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11-30-2014, 09:51 AM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
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.
How you do that walking can make a big difference, too. Golfers carry heavy bags of clubs for several miles and it's no big deal because they're constantly stopping and starting as they hit the ball. But if you were to make them carry that bag of clubs non-stop for the entire 18 holes, it would be a different story. But, even if you let them stop and start along the way, but made them carry that bag of clubs the whole distance "just in case", that would take a lot of joy out of the walk.

11-30-2014, 10:06 AM   #32
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When you buy a good tripod it will be sturdy, and it will be stable, and it can be set very precisely.
A cheap tripod won't. But there are worse downsides, that depend on how cheap you go. Tripods can easily get banged, bent. Telescopic legs can refuse to open, if they are bent. It is difficult to operate a tripod with poor mechanisms that don't hold the camera steady. Nothing is worse than spending minutes setting up the frame, and then it rotates or slides when you press the shutter button. But sometimes we need a lesson, buy something too cheap to realize its true value.
Of course, you don't have to buy a $1500 tripod right now, or even ever! But spend more than $30, eh? Buy a reputable brand, look at some real world reviews (not "reviews" by store employees or sponsored blog posts, as these are not objective enough)
11-30-2014, 10:22 AM   #33
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Best cheap tripod I've ever bought... $65 new: Ravelli APGL4

FWIW, I also have a Manfrotto 055XPROB, and the Ravelli legs are as stable. The Ravelli pistol grip head isn't as stable as a good regular ball head, though. But that's mainly from the added height.

You would want to spend a few minutes checking screw tightness, but once that's done, it's a perfectly good tripod.
11-30-2014, 10:36 AM   #34
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Oh, forgot to mention, i have a manfrotto compact action tripod. not the most stable, but we get along pretty well.

11-30-2014, 11:20 AM - 1 Like   #35
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there are 'cheap' tripods which are cheap.

there are 'cheap' tripods, which aren't cheap at all, but pretty well build tripods identical to much higher priced stuff - but without the badge that makes others so freaking expensive.

You can get a very good solution for 80€ and less.
11-30-2014, 02:34 PM - 1 Like   #36
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I am on a mission to eradicate poorly made tripods from this earth. Life is too short to suffer a lousy tripod.

OK, maybe a little over the top, but I have purchased every lousy tripod that there is over the years, typically when I am on company business and need one in a pinch, then they come home with me to be thrown in the pile of near worthless tripods. If the head is metal and there are reinforcing links between the legs and the center, it will likely be acceptable, but most are plastic and break, or worse, flex. If they break, they can be thrown out without guilt, but if they flex and still look tripod-like, I feel the need to keep the damn things and the pile gets bigger. I've even designed and built tripods to meet our particular needs (heavy cameras, close to the ground, ultra stable and compact build). Finally I broke down and started purchasing Manfrotto tripods and heads and they are wonderful. There are other brands, but I prefer Manfrotto. The last one that I picked up was a few weeks ago as a gold box deal on Amazon, model 055xprob, I think that I paid $115. For that price, there is no excuse to start a pile of lousy tripods. Years ago, I had inexpensive Vivitar and Velbon tripods which I have since given away, made in USA and they were fine, but Manfrotto is more modern and so much better and very economical. If you can't swing $150 for a tripod and head, I'd try looking for an old Velbon/Vivitar model on eBay, but stay away from the box stores, they don't have anything that you want to own.
11-30-2014, 02:45 PM   #37
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A good head is more important than good legs. A crappy ball head that you can't adjust without your camera falling over and maybe taking the tripod with it, or one that creeps even when it's locked is useless. You can get by with mediocre legs and a good ball head, but putting a bad head on good legs won't get you anything.

I have a Slik tripod that cost $90 with a ball head. It worked OK with my old plastic Nikon, but didn't really feel good with the heavier pentax and DA* lenses. I removed the Slik ballhead and replaced it with a Sirui K-20x ballhead with a 55 pound capacity ($130) and now it's fine.

I do wish the legs were a bit more stable, and that I had a hook under it that I could hang something heavy from to improve that, though. But as long as I use a remote control, it does the job very nicely.
11-30-2014, 02:50 PM   #38
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I am going to provide my 2 cents as well. First most cheap tripods come with a Quick Release plate these days. I also have two cheap tripods and intend to upgrade to a medium quality, i.e. $150 tripod that is carbon fiber, fairly light weight, and has a quick release plate It comes with a pistol grip head. The reason. I can't see paying over $200 for a tripod as well. However, I am not going to purchase another really cheap tripod either. On my two cheap tripods I can't put my K-3 with a 70-300 telephoto and adjust it to the precise setting I want. It always moves. I have tested the tripod that I am going to get for 150 dollars. And it holds exactly where I put the lens and it is easy to go from vertical to horizontal in just a second or two.

Now if that pistol grip starts to loose it's holding power, then I will replace the head. This tripod does come with a replaceable ball head. (Hint: it is a sunpak, one of their higher end tripods).

Last edited by kchamber4; 11-30-2014 at 02:56 PM.
11-30-2014, 03:03 PM   #39

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In 1986 I bought a used Velbon VS-3 for DM 36 (must have been about $50-60 at that time). As far as I know, the VS-3 was introduced in 1958!, and the VS-443 and follower types are not really much different. You can still find the VS-3 occasionally on eBay. It is quite sturdy (and heavy), so I used it only when I was with a car going for a special occasion. As carbon tripods were not common (or did not exist?) at that time, the weight was about the same or even less compared with tripods of the same sturdyness.
However, it offered a lot of the bells and whistles of more expensive tripods. And the "bouncable" and fine adjustable center column got quite a lot of use at home, making the tripod a reproduction one.

Recently I added a used ball head (Bilora 1150, which is a very heavy, but budget one) for much less than €20, which included a Bilora quick release. On German Amazon, I could get additional plates for this very very cheap.

For me, this combination does exactly what I need. The only shortcoming is that the ball head sometimes slightly moves position when fastened - but I heard that this often will happen with much more xpensive ball heads, at least when they are not very new anymore.

As I presently don't own a car and always have to borrow one from a friend when I really need it, I found the tripod is too big and too heavy for me. Which means, if needed, I would not have it with me. So I looked for the lightest and smallest tripod for a reasonable price. What I found and bought was a "hama traveller mini pro".

(posts #20 and #26)

Hama advertised it to be used for equipment of up to 10kg! But of course, as with the competition, the max. weight is true only for no extension whatsoever (legs/column).

Last edited by RKKS08; 11-30-2014 at 03:12 PM. Reason: Dates corrected
11-30-2014, 03:07 PM   #40
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Ha! I found my tripod on Amazon and it's cheaper now than ever before! :-) : Sunpak 620-060 Tripod : Camera & Photo

It's got rubber feet that you can screw in to reveal metal "toes". It's got the center column thing that you can crank up or down. The legs can all be adjusted separately at their two joints. The head articulates all ways, but on separate axes? so it can be fiddly. The only gripe I have about it is that the plate that tilts up or down so the camera is angled to point at the sky or at the dirt doesn't lock very tight and it sometimes moves from where I set it. Luckily, the plate can mount four-ways, so you can get the angle you want, anyway, just pop the camera off with the little hinge and re-orient it. It's perfectly sturdy and does not wiggle or wobble or blow around. However, I typically use lenses shorter than 135 and always use the 2-second timer. Yeah. It's not the best, but I'm willing to be a little fiddly and keep money in my pocket. Plus, if it's a shot I'm willing to get the tripod out for, I must have plenty of time, otherwise I'd just brace my elbows and snap it.
11-30-2014, 03:09 PM   #41
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My recommendation is that while you are using a less expensive tripod find a more expensive tripod/head that you would like and wait for a good price to come to you. I ended up picking up a tripod/head combo worth upwards $900 for a total of $300, tripod NIB and head was a store demo with full warranty. If anything, the confidence of a sturdy and secure tripod makes me feel better with my equipment on it. Also, if shooting in windy conditions, a high quality tripod makes a significant difference. A high quality head is nice in that it doesn't droop after locking in where you want it. Something that always annoyed me with my less expensive setup. My final two cents, if it is a high quality setup, it should last a very long time (at least I hope so) which thins out the initial up front cost.

Kind of a side bar on a tip from another photographer, a high quality tripod may also be used for mounting rifles, if you are a hunter, which I am not. Doesn't impact me, but thought it was an interesting point they brought up on selecting a higher end, durable tripod.
11-30-2014, 03:44 PM   #42
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Ravelli Photo APGL4

I use that with two rail focussers, my K-30, tubes and old lenses and so far stability hasn't been a problem. Or creep.

It was pretty cheap.
11-30-2014, 03:59 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Well, maybe nothing.
What he said.

Stable, light, inexpensive...choose two and only two.

I have an inexpensive leg/head combo that I use with my lighter cameras that cost me $135 USD. The setup weighs about 3 lbs and supports about 8 lbs. Here are the two articles that I wrote for Hin a few years back regarding the quest for that tripod and tripods on the cheap in general:

Hin's Photo Corner: The Magic Tripod

Hin's Photo Corner: Magic Tripod, Part II


---------- Post added 11-30-14 at 03:12 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by severalsnakes Quote
Ha! I found my tripod on Amazon and it's cheaper now than ever before! :-) : Sunpak 620-060 Tripod : Camera & Photo
I own a very similar Sunpak model, but found it frustrating to use for low angle work or on uneven ground. A few years ago I bought my current "regular" tripod and spent about $320 USD. The Sunpak has not been out of the closet since. That does not mean it is a bad deal, just that it did not work for me.


Last edited by stevebrot; 11-30-2014 at 06:23 PM.
11-30-2014, 04:37 PM   #44
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I like my Promaster XC525, $170 plus tax at my local dealer.

Costco also has some good deals on tripods.

The Manfrotto MVH502AH Video Head with MT055XPRO3 for $235 after rebate is a dang good deal, and they are a site sponsor.
11-30-2014, 05:26 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
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.
Ok, this is going to sound elitist, but the cruel truth is that the full potential of your camera for most subjects* is not accessible without some type of camera support. The difference is readily observable at moderate enlargement and moderate viewing distance. As for price, here are a few generalizations:

  • Often chintzy (poor materials, design, and construction)
  • Full extension is often not usable
  • Full extension is often not very tall
  • Often not very usable under field conditions
  • Load capacity is often grossly overstated
  • Short or non-existent warranty
  • Some units are standouts and run counter to conventional wisdom
By inexpensive, I mean $150 USD or less for the combination of tripod legs and head. That last bullet is important. It is possible to do well at the low end of the price spectrum, but I would draw a line somewhere around $85 USD, below which you are likely to not be happy with the purchase.

  • Often grossly overpriced
  • Generally have exceptional warranty
  • Premium materials
  • Sound and/or elegant design
  • Quality construction
  • Smooth operation over years of steady use
  • No quibble replacement when/if the unit wears out
By expensive, I mean over $300 for either tripod legs or head.

Neither of the tripods I use were expensive and and both are up to my tasks. That being said, I would really like a Acratech head ($$$).

NOTE: There are some shots that you simply can't get from a tripod. Funny how that works sometimes.


* The exceptions would be genres such as sports, street, and documentary photography.

---------- Post added 11-30-14 at 04:36 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by bladerunner6 Quote
Costco also has some good deals on tripods.
...and their return policy is simply the best.


Last edited by stevebrot; 11-30-2014 at 05:35 PM.

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