actually smaller), and that the leg sections are not well sealed and dust and sand can easily enter. That makes me doubt purchasing it.
As you said, the ball head may be good but not great, and I won't doubt that, I just wonder how does the ball head of a $40 tripod compare to a $30 ebay one. I mean, maybe it's the same quality, or maybe better for the KS-1, since they basically come from the same place (China). And I do kinda like the fact that the KS-1 has the biggest ball I've seen in the price range.
Yes, I saw all the negative reviews of the Benro KS-1, which seems to be the father of this ball head, but honestly, everyone seems to be taking the head WAY too seriously, and compare it with Manfrotto/Kirk etc. Seriously, why? I mean, why can't the same people also make reviews of the Dolica the same way, and not treat them saying they're good "for the money". For one thing, I wouldn't be now wondering if the Dolica is actually any better, because it gets better reviews.
Panoguy, do you have any recorded memory with that ball head? Pictures of it, with it, more details? How heavy was the load you were applying to it?
08-30-2013, 03:00 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
everyone seems to be taking the head WAY too seriously, and compare it with Manfrotto/Kirk etc. Seriously, why? I mean, why can't the same people also make reviews of the Dolica the same way, and not treat them saying they're good "for the money".
Maybe because a tripod that is "good for the money" will still keep your camera off the floor, but a bad ball head is more likely to ruin photos (by slipping during long exposures, jerking from place to place while you try to compose a shot) because it's the part you adjust right before you shoot, and it's also directly connected to your camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
Panoguy, do you have any recorded memory with that ball head? Pictures of it, with it, more details? How heavy was the load you were applying to it?
It was a long time ago, but I used a Canon 300D and 20D on it, with the only heavy lens being the Canon 70-200mm f/4 L (and that's fairly light). I think I used a Sigma 12-24 most of all (for landscapes), then I started using the ball head to level my pano heads and quickly got rid of that cheap thing. Turning the panohead is supposed to be precise, but the panning base would slip, and then the ball would slowly tilt, throwing my horizons off during a pano! Got a Markins and forgot about it. BTW, my tripod at the time was an early Feisol ($210 for carbon fiber, if I recall) and I still have it and use it. So yeah, cheaper or "off brand" tripods *can* be decent and last a long time, but I don't expect every brand to be like Feisol.
08-30-2013, 03:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Maybe because a tripod that is "good for the money" will still keep your camera off the floor, but a bad ball head is more likely to ruin photos (by slipping during long exposures, jerking from place to place while you try to compose a shot) because it's the part you adjust right before you shoot, and it's also directly connected to your camera.
No, you're missing my point. Why would the ball head of the Dolica be better than the ebay one?
08-30-2013, 04:11 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
No, you're missing my point. Why would the ball head of the Dolica be better than the ebay one?
I have no idea! I've never used a Dolica tripod or head. Might even be the same head, or at least from the same production line... the KS-model heads are sold as Beike, Keep, Nest, Seagull, and who knows what other names! Maybe you're missing my point: the tripod is separate from the head (at least they should be able to be separated, whether they are bundled together or not), and many cheap tripods are "good enough" while the cheap heads mess up photos more often and can be a constant source of frustration. Even the "wrong head for a purpose" can do this - try using a 3-way video head for action photography and you'll get the point very quickly.

All I know is the KS-1 sucks as a camera support device, at least from my experience. I think the KS-1 was $8 or something from DealExtreme when I bought it way back when... but from looking at the photos and reviews, it appears identical to what I had.

Last edited by panoguy; 08-30-2013 at 04:24 PM.
08-30-2013, 04:35 PM   #15
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Yeah, I understand. Although I was set for the MX-1327 legs, I found a local retailer that sells Triopo stuff, and I might be able to afford their MX-1128 + B-3 head for about $145, versus the $132 I was preparing to shell out for the MX-1327 (better) legs + KS-1 (worse) head.
At least I know the Triopo B-3 head is a good one, I see pictures taken with it on their facebook page all the time.
The budget is obviously limited. Maybe in another 3 years I will upgrade the setup. But for now, I am willing to sacrifice quality in either the legs or the head, but not both, because I don't want to upgrade both. I can live with a crap ballhead, as long as all it does wrong is pan. I can also live with legs that are less tall and maybe less sturdy, if the ballhead won't need to be upgraded later.
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