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Thread: with all this talk of tripod heads....

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    with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Can anyone recommend a good head/leg combo that doesn't break the bank?

    I currently have a Velbon el carmagne 530 w/ph205 pan head. It works just OK for basic use but I'm shooting more macro stuff...

    Ideally:
    Something geared ala Manfrotto 405 head but Arca type quick release as I'd be using the P1 bracket.
    relatively light weight legs
    usual weight needs: DF body, Leaf back, Autobellows, 80LS lens.

    Dream for down the road would be legs that can support the above as well as tether table\15"mbp...

    Does such a thing exist for under $1k that isn't garbage or am I searching for a pink unicorn?

    Thanks
    Garrett

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Honestly and I mean this as not to kill your budget but there really is nothing cheap that does not justify itself given the gear you want to put on it. But you can go Feisol and I would not buy anything outside of Arca Swiss when it comes to a head. The Arca Swiss Z1 double pan will handle medium format very well. Currently what I'm using again. About 580 for the head but you could almost sit on it. It handles 130 lbs and it really does. You might be able to get some used Gitzo legs here on the forum but don't go anything less than a 2 series but the 3 series would be better. I use a RRS leg set but it's 900 dollars just for the legs. I love it but it's not cheap. Gitzo is a little cheaper in that regards. Feisol makes some good legs at reasonable pricing and worth looking at.you have about 10lbs of gear that needs to be stable so be careful it could even ruin your whole MF experience if you don't have a solid rock under it.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Head: Manfrotto 410 modified with Hejnar photo's arca swiss adapter. I have used the Manfrotto 410 extensively and it is "good enough", I have a 4 kg Techno camera on it now. I plan to get an Arca Swiss D4 eventually though. The weakness of the 410 is a bit varied quality, mine has gone a bit sloppy (tried to tighten it but it did not work), while I know other have used them heavily without such problems. Even if it goes sloppy the camera rests securely on it so I don't get vibration problems or something, but the position can shift a little when I cock the shutter a bit roughly. A geared head is absolutely great for macro work. I'd rather use a sloppy manfrotto 410 than a high quality ball head.

    Not sure about tripod. If your macro work is close to the ground so you can use short legs then I think you can get away with a little bit less and still not have vibration issues. In macro you don't shoot in windy conditions either which also makes it possible to cheat quite a bit. If your camera does not introduce a lot of vibration when you shoot (i e leaf shutter instead of focal plane shutter) and there's no wind and you don't do long exposures you can have a cheap tripod and still get very sharp results. If the conditions is not ideal, a more sturdy tripod will indeed make a difference.

    What I would do is to get the Manfrotto 410 with hejnar adapter and do some tests with your current velbon tripod. Ideally borrow a really sturdy tripod from someone and compare. I think you will see that if you shoot in low positions without wind and no long exposures the velbon will work.
    Last edited by torger; 10th August 2012 at 08:04. Reason: I meant 410, not 405
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    The problem with tripods/heads is that they are almost as bad as buying a camera bag or backpack: it's difficult to find one you like, and you can never buy just one. Don't worry about pink unicorns---it's just simply an elusive unicorn.

    But I think your budget is close----close enough to add just a bit more and you can get a really really nice tripod/head rig, though not one that can handle tethering a table, etc. Leave that for a second tripod rig!

    Invest well and do it right the first time and you can save money over buying several leg sets working your way up. I would seriously consider the new RRS tripods. Really Right Stuff - Item Listing RRS packages are really close to your budget. But better yet, buy the TVC 2 series and add a better head as Guy suggests or if you really want a geared head, the D4. RRS tripods are the only legs I like better than Gitzo.

    I have a TVC-24 as my travel tripod and it easily handles the Phase DF or Cambo WRS. Right now I'm using the RRS leveling base with a RRS PCL-1 panning clamp as my low profile head, but would like to eventually migrate to the Arca D4.

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Hunt down a used pair of Gitzo 1325 carbon fiber tripod legs. They have gotten very reasonable in price ($300-350) and are a great combo of not too heavy/not too light at 4.5lb and very sturdy.

    The Hejnar adapter for the 405 or 410 is great, very solid. You could consider a 410 head instead of the 405. Almost a pound lighter and I found it more than adequate for heavier cameras like the RZ67.

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Oh, I thought I was talking about the 410 when I wrote 405... editing my message.

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    If you go dumpster diving, you might be able to make your own. I was able to make this which is very nice for macro:

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/441053-post46.html

    But I guess it is also the quality of the dumpsters.

    I also have the 410. It is a good head. I also use the Manfrotto macro rail which likewise works well. Manfrotto does not have the fit and finish of the Arca heads--I have a P0--but they are very functional and you will not feel as bad if you drop them into a river.

    Unfortunately, finding a head is like finding the right woman--the chances are you will go through a few before hitting your soul mate.

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Thanks everyone!

    Lots of info to take in!

    Definitely a fan of the "buy it right, buy it once" mentality which can be a bit challenging as we have nothing local beyond sunpak and manfrotto best buy garbage and I'm looking to avoid hours of research on what tripod/head combo so I can better use the time shooting. ha

    I'll look up what you guys pointed out!

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Well, since i got Gitzo i never look back, yes i spent too much and i am not rich at all, but i never stop myself to go with some high quality, i don't care if some will say that Gitzo is not the best top one but for me it is, since i have 4 of them [series 1, 2, 3, 5] i never think to buy anything else not even after 20 years, so it is like i saved money, the only mistake i did is to get series 1 and 2 before, if i went to series 5 or 3 from beginning i will be saving more, but i never regret as i can lend my series 1/2 to my wife/kids, and i have series 3 and 5 as my main tripods to use always.

    About head, well, here is the real main issue, some will complain about tripod weight or price, but then they forget to get a right head as well, i never complain about Gitzo legs, but the head is always giving me a headache time. At the moment i am using RRS BH-55 and Markins Q3T heads, both with RRS clamps, i am happy with them so far, but i am sure many will come to say they don't recommend those 2 or even they will say they find better choices, so i will be with you here looking for which head to use by those MF shooters.
    Tareq

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    After a little bit of looking around and the fact that my wife helped cut my budget down a little bit I've decided on what I think will work without being stupid expensive.

    I'm not constantly hiking, nor constantly using a tripod but when I do (especially frustrating last night with long exposures with just my velbon and Xpro 1) I don't need the lightest.

    I'm probably going with the following when I can get the nerve up to actually click "checkout"

    Induro AT313 (aluminum, 33lb capacity, 62'5 inch w/o center column, spikes, bag, tools included instead of costing extra like other and 5 year warranty)
    Manfrotto 410 head
    Hejnar Arca adapter

    I already have a P1 bracket/strap on the way I just bought from a forum member here.

    All in all, around $675 including the already purchased bracket....

    This looks like a good setup with a lot of bang for the buck for someone that doesn't use a tripod that often nor shoots for a living...

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    The tripod and head is tool that one can get so used to that they becomes 2nd nature, get a good one and don't change it again.
    My Arca Swiss head, although with lots of wears, still do its job beautifully, and it is 20 years old. My Gitzo carbon fiber leg is 10 years old, and still pretty good, and I have been using 600mm lens on it with heavy Canon 1D body, medium format digital backs with heavy lenses, and they just keep going.
    I would suggest the Arca Swiss head, tripod may be some Chinese knockoff of Gitzo like Benro should be OK although I have never use it perosnally nut heard it is of accetpable quality for the price.

    Pingang

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzyg44 View Post
    Can anyone recommend a good head/leg combo that doesn't break the bank?

    I currently have a Velbon el carmagne 530 w/ph205 pan head. It works just OK for basic use but I'm shooting more macro stuff...

    Ideally:
    Something geared ala Manfrotto 405 head but Arca type quick release as I'd be using the P1 bracket.
    relatively light weight legs
    usual weight needs: DF body, Leaf back, Autobellows, 80LS lens.

    Dream for down the road would be legs that can support the above as well as tether table\15"mbp...

    Does such a thing exist for under $1k that isn't garbage or am I searching for a pink unicorn?

    Thanks
    Garrett

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Cameras may come and go but a good, really good tripod will be with you forever. Likewise as much as we'd like to think there isn't a one-size fits all tripod. What's good in a studio isn't one you want to lug across the parking lot let alone down a tail for a mile or more.

    A tripod is also an insurance policy. The tripod/head will keep your camera steady for that shot you've been trying to get for how long? It's also a protection of your camera against hitting the floor, ledge, trail, valley floor.

    My humble suggestion is don't be afraid to spend a grand or more on something that will last you longer than your camera.

    Good luck on your search.

    Don
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Thanks,

    So are you trying to say that what I'm looking at getting is junk without saying it's junk?

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Nah, I don't think Don is saying you're looking at junk---that might be a bit strong. It's just that after years of "opening the wallet" and "years of experience" tripods and heads are just one of those areas that it is worthwhile imho to spend just a little bit more, (and get a bit more) and get the head/tripod combination that you should have in the first place.

    The reality of the minor increase in investment means spending less money overall (than fixing/upgrading over the years to eventually purchase what you should have in the first place) and perhaps providing a better stable platform for your camera and maybe getting the shots that you had hoped for in the first place.

    But do keep in mind that you did post in Dante's forum where many here do enjoy the finer things in photographic enjoyment and Don is one of those guys that lately just seems to collect Arca Swiss heads because it's the cool thing to do. (sorry, couldn't resist Don---sooooo how many is that now?)

    Seriously, your initial budget is not bad, and I think really close to being able to put together a great tripod-head combination worthy of admiration of all those that frequent Dante's Inferno. Just a little bit more...

    ken

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    That wasn't meant to be "strong" just a bit of tongue in cheek hahaha

    photography forums as well as motorcyclist forums, it's always fun to spend others money

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzyg44 View Post
    .... it's always fun to spend others money
    The real truth comes out...


    Sooooo, about that Arca Swiss Cube for your tripod...

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Ken beat me to it (again). No not junk at all. What I was attempting to say is that buy once. You might have to expand your budget a little however in the end you save money.

    Notice I'm making no recommendations for either tripods or heads as that is a very personal decision which must be based on what you shoot, how you shoot, where you shoot and what your future plans are. For me I remember going through so many tripod/head combinations that I felt I should open a second hand store. I finally stopped at rethought the whole process out and after getting over sticker shock bought the tripod I've been using for several years now; the same with the head contrary to what Ken says. Okay I currently have 3-Arca Swiss heads and after one of then come back from the spa (getting a facelift) will in all likelihood sell one.

    You've come to the best place to have others spend your money!
    Don Libby
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    Subscriber and Workshop Member MGrayson's Avatar
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    I went to B&H to look at tripods, as they had the Feisols in stock. They were not on display, however, so they had to be brought up from the caverns underlying B&H.

    As we were unfolding the two samples (3441S - the small one, and the 3442), one of the other salesguys came over and started heaping abuse. "So THIS is the Feisol. I could just snap this leg right off! Look at this - it has no torsional rigidity at all! The power of the internet...."

    ANyway, I was actually impressed with the torsional rigidity of the 3441S. The larger spider on the 3442 seems to have more play, but it is a larger moment arm, so simply twisting is a bit misleading. It is certainly not a replacement for a 3-4lb. set of legs, but it's a LOT better than a Gitzo 1-Series at about the same size and weight.

    --Matt

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Quote Originally Posted by MGrayson View Post
    As we were unfolding the two samples (3441S - the small one, and the 3442), one of the other salesguys came over and started heaping abuse. "So THIS is the Feisol. I could just snap this leg right off! Look at this - it has no torsional rigidity at all! The power of the internet...."
    Always good to show the products you sell in the proper light. At least, up to that point, it was not yours. I had a guy run up to me telling me my tripod was all wrong, ironically he thought it was too big. I pointed out it was for a 4x5 and he simply said that it didn't matter.

    Sometime I wonder if I got off on the wrong planet...
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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    a very affordable but still very solid option


    Quote Originally Posted by dizzyg44 View Post

    Can anyone recommend a good head/leg combo that doesn't break the bank? (...)

    As you say "that doesn't break the bank" I would mention the Manfrotto 808RC4 3-way Pan/Tilt Head as a very affordable but still very solid option.

    I just use it for a DSLR, but it has a load capacity of 17.6 lb (8 kg) - and it can be found at about ~ 125 USD.

    It uses a Manfrotto RC4 Quick Release, and it comes with a Manfrotto 410PL Quick Release Plate RC4 supplied with 1/4"-20 and 3/8" threaded screws.

    It's not geared, but it doesn't break the bank - and a 3-way head is usually faster to use than a geared head.

    The head itself weighs 3 lb (1.370 kg).



    click for native size































    all pictures captured with Nikon D300 AF-S Nikkor 1.4/85mm G Capture NX2

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Less you trying to pay - more you pay in the end. Honestly. We all been there. And i would be better off buying two heads and tripods i am using right away, and not waste money on cheapo tripods and heads.

    Really Right Stuff - BH55 is a tank. It can hold things up to 8x10 Deardorff with no strain. Second (only b/c its got crappiest bolt holden platform.. head itself is fantastic) - Acratech's head. Its much lighter but holds Linhof Technikardan 4x5 easily (no i am not kidding) - great for long hikes/airport travels.

    Buy once. Use for few decades..

    (ok i also got third head that was intended for air cushioned tripods by Tiffen.. its a super heavy beast, but i can stand on it and it wont budge.. wont recommend it out of studio, unless you are me, and like to drag heavy stuff around).

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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Finally got most of my stuff in....

    Got the Manfrotto 405 and fitted it with the Hejnar plate and clamp.

    Also got a Sirui M-3204 which should arrive tomorrow.

    Bought an Induro AT313, but plan on returning it when the Sirui arrives. Great tripod at a great price but crazy heavy. Right now as should I'm at exactly 15lbs....

    Really pleased with the Head and clamp setup, can't wait for the new tripod! Only things outstanding is getting an area style plate for the auto bellows and for the X Pro 1 (hoping a nice alternative to the RRS comes along soon).


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    Re: with all this talk of tripod heads....

    Another option that I took, considering my engineering background.
    Dutch Hill - Products

    Figured if they are sturdy enough for highly calibrated surveying equipment, the are more than suitable for photography gear. Easy to use and adjust, and very sturdy set of legs for around $600

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