tripod....which brand is the best?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by jay_yoo, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. im looking at getting a good tripod..what is the best brand to get? i know ive
    made up my mind at getting a ball head...there are so many brand names out
    there...and dont know where to start. thanks.
  2. Best brand.

    The gold standard, hands down, Gitzo.

    Ballheads is a bit more of an open field as there are many contenders in the TopDog ballhead arena. I have Markins, Bogen/Manfrotto and ReallyRightStuff ballheads and several Gitzo models.

    The question that needs to be answered is, what's your realistic budget and what's your usage going be as this gets expensive shockingly fast; over a thousand but semi-quality can be had for a lot less; about a third of that.

    It just depends on how far, deep and fast you wish to jump the first time out.
  3. Manfrotto is also a good brand if the price of the Gitzo's scare you off.
  4. Depends on what you want to do with it. If you're not going to take it backpacking into the mountains it's not necessary to buy the lightest (usually most expensive) tripod .
  5. Slik makes a nice tripod...especially for the money. I got the Slik Pro 700 DX legs for $90...their nice, but I don't use a tripod alot.
  6. If you intend to go to ice and snow, salt and sand, frost and rain, Gitzos will foul you up. Take a wooden Berlebach instead.

    Oh, this ubiquitous and very silly, even mindless question on the best brand. Why, oh why do phnetters fall for the implied fallacy of "best" so often? There is no best for anything. Sorry to have to point this out, Jay; did you not know this. Really, you did not know?

    Sometimes a small hammer is best, sometimes a 20 pounder. As simple as that also applies for tripods, and lenses, and cameras, and film, and developers, and etc etc.
  7. Best in absolute terms is Gitzo. Best as regards "biggest bang for the buck" is Manfrotto. Excellent all-around tripods. I personally prefer their leg locking mechanism to Gitzo; but it's a personal taste.
  8. I'm learning to hate the word Best. It depends on the features and weight your willing to put up with. I've got a Bogen tripod that I've used in every condition possible for the last 15 years with a ball head and it's still like new.
  9. Leaving the cult brands (such as Benbo, Schatler(sp?), Berlebach etc.) aside, the best models of Gitzo far outshine the best models from other brands.

    Leaving Gitzo aside, the best models from the other brands are very close in quality to each other (e.g. Manfrotto 055MF4, Slik 813, Velbon Neo Carmagne 830, Feisol 3371).

    Some tripods have no comparison (Gitzo explorer, Benbo Trekker, Manfrotto NeoTec etc.) because of their uniqueness.

    There is not much point in ranking brands as a whole since different products in one brand's lineup vary considerably in cost vs. quality. Still, an entirely personal opinion

    Best: Gitzo

    Best of the rest: Manfrotto

    Close second (among the rest): Velbon Sherpa/Neo Carmagne series

    Above-average: Slik

    Best bang for the buck: Feisol

    FWIW, because I have not used all the tripods in the world.

    There's no "best" tripod, or a brand that makes them. Choose one that's best for your purposes, your load carrying capacity and your affordability.
  10. The best tripod is one that does what you need, and are willing to carry every time you go out. The most expensive tripod is one that doesn't do what you need (e.g., hold the camera steady).

    Gitzo tripods are made really well, with thick-walled tubing and tight joints. They are much stiffer than a Bogen/Manfrotto of the same nominal size, about half the weight and 6 inches taller. They also cost about twice as much (4x if you consider carbon fiber). My first (used) Gitzo cost about $700 - $200 for the Gitzo and $500 for a progression of "cheaper" tripods that didn't hold up, or were too heavy and bulky to carry.

    The Slik 700DX is an excellent tripod for the money. It is also very heavy, very long when collapsed, and has handles that jab you when you walk. You can take a new 700DX home for about $100 ($170 list). Unfortunately, home is where it will probably stay.

    The ball head, to which everything else is compared, is the Arca Swiss B1. It is very strong and compact. It's most notable feature is the elongated ball which becomes tighter as it tilts. As a result, the B1 is the only ball head with an effective tension control.

    For shear quality of workmanship, you can't beat the Really Right Stuff BH-55. It is also lighter and shorter than the B1, and suitably strong and smooth in operation. The larger the ball, the smoother it works (slip-stick is a deal-breaker) and the tighter it holds.
  11. I have a Bogen with a Bogen Medium Ball head. Dollar for Dollar, it's the "Best" I could buy. A Ferrari is "better", but I drive a Miata....
  12. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    There is no "best" brand. I find Gitzo's twist locks don't suit my working style. I use Linhof tripods, which are currently very difficult to find, but are sturdier than Gitzos, have a terrific solution for shooting near the ground, and are far easier to clean because of open u-tubing legs. You should go to the store and try different brands and see what is comfortable for you, not what a bunch of people who may not have tried many brands tell you.
  13. Jeff, have you tried the new Gitzo tripods with ALR?

    Gitzo's the industry gold standard for good reason. Expensive by comparison, yes, but the pain of the price disappears, the moment you set one up and use it cause it's such a sweet experience. See it like a women might see child birth. :)

    I've tried many brands and found Gitzo to consistently stay head-n-shoulders above the rest. Currently, this new iteration of Gitzo legs, it not one, but two steps ahead of the competition. :) Gitzo succeeded in setting a new standard with their recently introduced GT 6X line of pods. My only misgiving is that I can't afford, currently, to upgrade the 1325 but will, if for no other reason then the ALR leg feature. These legs are such that a poorboy like me would be willing to hit the hip for a legset so fine. And yes, I use these legs for photographic purposes. :)

    The Bogen/Manfrotto legsets are now placed on the shelf with care and exclusively the Gitzo legs are used cause they're such a fine example of what a pod should be. My current legsets consist of a GT1540 w/Kirk FP-100 base plate and RRS BH-40 LRII. The heavier set is a G-1325 w/1321 leveling base, topped with a Bogen/Manfrotto 468MG w/RRS LRII ArcaSwiss clamp. The monopod of choice is a GM2560T with RRS BH-25Pro. The point, I've put my money where my mouth is in regard to my feelings on Gitzo.

    As others have pointed out, there are many alternatives and yes, much of what's choosen depends on budget and usage. Bogen/Manfrotto's 3021BPro is the gold standard of the mid-priced legset that all others are compared to. ArcaSwiss style clamps are the only way to go, everything else is dodgey at best. You have Feisol/Benro in the middle ground with Feisol leading the two. I'm more familiar with Berlebach then Linhof, but Berlebach and light, do not stand next to each other by comparison and as was pointed out, the unused tripod, is the most expensive. :) So a lot of the choice also has to do with familiarity as well as requirements.

    Overall, all-n-all considering, hands down, if you do a poll; poll results show that Gitzo "will" get the nod as to beinging the photographic industry "favorite" in regard to the question; "Which brand is the "best." :)

    What polls am I citing? Several polls have been done in regard to this matter over at as there's a healthy (very active) polling based community (populated by many professionals) on the gear forum there. You can go there, easily sign up and create your own poll asking the same question as the OP. And yes there's healty debate as to Benro and Feisol; everything else will come in a distant forth.

    The short of the long story, in the end, there's Gitzo

    and then there's everybody else. :)
  14. Answers are generally right on, but I would add that Manfrotto/Bogen parts and accessories are plentiful and easy to find at many dealers in many cities.
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Gitzo obviously has great marketing. But what suits you may not be what suits others. Polls seem quite useless to me unless they expose you to choices you didn't know about.
  16. For ballheads, there are many good ones with Arca-Swiss type quick releases.

    I have the Kirk BH-1 ballhead and love it. I suggest you also look at Arca-Swiss, Acratech, and Really Right Stuff. Each has different models, something should suit your needs.

    Oh, and after about 20 years with my Bogen 3221 tripod, I'm about to get the Gitzo 3530. ;-)
  17. The best brand: Gitzo with really right stuff ballhead
    The most bang for the buck brand: Velbon with Slik ballhead
  18. The "best" of anything is usually subjective. My advice? Go and actually look at them and work them. See what you like. I have a bit more about my likes and dislikes on my website, but in the end, it isn't about any else's likes or dislikes, it is about what works for you and what you will actually use since a tripod that is never used is not very beneficial.
  19. pvp


    Like there's any such thing as "best..." In considering alternatives, remember that you don't have to use the same manufacturer's ballhead as the legset, as they pretty much all interchange.

    Another question to ask yourself is, how much are you willing to spend on this "best" tripod? You can save money, and get equally sturdy support, if you're willing to accept a little more weight.

    The "best" answer you've gotten so far was from Edward Ingold: "The best tripod is one that does what you need, and are willing to carry every time you go out." He's right; any tripod, of any weight or cost, is worthless if you aren't willing to stick the legs into the mud or salt water when the setup requires it. If your tripod isn't under your camera, you'll have wasted your money.

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