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Thread: What tripod should I use ?

  1. #1
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    What tripod should I use ?

    Hi,
    I am a beginner in MFDB ; I owned a P25+ wich I use on my Hasselblad 501 cm camera. I'm in landscape photography, and I use different lens : biogon , 50mm, 80 , 180, and rarely a 500 ( wich is really not a good lens !!!).

    All this gear weight a lot ; I've got actually a Manfrotto 190 with 804 head ( wich I use for the M8) but I find it a bit light to use with the MFDB.

    I'm waiting for a Multiflex head wich weight about 900g too.

    What Kind of tripod should I use ? I'm looking for something sturdy, stable, and still transportable on a eight days treck ! huuu, Maybe I'm waiting for something impossible...

    I'll be glad to hear from your experiences, regarding the jungle of Manfroot and gitzo website.

    , Stephane...

    PS : I try to use my best English,...so please excuse all the language errors .
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  2. #2
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Take a look at Feisol.

    Kumar

  3. #3
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    I would recommend that you check the weights of the tripods, as well as the features they offer. Don't be seduced by the promise of light weight and carbon fibre without checking. I have a Manfrotto 190 ProB and was tempted to upgrade to carbon fibre but when I checked the weight of the equivalent CF model I would only have saved two or three hundred grams - not worthwhile for me. And it should go without saying that a tripod which isn't solid isn't worth much, no matter how light it is!

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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    I didn't know FEISOL : they ae specialist of Carbon fiber elements ; it lokks like really good stuff. But Graham is right, I checked the weight and I'll gain only 200 or 300 gramms.
    So for now , my next treck is in Marocco , crossing the Atlas , and it will be with the Manfrotto 190 xproB I already own.

    Thanks for your answers.

    Best regards,

    stephane.
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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    FWIW, the benefit of CF is not the simple weight savings. It is the superior vibration damping qualities as compared to aluminum. Wood also has excellent damping properties, but is far heavier than CF for any given support weight. So,

    Aluminum = Relatively lightweight for strength, but has relatively poor vibration/oscillation damping qualities (longer durations);

    Wood = Relatively heavier for strength, but has excellent vibration/oscillation properties (short durations);

    CF = Lightest weight for strength with very good to excellent vibration/oscillation properties.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Carbon Fiber is pretty much the best balanced solution: weight and stability

    ...Unless you've seen Chris Lawery's old Gitzo tripod. I don't even think it's steel. It looks like cast iron.....I think they use it as a support truss to hold up and repair the damaged foundation of old homes in Atlanta....

  7. #7
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Jack, that's true if you consider material properties only, but there are so many variables such as different tripod leg thicknesses and designs, section locks, people using different shutter speeds and different focal lengths. In my opinion it is another case of marketing speak triumphing over real life experience. Perhaps the CF tripod can make a difference in some photos but there are thousands of professionals using aluminium with no problems at all. I think that says something

    My advice would be get a sturdy CF tripod if you have to buy a tripod anyway, if only for the slight weight advantage, but it's not worth upgrading to, especially if you're not having problems with your existing tripod!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Ok, this is the closest thing to a scientific test I've seen (sorry, it's in Dutch but the results are represented graphically).

    The best performing tripod of the bunch is a Manfrotto 028B - aluminium. And yes, there are wooden and CF ones there too. (Interestingly, the worst of the bunch was also aluminium!) One thing in CF's favour is that the virbations, although worse initially, settled down faster. So for exposures of >2 seconds or so, you might be better off with CF.

    Anyway, I hope that people will think twice before *automatically* jumping on the CF bandwagon now.

    See: http://www.tvwg.nl/testrapporten/sta.../statieven.htm
    Last edited by Graham Mitchell; 21st April 2009 at 10:13.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Well I am basing my comments on my user experience... So speaking as somebody who has used Gitzo pods for the last 30 years, I can tell you that my 3 series aluminum was better for MF than my 2 series aluminum; and my 5 series aluminum was better than my 3 series aluminum with large format. However, my first Gitzo CF tripod was a 3 series, and it was better than my 5 series aluminum with LF, and of course weighed less than my 3 series aluminum! (I sold the aluminum 3 and 5 in a heartbeat to fund the CF 3 series.) I even went to a 5-series CF for a while with 8x10, but in the long run discovered it didn't really offer me more than the 3-series CF -- here the head was more relevant than the legs, and the 3-series CF legs were already plenty strong enough. As of right now, I use a Gitzo 3541 XLS (extra tall, 4 section, CF 3-series) as my current main pod. I also have a 1541 which is a 1-series pod that I use for travel -- and have actually used it fully extended with my MF rig with excellent results, so I personally am sold on the benefits of CF. I also respect that aluminum is less expensive and cost may be an important consideration for some, but my basic advice would be that a really good tripod is more important to optimal image quality than an additional lens is...

    That said, I am fully aware that as users offering advice we often self-reference --- so I respect that other's opinions will vary

    Best,
    Jack
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    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Another rule of thumb for tripods; buy cheap = buy twice.
    Sláinte

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    Re: What tripod should I use ?


  12. #12
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    I'm right there with Jack. I use the Gitzo G1541 for travel and the GT5561SGT for everything else. I chose the huge 5561 because I noticed that micro vibrations were magnified when I started using larger megapixel backs (especially at night). Aluminum and wood are great materials to use, but I find that the combination and weight, rigidity, and vibration dampening with carbon fiber is the best way to go if you can afford it. You can always look towards the Induro tripods if you still want a great carbon fiber tripod for an affordable price.

    Andrew

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Well I am basing my comments on my user experience... So speaking as somebody who has used Gitzo pods for the last 30 years, I can tell you that my 3 series aluminum was better for MF than my 2 series aluminum; and my 5 series aluminum was better than my 3 series aluminum with large format. However, my first Gitzo CF tripod was a 3 series, and it was better than my 5 series aluminum with LF, and of course weighed less than my 3 series aluminum! (I sold the aluminum 3 and 5 in a heartbeat to fund the CF 3 series.) I even went to a 5-series CF for a while with 8x10, but in the long run discovered it didn't really offer me more than the 3-series CF -- here the head was more relevant than the legs, and the 3-series CF legs were already plenty strong enough. As of right now, I use a Gitzo 3541 XLS (extra tall, 4 section, CF 3-series) as my current main pod. I also have a 1541 which is a 1-series pod that I use for travel -- and have actually used it fully extended with my MF rig with excellent results, so I personally am sold on the benefits of CF. I also respect that aluminum is less expensive and cost may be an important consideration for some, but my basic advice would be that a really good tripod is more important to optimal image quality than an additional lens is...

    That said, I am fully aware that as users offering advice we often self-reference --- so I respect that other's opinions will vary

    Best,

  13. #13
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    I tend to agree with Jack and his assessment of the various material and will only add that while wood might look very nice the other drawback to a wood tripod is moisture. Wood attracts moisture which causes swelling then contractions and before you know it one leg might not be the same as the rest. [Okay I'll point out that while I've never owned a wooden tripod I have however used highly accurate rifles for precision pinpoint shooting and we moved away from wood many years ago.]

    Ken is correct in his assessment of Chris's tripod - it's a beast. Not sure what it's made of but it's not aluminum, or carbon fiber; actually I think it's steel.

    I don't think it matters what format you shoot as you need the strongest most stable tripod you can afford and carry.

    I'm taller than average (especially when standing next to Ken) and I've found what I believe is my perfect tripod.

    Gitzo GT5540LS 6x Carbon Fiber no center column

    load capacity 55# 25kg
    max height 60.2" 153cm
    weight 6.3# 2.8kg

    Added to this is the Cube which brings the total weight closer to 8 lbs. I carry this in the field in it's own case slung over my shoulders (not much of a difference from the rifle mentioned above).

    I'll go out on a limb here and say that there's no such thing as a perfect tripod. What suits me (because of my height and shooting style) might not work for you. The best recommendation I can offer here is to go to the best camera store you can find and spend time there with their tripods - by yourself. In other words tell the clerk to piss off till you call him over. Use this time to get to know the different tripods and see if you can find one that suits your needs. Also don't look at the price tags. Don't let the price determine which one you like. Call the clerk over and get any questions answered then make up your mind. On and don't fall from shock as you find the price is close to or over $1000. Robert is right on the money "buy cheap - buy twice" there's no savings.

    By the way - I hate center columns.

    This has been my ramblings as I wait for dinner so take them as you find them.

    Don
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    I'm not sure what Stephane has available locally, but I will say that many of us are a bit spoiled with regard to availability and price of photo gear (and many other items). E.G. in Thailand, Gitzo is very expensive (relative to the U.S.) and selection is miserable. Ordering is possible, but slow, and warranty is difficult to deal with at times. On the other hand, some Canon gear is quite reasonable, such that friends from Sweden will buy all of their Canon gear in Bangkok at substantial savings.

    So with that being said, it may be reasonable to look at brands other than Gitzo in your area (though I LOVE Gitzo). Some in Asia will go with Induro, Benro or Feisol because the import costs are much more reasonable.

    No matter the exact brand, I would echo the others in saying "buy the best that you can", and I would add that one should error on the large size – especially for MF. I am VERY happy with my Gitzo GT3541 XLS, but I know of folks who are happy with one of the large Induro leg sets as well. I have a few Gitzo tripods in addition to some of the less prestigious brands, and while I love Gitzo legs, I do fine with the others as well. (I keep an "off-brand" leg set in Thailand since I use tripod there only rarely and I'm spending less time there recently.)

    I prefer carbon fiber after trying several other materials. It's lighter, stiffer and dampens vibration better in my experience. Buy quality and don't skimp on the tripod or you will follow the path of many (myself included) and buy a few leg sets before learning the lesson.

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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Dale : living in a tropical exotic island gives me many advantage, but it's sure there is no descent camera shop here ; so whatever the choice i'll make I have to order it in France , UK , or asia,...or US.

    I'll wait my next trip to France to try some tripodin a good cameara shop in Paris.
    And for know , I'll stabilyze my Manfrotto 190proX with an old trick of astrophotography and telescope : I'll make a tissue bag attached under the tripod head, centered and with no mvements allowed and I fill it with heavy rocks found on the ground !!!

    Thanks everybody for your lightning answers. I always read you carefully...

    Stephane.
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Recently tripods were evaluated for degrees of freedom from movement, using a laser pointer attached to the intended camera mounted on the test tripod. By shining the laser's light on a wall at some distance from the camera, one can evaluate the amplitude of the movement and the duration of the movement in real time. It may be possible to take such a pointer to a dealer offering the brands that you are interested in and to conduct a test for yourself. I did it with the three tripods that I own and it was quite eye-opening. Holding down the button to activate the laser is just a bit more difficult that it seems it should be. I used a Matthews clamp to hold the laser, that was the best idea that I could come up with.

    Jerry

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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerryreed View Post
    Recently tripods were evaluated for degrees of freedom from movement, using a laser pointer attached to the intended camera mounted on the test tripod. By shining the laser's light on a wall at some distance from the camera, one can evaluate the amplitude of the movement and the duration of the movement in real time. It may be possible to take such a pointer to a dealer offering the brands that you are interested in and to conduct a test for yourself. I did it with the three tripods that I own and it was quite eye-opening. Holding down the button to activate the laser is just a bit more difficult that it seems it should be. I used a Matthews clamp to hold the laser, that was the best idea that I could come up with.

    Jerry
    I did a similar test. Bigger is better (surprise!), and carbon fiber really makes a difference vs aluminium when it comes to dampening oscillations.

    But the biggest difference came with attaching a small flimsy second tripod to the front of the long lens in the test. Suddenly all oscillations disappeared completely, the system was completely dead still.

    I also tried an extra arm that attaches to one of the tripod legs, but that didn't make much of a difference as the other two legs still act as springs and amplify oscillation.
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Excuse me Lars, but what is a "flimsy" ?
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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Quote Originally Posted by steflaurent974 View Post
    Excuse me Lars, but what is a "flimsy" ?
    flimsy (adjective) - light, insubstantial, weak

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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    thank you Graham, I now understand all the sense of Lars post.
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    Carbon Fiber is pretty much the best balanced solution: weight and stability

    ...Unless you've seen Chris Lawery's old Gitzo tripod. I don't even think it's steel. It looks like cast iron.....I think they use it as a support truss to hold up and repair the damaged foundation of old homes in Atlanta....
    It is cast iron! It is a monster, but is rock solid and can hold anything from my G10 to a 4x5! I purchased it for 2 reasons: 1. so I would not need a gym membership and 2. because it was a great deal on E-Bay!

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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    LOL

    My Gitzo 3541XLS came in yesterday. Sweet tripod , very solid
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  23. #23
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    Re: What tripod should I use ?

    Actually it'll hold a 4x4 (Jeep)
    Don Libby
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