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09-29-2021, 03:55 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Tripod Musings

I've been thinking for a while now, ie a couple years, that it's time to replace my cheap Optex special tripod thing with one that actually holds my camera steady... no rush, as it's not often that I use one, but I definitely see uses for one and I'd be more inclined to use it if it works. I've also realized that I do need to spend a bit of money here, hence a bit of time before buying one as I've just exhausted my spare change on a KP and 150-450... but thinking that I'll try and skip the step of buying multiple cheap ones that aren't really doing the job, and get something that should last years.

Basic needs for me:
  • Budget of CA$300-500 (that's about max US$400) for legs and head.
  • It needs to be relatively compact - such that it can fit in carry on bags.
  • Not be so heavy that I don't take it anywhere.
  • At least 4.5 feet fully extended, most preferably without a centre column.
  • Able to get real close to ground level.
  • Must be able to comfortably support a gripped KP and DFA 150-450.
  • Good ball head with friction adjustment, Arca-Swiss compatible.

Maybe I'm asking quite a bit, but so far in a cursory search I've come up with something on the very upper limit of my budget range that appears to fit the bill: the Leofoto LS-324C with an included LH-40 ballhead. I'm not seeing anything glaringly wrong with it, it hits all my requirements, and has quite a good stiffness rating at The Center Column; however, I'm possibly missing something or there's a better alternative - that's why I'm asking the forum.

09-29-2021, 05:20 PM   #2
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No personal experience with them at all, but I have had my eye on Colorado Tripod Company for their ballhead.
The price and feature set look very enticing to combine with a nice used name-brand (or new Chinese brand) carbon fiber tripod and come in around your budget.
09-29-2021, 05:24 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Q. Why are photographers 50% more muddled than economists in their discussions?

A. Economists say: "On the one hand..., but on the other hand...." Photographers say: "On the one leg..., but on the other leg..., but on the third leg....."

Sorry that I can't offer a better answer but I hope you find a good 3-legged accessory.
09-29-2021, 05:42 PM   #4
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Never saw or used one, let alone heard of the company. It has good specs in my opinion, and great reviews on B&H.

09-29-2021, 05:47 PM   #5
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I have just read a bunch of reviews on this tripod atB&H. Not a single negative comment.
I bought the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AP Aluminum-Alloy TripodKit with Alta PH-32 pan and tilt head in September 2019. I chose it mainly for it's height without extending the centre column (I am 5'7" roughly and the camera is at eye level for me - no stooping over to look through the viewfinder) and for the ability to slide the centre column up and turn it horizontal.
But I wish I had spent the extra money and bought the Carbon Fibre version. My aluminum version weighs 5.5 lbs/2.5Kg and with the D FA 150-450mm lens, it is a lot to lug around. This Leofoto appears to be 1.2 lb lighter. When locking down after obtaining the subject in the frame, it is a struggle to avoid the focus dropping and then needing to re-position and lock down all over again.
It looks like that may be less of a problem with the ball head on the Leofoto?
Your looking at this tripod has me thinking of purchasing a new tripod! Not sure whether to thank you or curse you for that!!!!!!

I have also been musing about purchasing some sort of fluid head to replace the Pan and Tilt that came with the Vanguard to get around the "drop on lock-down" problem.

EDIT: Have you also considered whether a bowl head tripod might suit your needs (re ability to level independently of position of tripod legs etc)?

Last edited by K2 to K50; 09-29-2021 at 06:00 PM.
09-29-2021, 07:31 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
a bowl head tripod might suit your needs (re ability to level independently of position of tripod legs etc)
That is very very nice. A bowl type, or one with a leveling base built in which has advantages if you use the tripod splayed out flat often.

I bought this leveling base and have not separated it from my tripod since, so if I were buying again I would get the built in. Almost essential for panoramas, or for gimbal heads.
My tripod is an Induro I bought used on web auction, so can't speak to Leofoto tripod quality directly. The leveling head is high quality, though. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a tripod from Leofoto if I didn't have it covered already.

I also bought a compact ballhead from Arctise, and I would say it seems to be the exact same quality level. It's amazingly great for the $30 I paid for it.
Another value-but-pro brand that I am seeing on Amazon is Innorel, although I have no experience with that one at all. All three of these brands look like they essentially focus on high quality knockoffs of the best designs at really great prices. Hard to argue against going that route, even as a lover of American manufacturing.

Related note, I'm giving Amazon the links, but I think it's better to shop at a reputable camera retailer, and preferably through Pentax Forums. Better still to buy used when possible, especially for tripod equipment. No shame whatever route anybody takes, of course.
09-30-2021, 02:11 AM   #7
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I read through the OPs post and came across the ball head being a requirement. I've used several different ball heads and 3 way heads of varying quality and keep on coming back to 3 way being my preference. Ball heads do seem to be more popular, but why?

It could come down to the subject. Most of mine are static, either in studio or in the landscape. The key thing is that I don't feel the need to rush to compose and just (strongly) prefer the accurate/precise adjustments that can be made with a 3 way head. I know folk say that a ball head is intuitive, but moving the camera in individual planes just feels right - a little left/right, a bit move up/down etc. Also a key thing for me is the security. With friction devices on all the heads I've tried, using a heavy lens just feel safer on a 3 way head.

Maybe others might have views on ball v 3 way head that may help this thread?

09-30-2021, 04:46 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Maybe I'm asking quite a bit, but so far in a cursory search I've come up with something on the very upper limit of my budget range that appears to fit the bill: the Leofoto LS-324C with an included LH-40 ballhead. I'm not seeing anything glaringly wrong with it, it hits all my requirements, and has quite a good stiffness rating at The Center Column; however, I'm possibly missing something or there's a better alternative - that's why I'm asking the forum.
I decided to upgrade my tripod earlier this year. Since the mid-1980s, I'd been using a Gitzo 320 tripod with a Bogen/Manfrotto 3047 head on it. It had served me very well. It could handle anything I decided to mount on it, from ground-level to above eye-level, but it was large and heavy. That was fine when I was younger, but tripods have come a long way so I decided to replace it. After doing a lot of searching, I decided upon the same Leofoto tripod you mentioned. I haven't lived with it long enough to make a final judgement, but so far it seems like a great tripod. The construction quality is very high, it's lighter than my old Gitzo, and it folds up to almost half the length of my Gitzo. My only quibble is that it doesn't quite go up to eye level on it's own...at least, for me anyway...and I'm a touch over 5'9" tall. I knew about this before I bought it, but had decided it was a trade-off I was willing to make for the sake of size, weight, and price. You probably know this, but this line of Leofoto tripods was designed without a center column in order to make them steadier and to facilitate getting close to the ground, but it kind of limits how high the tripod will go. With my camera mounted on top, it comes up to about my shoulders or just below chin level. My thinking was that, with a tilting screen on my camera, this probably wouldn't be that big of an issue and so far isn't hasn't proven to be. The good news is that my tripod came with a short column extension. It goes between the top of the tripod and the head and raises things up about 6-8", putting it pretty much right at eye-level for me. But...using that column extension also probably takes a bit of a toll on the tripod's sturdiness, so like many things, it's a trade-off. Having said that, I haven't noticed any real issue with it, but then again, I'm shooting landscapes and wildflowers. It's possible that if I were shooting with long lenses, that might magnify any shake issues. We'll see. I had thought about adding a leveling base in order to raise things up a bit and make the tripod more flexible overall, but that would prevent me from using the case that the tripod came with. Again...not a big deal, but something to keep in mind. Overall though, I'm very happy with this tripod and look forward to using it for years to come. Oh...I bought this tripod off Ebay from a Leofoto distributor. It was about $100 less expensive than I could order it elsewhere, but was advertised as having something slightly wrong with it. Well, the issue turned out to be that the plastic pouch that holds all the accessories had come apart along one seam. Otherwise, everything was perfect.
09-30-2021, 05:20 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Basic needs for me:
Budget of CA$300-500 (that's about max US$400) for legs and head.
It needs to be relatively compact - such that it can fit in carry on bags.
Not be so heavy that I don't take it anywhere.
At least 4.5 feet fully extended, most preferably without a centre column.
Able to get real close to ground level.
Must be able to comfortably support a gripped KP and DFA 150-450.
Good ball head with friction adjustment, Arca-Swiss compatible.

The challenge will be to match the strength to bear a 150-450 solidly with the need to fit inside a carry-on.

Will you use that lens in good light? If your exposures are short, the need for ultimate stability is mitigated. If you expect longer exposures, you'll need something much stronger.

Another thing to consider is that a lens such as this one is better matched to a gimbal, and that's counter to what you wish for. Plus it's expensive.

The tripod which comes to mind for your requirements might not fit your price point. It would be the aluminum version of this one:

Peak Design Travel Tripod Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

A decent choice, probably not sturdy enough for your lens in low light, but cheaper, would be this one:

A new travel tripod option - PentaxForums.com

I think it's better than the well-liked Sirui T-025X for you because the center column can drop down. It won't be crazy stable however. That being said, I myself used the Sirui for many years with good success, but the heaviest lens I put on it was the 60-250.

I hope this helps. Tripods like Gitzo etc are out of your price range. It remains that a travel tripod will never be the best regarding stability with big lenses. The Peak Design does much better than most, but it's still a compact tripod.
09-30-2021, 06:40 AM   #10
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Lots of great points so far - a few things to add.

QuoteOriginally posted by wadge22 Quote
No personal experience with them at all, but I have had my eye on Colorado Tripod Company for their ballhead.
The price and feature set look very enticing to combine with a nice used name-brand (or new Chinese brand) carbon fiber tripod and come in around your budget.
Interesting looking ballhead - hard to get hold off up here though.

As far as used tripods - I'm perfectly happy to go that route, and in general prefer doing so for reasons such as price and just the sustainability of buying used things rather than new - the problem with tripods is they're so fricking confusing, I don't know how to start looking for used ones! Even new ones is challenging enough...


QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Sorry that I can't offer a better answer but I hope you find a good 3-legged accessory.
Haha - I feel it was still a useful addition to the thread


QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
When locking down after obtaining the subject in the frame, it is a struggle to avoid the focus dropping and then needing to re-position and lock down all over again.
It looks like that may be less of a problem with the ball head on the Leofoto?
That's what I'm worried about - it looks like it should be strong enough..?

QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
Your looking at this tripod has me thinking of purchasing a new tripod! Not sure whether to thank you or curse you for that!!!!!!
Muawhahaha go spend more money

This thread was partly prompted by several other recent threads looking for tripods, and the acquisition of the 150-450 with the realization that it's more steady handheld than on my current tripod!

QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
EDIT: Have you also considered whether a bowl head tripod might suit your needs (re ability to level independently of position of tripod legs etc)?
I have - but I'm not really seeing the huge benefit it it's not being run with a gimbal for example. And the cost...

QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
I read through the OPs post and came across the ball head being a requirement. I've used several different ball heads and 3 way heads of varying quality and keep on coming back to 3 way being my preference. Ball heads do
seem to be more popular, but why?
Interesting point - I've never used a high quality 3 way head, or ball head for that matter. However I feel the ball head would be simpler for travelling use, as well as a variety of subjects - stationary landscapes to more dynamic birds for example.

QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
After doing a lot of searching, I decided upon the same Leofoto tripod you mentioned. I haven't lived with it long enough to make a final judgement, but so far it seems like a great tripod. The construction quality is very high, it's lighter than my old Gitzo, and it folds up to almost half the length of my Gitzo. My only quibble is that it doesn't quite go up to eye level on it's own...at least, for me anyway...and I'm a touch over 5'9" tall. I knew about this before I bought it, but had decided it was a trade-off I was willing to make for the sake of size, weight, and price.
That's great to hear some first hand experience - especially positive.

The height is definitely a trade off - I'm 5'10" myself - but finding something compact enough and strong enough (and cheap enough!), they just don't get that high.

Most of the shooting using it would probably be landscapes or low to the ground - where I'm either sitting, or using the rear flip screen of the KP. I also found that I could manage at 4.5ft looking through the viewfinder with the 150-450 on, and not too uncomfortably slouching. I'm not intending to use this for primarily wildlife shooting (big lens on gimbal and tripod etc) - the 150-450 will live mostly handheld, but to have the option while bird watching with friends for it to sit on the tripod while I drink coffee for example - not a high use case.

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
The challenge will be to match the strength to bear a 150-450 solidly with the need to fit inside a carry-on.

Will you use that lens in good light? If your exposures are short, the need for ultimate stability is mitigated. If you expect longer exposures, you'll need something much stronger.
Yep - that's the challenge for sure, hence having to compromise with a smaller max height.

As mentioned above, you can see a bit of outline of my use cases - mainly landscapes where I'd want it held down tight (including with the 150-450).

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Another thing to consider is that a lens such as this one is better matched to a gimbal, and that's counter to what you wish for. Plus it's expensive.
I did consider that - but I decided that's not the set up I am looking for at this time - I don't feel that the 150-450 is anywhere near large enough to be used primarily on a tripod.

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
The tripod which comes to mind for your requirements might not fit your price point. It would be the aluminum version of this one:

Peak Design Travel Tripod Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews
I did look at this - the aluminium version does fit within my budget, but I figured it had quite a few drawbacks within my requirements. Having to raise the centre column to get to a comfortable height, in fact having to raise it a bit to use the head at all... having to fiddle about and remove the centre column to get closer to the ground.

As well as the fact that testing at The Center Column shows the PD aluminium to have a stiffness of 456Nm with column all the way down, which is under half of the similarly priced Leofoto I was looking at, with 1095Nm.
09-30-2021, 09:33 AM - 1 Like   #11
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One thing to look for with twist type leg locks such as the Leofoto is to ensure that the leg extensions don't twist inside the the other tubes. My early model Feisols do that, and it can make loosening the leg locks a bit of a bear.
I know Feisol has addressed the issue with their more recent models.
Also, I've found with the Feisol tripods that the head can unscrew from the tripod a bit easily. With mine, I took a page from the Manfrotto playbook and had a few holes drilled through the mounting plates that were then tapped for grub screws to hold things down better.
I have two Feisol tripods, both have given me very good service.
09-30-2021, 11:27 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
I don't know how to start looking for used ones!
Not so sure how it works north of the border. In the US I look at ebay, KEH, and UsedPhotoPro (Robert's Camera).

It is complicated to be sure you are getting all the features and ratings you want from what is available used at a given time. Lots of looking up models that may or may not exist any more. But i think it's worth the effort for a probably lifetime purchase.
09-30-2021, 09:24 PM   #13
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I had difficulty leveling and was thinking of getting a leveling device, but then I reversed my ball head, and it works as a leveling device. May depend on the particular head--my Gitzo ball head does fine. But this means it should not be a QR model (or anyway it is easier if not), as otherwise the QR plate must be attached to the tripod legs.
10-01-2021, 04:48 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Having to raise the centre column to get to a comfortable height
You had required a relatively low max height. You wouldn't have to raise the center column a lot. I'm 6 feet tall and rarely raise it.

QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
in fact having to raise it a bit to use the head at all
It's just part of the flow, you need to raise it by about an inch. I do it without thinking and without trouble.

QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
having to fiddle about and remove the centre column to get closer to the ground
Getting close to the ground is a new requirement I don't think you'll find any travel-sized tripod with a bowl, or without any kind of center column, letting you get high enough but also close to the ground without some fiddling.

That being said, the PD reverses quicker than any other tripod I've used, if that's your thing.
10-01-2021, 08:38 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
One thing to look for with twist type leg locks such as the Leofoto is to ensure that the leg extensions don't twist inside the the other tubes. My early model Feisols do that, and it can make loosening the leg locks a bit of a bear.
Interesting - that's not a point I considered, but I imagine it's still perfectly fine if they do twist, maybe just a bit of annoyance here and there?

QuoteOriginally posted by wadge22 Quote
It is complicated to be sure you are getting all the features and ratings you want from what is available used at a given time. Lots of looking up models that may or may not exist any more. But i think it's worth the effort for a probably lifetime purchase.
Fair point! I'm not in any rush right now, so can be looking around.


QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Getting close to the ground is a new requirement
It's actually mentioned in my OP

But seriously, I'll take a second look at the PD aluminium one - I think I'd probably want to try to get in a store and play with it rather than ordering online however...
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