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10-20-2013, 11:05 AM   #1
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A "cheap" tripod? (I want it all)

I am looking for a cheap (but good) tripod for 200 eur / 265 us$ or under. New or used is fine. That's not too unreasonable, is it? By the way, if I find an old or discontinued Gitzo model (Gitzo Reporter for example) that's closer to 10 years old than 35 years old but can be had for a good price, should I just buy it? Or is there such a thing as a bad Gitzo? To make things easy I will probably look for a tripod+head combo together, but quality is more important than convenience... So please give me suggestions and I will listen. I want: 1) Rock solid stability (or as close to it as this little money can buy). Yes, I want to do macro and shoot at strong winds, the the tripod shouldn't be afraid of a little thunderstorm... I will mainly use it in nice weather but I NEED a tripod that can handle really bad weather too... Nothing longer than 200mm (if I get longer, I will probably get a new tripod...) 2) Compact would be good, but not an absolute must (anything at or under 60cm/23.5 inches folded would be great) 3) I really don't care about the weight, but airlines do... But light is not a priority. It shouldn't weigh 20+ lbs though... 4) It should support... at LEAST 1.4 kg / 3 lbs attached to the head without a hint of a problem. Any suggestions? I want to buy a tripod only once... (Well, twice. I bought a cheap $40 one just so I have something until I find a "real" tripod. I don't want to buy a third one... Okay, I will, but not just yet. So please leave the 600-6000 $/ suggestions out for now!)

10-20-2013, 12:17 PM   #2
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10-20-2013, 12:31 PM   #3
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Thank you I already read most of that article, and it's at the top of my list.

If anyone else wants to give suggestions, they are welcome.

I have read this article: Five of the best tripods for under $450: Digital Photography Review

but which one of those (except the $400+ one, I really want to keep the price lower than that) is the most stable? Are those the most stable you can get for under $260 (or under $300), even used? (I don't want to spend an extra $100 though if the extra stability isn't even noticeable...) "what is the most stable and the best bang for the buck?" is what I'm asking, I think.

I'm blind here, I really don't know anything about good tripods.
10-20-2013, 12:46 PM   #4
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There is a Slik 700 DX (circa 170cm) or something like that I've been looking at. Over here it's ~150€.

10-20-2013, 12:54 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
There is a Slik 700 DX (circa 170cm) or something like that I've been looking at. Over here it's ~150.
Almost all the ebay ones are in Ireland (long delivery time) or cost 70 euros more... I've read that Slik is also a good brand, but I have no idea how it compares to any of the others?
10-20-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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What about a vanguard alta pro 263 AT or 263 AGH
10-20-2013, 01:34 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reptilezz Quote
What about a vanguard alta pro 263 AT or 263 AGH
vanguard are hard to find outside the US... at least on Ebay.

10-20-2013, 01:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by tripodquest Quote
By the way, if I find an old or discontinued Gitzo model (Gitzo Reporter for example) that's closer to 10 years old than 35 years old but can be had for a good price, should I just buy it? Or is there such a thing as a bad Gitzo?
Gitzo tripods hold up pretty well. If you found a clean one, I wouldn't be too worried about its exact age. My Studex that I bought around 1987 is still going strong. It's also worth mentioning that the Manfrotto head I bought it with (Bogen at the time) is still working good, too.
10-20-2013, 01:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
Gitzo tripods hold up pretty well. If you found a clean one, I wouldn't be too worried about its exact age. My Studex that I bought around 1987 is still going strong. It's also worth mentioning that the Manfrotto head I bought it with (Bogen at the time) is still working good, too.
hh, I should have just bought it then. I wasn't sure! well, maybe I will find another one. or not. do you have any recommendations?
10-20-2013, 04:10 PM   #10
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Berlebach 3032 Wood Tripod - $229
10-20-2013, 07:19 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tripodquest Quote
hh, I should have just bought it then. I wasn't sure! well, maybe I will find another one. or not. do you have any recommendations?
I don't have any direct experience with most of the other tripods suggested, although I do have a smaller Manfrotto that I bought years ago because I wanted something more easily carried than my Gitzo. It's not quite as rugged as the Gitzo, but it's held up very well. Of course, it wasn't nearly as expensive as the Gitzo, either, so it was probably a better value overall. One of the guys in my camera club uses an Induro that's about the size of the ones you're considering. I haven't talked to him directly about it, but this guy is a retired executive and has plenty of disposable income. He always has good gear and I don't expect his tripod to be any different. lol I will say that I have 3 tripods and they all have different kinds of locks on the legs. The Gitzo has the twisting collar that you tighten, my Manfrotto has a knob that you tighten down, and my off-brand carbon fiber has lever locks. The Manfrotto and the carbon fiber with the lever locks have to be tightened every so often. It's no big deal. I just keep a small screwdriver in a pouch in my camera bag to give them a little tweak when needed, but it's something to consider. My tripods are all fairly old, though, so maybe newer locks are better.
10-20-2013, 11:16 PM   #12
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Hi TQ,

This one would have to be found used, but if you plan to use the tripod to shoot macro, you should at least be aware of its existence -- most are not. . . I have a Uni Loc System 1600, and it can put your camera in positions that others simply cannot even approach. It's not compact, nor lightweight (but at 5 lbs, not an anchor either), and the max ht leaves a little to be desired if you're tall. Also, setting one up, for the uninitiated, has been described as wrestling with an octopus while blindfolded. For me, the first few attempts were pretty funny, but after that, it was a piece of cake. . . The build quality is very high, and it's a very well thought out piece of professional gear.

One good thing though -- because most people don't know anything about this tripod, it's possible to get a used one pretty inexpensively. About 5 years ago, I was able to obtain a mint example for $125 USD. It was offered on ebay with that price as the starting bid, and I was the only bidder. At the time, MSRP was $309 including the case, strap, and angled camera base, but now it's more since it's being offered as a base tripod with everything I got included offered as optional add on accessories.

Benbo tripods use the same design, but user reviews at the time I bought my Uni Loc suggested that Benbo's bent bolt mechanism didn't lock nearly as solidly. I subsequently picked up a used original model Benbo Trekker (for $75 USD), and while the bent bolt mechanism is not a solid, with a little work, it has served well as a lighter weight alternative with the same positional capabilities.

Apparently, the designer of this system left Benbo, but kept rights to manufacture the design and started Uni Loc.

If you know what to look for, and are patient, you can get very good quality gear at or near your budget. I currently use 4 tripods. I don't think that it's possible to have just one that really works for every possible use. My big legs (72" max height, 3 section legs) are a set of CF Dynatran legs -- one of the first of the cheap Gitzo knockoffs from China. These were sold at auction for ridiculously low prices, and many were total junk, but this set, with some mods to the center column and camera platform, has been working well for me for my really heavy glass (300mm f2.8 class lenses with a Wimberley Gimbal) for over 6 years. I ended up winning an auction for this set of legs at $100 USD new. I've already mentioned the Uni Loc and Benbo. My latest acquisition was a FotoPro MGC 584N -- CF travel tripod that is almost identical to the Benro Travel Angel in features and appearance. The dealer had apparently ordered a few to try out, and this was the last of the bunch, offered for $165 USD new as a closeout (normally, these legs would sell for twice that easily). The build quality and functionality are excellent, and it's perfect for what I want to use it for.

There are a ton of new Chinese and Korean mfgs, and though it's a pretty daunting proposition to try to learn about all of the alternatives, it should be worthwhile to do some homework and learn the market, then wait for the right deal to present itself. Have the cash available so you can take advantage of the right deal -- The rule is "if you snooze you lose" --

Then you need a head. I'd suggest a ballhead that has separate lock, unlocked tension, and panning controls, and uses an Arca Swiss compatible clamp. For me, this is the absolute minimum feature set that I look for in a head. Most people seem to downplay the importance of the head, but this is your positioning interface for your support system, and inadequate ballheads are a constant source of frustration, especially for precise positioning needed for high mag macro work. It's possible to find very good ballheads with all of these features at around $100.

Sorry for the long post --

Scott
10-21-2013, 04:43 AM   #13
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If you want a new one, here ya go. We have one of these, and it's very stable. I have a Manfrotto 055X-PROB, and it's about as solid as the Manfrotto. Weighs 8 lbs, though.

Otherwise, you could probably get a used Bogen/Manfrotto for around $100. Something like the 3001 legs and 3025 head. It's hard to beat a Bogen/Manfrotto, in my opinion.
10-21-2013, 05:44 AM   #14
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Careful with Induro, a colleague has a 135$ model that is the exact same tripod as my 40$ Dolica.
10-22-2013, 11:37 AM   #15
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First of all, thank you all for your suggestions I will answer your comments:
QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
If you want a new one, here ya go. We have one of these, and it's very stable. I have a Manfrotto 055X-PROB, and it's about as solid as the Manfrotto. Weighs 8 lbs, though.

Otherwise, you could probably get a used Bogen/Manfrotto for around $100. Something like the 3001 legs and 3025 head. It's hard to beat a Bogen/Manfrotto, in my opinion.
The problem with some of these brands like this one are is that they need to be imported from America because they're not found here. Okay, the Ravelli still fits my budget but I would feel silly paying more import taxes and shipping than I pay for the actual tripod! (If it's the best option I don't mind, but I think I can do better...)
QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Careful with Induro, a colleague has a 135$ model that is the exact same tripod as my 40$ Dolica.
Thank you for the warning.
QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi TQ,

This one would have to be found used, but if you plan to use the tripod to shoot macro, you should at least be aware of its existence -- most are not. . . I have a Uni Loc System 1600, and it can put your camera in positions that others simply cannot even approach. It's not compact, nor lightweight (but at 5 lbs, not an anchor either), and the max ht leaves a little to be desired if you're tall. Also, setting one up, for the uninitiated, has been described as wrestling with an octopus while blindfolded. For me, the first few attempts were pretty funny, but after that, it was a piece of cake. . . The build quality is very high, and it's a very well thought out piece of professional gear.

One good thing though -- because most people don't know anything about this tripod, it's possible to get a used one pretty inexpensively. About 5 years ago, I was able to obtain a mint example for $125 USD. It was offered on ebay with that price as the starting bid, and I was the only bidder. At the time, MSRP was $309 including the case, strap, and angled camera base, but now it's more since it's being offered as a base tripod with everything I got included offered as optional add on accessories.

Benbo tripods use the same design, but user reviews at the time I bought my Uni Loc suggested that Benbo's bent bolt mechanism didn't lock nearly as solidly. I subsequently picked up a used original model Benbo Trekker (for $75 USD), and while the bent bolt mechanism is not a solid, with a little work, it has served well as a lighter weight alternative with the same positional capabilities.

Apparently, the designer of this system left Benbo, but kept rights to manufacture the design and started Uni Loc.

If you know what to look for, and are patient, you can get very good quality gear at or near your budget. I currently use 4 tripods. I don't think that it's possible to have just one that really works for every possible use. My big legs (72" max height, 3 section legs) are a set of CF Dynatran legs -- one of the first of the cheap Gitzo knockoffs from China. These were sold at auction for ridiculously low prices, and many were total junk, but this set, with some mods to the center column and camera platform, has been working well for me for my really heavy glass (300mm f2.8 class lenses with a Wimberley Gimbal) for over 6 years. I ended up winning an auction for this set of legs at $100 USD new. I've already mentioned the Uni Loc and Benbo. My latest acquisition was a FotoPro MGC 584N -- CF travel tripod that is almost identical to the Benro Travel Angel in features and appearance. The dealer had apparently ordered a few to try out, and this was the last of the bunch, offered for $165 USD new as a closeout (normally, these legs would sell for twice that easily). The build quality and functionality are excellent, and it's perfect for what I want to use it for.

There are a ton of new Chinese and Korean mfgs, and though it's a pretty daunting proposition to try to learn about all of the alternatives, it should be worthwhile to do some homework and learn the market, then wait for the right deal to present itself. Have the cash available so you can take advantage of the right deal -- The rule is "if you snooze you lose" --

Then you need a head. I'd suggest a ballhead that has separate lock, unlocked tension, and panning controls, and uses an Arca Swiss compatible clamp. For me, this is the absolute minimum feature set that I look for in a head. Most people seem to downplay the importance of the head, but this is your positioning interface for your support system, and inadequate ballheads are a constant source of frustration, especially for precise positioning needed for high mag macro work. It's possible to find very good ballheads with all of these features at around $100.

Sorry for the long post --

Scott
I could only find the Uni Lock new, and that's a little more than I'm willing to spend right now (it costs $400+ new). Otherwise good for macro, I will keep it in mind! I think you are right, one tripod is not enough for everything, but for now I only want to buy one, I want to save a little money... I have already spent $1200+ on lenses and accessories this month and I don't even have a decent tripod or bag yet... I will be happy to buy a Chinese or Korean tripod, I know both countries make top quality products... If you buy from the right company. Don't be sorry, I am very thankful for your long reply. I can also wait out a little longer, I'm not dying to spend more money, I want the best I can get for my money. Ok, I will revise my requirements. Macro is for fun, but I want to have the option to do professional work if the opportunity presents itself... I'm not a professional but you have to start some time! Based on this, I can set the macro and the crazy angles and heights related to macro as something for my next tripod. For this tripod I would see these things as priorities: 1. It's as stable as possible, if necessary, heavier is more important than portable, I rather break my back than my camera. If I buy a long telephoto lens, it would be a plus if it's stable enough for that as well. Stability in movement is also possible (so I need a ballhead?) because I would like to do some video work, not just photography. (And smooth stable panning and ability to change the angle pretty quickly doesn't hurt photography either. I'm not a bird photographer, but you never know what you will encounter.) 2. It can go as low as possible (even if it doesn't support all the angles and orientations you would want for macro), and the maximum height should be enough for 95% of portrait work. 3. I don't care about the brand, if it's sure that it will work for at least a few years (what more can you expect for $300, but it shouldn't break after 3...) 4. If it doen't have a center column, that's a plus. Like I said, I can get a tripod just for macro as my next tripod... So I can give up the macro requirements for this one. 5. I say it again, compactness is not a priority, but if I have a fairly good chance of being able to take it on a plane as hand luggage, I am happy. 6. I am happy with "enough", I don't need to go overboard. If the extra stability is something I really won't need 99% of the time, then I don't need to pay for it. But I want a tripod that doesn't take away from the sharpness of my lenses at all (in practice, not in theoretical tests). If I take a picture, I want the sharpness to be the best I can get with that lens, not the best I can get with that lens and that tripod. Does that make sense? Based on this list, you can feel free to repeat your suggestion or give me a new one. I am thankful for all the help I get. Right now I'm looking at Benro... Dynatran looks good, but the lower parts of the legs look a bit thin (in AT-9901 for example. Is the Amvona Dynatra is the same as the Dynatra you mean? I found both "amvona dynatra" and just "dynatra".) I don't mind it looking thin if it's still stable, but as I don't know much about tripods, I look at what I can. Thin legs look unstable to my untrained eyes.
QuoteOriginally posted by halfspin:
.
Is wood really that stable? I don't know anything about these things but to me it doesn't seem like the best material.
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