sirui vs Manfrotto for travelling

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by allan_martin, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Hello!

    Quick question:

    SIRUI T-1205X 5-section


    MANFROTO 190CX4 4-section

    Heaviest gear is D7000 + 70-300 + sb700 + (grip?)

    Ive narrowed it down as much as I could to these 2.

    Which one should I pick and why?
  2. Hi Allan,

    I've briefly played with the Manfrotto in a store; it's featherweight, but not astonishingly stable - but then your kit may not require it. I've no experience with the Sirui, though the ability of anything small with five sections to stay rigid would seem a bit of an ask, to me, even though it's specced higher than the Manfrotto.

    Two question, just to make sure we're helping...

    1) Why are you after a tripod in this category? They used to be cheaper than the big ones, though the difference seems less now. You gain a bit in size and weight, but lose a lot in stability, compared with, say, the Manfrotto 055 series. They're also short (not really eye level) unless you use the centre column, compromising stability further. There's nothing wrong with them for their intended purpose, but they're probably not the best general-purpose tripods, in case that's what you were expecting. I've always felt wrong about carrying something with the ergonomics of a baseball bat (especially with spike feet) on a plane in carry-on, so I've always put tripods in the hold and saved the carry-on space for lenses - and bigger tripods like the 055CXPro3 and TVC-34L fit easily (diagonally) in a suitcase, so I've not needed to compromise on size. If weight is the limiting factor, the weight saved against a big tripod is, to me, negligible once you've taken the head, camera, lens and everything else into account. A heavier tripod will also need less ballast to cope with an SB-700 (if you've got that on the camera rather than separately) and grip. Not to say that you're wrong to go with a small, lightweight tripod, but I wanted to make sure you had a good reason for getting one given how compromised they are. (That said, I've used a VTP-777 and a ZipShot with a DSLR, and even a tiny tripod is better than nothing if you're very careful with it.)

    2) Are you sure you won't put anything bigger on it? I got a 055CXPro3 when I thought my biggest lens would by a 150-500 Sigma, and, one 500mm f/4 later, I needed an upgrade. It won't take much to test the stability of the smaller tripods.

    Bonus question, in case we can help: Which head did you have in mind? (I'll get my perpetual recommendation of a Triopo RS-3 out of the way early so we can concentrate on heads that people have heard of...)

    I hope we can help once we know what use you have in mind. Or that someone with experience of these two tripods can tell you!
  3. Hello Allan
    Just to muddy the waters have you looked at the Benro travel angel series II. Comes with an Acra compatible ball head, has higher load capacity 12 kg vs 5kg for the Manrotto and folds up smaller. I got the aluminum A2682T from China on ebay shipped taxes, duty etc $215 Cdn in 6 days. They also make a carbon fibre version and ones with 5 sections but it wasn't worth the extra cost to me for a few ounces weight. I didn't want the reduced stability with the exta section. The other bonus apart from a nice bag is that the one leg can be unscrewed and joined to the centre column and you have a monopod with a ball head for those places that won't let you use a tripod, and it comes with a knob you can attach and use it as a trekking pole. It's a really slick outfit. Here's a couple of links
  4. I have the three section version of the Manfrotto with an Acratech head. stable enough for a 100 macro at 1:1 on a D600. Haven't used it much with long lenses but got good results when I did and with shorter lenses, use it a lot. It's well made. You will probably find the head has more affect on stability than the legs. I have stayed away from equipment that might be difficult to find replacement parts for if you plan to use it heavily outside. Good luck on your decision.
  5. Overall, Manfrotto wins for durability and parts/repair access.

    The 190 is a great travel tripod--whether aluminum or carbon. I have the older CarbonOne 440 and love it but know it won't take the beating a metal 190 will. The 055 is just too big for travel--check their relative collapsed lengths. I've always found the 190 adequate for travel, even with medium format. While not absolutely rock-solid optimal, it's better than no tripod or a flimsy fly-weight knock-off.

    Heads? Either a medium weight ball head or the grip style like the 327RC2. Anything heavier for travel for your kit is probably overkill.
  6. The 055 is just too big for travel​
    That depends on your suitcase. There's plenty of room in most of my suitcases for a 055 (bearing in mind it goes across the diagonal of the suitcase, padded by clothes), but if you like carry-on baggage or a small bag then I appreciate that there is a size difference and it might matter to you. I just wouldn't assume that the difference is going to bother you without checking - and you can always take the head off the tripod to make a bit more room. If you want really small, there's always the gorillapod option. However, height and slight stability concerns aside, the 190 series is pretty well-regarded if you don't mind its compromises, so I won't say it's the wrong choice.
    Heads? Either a medium weight ball head or the grip style like the 327RC2. Anything heavier for travel for your kit is probably overkill.​
    I would be extremely nervous of suggesting a grip head, though at least the 327RC2 doesn't cantilever the camera like some grip designs. The question to ask is whether you really want to manoeuvre the camera using something sticking out to the side (which actually makes tilting it forward a bit awkward, because you need to twist the grip) or behind you (in which case it pokes you in the eye). Grips look cool, but some cameras have a perfectly good way of holding them that'll allow them to be pointed - if nothing else, use the lens as a handle. 99% of the time, a ball head is a better idea. (This isn't necessarily true for video, where a long control arm on a pan/tilt head allows smooth movements, but that's not the same thing as a grip.)

    Besides, the 327RC2 is approaching the price category of the smaller Really Right Stuff and (sort of) Arca-Swiss heads. It's 4-5 times as expensive as the Triopo RS-3, is bigger, weighs more, and holds a fraction of the weight - but then I've been saying the RS-3 is a bargain for a while. I'm sure the 327 is an okay head if you need it, but it's really a specialist item.

    I do agree that it doesn't sound like you're in the market for an Arca Z1 or a RRS BH-55, though.
  7. "I would be extremely nervous of suggesting a grip head, though at least the 327RC2 doesn't cantilever the camera like some grip designs. The question to ask is whether you really want to manoeuvre the camera using something sticking out to the side (which actually makes tilting it forward a bit awkward, because you need to twist the grip) or behind you (in which case it pokes you in the eye). Grips look cool, but some cameras have a perfectly good way of holding them that'll allow them to be pointed - if nothing else, use the lens as a handle. 99% of the time, a ball head is a better idea. (This isn't necessarily true for video, where a long control arm on a pan/tilt head allows smooth movements, but that's not the same thing as a grip.)"

    The "problems" you describe hint that you don't actually use one of these. The 327 and earlier 322(I have both) simply don't handle the way you've described. The QR plate position is adjustable, so the handle can be placed slanted downwards. Totally don't get the bizarre "pokes you in the eye" comment. For light kits like the D7000, these grip heads handle faster than ball heads by simply grabbing the lens with one hand and squeezing the handle to move into position and releasing it to lock with the other. I use these with my Mamiya 645 Super with no slippage. The only camera these are awkward with is my Bronica SQ-B.
    I'd much rather lug around a 190. Used 322RC2 grip heads are common and not that pricey.
  8. Thanks for the feedback, C - and apologies for slightly hijacking the thread, but I'm interested what I'm missing about the usability of these heads, so I'd value the input. Please forgive my confusion, I'm genuinely struggling to see how these heads work.

    I don'ti> currently use one of these, though I've previously used a Manfrotto Modo which had an integrated (and admittedly low-end) grip head. That was very much designed to extend behind the camera (it could be locked to behave like a pan head). The 327RC2 appears, from the plate orientation, to extend sideways when used on the average camera (the longer dimension of the plate is in line with the handle), or longitudinally (under the camera) when used with a lens. The latter looks awkward to me (it was with the Modo, especially because you had to point the handle into the shot in order to point skywards), but since the 70-300 doesn't have a tripod foot, I'll concentrate only on use with the camera. I have used other grips briefly in a store, but can't say I've got field experience.

    I appreciate the convenience of "grab and move", but - except with a very light camera and a short lens (and I'll buy that they may be helpful for a compact zoom) - it seems to me that, if I'm right that the grip is supposed to extend to the side of the camera (as it appears on the video on Manfrotto's web site), a lens that's front-heavy is going to introduce a twisting motion. Tilting forwards and back would involve rotating, not lifting, the handle, which - while fine with a short lens that's balanced on the tripod - seems like it's going to be an issue with a front-heavy set-up like a 70-300. Tilted forwards, you're lifting the whole camera in a cantilever from the base. It just doesn't feel to me like the best way to control where the camera's pointing.

    However, I'm struggling to make sense of the "handle can be placed slanted downwards" if it goes sideways. My "poking in the eye" comment refers to the Modo head orientation, where the handle extends behind the camera (I was being facetious because it's obviously below finder level; it would actually poke you in the neck). This orientation gives leverage for tilting the camera up and down - where you're fighting gravity - and doesn't have such torque for flipping the camera into portrait shooting. However, it doesn't seem to be how the 327 is intended to be used.

    Obviously my concerns about whether the handle is the best way to direct the camera will go away if you use the lens or camera grip (both of which have better leverage) instead. However, in that case, you may as well use a ball head, especially since you don't need to keep squeezing something for as long as the camera is moving (and it feels as though the squeezing will itself affect the accuracy of where you're pointing, though I'm sure practice helps - I can't vouch for this from my Modo experience, since that head wasn't spring loaded and the "trigger" of the grip needed to be pushed back into place).

    Essentially, unless you're actually unable to use one hand (which I appreciate may sometimes be the case) and are prepared to forego access to the shutter, I can't see many circumstances in which the Manfrotto head is better for positioning the camera than the camera's own grip will be, except for a very small camera. Vanguard's equivalent at least appears to have more torque available. (Manfrotto used to make a joystick head that was actually gripped between the camera and the ball - good for positioning torque, but extraordinarily precarious for camera support; I think they've discontinued it.) Besides, if your hand is on the camera grip rather than a head, you're ready to take a shot even if the ball isn't locked down (or sooner after it is). In this comparison, I'm assuming that the ball head goes from "free" to "locked" with only a slight (quick) movement, as decent heads do - I'll admit that if you compare with a ball head that needs a lot of turning the digital nature of a grip may have a benefit.

    Having said that, give me an accessory grip of some sort (perhaps a hydraulic bladder ring to put on my pinkie?) that lets me release the ball without taking my hand away from the main camera grip, and you might have a sale. :)

    Apologies if I sound argumentative - I'm merely trying to understand these products, and I hope that if I sound dismissive you can understand my objections. (It's also late, and my tone filter may be playing up; no offense is intended - these heads clearly work for you, and I'm intrigued since I've not met anyone else using them in anger.)
  9. Just have a look here for demos on the 322 and 327:
  10. Thanks, C. I'll have to watch again from home with the sound on (a bit of a problem in my office), but it still seems to me that tilting the camera forward and back involves cranking the handle, which feels like unhelpful and imprecise geometry, and worse as the lenses get longer. I'll make a point of playing with one again in a store when I get the chance - I'm prepared to admit that I may be missing something, even if I don't yet really see what. :)
  11. Hey guys thank you for the nice insights.
    Let me start by saying that Im an amateur photographer. I also travel a lot but these trips are hardly only for photography. That means I take lots of stuff besides photo gear with me. I also travel with my girl or family, which adds more things to carry around.
    I need something to carry with me in my backpack, which is usually full.
    The benro angel seems very nice, but I think it would be hard to find the lightest 4 section one (C1682TB0) in the stores.
    Ive also checked the Velbon Rexi, which overall is great but the given max load is only 4 kg,
    Godamn, thats a tough decision.
    Regarding ballheads, Im thinking about the 498RC2 or the giottos MH1301. I cant seem to find the TRIOPO available anywhere but ebay, and I have to get this at a physical retailer.
  12. Allan: Understood about the Triopo. I got mine from ebay (at least it was cheap enough to justify risking a dodgy seller). Out of interest, why only a physical retailier?

    As with tripods, heads are very personal, so I can only recommend trying them in store. (The RS-3 was an exception for me due to price and recommendation.) Until I tried putting a big lens on it, I got on reasonably well with my MH1301 - the proviso is that it's just not as solid as the RS-3, but if you're not planning to get any big camera equipment then this may be fine. It sags a little, but there's not much in the price bracket that doesn't. My only experience of a 498 was to see one in store and decide that I preferred the Giottos's ergonomics. Getting the 1301 with the Arca-compatible plate system (mine has a proprietary clamp) may be good for future proofing.

    You're putting a tripod in a rucksack? Have you considered a proper camera rucksack? Most of them have means to attach a tripod on the outside.

    If you're really after light weight and negligible size then either the Velbon VTP-777 or the Tamrac ZipShot (and clones of both of these) are tiny but still a workable height; they're really designed to hold compact cameras, but they'll take a DSLR if you're careful, use timer release, and shield them from wind. (The limit tends to be the head, and they'll not handle the front-heaviness of a 70-300. Sadly, they don't let you change the head. Some Gorrillapods do if you can find a helpful tree.) I'm assuming you're not prepared to be that compromised, though - but even the "small" proper tripods are pretty bulky if they're sharing a backpack with something else.
  13. Thanks but those are really way too much thin for my taste.
    I'll probably should get a bag that would let me carry the tripod on the outside but lets leave it for another thread haha.
    I did some measuring and 50 cm is the maximum tripod length it will hold. Im okay with fitting any of the tripods I listed inside my bag, I see there's not really other way if I still want a fait bit of stability.
    Im just having a hard time deciding which one exactly. They all fold to about the same length, max height the same thing. Weight is usually between 1 kg to 1,3kg.
    Manfrotto 190cxpro4 $ 250
    Velbon Rexi $ 200
    Induro carbon 8x ct014 $ 300
    Benro Travel Angel series ~ $ 280
    I cant see any other options right now.
    The benro ones look very nice, but as I said I cant shop online cause Ill be buying the set in a trip Ill make to the US. Ive searched a bit and couldnt find them at retailers.
    Velbon is the cheapest but there seems to be a lot of plastic there. The actual head mount seems to be plastic too. Supports only 4 kg so it's kind of risky. I dont know...
    Now manfrottos lowers to 10 cm while induro lowers to 40 cm max. Induro is 1 kg while manfrotto is 1,3 kg. Induro uses a twist leg tech while manfrotto uses levers. Induro is $50 more expensive.
    See, so hard.
  14. Update: I settle for the Induro one.
    The thing it has 2 options: One with max load of 8 kg, 150 cm max height, 50 cm folded, 1,3 kg weight; while the other one with max load of 5 kg, 140 max height, 46 cm folded, 1 kg weight.
    I guess the differences would make more impact are the weight, max load and maybe max height.

    What do you think?
  15. Sorry, gateway timeout/accidental dual post.
  16. Hi Allan. I don't think you'll feel 300g much (it's less than a soda can...) and extra weight helps stability, depending on what you'll hang off it to
    keep it weighed down. Are we talking the CT014 and CT114? If you have the option of the bigger, more solid tripod, I'd take it; besides, 150cm
    is probably more head height than 140cm depending on your height - though those heights are with the column extended, so you'll have
    compromised stability anyway. I'd love to suggest a Gitzo 5562LTS, but unless you have a good lottery ticket you may not appreciate it. Still,
    I have no personal experience of the Induros, so others may have better advice.

    C: I've now watched with sound on. The 496 head clearly sags on tightening. It's hard to say about the grip heads because it's hard to tell
    where they were released. I'd not realised that the camera is held so off-centre by these heads (and on the non-grip side, which is usually
    lighter anyway), and they seem to have an abnormally long and thin stem. So they really seem to have a lot against them in the design for the
    engineering quality to overcome... but I'm in no position to say they don't manage it anyway. I promise I'll try the next one I see in a store and
    try to overcome my prejudice; thanks for making me look at them.
  17. Alright, probably going with the CT114 then. But Ill make sure to compare them both in store.
    Hey, will I need a short center column?
    Also, is there a certain rule about the ballhead's max load related to the tripod's max load? I mean, ballhead's max load needs to be equal or greater than the tripod's or it wouldnt matter picking a smaller max load?
  18. I wouldn't worry about the short centre column. The normal reason for one is to allow the tripod to be
    set lower than usual, but since the centre column on the Induro is reversible you can mostly get the
    same effect just by hanging the camera upside down under the tripod. Given that the tripod is already
    short, I suspect you'll want the long column anyway - you can always add the short one later if you
    reconsider later or my advice is bad (always possible).

    Stated head loads tend to be quite optimistic, and not necessarily all that comparable between
    manufacturers (there's not much discussion of torque, which would be more meaningful) - besides,
    vibration and sag on lock can be more an issue than absolute holding power. Some leg loads are
    equally meaningless, but it depends how you're using them and technique can compensate
    somewhat. I've not heard a rule for balancing them; if you're not buying a premium head now, I'd
    suggest just going with what feels best to you and not worrying about spending too much - your
    current set-up won't stress most heads too much anyway, and if you may want to upgrade later
    should you get bigger lenses, better not to have spent too much now. (Future-proofing would lean me
    towards something with an Arca-compatible plate system, for what it's worth.)

    Good luck, and let us know how you get on?
  19. Thanks again Andrew. Do you think I'd be ok with a joby ballhead X? Arca-swiss compatible.

    Or should I stick with the planned giottos mh1302/01?

    Giottos has bubble level and one knob specifically for locking the ball, while the joby has only friction control.
  20. Ah, now we're talking about two products I actually own (rather than commenting on specs or things I've tried in shops)! Well, sort-of - I have the 1301-652, which is the same head but with a proprietary QR plate.
    Locked down tightly (if you crank the locking knob about 180 degrees from the open position) they're both actually reasonably solid - it's just possible to move both of them just by holding the head and clamp, but only with a lot of force. Unfortunately leverage is not the friend of the tripod head, so a lens can be the match for my puny muscles (I wasn't prepared to bend a lens or tripod in testing), but both heads could be a lot worse. The Giottos seems slightly stronger, which isn't surprising since the ball is appreciably larger; I got the impression that the Joby isn't all that strong, but I've not given them an exhaustive side-by-side test in the real world.
    I have experience that the Giottos will sag a little from the lock position with a big lens (it's what encouraged me to upgrade my support system), but most inexpensive heads do - I've not risked anything big enough on the Ballhead X to confirm its behaviour is similar, mostly because it usually lives on my Gorillapod (which itself won't hold that much weight).
    Both have locking and panning controls, but the Joby has no tension control for when it's unlocked. Honestly I've never seen much point in it on the Giottos - you can always partially tighten the locking knob. I suspect the tension control experience on higher-end heads may be better, but it may be user error on my part.
    If you're really after minimal size, the Joby isn't bad, and it's appreciably smaller (you can see both heads next to the Triopo in my Heads For Every Budget thread). The Giottos is slightly stronger - I suspect both would hold your 70-300, but I'd not put anything much bigger on the Joby (though Joby show a 70-200 f/2.8 mounted in their literature, I believe), whereas I was reasonably happy that the Giottos was holding my 150-500. It depends what you see yourself buying in the future - but if you go for much of an upgrade in optics I'd suggest a higher-end head anyway.
    I wouldn't sweat it about the spirit level - your camera has an electronic level anyway. At least on my 652 head, the spirit levels are partly hidden by whatever you put on the head anyway. That seems to be the case on the 1301-656 (with the Arca-compatible clamp) as well.
    But it'll come down to what you feel when you play with the heads. I'd warn that the 1302 seems to be substantially less robust (but also smaller) than the 1301, so don't think of them as interchangeable.
    After all that... I own both. I didn't hate the Giottos, and I got the Joby partly because I wanted the Gorillapod anyway and partly because I needed an Arca-compatible head to test my TVC-34L with while travelling. I may yet use the Giottos occasionally, especially to support flash guns or a second camera. The Joby certainly doesn't solve the stability issues I had with the Giottos, but for size and compatibility with the plate system it's been a worthwhile addition for me. I can't say either is perfect, but I suspect you'll be happy with either.
    Now I think about it, for the bit of this thread where I claim to know what I'm talking about, that isn't such helpful advice...
    Good luck!

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