Tripod recommendations?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by tcyin, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. I am in the market for a tripod with a ball head that is lightweight for backpacking and reasonably stable. I have given uIp my DSLR in favor of bridge cameras (Sony RX10 and Lumix FZ1000) with a single zoom lens so I won't be loading it with heavy lenses. I'm considering carbon fiber for the weight savings. Price is a secondary consideration since I haven't bought a tripod in about 20 years. I do mostly nature and wildlife photography. Any recommendations?
     
  2. The challenge for a tripod is not the weight of a long lens but its focal length. The challenge for a ball head is to hold a camera, without slipping at any angle, and to do so without slip-stick action when making adjustments. This too becomes more problematic the longer the focal length, and any wobble in the mount can make it frustrating if not unusable. Carbon fiber is the best choice, not only for light weight, but stiffness and vibration dampening. Image stabilization can help or hurt, depending on the camera and circumstances. Issues with IS on a tripod range from no effect, to a slow drift when positioning, to sudden deviations at the time of exposure.

    A good, if not inexpensive compromise is a Gitzo #2 tripod and a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ball head. The Gitzo has a 4-section version which, IMO, is just as stiff as with 3 sections, and a lot easier to carry. The BH-40 is half the size and weight of the RRS flagship, BH-55, and seems to hold anything I carry, up to 600 mm, steady. It is the smallest ball head I've used with good tension control. There is no shift in position as you tighten it down, a common fault with otherwise good ball heads.

    A gimbal head is much easier to use with lenses longer than 200 mm. It is almost mandatory if you shoot birds in flight, although image stabilization and high shutter speed may make a tripod unnecessary.

    A lot of people like the Acratech head for it's price, strength, and low weight. My concert is that you have to turn the head 180 degrees to go from pointing down to pointing up past the level position.
     
  3. tcyin, If money is no object I would go with a Gitzo or Really Right Stuff series 2. I use an Arca Swiss B1 single pan ball head now available as the Z1 and I also use a Kirk BH1. Both fit well on series 2 Gitzo pods. My Gitzo is a three section that barely fits diagonally in a small roller bag. Really Right Stuff ball heads seem to be the most popular with professional photographers these days. Some of the new bridge cameras are very good but your likely going to spend more on your tripod and ball head than the camera. While you will likely replace the bridge camera your pod and ball head will last a life time. Good hunting.
     
  4. Thanks for that info, Ed. Just what I was hoping for - some experience from the field. I'll look into those tripods and ball heads.
     
  5. I would recommend Gitzo. I use them and they are really good.
     
  6. "I have given uIp my DSLR in favor of bridge cameras (Sony RX10 and Lumix FZ1000) with a single zoom lens so I won't be loading it with heavy lenses."

    Anyone actually bother to notice what the OP is shooting???

    Overkill advice isn't helpful. RRS and Gitzo are nice products but a waste of money for the OP's cameras. I'd look at Manfrotto heads and legs. They'll get the job done for great deal less $$$. And no, Ed, he doesn't have to drop 400+ bucks on a RRS head to get adequate stability with his camera choices.
     
    Ray House likes this.
  7. I recall a previous discussion on travel tripods that recommended the Fotopro X-Go (or similar) for a kit like the OP's.

    +1 on not spending on premium products for an application where weight is the critical factor. A GorillaPod or Manfrotto Pixi may be even better choices for backpacking.
     
    Ray House likes this.
  8. Since price is secondary I would recommend Gitzo or Really Right Stuff pods. You save money in the long run if your planning to be involved with photography for a while. This is as true now as it was 25 years ago. There are plenty of used Gitzo tripods on the market for a bargain that will do a great job. A good ball head such as the ones made by RRS or Arca Swiss are the best way to go. The original post was not about switching to a bridge camera to save money but for back packing where a few ounces are meaningful.
     
  9. I've been thinking about this subject lately as I recently acquired a 500mm F8 lens for my Hasselblad. For years I've been using a Gitzo G1227 tripod with a Linhof Profil II head. This has worked well for me in the past, including use with a lightweight 4x5 camera. But now I'm wondering if this set-up will be adequate with my longer lens. I sure hope so as it is about as much tripod as I can carry comfortably.
     
  10. The 1227 is pretty solid. Leave the head down, lock the mirror up, and you should be fine (~ 300 mm equivalent). I have that one, and a 4-section 1228. The latter is nearly useless at that focal length.

    Even the mirror probably won't hurt if you're on solid ground. On grass, you would need spikes and/or extra weight for better support

    Going carbon fiber is like moving up one grade in stiffness, and back 1/3rd in weight. I use a Gitzo GT3540L for video with a 600 mm equivalent lens. You'd like the new leg locks too - non rotating, 1/4 turn locking.
     
  11. For what you have a good table top tripod would be excellent. I use the Leica with the large Leica head and Kirk QR. it holds anything my Olympus m43 kit has. If you want a real tripod then I suggest you check out carbon fiber Asian Gitzo/RRS copy, Induro, Feisol, Benro etc. donโ€™t waste your money on Gitzo or RRS, as nice as they are.
     
  12. Benro and Induro ( have both) produce a lone of "Travel; Angel" tr lpods in aluminum and carbon fiber( slightly lighter). The uninique deisgn permits them to collapse smaller, but the ones I have are quite stable The aluminum models are all metal, the carbon fiber ones have CF tubes, but everything else is aluminum allow. Some come packaged with a good arca swiss compatible ball head. They are less costly than Gitzo and as stable. The RRS tripods are larger, moe stable and 2-3x the cost. I also use Markins,hotoclam, RRS, and Kirk heads. They are all better than Gitzo, but RRS is about the ame price. I prefer the RRS trigger model Arca Swiss clamp on the ballheads.
     

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