What to look for in a tripod....

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by erics, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. erics

    erics Guest

    In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot, and
    obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I did
    say general purpose!

    With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its difficult
    to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not essential,
    and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a tripod? Any
    recommendations would be helpful.
    erics, Apr 6, 2005
    #1
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  2. erics

    Roy Guest

    "erics" <> wrote in message
    news:4253e88b$0$305$...
    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    > experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot,
    > and obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I
    > will also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I
    > did say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its
    > difficult to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not
    > essential, and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a
    > tripod? Any recommendations would be helpful.
    >


    Hi there.

    The first, and almost the only, consideration for a tripod, is its rigidity.

    When you are looking at them in the shops, work on the principle that most
    of them are useless.

    Your first test is to extend them to their maximum height, and then lean on
    them as heavily as you can, to see if the legs and joints flex. Second is to
    apply a twisting action to the top, while holding one leg in place with your
    foot.

    If there is any movement, discard that one from your list.

    Once you have found one or two which pass your tests, then you can think
    about features like Pan and Tilt Head or Ball and Socket Head.

    Roy G
    Roy, Apr 6, 2005
    #2
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  3. I have several tripods. I have a big heavy one that I keep in my studio....a
    room the wife calls the dining room. And I have a lighter one that I can
    strap on my back when I go out. Those are the two I use most, but I have
    table top tripod too and a mono pod and I light weight one I use for a slave
    flash.

    So...to answer your question...there are lots of uses and which one gets
    used depends on the use. You need to let us know how you are going to use
    it.


    "erics" <> wrote in message
    news:4253e88b$0$305$...
    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    > experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot,

    and
    > obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    > also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I did
    > say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its

    difficult
    > to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not essential,
    > and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a tripod? Any
    > recommendations would be helpful.
    >
    >
    Gene Palmiter, Apr 6, 2005
    #3
  4. erics

    erics Guest

    "Gene Palmiter" <> wrote in message
    news:QaS4e.194$ox3.41@trnddc03...
    >I have several tripods. I have a big heavy one that I keep in my
    >studio....a
    > room the wife calls the dining room. And I have a lighter one that I can
    > strap on my back when I go out. Those are the two I use most, but I have
    > table top tripod too and a mono pod and I light weight one I use for a
    > slave
    > flash.
    >
    > So...to answer your question...there are lots of uses and which one gets
    > used depends on the use. You need to let us know how you are going to use
    > it.
    >


    I did try in my original post:

    >I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot,

    and
    > obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    > also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and studio-type shots. I did
    > say general purpose!


    I know that is not that specific, but as I said I am just starting and its a
    bit too soon to be specific or specialised. I guess initially need a "jack
    of all trades, master of none" type thing, which is a difficult thing to ask
    for I know.
    erics, Apr 6, 2005
    #4
  5. erics

    Iain Laskey Guest

    In article <4253e88b$0$305$>,
    aP (erics) wrote:

    > What should I look for in a tripod?

    3 legs and a place to screw on a camera. Usually does the trick.

    Sorry...

    Iain
    Iain Laskey, Apr 6, 2005
    #5
  6. erics

    Bigguy Guest

    First thing to decide is how often you want to carry the tripod....

    If rarely then there are many excellent rigid tripod/head combinations -
    they are all heavy!

    If often then you either go for an inexpensive one (Slik/Velbon etc) and
    accept a bit of flex OR cough up lots of money and get a really good travel
    tripod (Gitzo etc.) in alloy/carbon fibre etc...

    Heads mostly split into ball or three way adjustments. Both have their
    advantages - I prefer three way but good (and expensive) ball heads are good
    too... cheap ball heads are not good with long/heavy lenses...

    Ideally a tripod should go to eye height or more without extending any
    centre colomn and be rigid at this height.
    This requires hefty construction (weighty) or clever materials/hi-tech
    construction (costly) - you pay your money and make you choice...

    Most folk end up with two or more tripods - a heavy rigid one for
    studio/occasional carrying and a lighter one for travel/outdoors.

    I have a Manfrotto 055 NAT3 + 141RC NAT3 combo for solidity and an old
    Velbon VE3 for travel.... I wish I could afford a Gitzo ;-)

    The ones to avoid are the cheap or expensive, wobbly ones.... be prepared to
    spend a bit more than you may have expected for a good one - after all they
    do last for ever (almost) and a good one only has to be bought once.

    Guy



    erics wrote:
    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the
    > learning experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose
    > tripod to help experiment with the camera's settings and the effect
    > it has on the shot, and obviously keeping the camera in the same
    > place will help! I suspect I will also use it for landscapes, may be
    > portraits, and study-type shots. I did say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its
    > difficult to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but
    > not essential, and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for
    > in a tripod? Any recommendations would be helpful.
    Bigguy, Apr 6, 2005
    #6
  7. erics

    Ron Hunter Guest

    erics wrote:
    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    > experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot, and
    > obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    > also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I did
    > say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its difficult
    > to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not essential,
    > and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a tripod? Any
    > recommendations would be helpful.
    >
    >

    Strength, stability, light weight (unless you expect only studio use),
    and a good sturdy mount. You can pay a lot for the light weight, so
    don't go overboard for any single specification and you should get a
    good general purpose one.
    Pay attention to how easy it is to set up and take down as the more time
    you mess with that, the less you have to take pictures.


    --
    Ron Hunter
    Ron Hunter, Apr 6, 2005
    #7
  8. erics

    C Wright Guest

    On 4/6/05 10:39 AM, in article , "Bigguy"
    <> wrote:

    > First thing to decide is how often you want to carry the tripod....
    >
    > If rarely then there are many excellent rigid tripod/head combinations -
    > they are all heavy!
    >
    > If often then you either go for an inexpensive one (Slik/Velbon etc) and
    > accept a bit of flex OR cough up lots of money and get a really good travel
    > tripod (Gitzo etc.) in alloy/carbon fibre etc...
    >
    > Heads mostly split into ball or three way adjustments. Both have their
    > advantages - I prefer three way but good (and expensive) ball heads are good
    > too... cheap ball heads are not good with long/heavy lenses...
    >
    > Ideally a tripod should go to eye height or more without extending any
    > centre colomn and be rigid at this height.
    > This requires hefty construction (weighty) or clever materials/hi-tech
    > construction (costly) - you pay your money and make you choice...
    >
    > Most folk end up with two or more tripods - a heavy rigid one for
    > studio/occasional carrying and a lighter one for travel/outdoors.
    >
    > I have a Manfrotto 055 NAT3 + 141RC NAT3 combo for solidity and an old
    > Velbon VE3 for travel.... I wish I could afford a Gitzo ;-)
    >
    > The ones to avoid are the cheap or expensive, wobbly ones.... be prepared to
    > spend a bit more than you may have expected for a good one - after all they
    > do last for ever (almost) and a good one only has to be bought once.
    >
    > Guy
    >

    All good points. Relative to the last point, I can't believe how many
    people post here (the OP excepted) relative to getting some el-cheapo tripod
    after dropping $2000 +++ on camera and lenses. The best camera and lens in
    the world will not take good photos when mounted to a tripod that picks up
    every vibration from the floor or sways in the wind!
    It is usually a shock to see how much a good tripod costs but, once
    purchased, it will be serviceable for a long, long time.
    Chuck
    C Wright, Apr 6, 2005
    #8
  9. "Roy" <> writes:

    > The first, and almost the only, consideration for a tripod, is its rigidity.
    >
    > When you are looking at them in the shops, work on the principle that most
    > of them are useless.
    >
    > Your first test is to extend them to their maximum height, and then lean on
    > them as heavily as you can, to see if the legs and joints flex. Second is to
    > apply a twisting action to the top, while holding one leg in place with your
    > foot.
    >
    > If there is any movement, discard that one from your list.


    (note this is for a full size tripod)

    I always recomend that people take their camera (and flash, flash bracket,
    battery pack if you are going to be using those as well), and take them into
    the store and set it up to see how stable the whole thing is. I never can find
    a place to put down my camera, so see how easy it is to extend a tripod while
    holding the camera in one hand.

    In addition to setting the camera up horizontally, set it up vertically to see
    whether mounting the camera that way unbalances the tripod (unless you use an L
    bracket to compensate or a Stroboframe Vertaflip which keeps the camera
    centered).

    Then look through the viewfinder. If you find yourself hunched over, you might
    want to select a larger tripod (or resign yourself to chiropractor bills :).

    --
    Michael Meissner
    email:
    http://www.the-meissners.org
    Michael Meissner, Apr 6, 2005
    #9
  10. erics

    Guest

    In message <BE7989F7.208F7%wright9_nojunk@nojunk_mac.com>,
    C Wright <wright9_nojunk@nojunk_mac.com> wrote:

    >All good points. Relative to the last point, I can't believe how many
    >people post here (the OP excepted) relative to getting some el-cheapo tripod
    >after dropping $2000 +++ on camera and lenses. The best camera and lens in
    >the world will not take good photos when mounted to a tripod that picks up
    >every vibration from the floor or sways in the wind!


    I cringe when people talk about "using a tripod instead of hand-holding"
    without qualifying in regards to quality, and technique.

    For example, tripods *suck* for middle-range shutter speeds unless you
    use mirror-lockup. There are many shutter speed/lens combos that give
    me worse results on a tripod than hand-holding, if lock-up is not used,
    especially with cheaper tripods.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
    , Apr 6, 2005
    #10
  11. erics

    Dirty Harry Guest

    "erics" <> wrote in message
    news:4253e88b$0$305$...
    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    > experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot,

    and
    > obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    > also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I did
    > say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its

    difficult
    > to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not essential,
    > and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a tripod? Any
    > recommendations would be helpful.



    I got a sherpa 250 with a velbon head after out growing my elcheapo one.
    The sherpa 250 is a great deal at 109 bucks and the head is adjustable in
    both axis just by loosening one handle, but if you just want to move one
    axis there is enough resistance not to affect the other one. This is
    probably still an elcheapo tripod to some but its way more sturdy then my
    old one and the head is nice and solid.
    Dirty Harry, Apr 7, 2005
    #11
  12. erics

    Dirty Harry Guest

    Dirty Harry, Apr 7, 2005
    #12
  13. erics

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Bigguy wrote:
    > First thing to decide is how often you want to carry the tripod....
    >
    > If rarely then there are many excellent rigid tripod/head combinations -
    > they are all heavy!
    >
    > If often then you either go for an inexpensive one (Slik/Velbon etc) and
    > accept a bit of flex OR cough up lots of money and get a really good travel
    > tripod (Gitzo etc.) in alloy/carbon fibre etc...
    >
    > Heads mostly split into ball or three way adjustments. Both have their
    > advantages - I prefer three way but good (and expensive) ball heads are good
    > too... cheap ball heads are not good with long/heavy lenses...
    >
    > Ideally a tripod should go to eye height or more without extending any
    > centre colomn and be rigid at this height.
    > This requires hefty construction (weighty) or clever materials/hi-tech
    > construction (costly) - you pay your money and make you choice...
    >
    > Most folk end up with two or more tripods - a heavy rigid one for
    > studio/occasional carrying and a lighter one for travel/outdoors.
    >
    > I have a Manfrotto 055 NAT3 + 141RC NAT3 combo for solidity and an old
    > Velbon VE3 for travel.... I wish I could afford a Gitzo ;-)
    >
    > The ones to avoid are the cheap or expensive, wobbly ones.... be prepared to
    > spend a bit more than you may have expected for a good one - after all they
    > do last for ever (almost) and a good one only has to be bought once.
    >
    > Guy
    >
    >
    >
    > erics wrote:
    >
    >>In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the
    >>learning experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose
    >>tripod to help experiment with the camera's settings and the effect
    >>it has on the shot, and obviously keeping the camera in the same
    >>place will help! I suspect I will also use it for landscapes, may be
    >>portraits, and study-type shots. I did say general purpose!
    >>
    >>With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its
    >>difficult to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but
    >>not essential, and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for
    >>in a tripod? Any recommendations would be helpful.

    >
    >
    >

    Don't forget the 'pano' heads the allow the camera to rotate properly
    for good panorama photos. That is probably the only thing I would
    actually USE a tripod for. Otherwise, they impede the process of taking
    a picture too much for my needs.
    Even the best of them aren't exactly 'pocketable'. Grin.


    --
    Ron Hunter
    Ron Hunter, Apr 7, 2005
    #13
  14. On Thu, 07 Apr 2005 04:37:42 GMT, in rec.photo.digital , "Dirty Harry"
    <> in <qO25e.917058$Xk.71462@pd7tw3no> wrote:

    >
    >www.harryphotos.com <<--pictures taken with the help of this tripod here..
    >

    The first bridge picture in the Edmonton folder is beautiful. I got to
    get me a tripod. How long did you have to wait for "River Bridge 2"?
    Sunset5 look2 like Monument Valley: pretty neat.


    --
    Matt Silberstein

    All in all, if I could be any animal, I would want to be
    a duck or a goose. They can fly, walk, and swim. Plus,
    there there is a certain satisfaction knowing that at the
    end of your life you will taste good with an orange sauce
    or, in the case of a goose, a chestnut stuffing.
    Matt Silberstein, Apr 7, 2005
    #14
  15. erics

    Stewy Guest

    In article <4253e88b$0$305$>,
    "erics" <> wrote:

    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    > experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot, and
    > obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    > also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I did
    > say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its difficult
    > to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not essential,
    > and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a tripod? Any
    > recommendations would be helpful.


    UK prices for tripods (and a lot of other stuff too) are outrageous.
    Last summer I was looking for a lightweight one - the velbon P-Max
    seemed about right. But prices in the UK were about £70-80 on average -
    coming back to Japan, I picked up a P-Max for just 7000 yen (£34)

    Decide what you want.

    Something sturdy, but heavy? Do you use a car?

    Something to slip in a daypack on a long ramble or hike?

    Do you want a quick release head? - this is a small plate screwed
    directly to the camera which fits on the tripod with a lever or clip -
    very convenient, usually.
    Stewy, Apr 8, 2005
    #15
  16. erics

    Ed Medlin Guest

    "erics" <> wrote in message
    news:4253e88b$0$305$...
    > In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    > experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    > experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot,
    > and obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I
    > will also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I
    > did say general purpose!
    >
    > With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its
    > difficult to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not
    > essential, and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a
    > tripod? Any recommendations would be helpful.
    >
    >

    Something rugged. I like outdoor photography and sometimes will collapse my
    tripod with camera attached to move from place to place in some areas. This
    could be a tricky situation, and a bad one with a flimsy, cheap tripod. I
    like a light tripod that is rugged and has legs that collapse very short.
    Shooting outdoors brings along with it some interesting shooting positions
    and you need to be ready all the time or you may miss that great shot. What
    is essential to me may not be to you and vice-versa.


    Ed
    Ed Medlin, Apr 9, 2005
    #16
  17. This link is an excellent explanation of what to look for in a tripod.

    http://bythom.com/support.htm

    A good tripod is expensive. My setup cost over $1000: Gitzo 1228, Arcratech
    ballhead, Really Right Stuff panoramic head, and RRS L-plate. I use to think
    $100 was a lot, but it was the best improvement for taking pix. Now I can
    use my 20D and get winners.
    Rick \(Saga 35\), Apr 11, 2005
    #17
  18. erics

    paul Guest

    Rick (Saga 35) wrote:

    > This link is an excellent explanation of what to look for in a tripod.
    >
    > http://bythom.com/support.htm



    Thanks, he explains the pitfalls very cleverly.


    >
    > A good tripod is expensive. My setup cost over $1000: Gitzo 1228, Arcratech
    > ballhead, Really Right Stuff panoramic head, and RRS L-plate. I use to think
    > $100 was a lot, but it was the best improvement for taking pix. Now I can
    > use my 20D and get winners.
    >
    >
    paul, Apr 12, 2005
    #18
  19. erics

    Roger Guest

    On Wed, 6 Apr 2005 14:47:53 +0100, "erics"
    <> wrote:

    >In am new to the world of dSLR/SLR photography and enjoying the learning
    >experience. I would like to purchase a general purpose tripod to help
    >experiment with the camera's settings and the effect it has on the shot, and
    >obviously keeping the camera in the same place will help! I suspect I will
    >also use it for landscapes, may be portraits, and study-type shots. I did
    >say general purpose!
    >
    >With tripods starting from a few GBP rising to several hundred its difficult
    >to know which "features" are essential, which are nice but not essential,
    >and which are just pure luxury. What should I look for in a tripod? Any
    >recommendations would be helpful.
    >


    I've been through tripod selection on several iterations. I believe
    the advise given in the bythom article, already cited, should be
    heeded.

    I tried to follow it and succeeded in the tripod selection - a
    Manfrotto carbon fiber 444 tripod that gives me sturdy support for
    general photography, light weight for travel and enough collapsibility
    that I can get it into my checked luggage for travel.

    I missed on the head however. I bought the medium side Gitzo offset
    ball head G1276M with quick release clamp. I use my tripod with
    everything from a P&S to a Nikon F5 with 80-200mm f2.8 AFS zoom lens.
    IMO, and contrary to the ratings, the medium Gitzo ball is not sturdy
    enough for anything above a 2-3 kilogram or so. I think the problem is
    the ball size, just not enough surface area to provide a rigid
    clamping surface. I really like the convenience of the head and the
    offset design is just what I needed to keep the overall size within
    the dimensions of the checked luggage. The QR head is also extremely
    convenient for swapping cameras, both my wife and I use it - sometimes
    alternating shots. The large gripping surface on the locking knob is
    also nice, especially when using gloves. I like everything about it
    except when loaded with heavy camera, one that is within the head's
    rating.

    Sorry for the long commentary, the point is I don't think you can over
    emphasize the importance of the head. I also like the quick release
    features. I'm currently looking at a small Kirk head as a replacement.

    I also use a Manfrotto table top tripod for a lot of my travel. It is
    an amazingly capable tripod. My use is so diverse that trying to solve
    all this with a single tripod is leading to multiple compromises that
    is resulting is bad selections.

    Solve the most frequent/important usage completely and first. It may
    be more expensive than you thought. But if done right, well worth the
    expense because it will work.

    Regards,
    Roger
    Roger, Apr 12, 2005
    #19
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