What's your favorite tripod setup?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by eric_m|4, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. I've had a Bogen tripod model #3221 with a manfrotto/bogen #3265 head for at least 20 years and am looking for a new carbon fiber setup. I plan on keeping the same head but time for new legs. Just wondering what's popular with everyone here on photo.net forum. Thanks.
     
  2. For what weight range of camera?
     
  3. For a Nikon D700, D3, D7000. Longest lens would be Nikon's 200-500mm f/5.6. I guess that weighs about 6-9 lbs?
     
  4. Tripods are among the class of accessories which suit highly personal needs and preferences. The best ones are expensive, and don't come with a head. Heads are another expensive item with a lot of variations.
    A tripod is properly selected for the longest lens, not the weight of the camera. All but the flimsiest departnment store tripods will support the weight of a typical rig. Only the strongest will keep a 600 mm lens from quivering in a light breeze.
    I use Gitzo tripods exclusively for still and video photography. The mid-sized GT354O is a #3 size carbon fiber tripod with 4 sections to each leg. The way Gitzo legs are constructed and joined, there is no significant loss of stiffness choosing 4 instead of 3 section legs. They are a lot easier to fit in a suitcase. Gitzo legs tighten using threaded collars and tapered bushings. The legs are now internally keyed, so they don't rotate when you tighten the collars. Most of the objections to this style of fastener have been addressed and solved. They hold better than Manfrotto toggle clamps, and never need adjusting.
    A #3 Gitzo has an interchangeable center section, which can be a simple plate, a rapid or geared column, a 75-100 mm video bowl or a leveling platform. I generally eschew the column and use a leveling platform. Leveling is important for stitched landscapes and essential for video work (panning without tilting). Smaller tripods don't have this feature.
    The lightest rig I recommend for general use is a #2 Gitzo, preferably with 3 sections per leg. The largest section of leg is about 1-1/8" in diameter, which is comparable to a large Manfrotto, among others. This tripod is sufficient to keep a 200 mm lens steady in a light breeze.
    Manfrotto doesn't make a tripod as comparable to a #3 Gitzo. Other startups and Chinese companies offer Gitzo features at a reduced price. If I'm supporting $5000 worth of gear, the price of a Gitzo doesn't seem extravagant.
     
  5. Eric, I would recommend a Gitzo series 3 carbon fiber with a base plate and no center column. A used version will run about $500. The
    series 3 I have had for 13 years handles a Nikon 500mm f4 and 200-400 adequately with a wimberly action head or a side kick mounted
    on a ball head. I don't think it would be over kill to purchase a series 3 for your 200-500. I would consider buying used if your on
    a budget. I agree with the comment regarding trusting your expensive gear to Gitzo though I am sure there are those who would
    disagree because some of the Chineese products are very good. Good hunting.
     
  6. I see that leveling platforms for the Gitzo have gone up in price. Nonetheless they are almost as solid as a plain plate insert, and add very little height. They have a 15 degree range, which allows you to level the head accurately. It's easy to "eyeball" the tripod within that range by adjusting the legs. Once level, a Wimberly head will work better, especially when panning. The horizon won't tilt. The leveling platform has a lever which allows you to securely fasten, remove and exchange heads easily.
    A column is better for portraits and closeups, which require frequent height changes. At least with a "Systematic" Gitzo tripod you have a choice. (I use an aluminum column when needed. It gets the job done and is much less expensive than the carbon fiber version. It fits #3, #4 and #5 Gitzo Systematic tripods.) Heavy duty video heads come with a half-ball base which fits a 75mm or 100mm bowl insert. Most video heads do not have a lateral tilt, only tilt and pan.
     
  7. Manfrotto nee Bogen is still a good brand. Yet there have been some strong competitors. I have two Bogen models of aluminum. When I went for carbon fiber I chose an Induro. Which I thought when I ordered it had three leg sections. But it came and it had four and yet it was pretty stable for my gear which of course is lighter than you carry. But then it has a center column with a hook to hang a center bag or weight. I like the large knobs for tightening over the clamp style and non rotating legs. A good brand with a fair price. I also have one Gitzo aluminum traveler which is nice and in same good quality as Manfrotto. Carbon fiber is well within reach and has merits as you know.. Your shopping will be a contest among equals if you go for good stuff and not skimp. But you know that already. Check ratings on line of course from real users for specific models and sizes..
     
  8. Have a Feisol (fore taller person): carbon fiber and 3 legs for stability....no middle column. Using Arca-Swiss head with it and use 200-500 and no issues. Fairly light set up...and rather stout.
    Les
     
  9. I use a Gitzo 3-sries with an A/S Monoball Z1 and a Wimberley Sidekick for the 200-500mm.
    I use a lightweight Feisol and Acratech Ultimate ballhead for travel, macro and general use with prime lenses.
     
  10. I have 4 full sized tripods and a couple of table top pods. had a Bogen 3221 with an old Arca Swiss B-1 head for years really solid but
    heavy and my daughter has it today. My favorite big set up is a RRS 34L with a RRS BH-55 head. Very tall, very smooth, very solid, veryy
    reliable. My favorite light pod is a Gitzo Traveler with a RRS BH-30 head. I also have a Gitzo Mountaineer with a RRS BH-40 head that I
    use for field work. All of these are great. Gitzo and RRS pods, RRS. I also have a relatively cheap pod and head with a boom like arm
    that I occasionally use for macro work but it is not that precise and it irritates me. I use it only when I need to extend the arm horizontally.
     
  11. For years I used a Bogen 3021 tripod with first a Bogen three way head, then later with a Kirk Bh3 head. Other than the weight, I really liked the tripod but as carbon fiber models became more popular and a little less expensive I decided to splurge and get a Gitzo 2531 Series 2 Mountaineer back in 2019. I've now used it for 7 years with a Markins Q10 head and have little need for anything else. I know I'm biased, but as an all-around tripod I don't think the Mountaineer tripods can be beat. Mine still looks and functions as new.
     
  12. My go-to tripod is a Gitzo GT3540, carbon fiber with an interchangeable center piece. I have a column but seldom use it. Instead, I prefer a Gitzo leveling platform. It's very rigid, and has a +/- 7 deg range of motion for level panning, video, etc. The GT3540 reaches 55" without a column. I have an extra tall version which reaches 72", mainly for video. The newest Gitzos have keyed leg sections, which eliminate the problem with rotation that made them hard to use.

    <br><br>I have several heads which I change around depending on needs. My favorite is a RRS BH55, followed by an RRS BH40. I have an Area B1 which is still serviceable, but sometimes sticks in the locked position until you thump it with the heel of your hand. RRS make really good tripods too, about the same price as their Gitzo counterparts. All the fittings are machined, not cast like Gitzo. Still, my oldest Gifzo has been in use for nearly 20 years.
     

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