Tripod Center Posts

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by iversonwhite, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Do tripod center posts contribute to instability even if they aren't extended?
  2. Not if they're securely locked down and have no independent motion.
  3. Having used Slik and Manfrotto tripods with a centre post I have never experienced instability due to the centre post. As William points out securely lock down tripod should be OK.
  4. No. Plus some have a hook on the bottom that you can hang a bag or other weighted item from to add to stability. I like having the center column as an option to use should I need it. Have never found it to be a liability.
  5. I'm with those guys.
    On the occasions where I do use a tripod, I try to use one that is tall enough without any extension, but some stabilizing weight, as said, is good when you need to use the extension in shooting up at a high angle, for example.
  6. With cheap or lightweight tripods, yes.
  7. Even locked down, a column usually amounts to a cantilever above the apex plate. (So is a head, of course, which is one reason why some of the pro ball heads are very low profile.) The effect ought to be very minor, but it can't help. Whether the clamped column is attached as rigidly as a plate is an issue too - some columns are not gripped all the way around.

    What really hurts are those designs where the column isn't fully integrated in the apex. I'm a little nervous that the design of the Manfrotto 055 series, for example, doesn't actually let you lower the column as far as the clamp point (the mechanism for allowing the column to go horizontal - which is plastic - gets in the way) so there's always some extension. Some tilting designs put the column off to one side, which is arguably a stability issue.

    Nor is it the case that those tripods that lack the column necessarily have no means of supporting a bag - for example, my RRS tripod has a hook on the bottom of the apex plate for a bag, where my (columned) REXi L doesn't. One could argue that hanging a bag on the end of the column is adding leverage if the bag swings in the wind; the 055 series hang the bag straight off the apex (though not centrally).

    Honestly I wouldn't sweat it in most cases - a theoretical difference is likely to be small. My REXi's centre column doesn't bother me, and is certainly needed to get above head height; that the column on my 055 can go horizontal is the primary reason I'm keeping it - and I don't think the stability issue I've had with my 055 was the fault of the column (I was vastly overloading it). But for stability and height, I'd rather have longer leg sections that I can extend when needed (hence my TVC-34L rather than a -33) than a column. It's worth having a column for flexibility, but I've been lucky enough to have multiple tripods to choose from, and for stability I've deliberately avoided one. Most tripods with no column can take one as an accessory if necessary anyway.

    The only times it would really worry me are for lightweight tripods like the Velbon Ultrek range, for which the minimum column extension is still long enough to have quite a lot of leverage on the base. (It's the reason they're so short, but it does compromise stability.) I'd treat the column as useful for emergencies, rather than relying on it to get to the default height.
  8. Since I don't have a tripod w/center post, I'm not in position to answer your Q. But this theory may come to depends on your use. Longer lenses, such as 300, 400, 500 or 600mm + extender tend to behave differently on the tripod than optics around 100mm. If you understand the magnification and how it effects the actual'd try to remove any possible wiggle room (the weight of the lens plays a role too). Having said that, people spend substantial amount of cash on excellent support (for a reason): gimball or ball head like RRS or Arca Swiss (there are few others) and really good sticks.
    In my case, aside from using 400mm+ extender on a DSLR, sometimes I use heavier camera (LF) and my shutter exposures could range of up to a minute in length.
  9. Good center posts, like the ones for Gitzo, don't wobble. Gitzo uses a concentric collar for tightening, rather than a set screw. Columns do degrade stability, because they add height without increasing the leg circle. They are invaluable for taking closeups and portraits, because it's easy to make fine adjustments to the height. They're interchangible in larger (#3 and up) Gitzo tripods. I keep one on hand, but prefer to use a leveling platform. It's just as stiff as a plain center plate, but with a leveling feature for panoramas and video.
  10. Do tripod center posts contribute to instability even if they aren't extended?

    I would have said no more than a quick release plate does.
  11. Do tripod center posts contribute to instability even if they aren't extended?

    The support structure for a column adds a couple inches of height even with the column down all the way. Some tripods have a rotating collar that is fairly loose on the tripod base. A notable example is the Tilt-All tripod, which has been popular since the 1960's (when I got mine).

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