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11-30-2014, 03:02 AM - 1 Like   #16
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I have had the same two tripods since I began shooting. Together they still didn't cost me $100. I was given a table one recently with an old camera. It's vintage and all metal and I kind of like it. So that makes 3. I have thought about a monopod, even picked one out a couple of times on Amazon but killed the order each time. I'm not a big tripod person but I honestly fail to see what a $300 tripod can do that my cheap tripods can't. They're a bit heavier from what I've seen, but a sandbag takes care of that if need it to. I'm not into fancy ball heads really so I don't need to upgrade for that. If a $50 tripod has all the features you need then it's fine.

11-30-2014, 04:26 AM   #17
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My 2 cents:

I have 3 tripods and no one is really pricey:

1) Gorilla SLR ZOOM (about $60 - without head) - and it is special gear - it isn't real tripod, but there are situation where it is handy

2) Cullmann Nanomax 200T (about $30) - with simple ballhead - Becouse I had need something really lightweight and small. And it is nice, small, well constructed and easy to operate tripod.

3) My first tripod - VANGUARD ALTA+ 235AP (on sale at $150) And it is really nice one. With 3way head with quick release (with ballhead it is more expensive). Superb construction, fluid and smooth movement of head and no problem even with my most heavy gear (I dont use extreme telephoto, so it is about 1.800g)

So, I can reccomend any of them for their purposes.
But I dont use tripods quite often. If I will be a "tripod shooter", I will invest more, probablly in some Manfrotto gear..
11-30-2014, 07:05 AM   #18
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Like so many things in life a cheap tripod is a compromise, it might lack a level of stability, it might be heavier, it might be more difficult to use, it might have weight limitations, it might lack durability... but your shooting style and tolerance for these limits will determine what you need. I have an old school heavy aluminum Bogen with one inch diameter tubes (heavy) which I have had since the late 1980's or early 1990's, the stock head and several others have been used over the years with ok results. I should get a better head, which will not be cheap, but it also won't cost a fortune. My tolerance for the handling shortfalls is higher than my interest in paying the money to upgrade. My advice, get what suits you and upgrade if you find it falls short of your expectations, ignore the bottomless pit of the perfect pod, and ignore the advice of those who may have more means to buy them.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 11-30-2014 at 07:56 AM.
11-30-2014, 07:21 AM   #19
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I had a cheap tripod. It was heavy, handled poorly and I got motion blur during long exposures. Bought a carbon fiber on sale a few Black Fridays ago. More stable, handles better, light enough to carry around so I actually use it.

11-30-2014, 07:45 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
What's wrong with a cheap tripod?
Nothing at all as long as it works for you, as you say your happy to hand hold your 70-300, then don't spend more you don't need to.
11-30-2014, 08:23 AM - 2 Likes   #21
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Let's be honest here. High end tripods and mounting gear are overpriced. Outrageously, almost criminally so, given the extremely simple mechanisms and materials used. The margins on them are hundreds, if not thousands of percent. You are for the most part paying for the name and in some cases, the lifetime warranty. Furthermore, the dropoff in quality between the prestige brands and the better quality no-names is not very great. Yeah, a $50 tripod will likely be much better than a $20 one. But the difference between a $50 and $300 on won't be nearly as great.

My advice: You're not already locked into a gear system. You are looking for a single tripod that you will use occasionally. Don't spend a ton of money. If you want to buy new, find a tripod that you can handle before purchasing. If it reasonably priced and seems sturdy and easy to use and has a decent warranty, then buy it. Pay particular attention to the head. If you don't mind used, as others have stated, there are tons of deals to be found out there even on prestige brands.
11-30-2014, 08:47 AM   #22
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I have 2 inexpensive tripods; a Vivitar and a Velbon. Both have Quick Release heads, aluminum tube construction and level indicators and I have had both for well over 15 years. They have been used for both still and video shooting and have performed well. The Vivitar is the lighter and smaller of the 2 and is showing its age but it still functions as well as ever. I would be the last to compare either to a professional tripod costing $200 plus but for my needs they have been more than adequate. I think if I were depending on a tripod for professional uses where its performance was critical to doing an adequate job I would want to have 2. Mechanical things break, regardless of the cost and a backup unit is cheap insurance.
11-30-2014, 08:52 AM   #23
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Because I carry my gear on hiking and canoe trips, I have a some cheap tripods. The issue is, when I have my A-400 or DA* 60-250 mounted for wildlife, if there's any breeze at all the tripod vibrates. But for landscapes with light gear, I'm happy with lighter cheaper tripods. The issue for me is the weight of the system. Heavy system (lens and camera) = expensive tripod.


Last edited by normhead; 11-30-2014 at 07:58 PM.
11-30-2014, 08:53 AM   #24
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One other thought, check out the "used" departments of B&H and Adorama, if money is tight. I just purchased a Benro monopod at B&H, that is a demo item. This saved a little money for me. Sometimes a used tripod comes up here in the Marketplace also.

My regular tripod is actually an astronomy (TeleVue) tripod with a Manfrotto head, as I also am into astronomy. It's built like a tank & holds a 90mm telescope easily, so my camera equipment on it, is very secure & stable. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
11-30-2014, 09:24 AM - 1 Like   #25
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I'm going to echo what several other people have said. The first question you should ask yourself is, "How do I anticipate using my tripod?" The answer to that can make a huge difference. Is it something you think you'll use often...or only once in a great while? Will you be working near your car...or do you need something light enough to take hiking? Does it need to go to eye-level? Ground-level? All of the above?
11-30-2014, 09:31 AM   #26
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Thanks for all the informative replies. For me, there's no reason to spend hundreds of dollars. Since buying my k50 six months ago, there has been two occasions where I'd winched I had a tripod. And those two occasions were in the last 5 weeks. I'm pretty sure I can get away with something like the promaster 7450 (which is what the salesman suggested for under $100) http://www.amazon.com/ProMaster-7450-Speedi-Lift-Tripod-4-Section/dp/B003DQKLUM.
So maybe I'll go back to the store and mess around with it.
My biggest concern is buying something made well enough that my camera won't end up getting broken. The rest of the stuff I can live with.
11-30-2014, 09:35 AM   #27
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Perhaps my own predicament might be instructive...

The best tripod in the world isn't going to be any good to you if you aren't willing to lug it around and use it. Back when I shot film, I would hike to the tops of mountains with my manfrotto tripod over my shoulder. I usually
just left my MX mounted on it - the camera/lens added negligible weight. But a DSLR weighs a lot more, and this arrangement doesn't work as well. At present, the kind of shooting I do mostly doesn't lend itself to using a tripod,
so find it hard to justify lugging one around with me for the occasional shot where I might be able to use it. I'd rather carry more water and hike further.

I have had my tripod in the car a few times, but I think I've actually used it in the field once or twice in the last 5 years. These days I don't bother taking it out of the closet except to check autofocus
calibration now and then.

I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't at least try to get back into the sort of shooting I did back when I used the MX on the tripod - ie. more slow and thoughtful. If I'm honest with myself, it isn't going
to happen with this tripod. Maybe if I have a small travel type tripod that will fit into my backpack, I might carry it on a hike. Will I take the time to dig it out of the pack and deploy it? That's hard
to say. I'm out of the habit. It's hard enough to motivate myself to swap lenses most of the time.

My current thinking is that I might as well sell the Manfrotto since it isn't being used. Then I can dither over whether or not I should pick up a more compact travel tripod.
Since I'm not currently using a tripod at all, it's going to be hard to justify sinking a large amount of cash into a new one on the off chance that maybe I might start using it.
But if I buy a cheap one that doesn't work well, that will guarantee I won't start using a tripod again. I'll just have a smaller tripod sitting in the closet.

So you may want to give some thought to the kind of shooting you do now, and how a tripod will fit in with it. Does your typical photographic outing lend itself to having a tripod along for the ride?

Do you see yourself taking out a tripod, setting it up, and sticking your camera on it for most of your shots? If you're only going to use the tripod occasionally, that's going to affect what
kind of tripod you might want to get. A big, heavy, expensive tripod might be the best in terms of performance, but if you're not using a tripod for most of your shots, chances are you won't have
it with you when you actually need it. If you're only likely to use the tripod occasionally, then it better be something that you're likely to carry around "just in case".

As with most things, YMMV
11-30-2014, 09:38 AM   #28
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And to answer the questions about my use. I usually walk a few miles at least when I'm out. So it can't be too heavy.
And the one time I bedded a pod was to slow down the shutter to smooth out some slightly rippling water and the second time there was a gentle breeze blowing a tall plant in a field. Would've been nice to hold it still while using a remote to take the picture.
11-30-2014, 09:42 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
Since buying my k50 six months ago, there has been two occasions where I'd winched I had a tripod.
What were those occasions? What kind of conditions?

Edited to add: Oops...you answered my question before I could get it posted! LOL Yeah, I think you could definitely get by with a moderately priced tripod if you're just wanting it for those times when you need to use a long exposure. If you go back to play around with that tripod, be pretty critical of whatever head is on it. It's my experience that it's easier to tolerate flaws with the legs than in the head. It's very frustrating to carefully compose your shot and tighten everything down...only to have the head sag and re-compose for you.
11-30-2014, 09:47 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
So I'm starting to look into getting a tripod and the majority of what I've read basically says to not waste my time with anything under $250. Maybe a few times I've read about people having luck with something around $150. I'm new and have never used a tripod so none of this is based on experience, just logic. I honestly can't see why something for under a $100 wouldn't work (for me) just as well as something for $500. I understand that you get wah you pay for and I also understand that more expensive ones are made better, lighter, smother heads, and sturdier. But how sturdy does it really need to be? I don't go out when it's bad weather or windy, I don't live near mountains or rough terrain. I go to local parks and take pictures of stuff that looks cool to me. I have no prob shooting handheld with a 70-300 so I can't see why I would need a tripod to be solid as a rock. Especially with ISR. The shutter isn't going to mess up the shot if it doesn't while holding the camera. So maybe I'm missing something or maybe not. Tripods just seem outrageously overpriced for something that'll do the same for a fraction of the price. Just like backpacking gear. A $200 Patagonia jacket isn't gonna keep me any warmer than a $20 Walmart jacket. But in most cases, it'll will be far superior in quality and much lighter. But at the end of the day, I'll be just as warm as the next guy.

"I honestly can't see why something for under a $100 wouldn't work (for me) just as well as something for $500"


It will work for you, but it wont last as long as a more expensive tripod. I had $100 tripods break down on me when I least expected, and for no obvious reason. It could be very embarrassing when you are out on an important shoot. However, if you rarely use a tripod then a cheap tripod might just fit the bill.
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