Tripod With Lateral Arm Advice

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by leslienicolephoto, Apr 28, 2020.

  1. AJG


    It will be a bit of a pain to take a side arm on and off frequently, so if you're doing this a lot I would look into a copy stand or some other semi-permanent set up. This is a classic question of time vs. money--your choice.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  2. I use the same tripods (or "sticks" as videographers prefer) for both still and video photography, and change heads frequently. I attach an RRS clamp to the column or leveling base, and a plate on the bottom of each head. It makes changing heads easy, and is sturdy and secure. It is not an inexpensive option, unfortunately..
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  3. I saw a video on this and it looks fantastic, but RSS is really expensive. The quick change clamp alone is I think 200 euros. Then I have to buy the plates for each camera and a head... Not in my budget right now.
  4. Everyone's advice has really helped. I've never bought a tripod before so I've never had to think about it. This Bogen was given to me around 26 years ago and it's served me well and still works great for me overall. I don't think swapping heads is viable or convenient with this tripod, so I want to just leave it alone and get an additional tripod.

    I've spend days reading various things online. In the long run, I want to buy a sturdy tripod with the Manfrotto 131DB Arm and a new tripod head. However, I really don't want to spend the $500 or more right now on a tripod. I'm thinking of keeping my eye out for a used Gitzo heavy tripod on Ebay and then get the Manfrotto sidearm and a new head.

    In the short term though, I need something to be able to work shooting overhead and I need something inexpensive. I'm thinking of getting one of these lower end tripods that have an extending arm

    My friend who shoots the same type things I do with the same equipment has a K&F Concept tripod and she loves it.

    I've also been perusing food photographer blogs and this tripod is very popular in that niche as a starter tripod.
    Manfrotto MT190XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod

    These tripods have pretty much the same specs, but the Manfrotto is more expensive. Are you paying for the brand name with Manfrotto? I don't know how long K&F have been around, but maybe they are selling for less to get into the market? Any advice appreciated.
  5. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Looked at them both - Manfrotto has 3 leg sections, whereas K&F has four. To me, that suggests the Manfrotto would be inherently more stable. K&F has 'twist-lock' leg adjusters, while the Manfrotto has levers. I've used both, and I find the lever type easier to use and maintain if grit or something gets in the mechanism. The K&F appears to have a removeable centre column that doubles as a monopod, and has a ball head which you may not need, whereas the Manfrotto is less complicated (hence less to go wrong !). I understand the appeal of the price differential, but you usually find you get what you pay for ! As I have found myself, the cheaper option may appeal at first, but if you become dissatisfied and decide to buy a replacement, your budget becomes somewhat stretched !

    There is also the option of buying second hand although at present you are unlikely to be able to examine the goods in person. However, if the goods are not as described when you receive them, refunds can be negotiated (despite what some advertisers say !).

    Can you wait until you can examine both alternatives in person, or are you in a greater hurry than that ?

    Finally - never tried food photography myself, as I'd probably eat it before I could take a single shot ! :D:rolleyes:
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  6. Just watched some YouTube videos. One video compared the Manfrotto 190 to the K&F. It was very interesting to actually see them together. The Manfrotto 190 is much bigger and looks sturdier. The K&F has had a lot of very good reviews actually, but I'm very hesitant. The price is very appealing and I could always use it as a travel / 2nd tripod, but I am considering your point that if I end up buying again later, it's actually added to my overall budget. In the short term, I need a solution to be able to use my 5D MKIII with the cobbled together system I currently use. This would mean either buying a different head for my monopod "side arm" or a Really Right Stuff L brackett - if I can find it in France - which would be at least $180. I could put a very basic monopod head on that would probably work for a temporary solution. This might be the way to go while I research and figure out what to do next.
  7. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Best of luck, whatever you decide.
  8. I just got my sales report for last month and I think I do have a budget for getting a decent system. OK, I mean the lower end of good pro level. Any recommendations?
  9. AJG


    Gitzo makes excellent tripods--if this is in good condition it should work well for you. I happen not to like the collet locks for changing the leg height that Gitzo uses so I have never used their tripods, but I have owned two of their tripod heads that I liked a lot. Good luck with your choices!
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  10. I currently own the older version of this pod with a base plate. The one your showing is with a center column and has anti rotating G-lock legs that makes it easier to open and close. It’s three sections and is a taller version. The price looks very good if its in good shape. It will last you a lifetime and is generally viewed as a professional’s tripod. I would get it at the price they are asking. Good hunting.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  11. I want to thank you all for your generous input into helping me understand my options. It's been invaluable.
  12. The GT3530LS is a very sturdy tripod with a good height. I consider the Series 3 Gitzo to be the best size for general use, even if a little large for travel. G-Loc collars have legs which are keyed (internally) so they don't rotate. It only takes 1/4 turn to lock or unlock the sections. The bushings are tapered so that they jam in position, and won't collapse even if the collar comes loose a bit. The bushing is keyed to the collars, which forcibly extracts it when you deliberately loosen the collar.

    The center section is replaceable. This tripod has a column, which can be replaced with a solid plate or leveling platform. I use the latter for quick leveling and solid support. Either one would be well-suited to use with a horizontal arm. Manfrotto makes a side arm which you would probably find ideal, At one time, Gitzo had one with a rack-and-pinion adjustment.

    Manfrotto 131D Lateral Side Arm for Tripods (Black)

    I have two GT3540 tripods, the 4-section version of the GT3530, an LS (55"), and XLS (79") for video. The 3530 is just a bit too large to fit in a 24" suitcase without removing the center section..
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
    2Oceans, leslienicolephoto and ajkocu like this.
  13. leslienicolephoto, I agree with Edward’s comments. Back when there were fewer carbon fiber tripods the general thinking was that three section tripods were more stable than 4 sections. That is generally true if your using a seismograph to measure vibrations but clinically never really mattered. It was overkill then and even more so now that there are so many carbon fiber pods. The series 3 Gitzo is the perfect balance and you will never regret purchasing it. As well it will retain its value. Again if this tripod is in good shape then it is a more than worth what they are asking. Ask to see if it comes with a base plate. Gitzo used to ship their center column pods with a base plate as an option. Mine came with one and the center column has been sitting in the box for many years but you may like the center column. Good hunting.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  14. I agree with Ed that the series 3 Gitzo is a fine general purpose tripod. However, it is not the most sturdy, most stable of all tripods. I have used one a lot, but wouldn't dare to extend the centre column more than 5 or 10 cm. Nor would i put a lateral arm on it (though i have one, and, yes, i occasionaly do. And with trepidation and often regrets (afterwards, of course)).
    When using a lateral arm, it is weight that matters quite a bit. You're adding an arm and putting weight on the end of it, out of the centre of gravity. So 'the feet' have to be heavy enough not to topple. I also use a lateral arm on a series 5 Gitzo, and that is quite different. Quite stable (though you still have to take care to extend the arm over one of the tripod legs, if possible) even with a heavy large format camera (though a even larger studio stand would be better for that).
    Used Gitzos can be (you have to look for them, and be patient) surprisingly inexpensive. And the old ones are really solid, and easy to pull apart and service. So maybe a series 5 would be worth suggesting?

    The number of leg sections, i find, is important. The sections get increasingly thinner, of course. And there is the number of collars to consider. And one extra section does indeed make for a less stable tripod, when all things count.
    But when you don't have to use all of the sections often, and you're not testing the tripod to its limit, an extra section often also means the sections are shorter, i.e. the 'base' length, with no sections extended, is shorter. Which is nice for travelling and work height flexibility.
    You do see some terrible tripods sometimes though, with far too many sections, the lowest of which are no more than finger thin.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  15. If the center of gravity extends beyond the leg(s), the tripod will be unstable regardless of how thick the legs are. Having a leg in the center of view is not consistent with using the camera for an "overhead" shot, so you have it between legs and exercise care about the balance. Using a counterweight keeps the center of gravity in the middle, but adds at least as much weight as the camera itself. This is one case in which a weight suspended from a hook under the head will improve stability, by lowering the center of gravity.

    More leg sections means the smallest leg is thinner. There are also more collars to adjust if you open the tripod fully. However each joint in a Gitzo tripod is incredibly rigid. When locked, the leg is held at two points over a span of 4" or so, between the collar bushing and a bushing between the leg and the inside of the next section. The running clearance is on the order of 0.003", so you won't feel any wobble even before tightening the section.

    I bought my first CF Gitzo for a VERY attractive price. The precious owner had used oil on the legs to make them run smoother. The oil cause the upper bushing to swell and bind, making it very difficult to extend or close the section. A set of new bushings cost about $10, and a little naphtha on a shotgun brush removed the oil. Voila!
    Last edited: May 5, 2020
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  16. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    If the angle of the legs is individually adjustable, more stability can be gained by having the 'rear' leg (assuming the camera on its extension arm is over the space between the 'front' two legs) at a greater angle than the other two.
  17. Yes, but the angle of the head is skewed as a results. Unless you have a Benbo, the angle of the cross arm is not adjustable. Even a leveling platform has a range of only +/- 7 degrees.

    Anything you do to widen the leg circle helps, including extending or spreading the legs. Shooting the Chicago skyline on a windy night, I quickly learned the need to change the leg angle, but of all the legs equally. Hanging weights on the center column does nothing to decrease shake, but helps lower the center of gravity, and plant the legs more firmly into a soft surface (e.g., grass).
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  18. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Agreed - see my earlier post. There is, however, a limited amount of adjustment on most tripod heads, which may help, or, depending on the subject matter, it may be possible to apply a small amount of tilt to that. Anyone remember wedging the enlarging easel at an angle to 'correct' mildly converging verticals, then stopping down the lens to accommodate this ? Ah, happy days - and nowadays, much simpler in software.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  19. Indeed.
    But before that (moving the center of gravity beyond the legs) happens, we're moving a weight on an arm out from the center of gravity. That will also move the center of gravity, but not necessarily beyond the legs. How much depends on the weight of the thing on the arm relative to the weight of the legs, and on the length of the arm. So heavy legs indeed help. Studio column stands with a lateral beam use a weight to keep stable.
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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