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Old Jan 8, 2010, 9:30 PM   #1
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Default Another tripod thread.. I know I know

I am a beginner to DSLR photography and I am looking for a cheap yet durable/light weight tripod. After much research i'm having a difficult time and i need help. The most common replies are buy a gitzo. Well a lot of people like me can't afford one. Then usually the next comment is to buy an manfrotto aluminum tripod. I don't want gitzo price but yet i want light weight since I travel a lot.

I am not a professional photographer - I am using my SLR as a replacement for my point and shoot at the same time trying taking some good photos when something interesting catches my eye (landscapes/cityscapes/sunsets/night photography). I have a Canon xsi and I will be using pretty basic lenses (kit lens and 55-250mm lens) for foreseeable future. Can any one suggest me a good yet cheap one?

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Old Jan 8, 2010, 9:38 PM   #2
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Look at the cullmann nanomax line, they are pretty well made, german design. Most of them are under 60 bucks.

If you want to spend a bit more, I personally use a cullmann magnesit 519 with my T1i. It is a very stable tripod. It is about 85 dollars. It is a bit heavier then the nanomax line.

Both the nanomax and magnesite line are also grounders. Letting you set up for very low shots.

Adorama carries them.

Since you are new to dslr, check out this site, they have workshop with youturbe videos. www.dslrtips.com

Last edited by shoturtle; Jan 8, 2010 at 9:46 PM.
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Old Jan 9, 2010, 12:42 AM   #3
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Well, there are sturdy tripods, there are lightweight tripods and there are cheap tripods. You can only get two out of the three.

I'm no pro, just an enthusiastic amateur. I played around with a cheap, relatively heavy video tripod that I had bought years before for a full sized VCR camcorder. It was stable enough, but I hated the pan/tilt head (who's quick release plate wouldn't stay in place on the camera so the camera sagged and rotated as soon as I had it lined up and took my hand off it) and after carrying it about a quarter mile, I was ready to throw it off the mountainside. So it came down to the fact that I wasn't willing to compromise on the lightweight or the sturdy since I have heavy, longer lenses and I'm small. So I saved up and bought the gitzo and I don't regret it for a minute.

Since you are not going to be using a longer lens, you could probably get away with one of the lighter-weight carbon fiber tripods (there are others besides gitzo). One very big decision is what type of leg locks are you going to want. Some people love the flip locks like on my old Velbon aluminum video tripod (which worked OK but snagged on branches when I was hiking with it, and I won't talk about the blood blister I got when a Manfrotto leg lock pinched my thumb as I tried it in a camera store) while others prefer twist locks (I'm definitely in that category - takes only a second to loosen or tighten).

Also, if you go with a lighter tripod, make sure there's some way to attach a weight (i.e., camera bag) to it, the extra weight can add stability if it's breezy (you do NOT want your lovely expensive camera and lens to hit the tarmac when a gust blows it over while you are getting the other lens out of your camera bag - mine almost did that once). But then you also run the risk of bending legs that aren't sturdy enough to handle the extra weight.

And don't forget to make sure you get a decent tripod head, one you can live with. You'll end up spending more time playing around with the head than you will with the legs. And when choosing legs, remember that heads add more weight (or do without a head and have to screw your camera on the tripod every time you use it). Too light of a head won't hold your camera in place (and some camera plates won't hold a camera still without over-tightening).

Go to a camera store and spend lots of time playing with every tripod you can get your hands on. Carry it around for a while. Try mounting and dismounting your camera. How difficult is it to line things up, how many screws do you have to adjust? If you go with a ball head (my choice, it's faster and easier to set up), will it hold the weight of your camera without caving in because it's made of too light-weight metal? Will the plate hold your camera without sagging or twisting? Are you willing to carry that amount of weight for a day? And how are you going to carry it around with you?

Having experienced a too heavy aluminum tripod, a head I hated, a too lightweight tripod head (on a tabletop model I own) and plates that wouldn't hold my camera still, I opted for a Gitzo tripod and head with a Really Right Stuff quick release plate with L-bracket designed for my camera, along with a tripod carrier that fits on my camera bag. Now it's no problem carrying and using a tripod with quick and easy set-up.

I'm not saying that you can't do perfectly well with other tripods, and other configurations. I'm saying that make sure whatever you buy you can use comfortably because a bad tripod can make your pictures worse and photography a nightmare.
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