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04-25-2020, 10:25 AM   #1
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Travel tripod for 645n - good for backpack, not too expensive?

I'd like to get a tripod to use with my Pentax 645n, one that takes quick release plates. I want it to be light weight so I can carry it with my backpack of lenses with the 645n in the field. Also not really expensive (in my mind, <$200). I've used a Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 aluminum tripod for several decades which is great, but heavier than I want (7.4 lbs with the head) and not quick release. I'm an amateur hobbyist. Any suggestions?

04-25-2020, 01:41 PM - 1 Like   #2
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This is a really good question but a conundrum. You can lose weight going with carbon fiber, but that's going to be over $200. You want a substantial head to hold the 645N, but then that's going to add weight.
I've only once had a quick release plate fail and destroyed a lens and camera in the fall. That quick release was a light weight plastic foot.
And yes, you can always hook a back pack to add weight and stability to a hook on the center column, but then thinner legs or a smaller ball head are still going to be mismatched with a 645 and the considerable weight of the lenses as well.

I can offer solutions if you can spend probably double your max of $200.
04-25-2020, 02:21 PM - 1 Like   #3
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There are Sirui tripods that are near two pounds in weight that you may want to look at. A shortcut to one is below. There is the T-005SK aluminum version, but it is rated at 2 pounds less weight capacity than the T-025SK. I am not sure if the 645N and your lens are light enough for one of the tripods, but the specs are mentioned on each listing at B and H.

Some of the carbon fiber version specs are:

Key Features
Load Capacity: 13.2 lb
Maximum Height: 53.8"
Minimum Height: 3.1"
Folded Length: 12.2"

Below is the shortcut to the carbon fiber version listing at B and H that I was referring to.

Sirui T-25SK T-0S Series Travel Tripod with B-00 Ball Head
04-25-2020, 02:23 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
This is a really good question but a conundrum. You can lose weight going with carbon fiber, but that's going to be over $200. You want a substantial head to hold the 645N, but then that's going to add weight.
I've only once had a quick release plate fail and destroyed a lens and camera in the fall. That quick release was a light weight plastic foot.
And yes, you can always hook a back pack to add weight and stability to a hook on the center column, but then thinner legs or a smaller ball head are still going to be mismatched with a 645 and the considerable weight of the lenses as well.

I can offer solutions if you can spend probably double your max of $200.
Yes, I understand your points. Still, I really don't want to spend $400. I'd rather compromise on other aspects, and I might spend a bit more than $200 if I had to.

---------- Post added 04-25-20 at 04:34 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
There are Sirui tripods that are near two pounds in weight that you may want to look at. A shortcut to one is below. There is the T-005SK aluminum version, but it is rated at 2 pounds less weight capacity than the T-025SK. I am not sure if the 645N and your lens are light enough for one of the tripods, but the specs are mentioned on each listing at B and H.

Some of the carbon fiber version specs are:

Key Features
Load Capacity: 13.2 lb
Maximum Height: 53.8"
Minimum Height: 3.1"
Folded Length: 12.2"

Below is the shortcut to the carbon fiber version listing at B and H that I was referring to.

Sirui T-25SK T-0S Series Travel Tripod with B-00 Ball Head
Thanks very much for the recommendation of the Sirui - someone else suggested that same model, and it does look good to me. Do you have that model or anything similar? I was wondering if it extends high enough for the eye-level viewfinder of the 645n. I'm not that tall (5 feet 9 inches) so probably anything around 5 feet high (60") would be good - the specs say 54". Also, how good is the twist adjustment on legs as compared with the lever type of adjustments? My Bogen has levers, which I like, and I've only used very old and cheap tripods with twist adjustment on leg length, and they often slipped.

---------- Post added 04-25-20 at 04:36 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
There are Sirui tripods that are near two pounds in weight that you may want to look at. A shortcut to one is below. There is the T-005SK aluminum version, but it is rated at 2 pounds less weight capacity than the T-025SK. I am not sure if the 645N and your lens are light enough for one of the tripods, but the specs are mentioned on each listing at B and H.

Some of the carbon fiber version specs are:

Key Features
Load Capacity: 13.2 lb
Maximum Height: 53.8"
Minimum Height: 3.1"
Folded Length: 12.2"

Below is the shortcut to the carbon fiber version listing at B and H that I was referring to.

Sirui T-25SK T-0S Series Travel Tripod with B-00 Ball Head
Oh, also, my 645n with the heaviest lens I have (A 80-160) would weigh about 7 lbs.

04-25-2020, 06:09 PM   #5
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I have a very similar Sirui, and although they have the load rating, the 645N will not feel at all stable on it. The tripod needs a certain amount of mass to absorb the mirror slap and imagine the imbalance of a 2 pound tripod holding a 7 pound mass. I've used a counterweight on the center column but it still is not as stable as a properly sized tripod and head.

I am following this thread because I too have not found a "travel" tripod that does not compromise size and weight for a medium format camera and lens that is also in this price range.

Think of the value of the 645N. Think of the value of the lens. Is it worth risking all that on a <$200 tripod? I've learned the hard way. It's like buying a great car and then saving money with cheap tires.
04-25-2020, 08:19 PM   #6
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This is one recommendation I got from another group, what do you think? 3 Legged Thing Corey Aluminum Travel Tripod with AirHed Neo

---------- Post added 04-25-20 at 10:26 PM ----------

This one looks pretty good too. Befree 2N1 Aluminium tripod twist, monopod included

---------- Post added 04-25-20 at 10:36 PM ----------

And this was another recommendation: Befree Advanced Camo Wild Green Travel Tripod Twist

---------- Post added 04-25-20 at 10:37 PM ----------

Does anyone here use monopods with their 645s? That convertible tripod would give me the option of just bringing the monopod.

---------- Post added 04-25-20 at 10:48 PM ----------

Finally, someone told me they use this Sirui with a Hasselblad SWC and will be using it with a Pentax 67, so that sounds like it should work for my 645n. Sirui T-25SK T-0S Series Travel Tripod with B-00 Ball Head
04-25-2020, 09:04 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldChE Quote
This is one recommendation I got from another group, what do you think?
This one looks pretty good too. Befree 2N1 Aluminium tripod twist, monopod included

Does anyone here use monopods with their 645s? That convertible tripod would give me the option of just bringing the monopod.
Of the three, I like the Befree 2N1 the best. It's the most versatile and it looks to be the most sturdy.

Yes, I have used a monopod on both my 645 and 645N. A monopod for these cameras is sort of like having SR allowing you to be without a tripod down to maybe 1/15" with a 75mm or 1/8" with a 35mm or 1/30" with a 150mm. Mirror slap is always problematic at slow shutter speeds unless you're using a leaf shutter lens.
04-25-2020, 10:04 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Here is another one that one fellow uses and recommends: Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod with ball head, black

---------- Post added 04-26-20 at 12:09 AM ----------

Thanks for the advice. Yes, I'm kind of leaning toward the 2N1 as well. I'd like this tripod to have a lot of flexibility. I'm willing to trade some mass and sturdiness for portability, and I'm kind of partial to the Manfrotto tripods since I've had one for a long time. If I want a heavier tripod for more stationary use, I'll just use my Bogen 3022. I also like the RC2 quick plate and how it locks into place, and doesn't have those little pegs hanging below like the Arca plates. I want to leave two QR plates on the 645n if possible. At first I wanted the lever type legs just like my 3022, but in thinking about this more I think the twist legs may be better for portability, they are less likely to snag when carrying on a backpack. What do you think?

04-25-2020, 11:17 PM - 1 Like   #9
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"Cheap" alliexpress generally gets a bad rap here, but I have really found this to be a very good lightweight tripod. For a bit more money, there is a carbon-fibre model which is even lighter, but this is the aluminium model:

Zomei Z-818 Tripod reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database
04-25-2020, 11:55 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I use a Dolica LA600 which is surprisingly stable and can hold up to 15lbs. It also has a small quick release plate but I replaced that with an Arca-Swiss style plate. If you already have Manfrotto you could replace it with a Manfrotto plate holder, maybe even the one from your current tripod if it is removable.


One thing I like about it is that it has lever type holders on the legs rather than the twist type. I find the twist type slow to set up and awkward to use. Levers are much easier and faster to use and there is no doubt as to whether you have tightened them because you can see if the lever is locked into place or not.

Have a look at their website if you want a sturdier model but this model worked for me with my K-3 and DA300 lens.

https://www.dolica.com/legs?category=Travel

This model is taller, more solid and already has a Arca-Swiss plate on it:

https://www.dolica.com/legs/rx700b7xa-70-aluminum-alloy-tripod

Last edited by Theov39; 04-26-2020 at 12:22 AM.
04-26-2020, 12:42 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldChE Quote
Here is another one that one fellow uses and recommends: Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod with ball head, black[COLOR="Silver"]

Thanks for the advice. Yes, I'm kind of leaning toward the 2N1 as well. At first I wanted the lever type legs just like my 3022, but in thinking about this more I think the twist legs may be better for portability, they are less likely to snag when carrying on a backpack. What do you think?
QuoteOriginally posted by Theov39 Quote
One thing I like about it is that it has lever type holders on the legs rather than the twist type. I find the twist type slow to set up and awkward to use. Levers are much easier and faster to use and there is no doubt as to whether you have tightened them because you can see if the lever is locked into place or not.
I still prefer the 2N1 more. The latest one you linked only has a safe payload of less than 9 lbs. according to their specs, and that would make me nervous. The safety payload on the 2N1 is double that. Ball heads are the most common part that will slip and then the moment the camera follows the lens and everything tips and hits the ground. It only takes a second of trust to lose it. I've owned Manfrotto/Bogen for years and they are solid, but only good for what they were designed to do.

For most of my life I hated twist locks as I found them slow and confusing and swore by flip levers. But on legs, the number one thing that has broken have been the flip levers and/or something will snag on them and cause accidents. I am now a twist believer. With a little practice, it's not that hard to grab two to three on one leg and loosen them all at once. Then grab each one and turn them the other way to lock. It become muscle memory with less parts to break, nothing to snag, and lighter to carry.
04-26-2020, 12:47 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
I still prefer the 2N1 more. The latest one you linked only has a safe payload of less than 9 lbs. according to their specs, and that would make me nervous. The safety payload on the 2N1 is double that. Ball heads are the most common part that will slip and then the moment the camera follows the lens and everything tips and hits the ground. It only takes a second of trust to lose it. I've owned Manfrotto/Bogen for years and they are solid, but only good for what they were designed to do.

For most of my life I hated twist locks as I found them slow and confusing and swore by flip levers. But on legs, the number one thing that has broken have been the flip levers and/or something will snag on them and cause accidents. I am now a twist believer. With a little practice, it's not that hard to grab two to three on one leg and loosen them all at once. Then grab each one and turn them the other way to lock. It become muscle memory with less parts to break, nothing to snag, and lighter to carry.
In that case the Dolica RX700 may be more suitable. I think that one is rated at 20lbs and seems to have addressed the issues you raise. It also extends another 10" and the advantage of that is that you then don't have to extend the last leg section to be at eye level. In my experience, not extending the last leg section really adds to stability as invariably on travel tripods the last leg section tends to be thin and wobbly. While I prefer levers, I did notice that the pro level tripods generally tend to have twist locks so I guess there's a reason for that.

RX700B7XA 70" Aluminum Alloy Tripod ? Dolica

Last edited by Theov39; 04-26-2020 at 01:35 AM.
04-26-2020, 05:13 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I've got the aluminium version of the Sirui. I consider a K-1 plus a not too heavy lens (say DFA 28-105 or thereabouts) is what I am comfortable with on that tripod. A 645N with one of the smaller 645 lens might go ok but I would hestiate with a zoom or lens much over 75mm. It will flutter a fair bit in a breeze unless steps are taken to weigh it down. The shutter shock on the 645N might also be a source of vibrations that the light weight of the Sirui can't dampen.

The twist action for the legs is quite quick - to release you can grab all of them at once on each leg to untwist. So far the twist mechanism is standing up to use.
04-26-2020, 06:03 AM - 1 Like   #14
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I have a Sirui carbon fibre "pro" tripod and had to put the Sirui K40-X head on it. Originally bought the K30-x head, as it's specs said it would work, but it went back to the store the very next day. The K30-x was useless - it would slip/vibrate with the 645N, 645Z, and 67II, and the K-1 with the 150-450. I have a RRS arca-swiss style plate for the medium format cameras. Also annoying since I do a lot of "tilt up" shots, the knob is on the wrong side for me. (Same problem with RRS heads).

I prefer my Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 carbon fibre tripod, with a video-style head (I think the 501). I modifed the pin in the plate to fit the hole in the Pentax mf cameras.

Both are fairly light. I find the Manfrotto with a regular 492 head is not ideal for the longer lenses; the video head makes all the difference.
Don't go cheap. You've got the equivalent of thousands of $$$$ invested in your camera and lenses.
04-26-2020, 06:35 AM - 1 Like   #15
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The 645N doesn't have mirror lock-up and have a big mirror. You need a sturdy tripod.....
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