BEST Tripod for Nikon D3x

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lesa_macgregor, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. I have just opened a home studio and I am looking for the BEST tripod without killing myself in the process. I know the importance of putting my "baby" on a less than adequate tripod but I want to use common sense too. Any help from a fellow D3x owner?
  2. As always, there is rarely a "best" anything, but instead a lot of good choices. The tripod head is actually more critical than the tripod, I think. Not sure there is a "best" one of those either as I can think of at least four that are excellent. I do think that Arca Swiss style quick release is the "best" though.
    Kent in SD
  3. I agree with Kent that the head is as or more important than the legs. The Arca Swiss release system is mandatory in my opinion as well. Nothing else is as solid and secure. Much depends on what you're photographing. If it's fast moving children, forget the tripod. If it's formal portraits or products, you need a sturdy comfortable working platform.
    I use a D700, a bit lighter camera, with a RRS L-bracket and a Gitzo 3 series carbon with an Arca B1 head. I rarely work indoors, mostly outside, relatively close to my car, at least close enough to carry my pack with 5 heavy lenses. When on long hikes I "get away" with fewer lenses, a lighter pack, and a Gitzo 1 series with an Acratech head and it's ok, except in wind (not a likely problem in your studio, I hope), on steep slopes, or with lenses longer than 200.
    Were I starting from scratch, I'd still likely get the Gitzo 3 series, it just feels great, and would strongly consider the RRS BH-55 head. If funds are really tight, many folks I know are quite happy with the Gitzo 2 series crbon or aluminum. In a studio, where weight is irrelevant, I'd probably save money and use an aluminum tripod, still a Gitzo 3 series (like the old one I still have but do not like to carry, but it's really strong and sturdy). I'd also look at the Manfrotto 4 series geared head, if you need the precision, otherwise a high end ball head is quick and smooth. If you do it right, you'll have a setup for life.
    Good luck with your studio.
  4. Thanks for the insight and advice. I was looking at the Gitmo but wasn't sure which ball head to use. my new studio was a 10th Wedding Anniversary gift from my husband.
  5. I have two series 3 Gitzos... in carbon and in aluminum. As Eric says, the aluminum one never leave the studio. But if you have to buy just one, I`d choose the carbon one even for studio use.
    If you decide to buy a series 3 Gitzo, I`d go for any model with center column. I prefer the systematic models, as they have the possibility of different center column choices; for studio use, I`d definitely go for a geared one. If not, I`d go for a "rapid" carbon one.
    In my experience, a series 2 Gitzo is more than enough for a D3; you`ll gain portability. Here you must choose which kind of center column you prefer, for me it`s a G1227 carbon fiber with a rapid one (now, discontinued). If you choose it right, as said you`ll have a lifetime tripod.
    Heads? It could be a much more personal choice. I have bought many of them. Anyway, I`d advice you to have a look at Manfrotto geared ones.
  6. Double post (?)
  7. I forgot to advice you to buy an Arca-Swiss compatible L-type plate for vertical shots (Kirk, RRS). You can always add an A-S clamp if your head doesn`t came with it. My favourite are Markins ones because their lowest profile.
  8. Read this while you're at it.
  9. I have a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod and a Gitzo, both have Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-40 ball heads and RRS clamps. D700 with MB-D10 grip with RRS L-plate and heavy lenses are very stable on these rigs.
    RRS and Kirk both make excellent Arca-Swiss compatible plates and clamps.
  10. Already did! LOVE THOM!!!!
  11. Gitzo 3 series legs and an acratech/RRS/Kirk head.
  12. I wonder if Thom wrote this great article after the release of Manfrotto`s 3 way geared heads. They really makes a difference, maybe not in weight and rigidity, but in usefulness in the real life.
    Edit: I have already noticed that certainly, he didn`t: "... Since writing this article in 2003, a lot of the specific equipment has changed, though the overall thrust of the article remains exactly as it was... "
  13. Nobody ever mentions Cullmann tripods. They have upside down legs, you can poke them into the mud and it will never interfere with their operation.
  14. Which RRS clamp ? I see the BH-40 but not clear on which quick release clamp?
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you are getting a Really Right Stuff ballhead, I would get the BH-55. It is bigger and a little more secure, and you can put a bigger lens on it. I have the BH-55 with the LR clamp for faster action. That is now almost standard equipment for a lot of serious photographers in North America.
    I have a friend who is a well known Canadian wildlife photographer. He is concerned that if the sping inside the LC clamp snpas, the "jaw" will open and your entire camera set up can fall. So he bought it with the Pro II clamp, but that takes a little longer to loosen and tighten.
  16. Well.....I just ordered the RRS BH-40...Wish I had come back to review a little quicker. Went with the advice of a fellow photographer and friend. I am waiting on a response on an offer on a Manfrotto 3 Carbon! Fingers is a good deal if he accepts. :)
  17. If you're putting together a home studio and you want camera support specifically for the studio space, you don't want a tripod; you want a camera stand.
    Tripods are great outside: different leg lengths for uneven terrain, adjustable legs to get low, a center column to get high. But of course, you don't need to deal with that in a studio. A camera stand will let you slide the camera down low or up high, roll into place, and lock where you need it--and take up much less floor space.
  18. I'll add to the chorus.
    • Gitzo 3-series carbon fiber tripod (the 5-series is also possible, but probably overkill).
    • Get the tripod with a center column (rapid or geared). The ability to adjust the camera up or down slightly is critical in studio settings.
    • RRS custom L-bracket for the D3X.
    • One variety of the RRS BH-55 ball head that you think suits you needs.
    • Backup/alternate head: a Gitzo 3-way head for times when you need to control each dimension separately for precision.
    This setup will work for most things, but it will not enable you to do photography where the camera is facing completely downward easily, i.e. toward a table. You'll need an extra extension arm of some sort for tabletop macro photography.
  19. I use a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead with clamp, RRS L-bracket on the camera, mounted on a RRS TVC-33 tripod. This combo will handle any size DSLR with any size lens with ease and rock solid stability.
  20. I picked this one up at a garage sale for only $5, including the ballhead.
  21. Best tripods are; the heaviest you can cary. Ballheads; the one it has the biggest ball. ( Arcaswis, RRS, Kirk, Giotzo, etc)Because, this so obvious in life, most of the time.
  22. I have two options for the D3X, a Gitzo mountaineer with good ballhead, and a Manfrotto 161 MK II with the geared 400 head. THe Gitzo is for travelling, but i should change the ballhead for a different one.
    THe D3X is to heavy already with a 70-200 lens .......
    THe Manfrotto is a joy but i do not use D3X in portrait mode on this tripod
  23. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    A $5 tripod + ballhead --> a $1000 repair bill. :)
  24. A $5 tripod + ballhead --> a $1000 repair bill. :)
    Right. Don't try this at home.
  25. Don't buy Kirk plates: their sizes are inconsistent and you can't easily use q/r clamps with them (you may have to
    change clamp settings for each plate, which isn't quick).
  26. Most of us have spent a lot of money on cheaper tripods and heads until finding something that works reliably and quickly. Don't make the mistake of buying cheap - it's more expensive in the long run. Save up until you can get the thing you want.
    You have to pay a lot to get a tripod both strong and light - namely carbon fiber. If you decide on a Gitzo, I suggest a GT-3530LS or GT-3540LS "Systematic tripod. The entire center section is replaceable, so you can use a flat plate for ultimate stability, a column or leveling head. With Gitzo, it doesn't matter much whether you have three leg sections or four, but the four folds up smaller to fit in a suitcase. Aluminum is about 50% heavier and 30% cheaper.
    Heads should have Arca-Swiss type QR, which consists of a clamp on the head and V-plates for the camera. Plates from RRS or Kirk are made to fit the camera without cork or rubber and never rotate under the weight of a lens. The connection is very secure - like used in metal machine shop tools. This type of QR is usually available only on ball heads, but Arca makes a geared head ($2000) and another company makes a 3-way, recently introduced. Arca, RRS and Kirk make first rate ball heads - the bigger the better.
  27. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Come to think of it, if you are getting the RRS head with their LR clamp, make sure that you also get RRS QR plates. The RRS LR clamp does not close down as much as some other clamps. I have an Arca Swiss plate made by Arca Swiss, not RRS, and the RRS LR clamp cannot lock down onto that plate, which becomes useless on the RRS head. That particular plate simply slides right and left insde the closed RRS clamp.
    As far as I know, only the RRS LR clamp has this issue. Their Pro 2 clamp where you turn a knob to tighten the clamp does not have this issue.
  28. For a home studio you might look for a used studio tripod. With a little luck you might get one of the big ones with a large diameter central column and a three leg base with wheels. Quite heavy and you may need to buy local for that reason.
    A new Sachtler would be out of price range but even a 30 year old type might do better than a new carbon Gitzo. No need to carry it far^^. I once obtained one really ugly used for cheap and needed a day to clean it but it worked very well because of heavy ancient cast iron design.
    In a studio you need a different tripod than on top of a mountain :)
  29. If this were strictly for studio use, I would buy a camera stand rather than a tripod.
    A stand has an heavy base with casters, a vertical column and a counter-balanced side arm. It is much easier to adjust the height than a tripod, and it is generally much taller. The footprint of a tall tripod is very large and grows with height, whereas the camera stand has a small, constant footprint and can be moved right to the edge of a table. It is much easier to shoot at odd angles (e.g., straight down) than with a tripod.
    You can spend thousands of dollars on a large stand, but the cost of stands suitable for a D3 or medium format camera are comparable to a good field tripod - $500 to $1000.

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