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12-08-2009, 03:27 PM   #1
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Light tripod considerations

I think a tripod would help my landscape photography and let me try some HDR. I've never owned one before. I lent one from my brother a while ago but it had a cumbersome 3-way head and was really heavy so I didn't really use it.

Ideally, I'd like it to be:
a. Light (as I do some day hikes sometimes and already have to carry much stuff)... maybe up to 1.2kg including the head, less is better
b. Inexpensive (as I'm not sure how much I will use it really and the Mrs. will not approve if I buy an expensive one and then not use it). Ideally less than 100 but 150 might be fine.
c. Not terribly complex to set up and including a quick-release plate.
d. With a ball head with a panning base.
e. Preferably, with a bubble level.
f. Not too low. I'm 6'' myself but have some back problems so won't want to be bending down constantly.

The good news is that it won't have to carry that much - I currently have a K100D w/ the kit 18-55mm, and see myself upgrading to the K-7, K30D or K300D and, say, a Sigma 10-20mm or Pentax 12-24mm lens which would still only come up to a 1.2kg or 1.3kg total.

Now, I realize I ask for too much even considering the small amount of weight it has to carry, so probably something has to give.

Right now my top candidate is the Slik Sprint Pro II. It has no panning base and no bubble level, but is only 60.

Does anyone know if you can change the included head to a different one and if yes, how easy it is?

Because if you can, I could start using it as-is and if I really decide I need a panning base/bubble level I could just switch the head to a different one.



Anyone have any better suggestions? Does my reasoning make sense at all?


Last edited by juu; 12-08-2009 at 03:39 PM.
12-08-2009, 07:23 PM   #2
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I don't know if this will fit your budget, but do have a look at carbon fibre tripods. Some, like Feisol, are quite reasonably priced.
The advantage is, of course, very light weight for the size and stability.
12-08-2009, 09:20 PM   #3
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I agree with Wheatfield on this one. Camera bodies come and go, Lenses much less so, but if you put enough money in a good, solid tripod/head you only have to do it once.

On the other hand it sounds more as though you simply want to test the waters and see if a tripod is something that will improve your photography (hint: it will...but that doesnt mean you will want to lug it around - and the only good tripod, just like your camera, is the one you have with you).

You do have to start somewhere, If $100-150 is already top of the budget, at this point just go for the Slik tripod/head you linked to above. Slik is a solid, known brand that will be good for testing the waters. If you find that a tripod is essential for your photography, then you can come back and check out many of the other 'what tripod should I buy' threads in the gear section! If not, then you only spent $60, not a huge investment. Good luck, hope that helps some.
12-09-2009, 02:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for your help.

Well, I was thinking I could stretch the budget for a CF one if it hit all the boxes.

However, the ones I've been looking at, even $600 Gitzos seem to either be not tall enough or too heavy enough (or both). Part of the problem is that I haven't found a good comparison site where to input my requirements so I have to look at them one by one at the manufacturers' sites.

I wonder if someone knows if head can be detached from the Slik Sprint Pro II kit. I found someone struggling with doing that from the Slik Sprint Pro (non-II version) and someone saying it is possible with some effort.

12-09-2009, 06:12 AM   #5
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It certainly looks to be a removable head - there may be some small screws requiring an allen wrench holding it in place on the tripod (so that it won't unscrew accidentally), but it definitely looks detachable from the photos you pointed to.

If you look up reviews of the feisol tripods (here and elsewhere on the net), they come very well reviewed, especially considering the price.

As far as height, how tall are you? I have a gitzo basalt 1932 - height is 55 inches if I remember correctly. With a ballhead that is about 3 inches, k20d and grip adding another 5 inches to the viewfinder it is a perfect height for my eye level - I am 5'11".
12-09-2009, 06:40 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by juu Quote
I think a tripod would help my landscape photography and let me try some HDR. I've never owned one before. I lent one from my brother a while ago but it had a cumbersome 3-way head and was really heavy so I didn't really use it.

Ideally, I'd like it to be:
a. Light (as I do some day hikes sometimes and already have to carry much stuff)... maybe up to 1.2kg including the head, less is better
b. Inexpensive (as I'm not sure how much I will use it really and the Mrs. will not approve if I buy an expensive one and then not use it). Ideally less than 100 but 150 might be fine.
c. Not terribly complex to set up and including a quick-release plate.
d. With a ball head with a panning base.
e. Preferably, with a bubble level.
f. Not too low. I'm 6'' myself but have some back problems so won't want to be bending down constantly.

The good news is that it won't have to carry that much - I currently have a K100D w/ the kit 18-55mm, and see myself upgrading to the K-7, K30D or K300D and, say, a Sigma 10-20mm or Pentax 12-24mm lens which would still only come up to a 1.2kg or 1.3kg total.

Anyone have any better suggestions? Does my reasoning make sense at all?
Your requirements are fairly typical for a lightweight hiking tripod and we had loads of threads about that in the last months. So, the Search function will provide you with more insights.

As the previous answers show: a CF tripod would be the best choice, as it fullfills all your requirements, except the price. Any metall tripod will be either heavier or not sturdy enough.

My personal choice is the Velbon Sherpa Pro 540 + Novoflex Ball 30 (and added QR base). This is marginally heavier, than the 1.2 kg limit you set. Look at the tripod from an investment perspective: a cheap product will be expensive in the end, because you will be dissatisfied sooner (not later) and have to buy a good tripod then. So, it is cheaper to buy the good tripod now.

If you search a bit online, you'll find, that the Sherpa Pro tripods can be found at very reasonable prices and the Novoflex Ball 30 is dirt cheap anyway, for such a high quality product (but no panning base!)

Some annotations to your requirements: Both, a panning base and a QR base will add considerably to the weight of the head. The weight of the head might be doubled by this. The same is true for the length of the tripod. The longer the heavier (or flimsier...). Calculating the height should take the height of the ball head + camera into consideration, too, which add up to something likt additional 15cms or even more. Thus, if you prefer a height of 160cm, a tripod with 140cm shoulder height should be fine.

Ben
12-09-2009, 07:53 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by juu Quote
Thanks for your help.

Well, I was thinking I could stretch the budget for a CF one if it hit all the boxes.

However, the ones I've been looking at, even $600 Gitzos seem to either be not tall enough or too heavy enough (or both). Part of the problem is that I haven't found a good comparison site where to input my requirements so I have to look at them one by one at the manufacturers' sites.

I wonder if someone knows if head can be detached from the Slik Sprint Pro II kit. I found someone struggling with doing that from the Slik Sprint Pro (non-II version) and someone saying it is possible with some effort.
I'm just over 6' tall. the Feisol Tournament that I have with the CB-50D head is tall enough for me when shooting horizontal, but it is a bit short for verticals. They do make a center column if you need to go taller.
One thing I've found since I bought the Feisol and stopped using my old Manfrotto 055 is that I actually carry a tripod with me rather than try to handhold stuff I shouldn't be trying to handhold.
12-10-2009, 01:20 PM   #8
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OK, thanks for your help. I have to do some thinking... the good thing about buying a cheaper one would also be that I could just keep it in the car and not worry if it gets stolen.

That might make it more likely I have it available...

However, I found some Gitzo's, like the GT-2531 or Gitzo GT-1531 which seem to be reasonable options weight-wise and might just be the "tripod for life" that many recommend one to buy.

12-10-2009, 04:28 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by juu Quote
OK, thanks for your help. I have to do some thinking... the good thing about buying a cheaper one would also be that I could just keep it in the car and not worry if it gets stolen.

That might make it more likely I have it available...

However, I found some Gitzo's, like the GT-2531 or Gitzo GT-1531 which seem to be reasonable options weight-wise and might just be the "tripod for life" that many recommend one to buy.
Right now, a tripod is probably your surest long term investment bet. Camera bodies are pretty much a disposable commodity these days, and while good lenses are forever (or should be), it's quite possible that an increased sensor sized camera could make a lot of the clipped format lenses, if not obsolete, at least somewhat less desirable.
If you can swing a Gitzo you won't be disappointing, they really are very good indeed.
12-11-2009, 01:46 AM   #10
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Well, everyone wants tripod to be:
  1. Sturdy
  2. Light
  3. Cheap

Unfortunately, reality is that you can't have all three characteristics together. You can get only two of them...
12-16-2009, 04:15 AM   #11
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Oh, well, I went for the Slik Sprint Pro II GM for 68 gbp with shipping. I'll see if it's sturdy enough.
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