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Old Oct 20, 2004, 12:34 PM   #1
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I'm in the process of getting various photography supplies to feed my new hobby, and I'm starting to look at tripods. It seems that the price range is large (from $20 - $300+) and my budget is small:sad:... is there a good tripod out there that can be had for less than $50?

What should I look for? Right now it seems that having a bubble level is important, as well as the max/min height of the tripod. Is there anything else that folks feelis important, and that they would never do without? And are there any "lessons learned" from the more experienced folks out there?

Thanks for any info you can give me.
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Old Oct 20, 2004, 1:39 PM   #2
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If you don't know what you're looking for, don't buy sight unseen (i.e. over the internet).

Go to a GOOD camera store and check out the tripods. First of all if it's too heavy or too large when compacted, you're not going to take it with you.

You also have to consider your camera's weight, will the tripod support the weight of the camera, and any lenses you intend putting on the camera.

Does the tripod operate smoothly (floating head).

Do you want a quick relase so if you are going to be using the tripod multiple times in a day, do you want to have to fiddle with the thumbscrew each and every time, or just flip a lever to attach/remove the camera?

Is the tripod solidly built, or cheap?
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Old Oct 20, 2004, 6:02 PM   #3
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I agree with Mike. Don't go "cheap" on a tripod or you will be buying two (after you find out that the cheap one won't cut it).
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Old Oct 20, 2004, 7:25 PM   #4
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What are you going to be using the tripod for? A heavy tripod is much cheaper than a light one, and the weight adds to the stability: the reason you are getting a tripod in the frist place.

No matter what tripod you get now, you will get at least one more some day . If you get a really heavy one now, it will still be usefull when/if you get a light one. If you get a flimsy tripod, it will only collect dust, and don't look at the back of my closet.

Keep in mind that a good tripod will outlast several cameras. The collapse of a flimsy tripod can mean the end of a camera.
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Old Oct 20, 2004, 9:07 PM   #5
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You might find this link a fun read:

Now, it should be noted that Thom is a professional, so his needs in a tripod are not yours. But it has some very good points and a nice light, funny take on buying a tripod.

There are two things you pay for in a tripod. One is quality and the other is weight. If you are going to hike all over (miles) and carry a tripod then weight matters. But to reduce weight but retain quality you have to go to Carbon Fiber. They are WAY beyond your budget. But heavy tripods that are alumium might work out.

My view on your situation is this. Learn what matters and get what you can afford. Expect that you might replace it, or get one with an eye towards travel. And if you start to take this more seriously then save up and get something better. Having something light and small is still useful.

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Old Oct 21, 2004, 6:27 AM   #6
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After you look at everything in the camera stores, go to Walmart. For $20.00 you can get a smooth, light weight tripod with two camera attachments and two levels. There is a bubble level on the tripod itself and a line level on the camera mount. If you need more weight, there is a hook to hang a weight off.
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Old Oct 21, 2004, 6:48 AM   #7
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I'm usually one of those people that will throw out the advice "dont go cheap" "you get what you pay for" etc. And I agree with it for the most part, but I dont see anything wrong in picking up a $30 tripod from walmart, for 2 reasons, #1 Do you really NEED it or just want it? #2 if it does start seeing some heavy use, by that time you'll know what you want in a tripod and will be better equipped to shop for one.

I got one, yes its a little clumsy and kind of a pain, but now I know what to look for if I decide to get another, 90% of the time it supports my 10 yr old vid camera, and my 1 yr old thats trying to walk likes to climb it too(so they're at least that sturdy). My only regret is not buying one a long long time ago, even a cheap one is pretty handy.

So yeah you're kinda throwing $ away, but if you learn something its worth it, and your only out 20-30- bucks. Beats buying a "good" one and finding that it doesnt fit your needs. I guess I"m saying, if you KNOW what you want/need, spend enough so you only spend it once, if you dont know, spend so little there is no regret
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Old Oct 21, 2004, 7:58 AM   #8
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I agree that buying a cheap tripod isn't silly: just figure on counting the price as tuition. I would recomend staying away from tripods in the $30-150 range.

One of the advantages of a tripod is that it slows down your shooting. That makes you think about what you are doing, and in particular, to think about where you are going to stand when you shoot.
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Old Oct 21, 2004, 9:26 AM   #9
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I won't say go most expensive, but I'll remention (is that a word) this, from another of thread on tripods.

I've been through several now, and I had one from WallYmart, won't mention its brand. Here is its story:
First day, eos camera with 300mm lens, I turned around and a few seconds later heard a clang, the little head did not hold and my lens fell over and bonked the tripod leg. no damage to the lens, ding in the tripod.

Later on I tried hiking with it and using sameeos camera with a 28mm lens set up, and watched as one of the legs collapsed(caught the camera beforedisaster).

Lesson don't try to support 2000$+ of camera equipment ona 30$ pod you are asking for trouble.

They are also woblely and don't cancel vibration well, even from the mirror slap.

I've settled on the manfrotto 055c(bogen3021 in US) with a decent ball head for most usage and a manfrotto monopod for real light traveling.

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Old Oct 21, 2004, 2:43 PM   #10
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gruss wrote:
...#2 if it does start seeing some heavy use, by that time you'll know what you want in a tripod and will be better equipped to shop for one. ...
I agree with Gruss. I put together a fairly complete system for less than $100. It certainly is not Manfrotto, Kirk and the like but it's enough to get going and I won't make mistakes when I am ready to buy some real stuff.

Iusea DRebel which isn't too heavy with the 28-135 IS.

$35 Velbon full size tripod, $30 Velbon table top (good for macros),$20 monopod w/ velbon head. Everything has the same Velbon quick releaseso I can leave one plate on the camera and switch among the supports.

I work in both carpentry and audio/video fields and I know the cost of buying cheap tools and equipment is great by the the time you upgrade by multiple increments. I couldn't justify the cost of alltop notch stuff at first so I decided to go cheap and upgrade once. I'm still doing fine with the cheap for now and learning what my needs really are. There's lots of good advice here but at the end of the day you are the one who decides.

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