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Entry Level Tripod

This is a discussion on Entry Level Tripod within the Camera equipment & accessories forums, part of the Education & Technical category; Hey guys, I mentioned this in another thread, but i thought i'd place it in the appropriate category, i was ...

  1. #1
    Kiddo is offline Member
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    Default Entry Level Tripod

    Hey guys,

    I mentioned this in another thread, but i thought i'd place it in the appropriate category, i was looking into picking up a tripod. Seeing as i'm new to photography, i am still somewhat lost with brands and such, but i'm looking for a fairly cheap and cheerful one to start off.

    Any recommendations?
    "A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Confucius

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    Hey Kiddo,

    I'm not sure i would buy a cheap tripod...A good tripod will probably outlast you and costs anywhere from 150-300.+ new - Try ebay for a good used one would be my suggestion.

    A cheap tripod will probably cost you 30-40 dollars but they aren't sturdy enough(often aren't tall enough) and are a pain to use. Also you often can't replace the 'head' of the tripod which is a nice option to have and one that i have taken advantage of.

    manfrotto
    bogden
    gitzo

    all three are good makes. Mine is an older heavy manfrotto 055 with a #222 (joystick like head) i love it but it's heavy and one day I'll sell it and buy a lighter carbon fibre tripod.

    Hope that helps

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    Kiddo is offline Member
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    Great thanks Marko, that's exactly what i was looking for, and thank you for the advice too, i'll check out ebay
    "A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Confucius

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    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    As to a tripod, I would look at your projected use for one.

    There are a lot of places where they get in the way, can't be used easily or are not allowed. Tourist spots, museums, churches, narrow sidewalks, mines, caves, etc. come to mind. Adding a tripod to your camera bag can be rather cumbersome to carry around all day when you are exploring a city on foot.
    By carrying around a tripod, you are also advertising the fact that you have expensive camera equipment which is not to be recommended in some areas.

    I find a tripod is great for formal portraiture of several individuals that need to be similar but I find that it would slow me down considerably on a model shoot. Product shoots, macro and creative work also lend themselves to tripods. Moonlight over the lake shots and dawn shots benefit from a tripod as well.

    Although I have 3 tripods at the moment, I don't use them nearly as much as I expected to, when I first bought them. With high ISOs, off camera flash, battery powered camping type lighting or even high beam headlights are being used to light up large areas and shoot with a handheld camera.

    Tegan
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    Kiddo is offline Member
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    Really good points there Tegan, i actually hadn't even considered a couple of them initially.

    I was mostly just looking to use it for landscape shots, up north at the lake, and i wanted to experiment with some night shots, and thought it would be useful for the long shutter speeds.

    You're probably on the mark when you talked about the use, i probably won't use it as much as i think i will. It could be a case of "wanting" one as opposed to "needing" one. I think i'll do some more soul searching and homework before i pick one up
    "A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Confucius

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    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Really good points there Tegan, i actually hadn't even considered a couple of them initially.

    I was mostly just looking to use it for landscape shots, up north at the lake, and i wanted to experiment with some night shots, and thought it would be useful for the long shutter speeds.

    You're probably on the mark when you talked about the use, i probably won't use it as much as i think i will. It could be a case of "wanting" one as opposed to "needing" one. I think i'll do some more soul searching and homework before i pick one up
    As you may or may not have discovered, landscape shots toward darkness often require manual focus, experimentation with shutterspeed, and solving the picture noise problem of many cameras. A light inexpensive tripod is often successful for this type of shot if necessary but the current trend is toward using those large battery camping lights or car headlights on high beam to light up large areas. At ISO 3200 auxiliary flashes will also cover a considerably distance as well.

    You should also realize that the sensitivity of the human eye is equivalent to ISO 800, which means that the camera set at ISO 1600 or 3200 sees more than you do. I have been amazed to shoot in the almost pitch dark in an underground coal mine handheld, and still get a reasonably sharp usable photo.

    Tegan
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    tirediron is offline Senior Member
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    This is one point that I can't stress enough; as marko said, DON'T BUY A CHEAP TRIPOD! Even if you don't use it often, this is something you're going to trust to hold up thousands of dollars worth of gear; it's NOT the place to save money. Stick with a known brand (Manfrotto, Benbo, Gitzo are the top names, but some of the higher-end Velbon and SunpaK aren't bad).

    Considerations when buying a tripod: Height: Get one which will allow you to look comfortably into the viewfinder when it's fully extended.

    Load-bearing capacity: This is coupled to the capacity of the head, determine an approximate weight for your heaviest body and lens (that you're likely to own in the next year or three) double it, and then add a little. Make sure that your tripod/legs can hold at least that amount of weight.

    Head: Three main kinds, tilt-pan, ball and joystick. I think ball is the most versatile, but that's a personal preference.

    Sturdiness: Extend the tripod fully in the store, put both hands on the mounting plate and press down; not with all your weight, but a good, firm pressure. If it flexes noticably, move on.

    Versatility: Look for tripods which have reversable or tiltable centre columns such as the Manfrotto 190PRO. Very useful for macro and other work

    Oh and did I mention, don't buy cheap! Expect to spend $200-250 on a decent used head and legs, $400-500 for new aluminum, and $600+ for new carbon fibre.

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    Travis is offline Senior Member
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    I didn`t follow this advice even though I read it in advance.

    http://bythom.com/support.htm

    It`s pretty much true.

    You have to be careful being a cheap ass in photography. It sometimes ends up biting you in the end. I speak from experience.
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    mindforge is offline Senior Member
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    Ok. I am going to defend the cheap tripod. If you are putting little weight onto the tripod, that is.

    I picked up a Hakuba S-4500. I also did research because the price of $19.99 made me nervous after I had seen prices for much higher for tripods. I thought I was going to spend at least $150 for one. So, I got it and came home and did research on it.

    Ok. I would not use it in strong winds, on an angle, or anything else. But, I just want to use it for low light situations. It has a really large footprint, don't expect to unfold it anywhere near traffic.

    Another thing. You are probably going to have to flatten the horizon in post process because it is impossible to get it perfectly level. It is easy to swivel, sets up really fast and all that.

    I have never had a problem with stability with a cheap tripod even with moderate mountain wind. I would never set this thing up with strong wind, plain and simple, the wind will basically ruin the stability, even if you held onto it.

    Sure, there are lots of problems with cheap tripods, but this thing pops out in about ten seconds and is ready to go. It was twenty bucks. For a professional, it is a joke. You will have to post process every shot, unless you spend 20 minutes to get it flat and then hope to god it stays that way. But if you don't have the money, or just plain refuse to spend that much the Hakuba I have is a good bet for twenty bucks. Mind you this though, I have a Sony a200 on the tripod, my whole setup on the tripod is about 500-600 dollars. It is not 2,000 dollars. I would not be comfortable putting a Canon 50D on it. But if you are just looking for a steady hand to take shots while you are standing right next to it, a cheap tripod is fine. Don't set it up in wind and keep the gear on the tripod light.
    Last edited by mindforge; 09-03-2008 at 03:52 PM.

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    Never put a good camera on a cheap tripod. If you shop around you can get a good deal on a tripod. Are you willing to trust your lets say on the cheap end $1500.00 worth of equipment on something worth $20.00? Buy one that will carry the heaviest of your camera and lens combo. I use my tripods mostly for night shots and rarely ever for day photos but if your going to get one, get a good one. I own two and use them both, and they both will hold my biggest lens and camera and rated for heavier than I use. Get one rated for more than you need, just not worth the risk. It only takes one accident to destroy your camera, if it can't stand a good wind why take the chance.
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