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01-07-2021, 08:29 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Your Tripods, and how you use them

In another thread on tripod suggestions, forum member StiffLegged inspired me with his nice photo story of tripod and backpack. So I thought maybe if we show our tripods, how we use them, we might give each other some ideas. I've got nothing clever, but I'll start this thread and I know some of you will have some great ideas to share.

I have three tripods (and two cats that decided to be in the photo), All of the tripods are aluminum with twist locks on the legs, with ballheads and arca type quick release systems.

The big tripod is an Induro that I have had for 11 years, probably 5 or six years ago I switched out the quick release system for an arca compatible one. This is a heavy tripod (Weighs 4 pounds) and it is very sturdy, I have carried it on many hikes etc because at the time it was all I had. I use it at home, put it in the car if I'm going somewhere to shoot where I don't have to walk more than a mile or so. I made a mistake of not getting a short center column when it was new, so it can't go as short as I would like without turning the column upside down. Even the center column is usable and super stable, I've used it a few times.

The middle one is the newest, a Sirui for travel, it folds down to 14 inches, and in use with the included short center column pretty much lays out flat with just the height of the ball head to limit you. I haven't really used it that much, just getting it this summer, I pounced on a "daily deal". The Sirui seems very well made and has been good in the times I've used it. I'll use it for travel and when I just want to go lighter. I replaced a MeFoto Backpacker - the older model that the center column was fixed. The center column being fixed in the up position made it impossible to shoot lower than about 16 inches, other than that it was a decent tripod. I had also had another MeFoto that I got as a gift, the Backpacker Air. It was horrible, the most unsteady tripod I've ever seen. You could only use it with the legs not extended, they would fall down. I sold it explaining it was only good for a cell phone, and the buyer was happy with it.

The small one is a MeFoto Day Trip, it a really nice little tripod that fold down to 9 inches and the legs will lay flat but the center column will limit how low you can actually go. I use this mostly for a table top tripod, although if you really want to travel light it easily fits into carry on luggage or backpacks. I also occasionally use it to shoot ground level macros.

Until recently I also had a Manfrotto Super Clamp with a little ballhead attached, so I could clamp it to a railing, or tree branch, anything handy. I finally sold it off because in several years I only used it a couple of times, it was easier just to carry a tripod.

For years I've thought about getting a bean bad but never did. Years ago I took a photojournalism class from a former US Army photographer that worked in Vietnam during the war. He suggested the beanbag, he carried one all over Vietnam, it was way more portable than a tripod.

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01-07-2021, 10:54 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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I've got five Manfrotto tripods/heads in various sizes. One is a compact fold-up model which I take travelling sometimes and the other four are full sized ones.

Which one I pick depends on the size/weight of the camera/lens combo that I am using.

This is my biggest one for the heavy 35mm lenses I own and for my medium format gear.

Manfrotto 028B Triman tripod, a Manfrotto 229 3D super pro head and a Manfrotto 359 long lens support for the camera end.


Phil.

PS the cats get a big thumbs up!
01-07-2021, 11:43 PM - 4 Likes   #3
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How do I use it? As little as possible.
01-08-2021, 12:57 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I've actually two tripods in my arsenal. One's a Zomei somethingorother. A nice tripod in use but I've not exactly needed it for much, if anything (yet). The other is a Moman Mini tripod with Moman ballhead. These actually came up remarkably cheap here in the UK not too long ago on eBay, so I ended up picking one up for £20 posted. Have used that for some light astrophotography on a camping trip last year and a little dabble here and there around the house. The Moman is a remarkably solid piece of kit.
I don't think I need another/replacement tripod unless I end up using the Zomei more than I am right now. There's a minute dent in one of the legs so it's a little trickier to elongate one of the legs than it should be, but that's minor in the grand scheme of things.

01-08-2021, 06:01 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Your Tripods, and how you use them
No GAS going on here... just two and between them they seem to do everything I need.

My main "go to" tripod is a Gitzo Series 5 Systematic XL GT5543XLS with Really Right Stuff BH-55 Pro with B2 Pro II Clamp on top, my review links below:

Gitzo Series 5 Systematic XL GT5543XLS reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database and Really Right Stuff BH-55 Pro with B2 Pro II Clamp reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

My "difficult places" tripod... is an ever faithful 38 year old Benbo Classic No 2, fitted with the Benbo Professional Medium Ball & Socket Head and Arca Swiss Clamp, my review links below.

Benbo Clasic No 2 reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database and Benbo Professional Medium Ball & Socket Head reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

The only other support system I use for really light weight and ultra low work (apart from a couple of beanbags), is a Platypod Max again fitted with another Really Right Stuff BH-55 Pro with B2 Pro II Clamp on top, reviews below.

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

As they say... I've got all my bases covered.
01-08-2021, 06:29 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Iím going to have to do an inventory and get back to you. I think I have six? Maybe seven? Three are ďfull sizeĒ: One NEST carbon fiber, one bogen (manfrotto) aluminum, one mefoto aluminum. Two are travel weight but still fairly tall: one carbon Siriu, one aluminum I canít recall the name of from the 60ís. Two are table top models: one is a Leica, the other is a Velbon (mini). I have several extra heads for the larger tripods and a window mount and a pristine kodapod with the box that I never use (Antique 1915 ~ Eastman Kodak - KODAPOD ~ Camara Accessory Stand Clamp ~ Original | #1720187243). I also have two monopods... a manfrotto and a mefoto, and recently my dad has said his Tiltall and another manfrotto monopod and a Velbon table top tripod that he has are going to be mine soon since he isnít using them. Sigh. I need to thin the herd.
01-08-2021, 06:50 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I have a set of Slik 700DX Pro legs

Slik 700DX Pro Tripod Legs (Black) 615-317 B&H Photo Video

And Manfrotto XPRO pan and tilt head.

Manfrotto XPRO 3-Way, Pan-and-Tilt Head with 200PL-14 MHXPRO-3W

It's a heavy setup at about 10 lbs, but that was my intent (that the legs are quite tall is also a bonus). I wanted stability for long exposure work, and this setup does the trick with no need for a weight bag. I thought about adding a hook on the bottom of the center column, but I simply haven't needed it so far. The legs hold rock solid, and my only complaint is the tilt limit of the head. I would've liked the ability to tilt the camera up more, but that usually isn't much of a problem in my uses.

01-08-2021, 08:01 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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My main tripod setup is partly influenced by my (now sadly infrequent) work with view cameras (large format and 6x17). With a view camera one generally wants a level platform, and for me the best and most convenient tool for achieving that is a leveling base. I have a panning clamp on that base, allowing me to rotate the camera without changing the level. And for those occasions when I want the camera tilted up or down, I clamp a monopod head into the panning clamp. I've since found that I like working this way with non-technical cameras too.

01-08-2021, 08:46 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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Sirui N-2204 Carbon Fibre Tripod

My one and only proper tripod is a Sirui N-2204 four-section, carbon fibre model, which I bought in 2011. Having stretched my budget somewhat at the time, I'm glad that I didn't scrimp on a tripod. I use an FLM CB-38F ball head with a Wimberley C-12 quick-release clamp.

The tripod is fairly light at 1.3 kg (2.9 lb). With the ball head, it weighs 1.8 kg (4.0 lb). Other specifications:
  • Rated load 15 kg (33 lb)
  • Folded length (without head) 46 cm (18.25 in)
  • Maximum height (with head; without centre column) 149 cm (59 in)
The tripod has performed well over the years, and I've been very satisfied with it. I recently disassembled it to clean and lubricate all parts, and to replace two cracked leg shims, which were available at a low price from a Canadian distributor.

Travel Tripod
Although it's not designated as a 'travel tripod', I have taken the N-2204 on a couple of trips. I find that I can carry it easily on hikes. I've considered smaller tripods, but haven't decided on a model. Although travel tripods are lighter and smaller, they tend to be less stable when extended fully and their load rating is considerably less. I've acquired a small Moman mini tripod, which can be placed on surfaces or strapped to supports of opportunity.

- Craig
01-08-2021, 09:08 AM - 6 Likes   #10
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I have 3 that I regularly use. One is a mefoto travel tripod and for its sized and weight I think is pretty good for what it is but is nothing special. I usually have in on the pack when hiking. I also have 2 big tripods, one is the Manfrotto 3058 with the 3057 head that I picked up used last year for $100. I will also stick my little equatorial (sky watcher star adventurer) on that tripod as it is ridged and heavy enough to do a good job with that. When I need a more ridged one than that I have my wooden one I made out of 2x4s and I usually stick a Manfrotto 3047 head on it. The wood one comes in at close to 60lbs but is rock solid for astro shooting.

The big wooden one I made for just under $50:
01-08-2021, 09:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
I When I need a more ridged one than that I have my wooden one I made out of 2x4s and I usually stick a Manfrotto 3047 head on it. The wood one comes in at close to 60lbs but is rock solid for astro shooting.

The big wooden one I made for just under $50:
That definitely looks rigid. Do you have any links to how to make one?
01-08-2021, 09:34 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
That definitely looks rigid. Do you have any links to how to make one?
Over in the astro group I created a thread for it as there was interest in seeing it as I built it to hold the SMC A* 400/2.8 safely and securely. It is a design that I came up with in my own mind and if I remember correctly it took 7 8' 2x4s and some scrap 3/4" pressure treated plywood I had laying around. I posed a bunch of shots there so that if one wanted they could recreate it or use it as a starting point for their own design. Most of the cost was in the bolts, washers, nuts, and screws. Since those pictures where taken the washers for the tray/spreader and for the upper hinges have been replaced with fender washers instead of the regular ones in the photos.

When I built it 2x4s where the cheapest boards you could get so while It could have been made lighter if I had used 2x2 or 2x3s it was most cost effective to use 2x4s. I find things somewhat amusing as it show the economies of scale that is the US lumbar industry optimized for the production 2x4. An added benefit is that the clamps for the slide out legs are square U-Bolts designed to clamp 2x4s so that actually helps solve the problem of having slide out legs and holding them securely. A good estimate for the tripod's maximum safe load capacity is 500lbs but that is a function of being made from bolts and 2x4s and was not a design goal.

Last edited by MossyRocks; 01-08-2021 at 09:35 AM. Reason: typo
01-08-2021, 11:18 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
In another thread on tripod suggestions, forum member StiffLegged inspired me with his nice photo story of tripod and backpack. So I thought maybe if we show our tripods, how we use them, we might give each other some ideas. I've got nothing clever, but I'll start this thread and I know some of you will have some great ideas to share.

I have three tripods (and two cats that decided to be in the photo), All of the tripods are aluminum with twist locks on the legs, with ballheads and arca type quick release systems.

The big tripod is an Induro that I have had for 11 years, probably 5 or six years ago I switched out the quick release system for an arca compatible one. This is a heavy tripod (Weighs 4 pounds) and it is very sturdy, I have carried it on many hikes etc because at the time it was all I had. I use it at home, put it in the car if I'm going somewhere to shoot where I don't have to walk more than a mile or so. I made a mistake of not getting a short center column when it was new, so it can't go as short as I would like without turning the column upside down. Even the center column is usable and super stable, I've used it a few times.

The middle one is the newest, a Sirui for travel, it folds down to 14 inches, and in use with the included short center column pretty much lays out flat with just the height of the ball head to limit you. I haven't really used it that much, just getting it this summer, I pounced on a "daily deal". The Sirui seems very well made and has been good in the times I've used it. I'll use it for travel and when I just want to go lighter. I replaced a MeFoto Backpacker - the older model that the center column was fixed. The center column being fixed in the up position made it impossible to shoot lower than about 16 inches, other than that it was a decent tripod. I had also had another MeFoto that I got as a gift, the Backpacker Air. It was horrible, the most unsteady tripod I've ever seen. You could only use it with the legs not extended, they would fall down. I sold it explaining it was only good for a cell phone, and the buyer was happy with it.

The small one is a MeFoto Day Trip, it a really nice little tripod that fold down to 9 inches and the legs will lay flat but the center column will limit how low you can actually go. I use this mostly for a table top tripod, although if you really want to travel light it easily fits into carry on luggage or backpacks. I also occasionally use it to shoot ground level macros.

Until recently I also had a Manfrotto Super Clamp with a little ballhead attached, so I could clamp it to a railing, or tree branch, anything handy. I finally sold it off because in several years I only used it a couple of times, it was easier just to carry a tripod.

For years I've thought about getting a bean bad but never did. Years ago I took a photojournalism class from a former US Army photographer that worked in Vietnam during the war. He suggested the beanbag, he carried one all over Vietnam, it was way more portable than a tripod.

Attachment 521425
Most of my tripod stuff is done off of a Feisol and ball head.
Pictures are available at their website.
For my long lenses, it's a Zone VI Standard with a Wimberley gimbal.

01-08-2021, 12:33 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Over in the astro group I created a thread for it as there was interest in seeing it as I built it to hold the SMC A* 400/2.8 safely and securely. It is a design that I came up with in my own mind and if I remember correctly it took 7 8' 2x4s and some scrap 3/4" pressure treated plywood I had laying around. I posed a bunch of shots there so that if one wanted they could recreate it or use it as a starting point for their own design. Most of the cost was in the bolts, washers, nuts, and screws. Since those pictures where taken the washers for the tray/spreader and for the upper hinges have been replaced with fender washers instead of the regular ones in the photos.

When I built it 2x4s where the cheapest boards you could get so while It could have been made lighter if I had used 2x2 or 2x3s it was most cost effective to use 2x4s. I find things somewhat amusing as it show the economies of scale that is the US lumbar industry optimized for the production 2x4. An added benefit is that the clamps for the slide out legs are square U-Bolts designed to clamp 2x4s so that actually helps solve the problem of having slide out legs and holding them securely. A good estimate for the tripod's maximum safe load capacity is 500lbs but that is a function of being made from bolts and 2x4s and was not a design goal.
During this past year the cost of building materials has just about doubled. It would be an interesting question to see how expensive this design is currently. Lol.
01-08-2021, 12:47 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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Your mileage may vary, but....

Just for completeness, here's how I carry my Manfrotto 055. It's not a lightweight travel job but it's my only tripod and I don't carry a 65litre backpack for the sake of one DSLR and four lenses, so this made hiking and exploring while taking a tripod (which I use a lot) with the camera gear much less of a drag. If someone would like to buy me a carbon fibre Gitzo or RRS of at least the same height I should be ever so grateful. Gitzo 3382 ball head too, pretty please!


Note that the tripod's weight isn't carried on the bag itself, but on the shoulder straps. Last used two days ago on a three-hour recce walk.







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