Tripod and Ball Head

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by wahlflower_lady, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. I use a Nikon d90 and am considering a tripod. It would be used mostly for group pictures and setting the timer and night photography for long exposures. I do this mostly for myself and to share with friends and family. I don't need anything too expensive but definitely want something that will be secure and can handle the weight with no worries.
    My equipment: lenses 18-105, 50 1.8, 70-300 and tokina 12-24. I do have the sb 700 speed light and would like to be able to use it if necessary.
    Budget, no more than $500
    It has been suggested that i i look at the Manfrotto 055XPROB or (055XPO3 if I want to increase my budget) and the Induro PHQ1. The legs I am good with but read up on the head and there are good and bad things said about it, so I am not sure.
    Any help is greatly apprciated.
  2. You may also wish to consider the Benbo range. I have both the standard and the light weight models. Both are rigid, sturdy, incredibly versatile and very reliable. Better still, they fall well within your budget.
    I fit a Manfrotto 200 Cine Head for heavy cameras and the Manfrotto 494 Ball Head for lighter situations. The 494 is secure under a Canon 5D with a battery grip and a Samyang 14mm, which would be about the same weight as your Tokina.
  3. I have the (older) Manfrotto 055DB, and still consider them really great for the price. As for the ballhead, after buying cheap I found that what many others have written before to be true: better to buy something really good first time. Luckily, your budget is enough!
    I have the Markins Q10 Ballhead, which easily holds my D700 with a 300mm f/4 - quite a bit heavier than what you have now. It's not cheap, but it works really well. There is a cheaper model too, the Q3, which should also already be enough for your current lenses - so if you do not have your eye on heavier gear, you could go with that one. Other brands I'd look for are Kirk, RRS or Arca-Swiss (my experience with manfrotto ballheads is not good at all, I'm afraid).
    Note with the ballheads I mention, there will be extra cost for a Arca-Swiss compatible camera plate - don't overlook that one :)
  4. Another fan of the Markins ballhead line. Not cheap, but a very well made, smooth operating head.
  5. Things to consider when purchasing a tripod includes:
    1. How tall are you as this determines the max height that you need
    2. Do you plan on traveling on a plane with as this determine the folded length so you can fit it into a suitcase
    3. What the weight of the heaviest body and lens combination as this determines the max weight it needs to support
    4. Do you plan on hiking with it as their determine the composition.
    Also think about getting a tripod that can fold up with the head attached, and what type of quick release system you want.
    I recently purchased a Feisol CT-3441T and matched it with a Photo Clam PG-2EPQR Pro Gold II head. I absolutely love this combination but it is above your budget.
  6. I have a 055CXPro3 that I was happy with except for use with big lenses (particularly my 500 f/4). While it's lighter than the 055XProB, it's also appreciably stiffer - that's worth bearing in mind.
    The Triopo RS-3 ball head that I reviewed in the recent "heads for every budget" thread is well within your budget with the Arca-compatible clamp added (if you don't get too many custom plates, but at least the plates would be upgradeable), and I would be surprised if it's not the leader in how much it can hold within its price class - but since you're looking at a relatively light-weight set-up, I can't say whether you need it's weight bearing capacity in comparison with another head that has better ergonomics (like an Arca-Swiss P0 or a smaller Really Right Stuff head, for example). I've no personal experience with the Markins (they're a pain to find in the UK), but I mostly hear good things. If it doesn't blow your budget, Acratech might be worth a look for the head too.
    You might like to read Thom Hogan's article on tripods and support, about buying mid-range tripods and then having to replace them with even more expensive ones. I read it, laughed, assumed it couldn't apply to me... and then found it did. But if you never get big lenses, you're probably okay!
    Good luck!
  7. Wait, all the talk of ball heads confused me, since I didn't know what a PHQ1 was. Now I've looked it up... is there a reason that you were considering a multi-axis pan head? (The D4 that I reviewed in the thread I mentioned above can do this, but it's way over budget, as is the D4m without the gearing; a Manfrotto 405 seems to be the popular choice as a geared head that can disengage its clutches.) The point of a pan head is that you can lock some of the axis while allowing movement in others - useful for panoramas and videography. They're more of a pain to set up than a ball head, though either a D4 or a 405 has the advantage that you can fine tune the composition with the gearing. I suspect a ball head is all you need for the use cases you mention - the ability to get exact composition matters for macro and landscapes, but for group photos people tend to grumble if you don't get on with taking the shot. You may have a better feel for your other photography work than I could suggest.
    If we're really looking at pan heads, we should stop recommending ball heads - different tools for different jobs. (With the exception of really cheap tripods, which come with pan heads because it's cheaper to make a bad one than it is to make a functional ball head...)
  8. Thanks for your response. The PHQ1 was a recommendation but
    after research I determined that wasn't what I needed. I do want a
    bullhead. I may give some HDR a try as well. I really like night photos
    of lights especially like San Francisco. Doubt I will do panoramic
    shots. Who knew this could be so confusing.
  9. Kim - thanks for clarifying, and I sympathise. At least pretty much all tripods and heads fit together, which is more than I can say for
    cameras and lenses! Good luck with whatever you choose. I should also say that the handling of these things comes down to taste to some
    extent, so there's a lot to be said for trying options in a store and ignoring what others say; at least, if you order on-line, make sure you can
    try things out in the return period.

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