Does this tripod exist?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by moses_sparks, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. My new "career" as a nature photographer (since entertainment/corporate/fashion work is GONE for the time being) has forced me to acquire some new equipment for the task. The last thing I need to get is a travel friendly tripod and I simply can't find one that works for me. Can anyone tell me if this mythical beast exists?

    My must-have list:

    Lightweight, like in the 3 pound range. Presumably that means carbon fiber. I have a nice Kirk BH-3 head already.
    55" maximum height WITHOUT using the center column (or close to that at least)
    Lever locks...I can't stand the twist locks.

    The lever lock thing alone eliminates a ton of possibilities. It seems 90% of what's available are twist locks, but I've never had anything but bad experiences and frustration with them so that's a deal breaker for me.

    So far I've looked at pretty much all the "travel tripods" out there including Peak Design, Manfrotto BeFree, Sirui, Gitzo, Benro...nobody has one that goes high enough or has lever locks.

    I appreciate any suggestions you kind folks may have.

  2. Dear Moses,

    1. This Manfrotto (link) has flip locks and comes close to both the weight and height without raising the center column: less than two inches short and only a half pound over.

    2. It's great to see you on We've lost the participation of too many of our battleship class photographers, so I'm happy to see your post. This isn't just flattery, because

    3. You might be able to use your resume to get a shop to convert a twist lock Gitzo or something to flip locks. I'd first try Samy's in Los Angeles, assuming that's where you are.
  3. I'm assuming you want the height for viewing comfort? But height = instability for a given weight of tripod.

    Just a suggestion: How about a right-angle finder instead? This makes it pretty easy to view a camera set at only waist level.

    Quite honestly, out of all my tripods, the only one that comes up to nearly eye level without using the centre column, and that I'd class as 'rock steady', is an old Manfrotto #28. It weighs over 4kg (8lb 12oz) without the head!
    Oh, and it has knob locks for the legs.
  4. These Benros seem to fit the bill (about 1 1/2" short): Benro > Products > Browse by Products > Photo Tripods
    Giottos Silk Road Series might be another option.
    Personally, I'd go with the one with the least number of leg sections - provided its length folded is still manageable for travel.
    You mention nature photography - what's the longest focal length lens you intend to use on that tripod? If you intend to use some longer tele, you will need a more beefy tripod and perhaps also a gimbal head to replace your ballhead. Or use something like the flexshooter that offers the functionality of both. The carbon fiber tripod I use with lenses up to 500mm is an Induro that weighs close to 6lbs (legs only). If I had to do it again, I'd purchase a tripod without a center column at all - and certainly would check out FLM as an alternative to Gitzo and RRS.

    Re: lever locks vs twist locks. My first tripod (Gitzo) has twist locks and their operation seem to come with the intent of stripping the skin off your hands. So I went with lever locks on my next one (Manfrotto). Though they didn't require re-tensioning, they did snag on branches etc. Now I am back to twist locks (Induro) - they haven't given me any troubles at all and are easy to operate and clean.
  5. Hi Hector! Thank you for the kind words, I have been away from for a long time, just got too busy with the business and raising a couple of kids. Still on staff at NBC Universal and still freelancing for some great Fortune 500 clients, although pandemic has shelved all of that for the moment. So instead I get up before dawn every day and go look for things to make pictures of...could be worse :)

    I actually have the older version of the tripod you noted, love it but I can't get it into a suitcase.

    Take care!
  6. Thanks for the feedback guys, I guess I'm going to have to compromise on either the working height or the flip locks. Of the two I think the working height is probably the bigger issue, so twist locks it is...yuck :)

    To answer some questions above: The heaviest rig I will be mounting is a Sony A7R4 with grip and 100-400 GM lens, it weighs about 6 pounds. I want to be able to shoot at eye level without stooping over. I have a beautiful old Manfrotto 055cxPro3 but with the Kirk head it is 30" long and weighs a little under 5 pounds. Not terrible, but too long for a suitcase of course.
  7. Katherine Hepburn
    also see
    Mao Tse-tung
    August 1937​
  8. I use a Sony A7Riii with a Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 lens regularly. Most of the time it is built up into a rig to support an Anton-Bauer battery, rails and a motor for zooming. Going "light" would omit the rig and use the foot on the lens. For a tripod, I use a Really Right Stuff #2 "tall" - very light and very sturdy. I also have several Gitzo tripods, but with modern "G-Loc" collars, which hold with very little torque. The legs are non-rotating, and the collars work with only 1/4 turn and are self-locking.

    I prefer to use a fluid video head with long lenses, even for landscapes and still photography in general. The 100-400 is not balanced, even using the foot, so a ball head tends to flex, making it very hard to achieve precise alignment. The fluid head, leveler and foot mount adds at least 8" to the height of the viewfinder. I need a stepladder to use the viewfinder when a 55" Gitzo is fully extended.

    The taller the tripod, the larger the leg circle. If the legs are suitably stiff, there is no loss of stability with height.
    moses_sparks likes this.
  9. Have a look at the IFOOTAGE tripod, 61", carbon fiber etc., $300.00 on Amazon.
    Ricochetrider and moses_sparks like this.
  10. Wow, never heard of iFootage before but their products look fantastic. I ordered a Gazelle Uprise TC5S this morning, the specs appear to be exactly what I need. Thanks for the tip Arthur! Any suggestions for a lightweight fluid head that would pair well with these legs?
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  11. I came across the Ifootage tripod from the blog and video of Thomas Heaton, a British landscape photographer on Youtube. You may want to look at this. This tripod has some kind of a built-in ball head that you may find useful. If you are going for wildlife you may want a gimballed head for use with a telephoto lens. I see that Ifootage offers packages with fluid heads but I have no idea about those. I use Linhof ball heads with my tripods.
  12. I've run across a couple of great landscape shooters that have switched to fluid heads in lieu of gimbal. Looks interesting, but at the end of the day the entire tripod/head combo has GOT to be small and light, or I simply can't carry it. Getting that with enough rigidity to handle the 100-400 has been a real challenge. I received a Benro Adventure carbon fiber tripod yesterday and their B1 head. It will absolutely do the job. I get the iFootage on Friday and will pick my prom queen between the two :)
  13. Looking forward to hear what you think.
  14. On my last "photo vacation" to Ireland, I used a Really Right Stuff #2 "tall" tripod with a RRS BH-40 ball head. RRS achieves high stiffness at low weight by using thinner but oversized tubing. The BH-40 weighs about 1.5 lbs, half that of the larger BH-55. The entire setup weighs a little over 4 pounds.

    It seems that with tripods, laptops and canoes, you have to pay more for less (weight) with the same functionality.

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