What do you think of Pistol Grip Handle tripods?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by steven_brener, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. I need a better tripod, and found a good deal on a pistol grip handle one. I was wondering if the pistol grip is a good option and is very convenient to use. I can tell you from experience, the standard cheapo ones which require you to set multiple levers are inconvenient and slow. Does anyone know if the pistol grip compares with a ball head in flexibility and ease of use?
  2. hate 'em. The ball is too small and they use grease lubricants and wet lubricants trap grit.
  3. I don't care for them. I see no advantage over a ballhead and they add more complexity, bulk and weight.
  4. I liked mine just fine, until I picked up a Giottos ball head, and now I'll never use it again.
  5. I don't see any benefit in carrying around extra bulk and weight when a good quality ball head does the trick.
  6. I have one permanently mounted on my monopod for sports and some event work where speed is important. I love it when used that way, but wouldn't dream of using one on a real tripod.
    Tom M
  7. I don't like them either... though I should say that I've never used one.
    You should note the following which has not been mentioned yet. If you have a heavy camera and lens on the tripod, and you decide to take a vertical photo, you would have to swing the whole system over so that it is off center from the center of gravity. There are two problems with this:
    1. You have suddenly moved the weight of the camera, lens, and pistol grip so much over to the side that one of the tripod legs is carrying much more weight than the others. So much so that it could cause the tripod to fall over in windy conditions.
    2. Another annoying problem with pistol grips is that when you swing the whole system over into the vertical orientation, you've suddenly moved the eye of the lens over so much that you've recomposed in a way that you are looking at the scene from a different angle. You will have to pick up the whole tripod and move it a few inches to the right so that the camera is back in its original position. This would be especially be annoying for studio work or any close up work. And it would even be annoying for landscape work if composition were a critical thing for you.
    And this is a review of pistol grips from someone that has never used one.
  8. Thanks...all very interesting point...guess I'll go for a ball head instead.
  9. Asim's two points are right on the mark, and are among the reasons why I only use a pistol grip on monopods:
    a) You are already holding the monopod, so that moderate redistribution of the weight when you go from vert to horizontal (or visa versa) is no big deal; and,
    b) recomposition by horizontal movement is trivial to do with a monopod -- you just swing it over a bit.
    Tom M
  10. I have a Manfrotto 222 - it's the older one -- not a pistol grip as such, but a squeeze grip. Works beautifully, especially with a monopod, but also well on a tripod. Nothing to twiddle about with, just put it where you want and release to set it in place. Obviously, as with any head, you have to not overload it.
    Such ball heads as I have used work fine also except that you really need three hands.
  11. Actually, I was lumping the "squeeze" and "pistol" categories together. I use the Manfrotto 222 on my monopod.
    Tom M
  12. We can at least agree that it is good on a monopod.
    I confess I use a monopod a lot more than a tripod, although I just invested in a somewhat better one of the latter.
  13. I didn't even consider how the pistol grip recomposes the image when set to vertical. That's good insight....and makes it less desirable.
  14. ... and, as was pointed out in an earlier post, all that weight hanging far from the axis of the tripod is often also a very serious concern.
    Tom M
  15. Owned one (Manfrotto) and didn't like it on a tripod but was fine on a monopod - sold it when I started using RRS clamps.
  16. Some of them are great. Some of them are terrible. The Manfrotto 322, which is a horizontal squeeze grip, is excellent. The camera sits right above the ball, so even if you turn it it's no farther away from the axis than a ball head would be. The placement of the camera also means that the head supports much more weight and is much sturdier. Plus it can be reconfigured for left-hand use using supplied tools. I use mine all the time, and the only reason I would ever change is if I was regularly doing archetecturaly work or still lifes, in which case I'd get a 3-way head.
    The older Manfrotto 222, which is a vertical 'pistol' grip, should only be used with lightweight cameras. As mentioned turning a heavy camera puts it off the center of balance, which can tend to tip a lightweight tripod. Also, if you're using long heavy lenses, the funky weight distribution means that you'll occassionally smack yourself in the face with the camera. I had one of these and enjoyed it with my Hasselblad (waist-level finder), but hated it with my SLR. I returned it and spent the extra few dollars on the 322, and I'm extremely pleased.
    Manfrotto also makes a 'Modo' squeeze grip which is a lighter-weight version of the 322. I would not recommend it for heavy cameras and lenses as it doesn't support much weight, but it is built well and comfortable.
    As far as other brands go ... I'm sure there are other companies that make excellent squeeze grips as well, but I haven't found them yet. Of the brands I've actually had in my hands, the Manfrotto 322 is the only squeeze grip I really like.
  17. Tried it once...PITA.
  18. Pistol grips are a bad design, get a good ball head that can pan.
  19. I have the Manfrotto 324RC2 pistol grip and like it a lot. The 327RC2 is the same design, but heavier duty.

    Great design and control. And that's coming from owning an Arca-Swiss B1 (that I like a lot) and RRS BH-40
    (which I don't like that much). I wonder if people have actually *tried* newer pistol grips, or are just
    speculating them...
  20. I have the older "vertical" Manfrotto. The newer model should do away with some of the problems associated with more extreme angles off vertical. I've seen but never tried the Sliks. I've had some problems with getting grip tension adjusted and at one point had to return it to Bogen for an overhaul. Which was not too expensive and done quickly.
    As with others, I find it useful on a monopod - I use it mostly on a walking stick that is a bit too short. I find it really handy if I tie the staff to a support at some odd angle and it allows for easy resetting to a usable camera position. Keep in mind that most people find that they often don't need any adjustability on a monopod except to go to "portrati" and the Manfrotto is pistol grip is awkward at best for that use. There is the advantage that in some uses, because you are gripping the head to get the release, you don't need an extra hand (one for pod, one for head and one for camera) as you might if you loosened a ball head. I've used it on a tripod as well but I think if one where to only have one head, either a ballhead with separate panning base or pan/tilt head would be a better choice.
    Another issue is that they aren't as readily/cheaply converted should you decide to move to Arca Swiss type releases later.

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