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05-25-2020, 08:55 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Tripod recommendations please

I've been frustrated with trying to get sharp images out of my K500/4.5 for a while, and I know that despite its handling quirks, it's because I am using insufficient support.

Can someone make some specific recommendations for tripod/head combos? I am interested in something used, so older models findable at KEH would be super. The taller, the better... I'm 6'3".

As a bonus, I'll share that I learned today that this lens and the 1.4x-L combo can achieve closer focus when extension tubes are between lens and converter, instead of between converter and camera. This might be helpful if you are trying to work around this lens's gigantor minimum focus distance.

05-25-2020, 10:24 PM   #2
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Interesting about the ext tubes, I'll need to try that.

What shutter speed are you hoping to achieve with the tripod? I have an Oben carbon fiber tripod that for my use works very nicely with the K500, but I am nearly always shooting at least 1/250s, and usually faster.
05-26-2020, 12:10 AM   #3
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I am familiar with insufficient support issue. The reality is you really can't have too much tripod. At least in my opinion. After a few insufficient tripods, I spent some bucks and got an Induro CLT404 Carbon Tripod. Like you, I'm tall (6'4"), and it's nice having a tripod that I rarely have to extend all the way to use it. The other place I broke down and spent some bucks was on the RRS BH-55 ball head. It is truly the only ball head I've ever owned that does not sag, not even a tiny bit, when tightened. I have a Benro and a couple of Acratech ball heads. Excellent ball heads but they all creep just a bit upon tightening. I have adjusted tension, etc but they still sag when initially tightened.


I do a lot of tripod work "in studio" (that's code for the dining room) so I don't mind the weight issue of the larger tripod and the heavier ball head (I was a bit stunned a how large the BH-55 actually was when I got it). And when I do take them out, I'm willing to haul them because I know I won't have to fuss with them.
05-26-2020, 02:54 AM   #4
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have you looked at the user reviews of such gear here yet:


Tripods and Rigging - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

05-26-2020, 02:57 AM   #5
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I've been using a Manfrotto 190 tripod for years and have been totally satisfied with it ... then a couple of days ago an opportunity arose to acquire a Manfrotto 055c with head for an "attractive" price. Totally different ball-park!


I'm 5'11" and it extends way over my head, the camera is at eye-level with the central column retracted. If I mount my 800mm mirror the LiveView screen doesn't shake when I'm trying to get the focus-peaking spot-on!
I can use it for weight-training if I'm not taking pictures


Choice of head may be down to style of photography. I'd suggest avoiding anything with a long panning handle unless you really need it (for video?), it gets in the way! My Manfrotto "medium" ball-head works well "most of the time". The three-axis 141RC head on my recent purchase is even more stable and less prone to "sag", but won't elevate (tilt backwards) very high ... I remount the camera "backwards" when required
05-26-2020, 04:40 AM   #6
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There are really two things to consider the first is a tripod, but the second is the mount. I have a Tamron 200-500/5.6 and I put a jobo Jr gimbal head on my tripod, got the right extension plate and was frustrated with the vibration. So I took the j shaped swinging ark of the head, and mount the lens to the pivot directly. What a difference in vibration. The lens is now rock solid on the head, it is still balanced around the pivot, so I use it that way

As for the tripod, i have an ancient Vivitar professional from the 70’s that I found years ago. It is solid and has separate braces that go from the legs to the center column that can be locked. Some people criticize this saying it is only needed on cheap tripods, but when looking a 500mm plus lenses, vibration is so amplified anything that can be done to stiffen the structure helps
05-26-2020, 05:38 AM   #7
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I've had one of these Manfrotto 55xproB for years. At 6'4" this reaches 3" to 70" max and built like crazy plus goes horizontal,.... Here is a used copy of it at Adorama..
https://www.adorama.com/us%20%20%201270003.html?=adl-gbase
05-26-2020, 06:00 AM   #8
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Manfrotto 3011BN tripod with 3130 Fluid head. Heavy and sturdy. Used for nearly 20 years with no problems.

05-26-2020, 07:31 AM   #9
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How much is this a tripod issue and how much a method/technique issue?
One of the first things I would look at is how well balanced your lens is on the tripod. I make my own extension plates to get the lens balanced. Doesn't need to be exact, if you're not using a gimbal then as soon as the lens is inclined up or down it starts to get increasingly out of balance. But I am convinced good balance is beneficial, particularly for sagging.
The second thing is flex. The ruler test: lock the mount and push down on the end of the lens. How much does it tend to go booyng and oscillate, even if only slightly, like a bendy ruler? I was at the bird reserve once and a photographer there was using a massive video tripod, must have weighed 25lb/10kg, with a 500 or 600mm lens. "only way" he said. My slik SL67 isn't lightweight but its nowhere near that (and by the by, unless and until I am really convinced that a top of the range CF tripod can do that much more than the slik, there's no way I am splashing out 20 times the price on one). And I can definitely get some boyng with eg 200-500mm 31a Lowell mentioned, or 300mm f2.8 + tc. So then it's not really about strength, but rigidity, and not operating in a way that introduces vibration and movement.

And the #1 technique to avoid those is... remote shutter release. Are you using that?

Of course if you're eg tracking birds then you can't hands off and let the tripod + lens settle to a motionless state (which is the ideal). I guess the way I try to operate is similar to most - left hand on top the lens acting a bit as a damper, right hand operates the camera. It's clear that there is every possibility for shutter press jerk, no matter how hard one tries and practices. My own thought is that I should still be trying to use a remote shutter release as often as possible.
Just my thoughts.. I'd be interested to hear how others work.

And as for what can be done with really diligent technique and good set up, Ducatigaz pics with 600mm f4, 800mm f5.6, in the 300mm lens club are pretty much the standout here on PF..

Last edited by marcusBMG; 05-26-2020 at 07:39 AM.
05-26-2020, 07:32 AM   #10
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There are so many tripods to choose from. Anyone will have experience with a few units at best. So it's hard to make definitive recommendations, other than "I like what I have" (or don't like).

With a lens like that, my first suggestion would be to look into a gimbal, these make longer lenses much easier to use.

I personally frequently use the Sirui T-025X travel tripod and have started replacing it with the Peak Design Travel tripod. However, when I use heavier lenses, I use the Oben C-2491 tripod (it fits your bill as it is tall) and the Oben GH30 gimbal. They're not perfect, but the company decided to get the basics right instead of adding many bells and whistles. They're satisfied me for about two years.
05-26-2020, 07:36 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcdoss Quote
Tripod recommendations please
Maybe not the cheapest route... but a rock solid set up, works well with my HM The Queen SMC Pentax 500mm F4.5.

Remember it's not just legs, but also a good head will be required too.

Really Right Stuff BH-55 Pro with B2 Pro II Clamp reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

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05-26-2020, 07:42 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by david94903 Quote
I was a bit stunned a how large the BH-55 actually was when I got it
+1... but a great bit of kit.
05-26-2020, 08:33 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
What shutter speed are you hoping to achieve with the tripod? I have an Oben carbon fiber tripod that for my use works very nicely with the K500, but I am nearly always shooting at least 1/250s, and usually faster.
I try to keep shutter speeds about where you're keeping yours, or higher. I tend to use the K500 at higher ISO and 1/500 or better. Thanks for the lead on the Oben, however carbon fiber sounds expensive. This tripod will pretty much get used only for this lens (and the A*600 if I stick with Pentax and actually get one), so I don't want to overspend. Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by david94903 Quote
I do a lot of tripod work "in studio" (that's code for the dining room) so I don't mind the weight issue of the larger tripod and the heavier ball head (I was a bit stunned a how large the BH-55 actually was when I got it). And when I do take them out, I'm willing to haul them because I know I won't have to fuss with them.
Thanks for your specific suggestions... I'll do some research. "In studio" is how I intended to use this tripod (aka, around the house). I don't intend to take it traveling very far, maybe around the county as we explore, but certainly not going hiking with it. I have a nice but too expensive Peak Design tripod that works fabulously for my K-1mII units and every other lens I have, but it's not up to task for the K500 despite being labeled for 20 pounds.

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
Choice of head may be down to style of photography.
True. I've only ever used ballheads, and never even touched a gimbal. I'm not averse to a gimbal, but just have no experience and therefore no expectation.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
There are really two things to consider the first is a tripod, but the second is the mount. I have a Tamron 200-500/5.6 and I put a jobo Jr gimbal head on my tripod, got the right extension plate and was frustrated with the vibration. So I took the j shaped swinging ark of the head, and mount the lens to the pivot directly. What a difference in vibration. The lens is now rock solid on the head, it is still balanced around the pivot, so I use it that way
Sounds like you found the weak spot on your setup. Are you able to swivel the lens up/down while mounted like that? Thanks for your input!

QuoteOriginally posted by Oldbayrunner Quote
I've had one of these Manfrotto 55xproB for years. At 6'4" this reaches 3" to 70" max and built like crazy plus goes horizontal,.... Here is a used copy of it at Adorama..
https://www.adorama.com/us%20%20%201270003.html?=adl-gbase
QuoteOriginally posted by jlstrawman Quote
Manfrotto 3011BN tripod with 3130 Fluid head. Heavy and sturdy. Used for nearly 20 years with no problems.
Thanks for the leads, guys!

QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
have you looked at the user reviews of such gear here yet:
Of course I have, and thanks for the link. Posting direct questions always generates some good back/forth discussion about specific concerns, even when the question is stupid or inane as this one is. That's the beauty of this forum... 99% or higher hit rate for positive discussion, and by far best I've experienced on the internet. Secondly, I didn't have to waste my time reading thru a bunch of reviews irrelevant for this purpose. Plus the tripod catalog there isn't exactly complete. Thanks, and stay safe.

---------- Post added 26th May 2020 at 09:40 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
Of course if you're eg tracking birds then you can't hands off and let the tripod + lens settle to a motionless state (which is the ideal). I guess the way I try to operate is similar to most - left hand on top the lens acting a bit as a damper, right hand operates the camera. It's clear that there is every possibility for shutter press jerk, no matter how hard one tries and practices. My own thought is that I should still be trying to use a remote shutter release as often as possible.
Just my thoughts.. I'd be interested to hear how others work.
Thanks for this. I was not doing anything like this. For subjects that allow it, I use 12s delay, but no remote release. Also, I've noticed EFCS makes a significant difference in sharpness.

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
There are so many tripods to choose from. Anyone will have experience with a few units at best. So it's hard to make definitive recommendations, other than "I like what I have" (or don't like).
That's kind of what I was looking for. Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by Kerrowdown Quote
Remember it's not just legs, but also a good head will be required too.
Are you still talking about tripods? ;-)
05-26-2020, 08:53 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcdoss Quote
I try to keep shutter speeds about where you're keeping yours, or higher. I tend to use the K500 at higher ISO and 1/500 or better. Thanks for the lead on the Oben, however carbon fiber sounds expensive. This tripod will pretty much get used only for this lens (and the A*600 if I stick with Pentax and actually get one), so I don't want to overspend. Thanks!
I was fortunate to get mine as a Christmas present from my brother - he made the mistake of asking me what I wanted for Christmas! - and I just took a peek at B&H and the Oben is currently $60 more than what it was


Prior to that I used an old Velbon Videomate tripod with a Slik pan/tilt head, and it was OK except that it couldn't hold the lens when pointed upwards, like for a moon shot.

Do you have a long lens plate? A few months ago I bought a 150mm long lens plate and that has made a world of difference in handling the K500 and K 135-600.
05-26-2020, 09:56 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcdoss Quote
I've been frustrated with trying to get sharp images out of my K500/4.5 for a while, and I know that despite its handling quirks, it's because I am using insufficient support.

Can someone make some specific recommendations for tripod/head combos? I am interested in something used, so older models findable at KEH would be super. The taller, the better... I'm 6'3".

As a bonus, I'll share that I learned today that this lens and the 1.4x-L combo can achieve closer focus when extension tubes are between lens and converter, instead of between converter and camera. This might be helpful if you are trying to work around this lens's gigantor minimum focus distance.
In used, check out the Manfrotto 028 Triman. It's a big, solid and HEAVY aluminium tripod.
If you can find one, the old Zone VI standard wood tripod is excellent.
If you can buy new and have some cash to burn, look at the Feisol Tournament Tripod CT-3342 Rapid or the FEISOL Elite Tripod CT-3372LV Mark 2 Rapid. Both are carbon fiber, very light for their load capacity, and while not cheap, are not unduly expensive.
Wood or carbon fiber are both better materials than metal for using under a long lens as both have better vibration damping than metal tripods, which do tend to sing a bit. Wrapping a bungee cord around the extended legs at the first lock will alleviate some of the vibration.

One thing that people do seem to forget is that a good tripod head is absolutely necessary with a long lens. When I got my A*600/5.6 I also bought a Wimberley Gimbal head. That head mounted on my Zone VI tripod is what I am using under that lens.
Unfortunately, getting the best out of long lenses seems to preclude the use of budget equipment. My tripod and head cost close to Can$2K.

Last edited by Wheatfield; 05-26-2020 at 01:13 PM.
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