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Old Nov 11, 2003, 4:20 PM   #1
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Default Need advise on cheap tripods with integrated pan heads

I need your help with cheap, under $50, tripods. Please bear with me!

I should admit, I never used tripod before though I was amateurishly photographing since I was a kid. Now I'm on my 3rd digicam (Canon A70, I also own Oly C-5050Z). With entry level digicams like I have (though Oly isn't exactly entry level) I found that it's much harder to get detailed sharp image, especially under low light, than with even the cheapest film point-n-shoot cameras. Digicams appear to be less sensitive and more prone to hand shake.

Hence I decided to get a tripod for pretty light occasional usage - indoors macro and parties, night shots and car travel. I shoot spontaneously, it could be landscape or some scene or girl's portrait or maybe a close-up of some picturesque piece of garbage. Anything that seems beautiful or interesting at the moment.

I read quite a lot about tripods on the net and in the photo books and researched prices and specs. Naturally I still have some questions:

1. I feel that for starters I need to bypass tabletops and minis and go with a medium size (around 50"") travel tripod. Any other opinions?

2. Given my total tripod ignorance I don't see how some Bogen/Manfrotto legs with Arca Swiss ball head can be $500 to $5K better than $30 Sunpak with integrated pan head for my intended usage and point-n-shoot digicam. Am I too ignorant here and should look at something more expensive? Anyone can share experience using cheap 50-60" tripods?

3. At real B&H Photo shop I narrowed down to Sunpak 2001UT ($19 online) and Slik SDV-20 ($20 online). Both seemed to be quite well made, stable, reasonably unobtrusive and easily adjustable. Both have integrated fluid 3-way pan heads with quick release. I know that Slik is a more reputable brand but actually I liked Sunpak a little bit better because of design of its leg locks. Does anyone has experience with these 2 particular models or similar ones? What about Sunpak tripods in general, are they any good?

4. Most of the cheap tripods come with the integrated pan heads ( to some mysterious reason legs-solo are much more expensive than combos). This notion of "integrated" scares me. What if I later decide I want a ball head. Can a light small ball head be screwed on top of pan head? Is it a good idea to do so?

5. The only cheap tripod with interchangeable head I found was titanium Vidpro TT-30 ($18 online). They were sold out and were available only online. Never heard about Vidpro. Again any thoughts how this one could stack against Sunpak and Slik?

I'll appreciate any insight and help.

Thanks a bunch!
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Old Nov 12, 2003, 6:29 PM   #2
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Default Cullmann tripods?

I still couldn't justify $120+ for Bogen 3001 with 3025 head for something that I never tried before and for use with $300 consumer digicam. On the other hand $20 Sunpak and Slik tripods I was considering before seemed too cheap to be true. So I choose a middle ground and for $53 total ordered Cullmann 100 tripod with replaceable pan head. Cullmann is an old and very reputable German firm specializing in precise instruments like "Cullmann boards" to make precise engineering drawings (before the advent of CAD). So I figured that with luck their stuff, even cheap one, may be well engineered and manufactured. I'll let you know how is it when tripod will arrive. Luckily I have a month to return it if I don't like it.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 2:57 PM   #3
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can you justify buy 2 or 3 cheap tripods until you get it right and end up with these taking up your closet space in your home?

a tripod is not an afterthought. it is an extension of both the camera and you. the right one can extend your realm of imagemaking a whole lot. once you get by that the you'll find that spend a little more can get you a lot more.

manfrotto does make less expensive models with ball heads (better in most situations) in about the $99 range. that is the 724B

good quality is not cheap.
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