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12-08-2013, 09:49 PM   #1
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Which tripod to get

I had a Hama tripod which broke too easily. I am now looking for something more durable, stable, and allowing of vertical shots in a painless way. Anyone knows of any worthy candidates?

BTW: I am no pro and there is a limit to how much I will be willing to pay for my equipment.


Last edited by DominicVII; 12-08-2013 at 09:56 PM.
12-08-2013, 10:07 PM   #2
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I have a Bogen, but will upgrade to Really Right Stuff(RRS)in the spring. I'll do it right the first time and get out of the way instead of buying numerous brands and ending up spending the same.
12-08-2013, 10:18 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by tabl10s Quote
I have a Bogen, but will upgrade to Really Right Stuff(RRS)in the spring. I'll do it right the first time and get out of the way instead of buying numerous brands and ending up spending the same.
RRS...is that a trademark?

I have the impression that Manfrotto is the only reputable manufacturer.
12-08-2013, 10:19 PM   #4
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What camera and what lens(es) do you have?
Will make it easier to help us recommend which tripod you should buy as there is a tripod jungle out there

12-08-2013, 10:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Yos Quote
What camera and what lens(es) do you have?
Will make it easier to help us recommend which tripod you should buy as there is a tripod jungle out there
I have a Kr and will soon be getting a K5ii. The heaviest lenses that I will be using are my Sigma 10-20 and Tamron 90.
12-08-2013, 10:51 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by DominicVII Quote
I have the impression that Manfrotto is the only reputable manufacturer.
I think my Manfrotto tripods are the cat's meow, but there are a few other brands that are right up there. Gitzo (owned by the same parent org as Manfrotto) is considered higher quality, though I never bonded with mine. Slik makes good ones. RRS is super good. And then there are about a dozen Chinese knockoff brands, some of which have very strong followings. I don't have any experience with those so will leave the raves to others.

All I know is that on these cold days, carbon fiber is worth it.

M
12-08-2013, 11:04 PM   #7
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All the names being thrown around are very good.

Personally, I love my Vanguard Alta Pro. I tried a couple Manfrottos and high end Promasters and found that the Vanguard was what I was after. Plus the price was amazing when I bought it.

Best advice is to save a bit of money first, then buy something really good. As opposed to buying several el cheapo's and then getting a good one
12-08-2013, 11:06 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
I think my Manfrotto tripods are the cat's meow, but there are a few other brands that are right up there. Gitzo (owned by the same parent org as Manfrotto) is considered higher quality, though I never bonded with mine. Slik makes good ones. RRS is super good. And then there are about a dozen Chinese knockoff brands, some of which have very strong followings. I don't have any experience with those so will leave the raves to others.

All I know is that on these cold days, carbon fiber is worth it.

M
I have two Sirui tripods. They are awesome. Highly recommend. Carry a six year full warranty.


Michael J.

12-08-2013, 11:32 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
All the names being thrown around are very good.

Personally, I love my Vanguard Alta Pro. I tried a couple Manfrottos and high end Promasters and found that the Vanguard was what I was after. Plus the price was amazing when I bought it.

Best advice is to save a bit of money first, then buy something really good. As opposed to buying several el cheapo's and then getting a good one
I concur. I ordered that same tripod last week. I have 3 cheapo's in the garage now.
12-09-2013, 03:24 AM - 1 Like   #10
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To be honest a Manfrotto is about as cheap as I would go. Cheap tripods are a pain to use, you lock the head and they droop, you lock again and they sag, it's a dog chasing it's tail routine that will quickly put you off using it.

For stills photography a ball head is favourite, only one control to lock off makes them quick to use, the other option is pan and tilt then you have to lock off three adjustments, but for video you need a pan and tilt. There are heads that have both with the throw of a lever nowadays, I don't know how good they are. If you can afford a fluid head these just stay where you point them once set up, no controls to lock off, but they cost more than the tripod legs. You can fit any head with the standard 3/8th Whitworth thread to any manufacturers legs. Quick release plates are a boon too (Manfrotto RC2 system), make attaching and removing your camera on and off the tripod quick, easy and securely.

If you can afford the difference carbon fibre are just as rigid with less than half the weight, but you have to watch them in high winds (experience talking LOL).

Chris
12-09-2013, 05:56 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DominicVII Quote
RRS...is that a trademark?

I have the impression that Manfrotto is the only reputable manufacturer.
All the Dominic's I know are Italian Gitzo is better and RRS is better still as their heads can fit on Gitzo legs(Manfrotto, too). Do it right the first time. Here are video's to educate.

Really Right Stuff-Index

Last edited by tabl10s; 12-10-2013 at 12:34 AM.
12-09-2013, 06:15 AM - 4 Likes   #12
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Sorry about the wall of words that this is probably going to turn into. I would like to make a distinction between several parts of the system. A tripod is really several parts, that have started to be touched on here. The most obvious part is the legs, then the head, and I'll also throw in the clamp (since there are some options available there). Also, since you specifically called out wanting to do vertical shots, I'll add one other item - an L bracket.

So the legs are the base as you already know. The head on the lower cost tripods usually comes with the legs. Usually included with the head is the clamp/quick release clamp, however you can always remove the head from the tripod and put another head on (as it just screws on). The clamp comes in a number of various mechanical interconnect styles that determines the plate style/type that is used.
  • Legs - This is the bottom part, the legs. There are usually three of them. Aluminum or Carbon Fiber are usually the options to choose from (but there are also some very fine wood versions available). There are also flip leg locks or twist locks as an option. Weight is a consideration - heaver is also better, but for traveling weight and size is a consideration. Number of sections - usually 3 or 4. Less is more in this case as fewer sections make a stronger base, but more is better for traveling and carrying it in luggage. With or without a center column is also a choice. With a center column and actually using it, you can get some movement, however for us taller folks it does make it easier on the backs. Legs run from $100 up to $1000.
  • Head - Chris talked a bit about the heads. It really goes to what you are shooting. 3 way heads are great for video, while ball heads are great for stills. When you need fine control in setting up a shot 3 ways are a bit better since they afford control in each axis. There are also geared heads that are good for macros and just general night sky shots (wide field astro-photography). On ballheads you really need to look at the manual user controls. A main knob is primary, however I think you will find that a friction control is also nearly a must. I came across one head that only had the main knob without a friction control and it was nearly impossible to use. If you are into doing panoramas, then a panning ball head is really nice. The problem is that most manufacturers put the panning mechanism in to the base - this makes sense until you realize that for this to pan level, your legs need to be very level. Personally, I like to plop the legs down and level with the ballhead itself. So this requires the panning table to be above the ball and essentially part of the clamp assembly. Heads run from about $100 to $400+.
  • Clamp or Quick Release (QR) Clamp - I broke this out separately since you have a choice here. ArcaSwiss (AS) is both a brand and a standard. They are more high end, but very much worth it depending on your amount of usage, and inter-comparability with other parts. A clamp and plate are essentially a system. There are several clamp styles - the ArcaSwiss as a standard, then there are the others - the screw that screws directly into the base of the camera - or several other styles of plates (Manfratto being one with their RC2 style) that have smaller followings and are usually manufacturer specific. Clamps usually run $50 and up
  • Plates and L Brackets - Plates attach to the bottom screw hole assembly of the camera and remain attached to the camera serving as a quick way to mount the camera on to the tripod system. The plate attaches to the clamp.The L bracket below is a type of plate. I bring this up since you are calling out vertical shots. To easily flip the camera between landscape and portrait orientations in mounting an L Bracket is really nice. It is really an metal "L" molded to the body of the camera that has two plates integrated in to each side of the "L", thus allowing you to flip the camera and then easily and quickly tighten the clamp that is holding it. L brackets run at about $100 to $150 (and are getting increasingly more difficult to find for Pentax bodies). Individual plates run from about $20 to $50 depending on style, type and make. AS type equipment is made to be interoperable thus interchangeable
I never realized before I started photography that mechanical support can be so &%#@ expensive. The reason why I broke all of this out, is that your need for vertical. You can do it easily several ways. By far the easiest is with an L Bracket, but you can also use a ball head with a notch, that allows you to flip it to the side and there by act as a gimbal. Or you can do both in conjunction with one another. I really only know of L brackets coming with AS type plates. Another approach is to use the 3 way head which allows you to separately control the vertical and horizontal motion or pointing. An L bracket here would also work well in terms of easily setting up the camera in portrait or landscape.

What have I forgotten. All of these parts are available separately, or usually all come pre-packaged in the lower price units (you just usually don't think about it - but the choices are essentially made for you).

I bought a light travel tripod [Benro travel angle] (it fits nicely into my carry on luggage), and then later found a heavier Manfratto [3001]used to keep in the back seat of the truck. The Manfrotto came with a head 486R2 that I hated. It required three hands to operate (one to hold the camera and two to work the quick release safety latch to remove the camera/plate from the legs/head).

I splurged on a Acratech GP head - way more than what I ever wanted to spend (but I saved up). It has turned out to have been worth it. Its an AS type of head with clamp/plate assembly that inverts to provide the panning turntable functionality on top of the ball.

I have had two Kirk L Brackets (AS type) since they are fitted to the camera body (one for my K20, and another for my K5). The K20 did fit on the K5 but with the K20 being a larger body, it did not fit as well as I wanted, so I finally broke down and bought the K5 specific L bracket. The L brackets for the specific Pentax bodies come out after the body is introduced and usually dry up near the end of the body run. My L bracket lives on my body. It makes it ever so slightly heavier but I tend to use the tripod quite a bit.

hope that helps...

Last edited by interested_observer; 12-09-2013 at 06:23 AM.
12-09-2013, 08:09 AM   #13
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My tripods are battle hardened, and have been all over the planet.
Heavy, aluminum and totally rebuildable.
They've held camera heads, video heads, sliders and mini-jibs.
They have been clamped and been clamped to.
They have been dropped, frozen, rained on and baked in the heat.

They are indestructible.

The tripod is the Manfrotto 3021Pro with the 555b leveling post.

There are updates to the 3021Pro, but the leveling post is the same.

There is no substitute for quality.
12-09-2013, 08:31 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DominicVII Quote
I have the impression that Manfrotto is the only reputable manufacturer.
Manfrotto are fine, and quite common, but far from the only interesting brand. And their heads generally do not use arca-swiss, a deal breaker for me.

QuoteOriginally posted by DominicVII Quote
allowing of vertical shots in a painless way.
That's more a matter of choosing the right head than the right tripod. The cheapest and most compact solution will be a ballhead with a notch. The most complex and heavy (but best) would be an L bracket.

whatever you do, I recommend you stick with an arca-swiss system, it's so much more convenient.
12-09-2013, 10:48 AM   #15
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Thanks for your input guys and girls - especially interested observer. Still, I would like to point out that some of the trademarks you mention are not available in my part of the world. These are the tripod manufacturers I could find, and it is difficult know which ones are good and which ones are to be shunned. I know that Hama's are good for nothing.

Which ones of the following would you consider and which ones would you avoid?

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