Finding a Better Tripod

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by ericphelps, May 15, 2021.

  1. Decades ago I never thought of using a tripod for the type photography I was doing. Fast forward now to digital and occasionally doing self timer shots for Infrared, I'm looking for one that won't break the bank or weigh 40 lbs.

    I quickly and regrettably bought a Slik U8000 from Amazon not long ago and loath the sight of it. It's main fault is the detachable plate that screws to the bottom of the camera - then clips to the tripod head. Wretched design. The plate doesn't allow the camera to sit on the bottom plate, it requires fiddling with a quarter to screw it to the camera, and clipping the plate to the tripod is an uncertain business.

    I'd like to find one where the camera screws directly to the tripod, firmly and quickly. The rest of the requirements are minimal to typical.

  2. AJG


    I prefer quick release plates--they are on all of the cameras that I use regularly, but I can understand your frustration with some of the QR plates out there. Both Gitzo and Novoflex make heads that still use 1/4 " or 3/8 " mounting screws. I'm not familiar with the Slik tripod that you have, but many tripods have a 3/8" male thread that allows the head to be replaced with another head with 3/8"' female thread mounting hole. So you might be able to keep the Slik tripod legs and get rid of the head that you don't like.
    ericphelps likes this.
  3. Thank you AJG, that would be a fine solution but this head is molded to the center shaft and permanent. Likely I'll have to look more closely online at the offerings to find one that isn't such a pita.
    Gawd I miss browsing in a great old photo shop with tons of neglected junk...........Thanks
  4. ericphelps likes this.
  5. I understand your frustration with the quick release plate not letting the camera sit flat. I use an Arca Swiss compatible grip/l-bracket that adds a little bulk, but follows the lines of the camera and has a flat base - it also offers a fair bit of protection from bumps.

    This fits the Arca Swiss compatible head on my tripod(s), the travelling one being a version of the Chinese MeFoto? (mine is actually branded Rollei), light weight five section legs, reversible centre column, one leg detaches for use as a monopod (never tried). It's not the best piece of kit in the world, but it is solid enough for the price, packs small and quick to deploy. I normally use it without extending the legs, either on the ground or on a stone wall or similar, so it's pretty solid for my purposes.
    ericphelps likes this.
  6. SCL


    I have the same one which I picked up a few years ago from a charity shop and replaced the head with a ball head and Arca Swiss plate. I do like the removable center post when I need a monopod.
  7. luis triguez and Ludmilla like this.
  8. That last post flew too quickly to recall it, I'd meant to include 2 more photos of the assembly, and to say that the B&H part shown is what this Slik tripod has as the camera base.
    Thanks for the idea, guessing I'll have to look more closely now that I know what to avoid in tripod designs. IMG_0297.JPG IMG_0295.JPG
    luis triguez and Ludmilla like this.
  9. Thanks Steve - I'll take a look at them. At the very least I could leave the mount plate on without being an issue -
  10. Here's a couple of very quick photos showing my l-bracket and tripod, I often use it as shown in the photo, or with the legs at the next 'click' and the centre column dropped down, or reversed.


    The camera is a Fuji X-T10, I think you're using an X100 if I remember correctly? The lens is a old Konica 50mm macro with a couple of extension tubes, so it's quite big for the camera.

    You're best searching the usual purveyors of internet tat to find a bracket tailored to your camera, I think mine was about €20, the tripod was about €70.

    And yes, that is a Raspberry Pi 400 in the background, my ultra budget photo editing machine (€300 - RasPi, SSD, USB hub, card reader, assorted cables and 24" monitor)!
    ericphelps likes this.
  11. Thanks Steve, I like that combination outfit. Yes I've got a Fuji X100T, it has an 'Ishoot' bracket which would allow a connect to the 'MeFoto' type tripod. I need to start putting this together!

    I hadn't realized when starting this search tripod makers - or most - went to the QR type mount, I assumed I'd find the old type where you put the camera on the plate and spin the knurled nut, but like all things now, more expensive and complicated.

    Thanks for the photos! And I really enjoy your cow and country photos. I do realize much of France is rural, but somehow it still comes as a pleasant surprise.

    Love those Raspberries - They're sooo far ahead of other designs!
  12. If you've already got the bracket, then you're half way there. You might be able to get an adaptor that can be fixed semi permanently to the Slik tripod?

    Personally, also coming from screw down tripods, I like the Arca dovetail, or rather, it's clones, it's simple, solid and fairly universal. I've converted my studio tripod (WW2 vintage, with British War Department 'Broad Arrow') with a new head.

    Glad you like the cows, I do live in one of the more rural areas, but if someone had told me in 2018 that I would be spending the next couple of years doing cow portraits...

    As to the Pi, the original was a return to my youth, RiscOS and BBC Basic, now I'm amused and intrigued to see just how much I can really do on a minimal financial/electrical budget.
    ericphelps likes this.
  13. The penny finally dropped here and I've bought a CNC metal mini ball head to attach directly to the Slik QR plate, with the Fuji connected to the top of the ball screw. Should work well and take the wretched out of the tripod use.

    Thanks for the help Steve & Enjoy your beautiful surroundings!
  14. On most tripod makes the abbreviation 'QR' definitely stands for Quite Rubbishy. And fixing them securely to the tripod takes more time than simply tightening up a screw. Especially if you don't want a superfluous chunk of sharp metal stuck permanently to the camera base.

    L brackets are also pretty slow to fit and ruin the carefully styled ergonomic design of a camera for handheld use.

    If you look hard enough you can still find simple screw-down heads. Maybe even Slik make one. Or if they don't, there's usually a 3/8" thread fitting that the existing head can be unscrewed from and another make of head can be fitted to.

    So, for me 'QR' means Quite Redundant.
    ericphelps likes this.
  15. I reckon mine holds the camera together!

    That and a fair bit of gaffer tape...
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.

  16. Hello Eric,
    Many tripod makers have poor to awful different proprietary designs. Fortunately, there is a solution to the quick camera mount to a tripod , or esven better a ballhead mounted on a tripod - the Arca-Swiss (ball head designer and maker originally in Switzerland ;now France)plate. The A/ S style plates are made by every ball head maker and also sell on EBay for about $10-15. All the ball head makers I know of include a'universal' plate free with a clamp & ball head,.Ball heads WITH BUILT IN CLAMPS are sold on Ebay beginning about $20. to $800.. Both Really right Stuff and Kirk also make a 'custom' plate designed to fit individual camera models but those plates are about $50 each. I have plates on every camera body, and also on some telephoto lenses that have a plate fitting. I can mount my camera or lens, using the plates in about 10 seconds. .Once you have the ball head w/clamp to hold the plate attached to your tripod, it is quick, easy, safe.

    There are hundreds of internet articles on use of ball heads, plates, etc.
    ericphelps likes this.
  17. Screen Shot 2021-05-17 at 6.29.08 PM.png Thanks Stanley, I ordered this today, planning to screw it onto the bolt provided in the QR plate and leave it permanently. Perhaps not the most elegant solution but it should be fine, if as the advert says the ball remains tight.
    I do so little tripod work, I'm hoping this will get it done on the humble!
  18. Does the existing head of the Slik tripod not unscrew from the leg section?

    If it does, then you can simply replace it completely with your new ball-head. Saving weight and potential wobble.
  19. I have a Bogen/Manfrotto 3001 with the wretched QR design on a 3030 head, but it does work. The entire head can be replaced and I should probably do that. I think it unscrews if you loosen the three locking screws that come up from the bottom, but I've never tried it. I also have an original Tiltall that I bought as a teenager about 50 years ago. It works as good as new and it's the tripod I grab most often. Plain old screw. It's heavier than I'd like for hiking around. I don't know when tripods got so expensive but there have been probably hundreds of different models over the years that are just basic solid tripods, many of which weight less than the Tiltall. Just need to luck into one at a (hopefully upcoming) garage sale or find a camera store with a used department. Even if they don't advertise or promote it, you might try actually calling a few of the usual suspects to see what they have.
  20. That was my first hopeful thought, and though it does come apart, the top of the center shaft is formed to accommodate the Slik head and adjustment etceteras. But perhaps I don't know what the interior of a new ball head looks like.
    The new ball assembly, arriving today, has a flat bottom with a removable base screw for either 1/4" or 3/8".
    When I've got it in hand I'm still going to try for that direct mount option - If possible.

    Thanks RJ -

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