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New to MF digital with 100mp camera - benefits of big/heavy tripod, given electronic shutter?

I've recently moved over to digital medium format with a Fuji GFX100S. Really delighted to date with the results, even compared to my 5x4 film camera.

My question is to do with tripods ....I historically used my 5x4 film camera on a Gitzo Systematic G1348. I sold that Systematic tripod for a very very light (albeit short) Gitzo 1-Series Mountaineer when I moved increasingly into 35mm digital full frame. Now that I've moved to medium format digital, I haven't found any obvious problems with my GFX100S on this tripod ...ok, maybe it's a bit top-heavy, and the tripod is sometimes too short for my preference.

But when I look in this forum at "behind the scenes", a very casual glance gave me the impression that many people are still using pretty "solid" looking tripods (ie, the sort of thing associated with heavy large format film cameras), such as the Gitzo Systematics or some of the larger RRS models. Are people using this type of bigger / heavier tripod because that's the main option to achieve the tripod height you want? Or because you find it reassuringly less likely to be top-heavy? Or do you really think a larger tripod is essential to reliably capture every bit of resolution from a 100mp camera ....even if the vibration from an electronic shutter + smallish camera means the inherent vibration, even with wind, should be really small from the camera itself, certainly compared to the bellows-like sail of large format cameras?
 

Greg Haag

Well-known member
Jon, I cannot speak to the Fuji, I have the Phase One IQ4 150 and the two tripods below.


RRS TFC-34 Series 3 4-Leg Sections MK2 Fixed Apex - 3.85lbs. Max Height 58.2” Folded Length 20.9”

Small Gitzo Tripod - 2.27lbs
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1328232-REG/gitzo_gt1555tus_traveler_tripod_ser_1_5s.html

For me, the small Gitzo was not a good fit especially if encountering much wind at all. However much of my shooting is over 1 second long. That being said, If I was getting great results with the lighter tripod I would not change until my shooting required it but I am in a bit of a lighten my load mode.
 

darr

Well-known member
For about ten years now, I have used a RRS Series 2 with my ALPA & Hasselblad MFD and Linhof 4x5. I have also used a Gitzo Systematic Series 3, but sold it after I found the RRS Series 2 did just fine for my needs. If I am using my ALPA TC on level ground with good weather, then I may use my RRS Series 1, but I have to take extra care when doing so. The reason I continue to use the Series 2 is because of the cost of the gear I place on top of it. It can be tempting to use the Series 1, but I do not feel comfortable placing expensive MFD gear on it due to the skinnier leg diameter and weight limits advised by the manufacturer.

When I went to commercial photography school back in the early 80s, I was told if I purchased a solid tripod back then for my Calumet 4x5, I would never need another tripod. Almost forty years later, the heavy aluminum Gitzo Pro Studex I purchased for the Calumet, sits here in my studio ready for use. If carbon fibre tripods never came to be, I would probably still be carrying around that old Gitzo. Always carry a little more tripod than you need was the advice I was given.
 
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Shashin

Well-known member
Do you carry you tripods in the field or do you transport them in a car? I think that is really the dividing line. My criteria is whether I can hike a day with a tripod and camera gear, so I tend to go for smaller tripods. But if you are travelling by car and just taking walks to a location, then you can get away with larger units. (My other consideration is whether I can fly with it.) For my MFD camera, I use a (discontinued) Manfrotto Carbone 441 with lenses up to 300mm and exposures in minutes..



BTW, this is a very unseful site for tripod reviews and information: https://thecentercolumn.com/
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
I have four sets of legs ... from the ancient, heavy, steel and aluminum Manfrotto 3120, to the Feisol 3442 Tournament CF, to the Manfrotto 190CXPro3, to the Peak Design Travel Tripod CF. If I'm going to walk any distance, I carry the PD or the Feisol because they're the lightest and pack down the smallest. If I'm working out of the car or around the house, I use the 190CXPro3 because it's the fastest in use. I haven't touched the 3120 legs in an eon.

While I wouldn't put these three up to the task of a big bellows camera outdoors on a windy day, for the Hasselblad and other compact, dense cameras, they work fine. If they feel a little tippy in the wind, I hang my camera bag under them ... they all have bag hooks under the top clamp.

They are all (and the heads) rated for about double what I load onto them. That seems about right. :D

G
 
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docholliday

Well-known member
I'm probably the opposite of most people here... I own and use a Gitzo series 3 and 5 set of tripods when I'm out and about. Even for hikes or travels, I usually take a 3542L with Arca Z1, despite the weight. If I'm on location, its usually the GT5541 with geared head. I'll "suffer" through the extra weight knowing that I have full stability, no matter what the conditions are.

If I'm driving, it'll usually be the 5541 in the car. Should I need to fly, I take the 3542. I used to have a small Traveler for flying and it was fine for my Canon gear, but the the H cameras, it's not stable enough to be worth the effort. I'd rather just shoot higher ISO and hand hold. Vacation time usually has the 3542 with me in case I find something that I really want a high-res shot of.

In studio, I don't use either/any tripod - I prefer a full studio stand with geared head and counterbalances.
 

ThdeDude

Member
I'm probably the opposite of most people here... I own and use a Gitzo series 3 and 5 set of tripods when I'm out and about. Even for hikes or travels I'll "suffer" through the extra weight knowing that I have full stability, no matter what the conditions are.
...
In studio, I don't use either/any tripod - I prefer a full studio stand with geared head and counterbalances.
Somewhat counterintuitive that in the studio one actually might get away with using even the most flimsical tripod. I recall thecentercolumn testing one of their lowest rated tripod in the lab using electronic shutter and time release on the camera, and got the same results as using a heavy-duty tripod.

It's of course the "full stability, no matter what the conditions are" what makes it heavy.
 

docholliday

Well-known member
Somewhat counterintuitive that in the studio one actually might get away with using even the most flimsical tripod. I recall thecentercolumn testing one of their lowest rated tripod in the lab using electronic shutter and time release on the camera, and got the same results as using a heavy-duty tripod.

It's of course the "full stability, no matter what the conditions are" what makes it heavy.
Actually, no, a tripod doesn't work for what I'm doing as it'll simply tip over at the angles and alignments that I have the camera in most times (even with enough sandbag "counterbalances" to bow/break the cross column). Also, when up high, the leg spread gets in the way often. I'm also not using electronic shutters nor timed release, I'm here to get a client's set done as quickly as possible, as best as possible, with full repeatability. Time is money...

While I'm usually shooting strobe so *any* tripod/stand doesn't do much of anything for image quality, it's the repeatability of the setup that is important. I can mark that on the stand + floor and it's dead on every time. Not so much with a tripod setup. There's also the times where both strobe AND hotlights are mixed for effects; that is where the support is needed.

Also, have you ever watched a flimsy tripod vibrate in a studio under liveview when assistants are moving stuff around getting the next shot ready while you're working on another shot? A ballasted heavy tripod or stand doesn't do it, but a light/medium tripod will vibrate enough that it'll cause a MS back to trip out and refuse to complete the shot stack.
 
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ThdeDude

Member
Actually, no, a tripod doesn't work for what I'm doing as it'll simply tip over at the angles and alignments that I have the camera in most times (even with enough sandbag "counterbalances" to bow/break the cross column).
The point I wanted to make is that "full stability, no matter what the conditions are" is what requires a heavier or heavy tripod. If no conditions, like in a studio, even a flimsy tripod may do the job (if self-timer and electronic shutter can and is used). Whole nother question whether such is practicable and/or efficient.
 
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tcdeveau

Well-known member
I started off with a RRS TVC-33 when I started doing more serious long exposure stuff with APS-C 35mm knowing that I'd eventually move to a heavier kit that might require more stability. Eventually I moved up to a H4D-40/35-90mm and Pentax 645z, which it worked great on. I've since sold those kits and moved to the X1D and a smaller tripod but still have the larger RRS tripod.

I've added a Novoflex Triobalance that I primarily use with the X1D when traveling these days. It works well, even with the 35-75mm, although I've only tested exposures up to a few minutes. I still break out the RRS sometimes just because I can, esp if I'm going to be in crowded areas that might be more subject to an accidental bump (less top-heavy than the Novoflex).

If you haven't found any obvious issues with your current setup, OP, I'd just keep using it. Getting tripod advice around these parts can be dangerous and may lead your wallet down a rabbit hole (there's a Great Tripod and Head thread around here with lots of tripod info as well) :)
 
Many thanks for all your replies, it's very useful. And thanks for flagging the Great Tripod thread, I will take a look!

The tripod would be for travelling and hiking, not transported by car, but given I've been carrying a 5x4 set-up in my F-Stop Anja for years (albeit with a small Gitzo 1-Series Mountaineer), I'm not too fussed if I go up towards 2kg for a much more solid and tall tripod because I'm saving quite a bit of weight anyhow by moving to the GFX100S ....whilst none of the 5x4 components ever feel that heavy ... individually ...., it always seems to combine to something more weighty after adding film holders, dark cloth, spot meter, etc!

A tripod that reaches c 170cm high is something that i'm keen to find. Without the center column raised, my existing 1-Series Mountaineer is often too short for me at 135cm, and I never use the center column because i find it becomes too unstable for a tripod that weighs only approx 1.3kg.

The height issue keeps leading me back to ......

- RRS, either the TFC-24L or TFC-34L that both reach approx 170cm and have no center column....the diameter of these TFC models when folded shut also seem to be narrower than the RRS Versa or Gitzo Systematics, which might be nice for attaching onto my F-Stop backpack.
- Gitzo 3542L is another possibility, but the downside is it only reaches 150cm without the center column, albeit it's a decent 178cm when the center column is raised .....docholliday, how stable do you find this set-up when the center column is raised? The tripod is c 700g heavier than my existing 1-Series Mountaineer (a GT1542), so maybe the extra weight and thicker carbon tubes of a Gitzo 3-Series Mountaineer all combine to make using the center column more feasible?
 

docholliday

Well-known member
.....docholliday, how stable do you find this set-up when the center column is raised? The tripod is c 700g heavier than my existing 1-Series Mountaineer (a GT1542), so maybe the extra weight and thicker carbon tubes of a Gitzo 3-Series Mountaineer all combine to make using the center column more feasible?
I rarely use it with the full center column - I also have the short column and I tend to use it with that most often followed by having the plate attached directly to the spider. In reality, any and all tripods "lose rigidity" the further the load is away from the spider. It's simple physics here and no portable tripod will prevent that from happening. However, for the times where I've needed the extended height and used the full center column extended to max, it has been solid and stable enough that I don't notice any vibration. The typical rule is that the center column shouldn't be extended more than 50% above the spider for most stability.

The 3541/3542 is a fairly heavy tripod compared to any 1-series. The 1-series is designed to be ultra portable, the 3-series is "mainstream", and the 5-series the workhorses. The 2-series was intended to be a middle ground of sturdiness and portability. However, I typically don't carry a camera backpack unless it's local and would use an actual backpack so lashing on a heavier tripod is nothing compared to what I'm already carrying. It usually comes down to "how much are you willing to go to get the shot?" If the trip is for family or vacation, missing a shot or two would probably be worth it to save the weight. But, if you're going out for the sole intention of getting the best images, then what's another pound to carry?
 

ThdeDude

Member
A tripod that reaches c 170cm high is something that i'm keen to find. Without the center column raised, my existing 1-Series Mountaineer is often too short for me at 135cm, and I never use the center column because i find it becomes too unstable for a tripod that weighs only approx 1.3kg.

The height issue keeps leading me back to ......
Was also looking for a tripod with a height of more than 170cm without (use of) center column. TheCenterColumn's All Purpose Tripod Rankings, https://tinyurl.com/nhtud3e5, has the FLM CP30-L4 II as the tallest tripod with 68" (172cm), no center column, also seventh in the ranking.
Tried it, liked it, but returned it for different reasons. (No association.)

The RRS TVC-24L is higher rated (and more than twice the $$$) and with 66.7" just (below) 170cm. (Also no center column.)

Found no other alternatives (other than a custom-assembled Gitzo) that are above 170cm without center column and below 3.75IB/1.70kg (tripod head not included in height or weight).
 
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f8orbust

Active member
If you want to get even close to resolving the MP of your high-res camera (whether small format, MF or whatever) in terms of 'real' data you need to use a tripod. A large tripod. A large tripod with a sturdy head. A large tripod with a sturdy head and weighted down. A large tripod with a sturdy head, weighted down and sheltered from the wind. etc etc.
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
Was also looking for a tripod with a height of more than 170cm without (use of) center column. TheCenterColumn's All Purpose Tripod Rankings, https://tinyurl.com/nhtud3e5, has the FLM CP30-L4 II as the tallest tripod with 68" (172cm), no center column, also seventh in the ranking.
Tried it, liked it, but returned it for different reasons. (No association.)

The RRS TVC-24L is higher rated (and more than twice the $$$) and with 66.7" just (below) 170cm. (Also no center column.)

Found no other alternatives (other than a custom-assembled Gitzo) that are above 170cm without center column and below 3.75IB/1.70kg.
The Feisol CT3442 Tournament has an optional center column. Fully extended without center column, it stands 55 inches (140 cm) from ground to head mounting plate. With the center column fitted and left at minimum elevation, it stands 57 5/8 inches (146.5 cm). It's rated for about 25lbs ... probably optimistic, but it is quite a stable tripod and generally taller than I need. I have mine with the center column fitted and an Arca-Swiss P0 ball head (with quick change mount as well), and in the supplied case's pocket I have the flat plate that replaces the center column as well as all the tools needed to adjust and maintain the tripod. All up weight as described for carting about is just under 5lbs (2268g) and it is 19" x 18.5" circumference (48.3 x 47 cm); about 5.5" average diameter.

A good, tough, light tripod that's reasonably tall. I've been using it since about 2005 and it still looks/works like new.

G
 

ThdeDude

Member
.. Fully extended without center column, it stands 55 inches (140 cm) from ground to head mounting plate. With the center column fitted and left at minimum elevation, it stands 57 5/8 inches (146.5 cm).... that's reasonably tall.
One big factor many well-meaning commenters fail to consider in their personal recommendations is that tallness of the user is a big factor in the wanted/needed maximum tripod height.

"Jon Warwick" asked "[a] tripod that reaches c 170cm high is something that i'm keen to find". Not too many choices here without getting too heavy.
 
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Godfrey

Well-known member
I'm just reporting on what I have experience with. Whether it's useful to someone is up to them to evaluate for their needs. Whether the desires/needs of "Jon Warwick" are met by what I posted isn't an issue.

The CT3442 is not 170cm tall without some column extension, but a column extension of less than 3cm (about 1 inch or so) would hit that spec quite nicely and I cannot believe that it would sacrifice much stability unless you were overloading the tripod in the first place, given the stable design of the tripod's column accessory. It remains something to consider if you want a tall-ish tripod that is also light and packs down small.

G
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
Godfrey,
BH has the model you mention listed at 140cm without column. That’s about a foot short of 170. The column adds a bit even completely lowered, but that’s a lot to make up.
Matt
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
Godfrey,
BH has the model you mention listed at 140cm without column. That’s about a foot short of 170. The column adds a bit even completely lowered, but that’s a lot to make up.
Matt
I was not quoting specs. I measured my tripod to get the numbers I posted. "The Feisol CT3442 Tournament has an optional center column. Fully extended without center column, it stands 55 inches (140 cm) from ground to head mounting plate. With the center column fitted and left at minimum elevation, it stands 57 5/8 inches (146.5 cm)." And you're correct: I mixed up CM vs MM in my comment back to ThddDude. You'd need to extend the column by 23.5cm (or 9.25 inches), not 23.5mm. That's about 2/3 the column extension capability. So that *might* add a little instability in some circumstances.

I have used this tripod with the center column set to maximum extension for a Hasselblad 500CM with 150 Sonnar fitted. While it is certainly not the ultimate in stability at that point, I got a bunch of very nice photographs from it used that way which display no camera motion artifacts. An eye level finder at that extension requires I have a 14" tall stool with me to get my eye up to the finder (the ball head and its mount adds another 4" or so, and then the Hasselblad with 90° finder is another ~3 inches on top of that!), and I'm 6 foot tall. ... I wish I'd had the CFVII 50c back and the iPad with Phocus Mobile 2 available then just to bring the viewfinder down to a reasonable level. LOL! :D



G
 
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ThdeDude

Member
Whether the desires/needs of "Jon Warwick" are met by what I posted isn't an issue.
"Jon Warwick" (don't know whether his real name or a pseudonym) is the person who started this thread and who asked the question regarding tripods.

Wouldn't it be courteous when posting in this threat to be constructive to what has been asked and what is the subject-matter of this thread!
 
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