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Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 118969 15-May-2013 12:06
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Can anyone recommend a tripod for a DSLR?
I bought one of the cheap ($54) Dick Smith ones, as they looked fairly robust, but the clip that holds the screwplate in stopped springing back after only 2 uses. So I took it back.

I see at local stores brand names like Topman, Slik, Takara, INCA, etc.

Any of these any good?


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  Reply # 819958 15-May-2013 12:09
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What are you using it for (landscapes, portraits), where, and what load are you putting on it (100-400 + 5D3 + 600EX or a RX100)?




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 819969 15-May-2013 12:18
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A Canon 1100D with varying lenses.
I took some long exposure shots of stars (so landscape) the other night using an 18-135MM zoom.
And some shots of pottery inside just using the 50MM.

So, it varies I guess.

But at the moment, a crop sensor and whatever lenses I need. I suppose occasionally I might use the kit lens 75 -300.

I'm not looking for super expensive, but then I've heard others say that buying a cheap one is a waste of time and you'll always want a better one.

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  Reply # 819984 15-May-2013 12:28
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I have Manfrotto, which is sturdy enough you could defend yourself against a zombie attack with it. They cost many hundreds in NZ, or much less from B&H Photo & Video in New York.

Go into a camera store, rather than a.... well whatever DSE is now store. Find something that seems to be the price point and quality you want. Can't really recommend a specific brand as I just bought the best. It's 5 years old and is as good as new, probably because I've only used it about ten times, and only once at a wedding.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 819990 15-May-2013 12:35
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Thanks :)

Yes, I did go into my local photo store yesterday as well.
They had some quite expensive ones, but strangely, some of them had legs that seem to taper down to being quite thin, which I thought must increase the wobble factor.

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  Reply # 820182 15-May-2013 16:23
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I bought a "fancier" brand cheap carbon fibre tripod from a vendor on TM - it cost about $100, and was a reasonable knock-off of some expensive manfrotto CF tripods. Brief review.
Good points:
The CF legs are very rigid / strong (not manfrotto quality, but very good regardless).
The lever locks work very well - and are adjustable tension via a hex key. I've never needed to adjust them since I set it up when new (3 years or so). I prefer lever locks, as it's much easier and quicker to extend/contract the legs with the legs folded in by turning the entire tripod, flicking the levers open or closed as you rotate it, than having to deal with rotating each leg individually.
It is very light (< 2kg I think) This is important if you hike with your gear - it's much better to have a lightweight tripod that you will take with you - than a fantastic studio quality heavy tripod that you leave at home or in the car because you don't want to carry it.
The ball head (also inexpensive - supplied by the same seller on TM works extremely well.
It (after modification mentioned below) seems to support >3kg camera/lens combinations, ~ 300mm focal length fine - I'm happy with the results.
The centre column is reversible (to hang the camera under the tripod for low shots), and there's a hook if you want to hang a weight off the bottom.
The alloy components seem to be quite corrosion resistant (locking rings etc), the plastic components (levers) seem to be high quality (so far - fingers crossed). It's been dumped in sea water, covered in sand - rinsed off with fresh water afterwards - and it's fine.
Bad points:
The alloy fitting at the top of / inside the centre column was secured by only one pin. An otherwise perfectly adequate tripod ruined by a fatal assembly flaw, as it could wobble slightly due to the fitting being ever so slightly loose in the tube. I was going to send it back, but decided to fix it. I added a shim around the fitting, drilled the tube, and fitted an additional SS pin. Problem solved - but a bit of a hassle.
The ball head came with only one QR plate, and I couldn't get a second identical plate from that supplier. It was almost a manfrotto pattern - but not exact, as the ball-head Qr plate locking pin got in the way. I had to machine a slot in the base of another plate to get it to work. More hassle.
The tripod feet have rubber caps only - prongs might be preferred in some cases.



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  Reply # 820265 15-May-2013 19:08
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Thanks.
All good info :)
I am not of the handyman type though, so I might have to buy one where I don't have to do anything to it.

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  Reply # 820270 15-May-2013 19:21
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I use a Slik Pro 340 DX which has served me well.. not carbon fibre (though they do make them) but light and sturdy at a more reasonable price.

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  Reply # 820302 15-May-2013 20:37
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da5id: Thanks.
All good info :)
I am not of the handyman type though, so I might have to buy one where I don't have to do anything to it.


My suggestion then would be to buy a reasonably good sturdy tripod, but dump the typical head that comes with them (or buy one without a head) - even $500 manfrotto etc, the heads (IMO) are not very nice at all - for that you need to spend $$$.  The relatively inexpensive chinese ball heads are not as cosmetically nice as "brand names", but functionality/engineering quality seems to be very good - and mile ahead of typical consumer pan head tripods in usability, and are available at bargain prices.  
But if the main purpose was to shoot video rather than stills, a ball head is not what you want.  If you use lenses with integral tripod collar, then having extra QR plates to leave attached to the collar makes life much easier than having to attach fittings to lenses and bodies in the field - just leave the plates on the body and lens(es) at all times.

The chinese tripod I bought sucked - totally useless as an "out of box" experience - despite good quality materials, they really stuffed up the design / quality control. 

There's a trade-off in size/number of leg sections and stability.  If everything else is equal, then a two section leg is more stable than a four section leg, but one folds up much smaller than the other...  A three section leg is in-between...  Usabilty/ergonomics are important. 
If you want to shoot from standing eye height, then if the legs don't extend to that height, you need to use the centre pole which is always less stable extended.
I like lever-lock legs because they're quicker in use, but the levers might get in the way if you're sliding it in to a bag (I clip mine on the outside of a backpack - so it doesn't matter).


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