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Thread: "Best" tripod

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    Member Harry's Avatar
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    "Best" tripod

    Been out of photography for a few years. Just picked up a D810 today to hold me till I can get a tech cam setup.
    I used to have a RRS tripod and ballhead. Need to buy something again.
    Only thing is I want to buy one that will hold a tech cam in the future.
    Uses would probably be landscape in dirty environments....Death Valley ...coastal areas..

    Lets start with tripod first and ballhead or cube type setup for my second purchase

    I do know that these 2 items will probably cost as much as the D810

    Thanks in advance

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    You might want to consider RRS again. TVC3 series is a great match for a technical camera.

    The Cube is a great combination for a technical camera. I'll be testing a new combination geared ballhead shortly----and expect to have a couple on display in Lake Tahoe with Capture Integration next month.

    ken

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I love my RRS tripods on many levels BUT after a few years of experience with them I have to say that Gitzo tripods kick their butt in the real world. Why would I say that? G-Lock and the really f-ing annoying tendency of the RRS legs not to lock fully unless you unleash serious pressure on twisting them. I haven't lost a camera to a sliding RRS leg yet but I've been very very close. By comparison a Gitzo g-lock is solid every time.

    So, RRS legs with Gitzo locks and I'll be in tripod heaven. (And I'm a RRS fan boy most of the time)

    Arca Cube or d4 are no brainer for the head IMHO unless you need rapid adjustments in which case an Arca Z1. I used to be a fan of RRS heads but compared to Arca they just don't seem smooth. Almost like they're missing some lube.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Senior Member Pemihan's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I have the RRS 24L and love it.
    It is the perfect combination of weight and versability. Mostly I only use three sections but when I'm on a hill side it's really convenient to be able to use the fourth section and extract one of the legs even more.

    I first bought a 34L but found it to be way too heavy for my kind of hiking and backpacking. And probably also quite a bit of overkill for a tech cam.
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry View Post
    Uses would probably be landscape in dirty environments....Death Valley ...coastal areas..
    For portability (hiking): Gitzo GK1582OT + Arca Swiss P0 + Really Right Stuff B2-LR-II

    For stability: Gitzo GT5542LOS + Sachtler Video 90 FB (just kidding )
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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Can't go wrong with the larger Gitzos. Go 4/5 series Systematic.
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    You simply can't beat a Gitzo tripod IMO as like Graham said the leg locks are just the best. I never saw the value of owning a Gitzo tripod until I lost a camera (which very nearly hit someone) off a Manfrotto tripod when a leg slipped. The very next day I ordered a Series 3 and Series 5 Systematic and have never regretted it for a moment.

    For the environments you want to use it in I'd look at a Gitzo 3 or 5 series Ocean Systematic for their added water, dust and corrosion resistance. Couple that with pretty much any Arca Swiss head as they are the best and you'll have the last tripod you'll ever need to buy. I use a Cube and Z1g+ head and I love them both equally but you will need to factor in an L bracket for the Cube as it is terrible without one for portrait orientation compositions. The Z1 is better with L bracket but not a nessessaty as with the Cube and can be purchase later to save on initial cost.
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    Senior Member Chris Giles's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I've been pretty impressed with the Sirui K-40X ballhead.
    Chris Giles Photography

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I have the Gitzo 2/3/5 series and the RRS TVL24L/34L.

    The 24L is rated for similar capacity to the 3 series Gitzo but weight/size of the RRS is similar to the 2 series Gitzo. The 34L is similar capacity to the 5 series Gitzo, but weight/size is a little larger than the 3 series Gitzo.

    I use the 24L with BH40 and it is a very compact kit. On the 34L I have a Cube and it is much heavier and bulkier, but at places like the racetrack in DV where the wind is howling, it does make a difference.

    RRS service, even with me in Canada, has been fantastic.

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    BTW, if you are getting RRS heads, lamps etc., and plan on Arca Swiss tech cam at some point, go for the "screw" claps vs. the "lever" clamps. Lots of threads discussing this topic here.

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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I have the 2 and 3 series from both Gitzo and RRS. I agree with Graham above in regards to the leg locks. However, I never use the 2 series Gitzo. I think the 24L is a better option for backpacking. It weighs about the same but feels more solid and is taller (I'm 6'-5").

    Still struggling with the 3 series. The Gitzo (GT3541xls) is crazy tall which I love and have used on hills, but it folds up about 3" longer than the 34L. That makes a difference in how it packs. Awkward for any pack less than about 65L capacity.

    So for mostly day hikes where you will can carry the tripod in your hands, I think the Gitzo wins. But if you want one that can stow on/in a pack, I would go with the 34L.

    Dave
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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Oh and as far as heads go, if you are getting a back with live view that you will use, then there are a multitude of options. But if you are planning to use the ground glass or just blind shoot/check/reframe/shoot*, I highly recommend the Cube/D4. I usually have the D4 mounted on the 2 series and the Cube on the 3.

    Dave

    *this includes going the Surface Pro route
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    Subscriber and Workshop Member MGrayson's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    The one time you need that extra leg extension on a hillside or river bank makes up for all the extra size of the 3542xls. It's only slightly heavier than the 3-section version. I carry it strapped to the outside of the pack.

    --Matt

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I use the RRS 24L which I really like a lot and I love there products but I would never buy there heads again. Too many times there ballheads on light pressure have the ballhead fallen over on its side. I use a Arca Z1 DP which IMHO is the best ball head you can buy. I never lost it to fallen over on its side with light pressure and more important works far better in vertical mode and I shot every piece of MF cams and 35 without ever a issue. I like flip locks as well as I almost lost 40k worth of gear falling off those screw down plates several times ( lucky I had camera straps in my hand at those times). The flip locks maybe a pain but I swear by them. I never lost a cam to them in the field.

    My issue with the cube is it's not a fast head. Landscape maybe fine but I shoot fashion and pretty much everything in the business so speed is important to me. The Z1 does creep either like many ballheads.

    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/Shop...-leg-long.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...1_dp_with.html
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    he flip locks maybe a pain but I swear by them. I never lost a cam to them in the field.
    Guy, I thought it was the Cube with the flip lock that almost cost you your gear a few years ago? The RRS lever clamps are just a tad too wide for the real Arca Swiss plates, so I have been using the screw clamps instead.

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Tripod --> Gitzo
    Head --> Arca Swiss
    Clamps, plates and brackets --> RRS

    That is, what works best for me.
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    Senior Member RVB's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I have a TVC-24L which is excellent and also a TVC-33 and TQC-14 with BH-40 for times I want to travel light,they're alll excellent for their intended application,the 24L is a great all rounder,I dont really use the TVC-33 since i got the 24L.

    I also have a Gitzo Ocean Sysyematic 5series which is superb although the 3 series would be a better bet for most people as the 5 is 2.9kgs.

    For heads the cube is great,the Acratech heads are also very nice.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsiva View Post
    Guy, I thought it was the Cube with the flip lock that almost cost you your gear a few years ago? The RRS lever clamps are just a tad too wide for the real Arca Swiss plates, so I have been using the screw clamps instead.
    No a RRS pano clamp . Piece of crap
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Tripod - Really Right Stuff TVC-45. It's rock solid, can double as a weapon if attacked and if I get caught out in the rain I can extend it fully, throw a canvas over it and camp out. 3 in 1, can't top that

    Head - Arca cube. You can buy other heads but you end up with a cube anyway so why not just start there.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Not by popular comment but I had the cube and its a slow dog to work with and not very good for any type of fast work. Its great for landscape and archetecture work but it really ends there . Try shooting a model and its stupid slow. Depends on what type of photography you are doing but a ball head is far faster. Seriously my Z1 is as strong as a cube. Its rated at 130 lbs and it does not move when tightened down. People ignore this because the Cube is in Cult status. Thats fine but Im not into cults or anything that will slow me down.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    All the preceding recommendations are good. Personally, I just got a Gitzo Systematic GT3432LS with the interchangeable flat plate and a center column (keeping the flat plate on for now). Haven't used it in anger yet, but after just playing with it a bit, I feel it was a great purchase -- one of those "joy in use" kind of things. I see it working very well for FF digital up to 400-500mm, and MF film, no problem. Have my Arca Swiss Z1 DP head on it.

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I'm not as fancy as the other guys here, so I "only" have a Gitzo 3 series and Manfrotto 405 geared head, but what everyone is saying about the g-locks on the Gitzos are true, that stuff isn't going anywhere after you lock it down. As much I'd love to have had a D4 or Cube, they each get twice as expensive as the last one, and enough pros use the 405 to convince me that it wasn't going to disappoint me at the least, which it doesn't.

    One peculiar thing I noticed is that the stock rubber feet on the Gitzo are way too thick and soft and give the tripod a bit of a spongy feel, I haven't replaced them yet, but just taking them off makes the tripod seem much more stable, so it might be worth looking into some hard rubber replacements.

    Quote Originally Posted by mathomas View Post
    All the preceding recommendations are good. Personally, I just got a Gitzo Systematic GT3432LS with the interchangeable flat plate and a center column
    Don't you mean the 3532LS? there is no 3432 model according to Google. I have the non-LS version, though I'm not sure what the difference is. I keep the center column attached to mine, but only so that I can use a tripod strap to sling the tripod over my shoulder.

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    As usual I'm the outlier here. I use a Gitzo tripod with and Acratech GP-S ball head. The lever locking plate is perfect in my opinion. Invert the body and it's ready for pano duties. It's absolutely rigid, and weighs next to nothing.
    Aaron

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolor-Pikker View Post
    ...

    Don't you mean the 3532LS? there is no 3432 model according to Google. I have the non-LS version, though I'm not sure what the difference is. I keep the center column attached to mine, but only so that I can use a tripod strap to sling the tripod over my shoulder.
    Haha, yes -- typo! I think the 'L' is for 'long'. The 'S' is for Systematic, I believe.
    Last edited by mathomas; 7th March 2015 at 08:02.

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    Senior Member Jamgolf's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Shared wisdom on this subject is to get the sturdiest tripod that is light & compact enough so it will be used and not left home. The properties to pay attention to are:

    a) tripod weight
    b) folded length
    c) max height without center column extended
    d) load capacity

    Depending on intended usage, obviously the max acceptable values for each of these differ from one photog to another.

    About 12 years ago I bought a Gitzo Basalt G1298 ( a=3.5lbs, b=19.3", c=47.2", d=12.1lbs ) - and it has served me well.

    Two years ago I also purchased a Gitzo 5562 LTS ( a=6.5lbs, b=19.6", c=58.8", d=88lbs) - to work with a Horseman 617.

    These are almost two extreme ends of the Gitzo tripod spectrum I have always been willing to bring the 1298 and leave the 5562 home.

    One pleasant surprize after switching to a tech camera has been the fact that it does not need a super heavy tripod - so I have sold the 5562.

    If I ever buy another tripod in the future, I would look for:
    a = less than 2.5lbs => easy to carry
    b = less than 20" => fits carry-on bags and easy to carry
    c = more than 55" => more the better
    d = more than 20lbs => 20lbs capacity is more than enough for me

    I have never used a RRS tripod (have thought about their model 23) - but Gitzos are solid and the way G1298 has held up, I think it will last a lifetime.

    Some would argue that a lighter tripod is just not good enough but that has not been my experience with Nikon D50, D200, D700, D800 and now Cambo 1200. Although I understand that for much larger systems the lightest tripod would be a level or two higher.

    So all I am saying is - don't overlook the convenience factor
    Last edited by Jamgolf; 7th March 2015 at 09:13.
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I have Gitzo and Manfrotto tripods. I prefer the Manfrotto with lever locks because I can visually confirm the legs are locked.



    My most used tripod by far in the field is a Manfrotto three section carbon fiber. It is a really old model and no longer made. I think it is rated to 11kg. It also has a short column. The head is an Arca Swiss p0. I have bigger and smaller, but this seems to be the best compromise between portability and usefulness. I can carry and work with this all day long.

    Smaller tripods are easier to carry, but are too low. Bigger is just too much in the field, but I use them I very specific and limited situations. My bigger tripods have a gear head. I like gear heads, but not their weight and size. Since I end up photographing more than 20 feet from a car, weight and size are really important.

    The other nice thing about my Manfrotto is it fits in my checked luggage.

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    Subscriber and Workshop Member MGrayson's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Not by popular comment but I had the cube and its a slow dog to work with and not very good for any type of fast work. Its great for landscape and archetecture work but it really ends there . Try shooting a model and its stupid slow. Depends on what type of photography you are doing but a ball head is far faster. Seriously my Z1 is as strong as a cube. Its rated at 130 lbs and it does not move when tightened down. People ignore this because the Cube is in Cult status. Thats fine but Im not into cults or anything that will slow me down.
    But if you want to change the tilt a small amount, and you don't want the horizon to go out of level while you do it, the cube is unequalled. I hate it when I loosen a head and everything flops - or even *tries* to flop. I would not use a cube for action, even slow action. I would not use it for an M or smaller, although an iPhone mounted on a cube looks kinda cool.

    I have a bunch of RRS ballheads I should sell. I like the cube and the little inverted Arca P0.

    --Matt

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    I use Gitzo and Cube (GT3540XLS and the Oceanic 1540). For ballheads there is only one... Burzynski (seems to be unavailable today )

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    All tripods to a certain point are excellent now especially if going for a top end carbon fibre one. I looked hard and long at the RRS tripods vs the Gitzo as both are top of the tree but as well as the leg locks on the Gitzo, what sold me was the total system that is unrivalled from any other manufacturer.

    Spending this much I wanted t to be more than just expensive tripod and I now have multiple accessories like levelling plates, rapid and geared columns, leg reducers, video half bowls and lateral arms just to name but a few. My Gitzo's can pretty much do anything I ask of them.

    Series 5 sporting its rather nice new geared column.



    Some of my many accessories


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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    Shared wisdom on this subject is to get the sturdiest tripod that is light & compact enough so it will be used and not left home. The properties to pay attention to are:

    -courtesy wall of text removal-

    So all I am saying is - don't overlook the convenience factor :)
    Speaking of convenience, when I was picking a tripod it was down to a choice between the column or plate 3 series, but one peculiar aspect of the plate version is that it has a much wider base and the legs fold down at an angle; a design which meant that the tripod would take up more space in my travel bag, and also it wouldn't really work with a sling which is how I'm used to going about.

    Some people loath the idea of using tripods with a center column, but my testing didn't reveal any appreciable difference with the 645Z mounted, and fully extended with the column it's still more stable than my old aluminum Manfrotto was collapsed. Using the deep science of tapping (really hard) one of the legs while looking at 16x live view through a 150mm lens revealed that the Gitzo stabilized in under a second regardless of how it was extended, while the old Manfrotto could continue to oscillate for up to 10 seconds or more! And to think it weighed twice as much!

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    As a long time Gitzo fan, I recently bought a Sirui R4203. So far, it is excellent. I only bought a new tripod as I was suffering leg lock envy of friends with newer tripods who didn't need to go through the Gitzo mumbo jumbo.

    I have the Cube and D4 and prefer the D4. I find it easier to work with as it lets me make gross adjustments quickly.
    Cheers,
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    Member Harry's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Thanks for all the replies.

    A Gitzo and a Z1 will be ordered next week
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Harry get the Z1 DP as you get the ability to do panos with the head.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Member Harry's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Harry get the Z1 DP as you get the ability to do panos with the head.
    Will do ... Thanks

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    You will love it.

    Matt had a question on doing a very minor adjustment to level and what I love about this head is any slight movement when semi loose is very precise to do. Most ball heads flop all over the place not the Z1. Hate to use the word tight but to make a move it takes some pressure. It honestly can work as well as the cube. I had them both and the cube is really nice but it is slower. The Z1 is a lot less money too
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Guy---you *might* like this one. I'm planning on doing a review of this new geared ball head solution. KPS T5D/T5DV. Speed of a ballhead, but precision of a geared head to make small adjustments.

    Legio Aerium

    I just got two of them in studio today and will have them at CI in Lake Tahoe next month. I'm not sure I can get used to their unique lever release system. Their knob release is self-explanatory. I think I am just too spoiled by the RRS lever release clamps. Much more testing to do, but seems really smooth and solid. I think adding a RRS B2 AS II lever release clamp or even a panning clamp and it maybe a winner.

    More to follow....

    ken

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    Member Harry's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Looks interesting Ken. No pricing on the website


    $ .. $$ .. or $$$?

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Harry---KPS T5DV runs about $800. It looks and feels very nicely engineered. Even packaging is first rate albeit no *ahem* coach leather bag ala Cube. It seems solid but I still need to test it in the field...

    ken

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    Re: "Best" tripod

    So all I am saying is - don't overlook the convenience factor
    Can't overstate this enough. Weight is the first thing I feel you should look at as a photographer if you're hiking. If your location is relatively close to your car, that's one thing. I've been meaning to upgrade for a while now, but lugging a 13 pound studio Induro up the 4000'+ mountain this weekend made it a reality now.

    Never again...

    Induro's CF line has always impressed me with their lightness for what you get. My personal view is on the CGT214M2, as it's just over 18" folded, and weighs 4.2 lbs. Perfect to get strapped into the webbing on a day pack (or used with an F-stop backpack, too.)
    Chris Valites
    Research, Marketing & Support, Capture Integration
    Email-Me

  40. #40
    Senior Member ErikKaffehr's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Hi,

    What I use is RRS TVC-33S with levelling base and Arca Swiss 4D.

    I replaced the quick release on the 4D head with an RRS lever type release.

    Nice tripod, but a bit heavy with the additional stuff.

    Best regards
    Erik

  41. #41
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    Oct 2014
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    Re: "Best" tripod

    Erik, your post actually made me wonder about proper weight distribution for a backpacking trip. Top heavy packs aren't the most fun to carry around, and can be dangerous if you're doing some decent elevation gain in a short amount of time.
    Chris Valites
    Research, Marketing & Support, Capture Integration
    Email-Me

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