Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > Tripods and Heads

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Aug 6, 2006, 6:52 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 45

I've decided to get a Kodak p880, meaning one of the larger 'compacts'.
One of the reasons being that I like to take a lot of outdoory, sceneryish pictures, and will likely appreciate the wide angle capability of this fixed lens.

Now, I have very little experience with tripods of any kind, but think my requriements go something like this:

-Not shorter than 60cm when fully extended.
-Not too heavy; rather easy to carry around.
-Preferrably not more than 50euro.

Since monopods appear easier to carry around, would such perhaps be best? Is the loss of stability vs a tripod simply dramatic?

Any voiced thoughts appreicated.

Lindinblade is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Aug 6, 2006, 12:51 PM   #2
Senior Member
rey's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 949

I have a monopad and an bulky, "video style" tripod. I use the monopad most, but it does have limitations. First, it's not as stable, for night shooting where you need long exposure, there is no substitute for a stable tripod. My monopad doesn't come with tilt device, so I can't take portrait shots.

For tripod, I suggest you look at euro websites for what's available to you, and look at what's on your budget and what can hold the weight of your camera.

In general, for photography, a ball head is better than tilt-and-pan type.

rey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 7, 2006, 10:32 AM   #3
Senior Member
bernabeu's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 990


the best 'all around' tripod for the money ($95 usa):

SLIK Able 300DX
bernabeu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 9, 2006, 5:50 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 822

I'm a beginner myself. But I've been reading up on these boards and alot of the links. Generally what people say is that a tripod is significantly better than a monopod, but a monopod is likewise significantly better than shooting handheld. Monopods are popular for situations where one is unable to bring a tripod. There also popular in situations where you might need to setup and move quickly. And they can be used more easily in crowded areas than a tripod. A number of sports photographers use them. Many hikers also find prefer a monopod, not only because it is lighter than packing a tripod, but because it can often double as a walking stick. Eventually you might prefer to have both.

This is a good article on how to best use a monopod:

Reading through these threads, there are many warnings about cheap tripods. One apparently common mistake is putting an expensive camera on a cheap tripod. Which can result in both a broken camera and tripod.

Your camera, however, at only a bit over a pound, is light enough that even a cheap tripod (or monopod) isn't going to collapse ot tip under it's weight. But that doesn't mean it won't woble in a light breeze. And, cheaper ones can also have problems with legs bending over time, locking mechanisms on the legs or head wearing out, etc. Still, the following inexpensive models at least are rated as supporting 5 pounds or more and also have multi-year waranties:
Velbon CX-470
Velbon CX-570
Velbon DF-40
Velbon DF-50
Davis & Sanford
Hakuba S-4500
Smith -Victor P800
Sunpak 8001UT

You may want to consider though, how much you expect to get out of this tripod, and what your needs might be in the future. Suppose you are hoping to learn on the P880, and might eventually move onto the DSLR world of $800+ camera and lens setups. At that stage you would at a minimum want someting like this under your camera:

Bogen/Manfrotto 3021BN with 488RC2 ballhead

That's one of the most popular sets of tripod legs, which sells for $150.00-$160.00, and a head that costs around $100.00. For many people, this is an "entry level" setup, and they might look forward to upgrading that head to one of several high end models which go for $250-$500. Eventually they may upgrade the legs as well, to a carbon fiber set, lighter and stronger than the aluminum, and probably costing $400+.

Moreover, for the type of shooting you're talking about, you will more than likely want a serious tripod sooner or later. If you are uncertain right now about what you need/want, it won't hurt to start with a budget model to learn on. But you could also look at something with an easy upgrade path. For example, you could combine that good $150 set of legs with a $40 ball head. That gives you a piece of equipment that will last a very long time, with an easy upgrade opportunity if you want a premium ballhead at a later date as well.

Now if you were to go out and spend $450 on a top notch setup right now, that might be overkill. But ask some experieced photographers whether you'd be better of with a $400 camera on a $450 tripod/head combo or an $800 camera on a $50 tripod.

The other thing about the cheap tripods I listed above, they all had pan and tilt type heads. For photography, the ball head is generally prefered. And for nature shooting, where you might want to make some quick adjustments to catch wildlife, it will be particularly needed. Good ballheads are a bit more expensive, and cheap ballheads gernerally unreliable. As a result, even budget models with ballheads start at around $75-$85. In addition these have the drawback that the head is not removeable/replaceable as it is on better models. Some examples:
Slick Sprint Pro Tripod
Sunpak 3300 Pro
Bogen/Manfrotto 714B Digi Tripod

Any of the above might serve your current purposes well enough, and are from reputable manufacturers with good waranties. But you would be in danger of outgrowing them, and to upgrade, you'd be starting from scratch.

The other option seems to be to spend at least that much on legs alone (Slik Pro 700DX, Bogen/Manfrotto 3001N, Verbon Sherpa 600RA, Davis and Sanford CC Compact ) and add $30-$50 for a decent ball head which will be fine for now (Velbon PH-343, Velbon PH-353, Bogen/Manfrotto Mini Ball, Slik Standard II ).

When it comes to the monopod, there are similar choices. There are many inexpensiive ones in the $30 range. Then there are better quality ones where the head is sold seperately. The Bogen/Manfrotto 3232 Swivel Tilt Monopod Head is very popular. But if you going to follow the method outlined above, which requires holding the monopod at about a 20 degree angle, you may really need a ball head again.

The good news here is that, since your only buying one leg, it's a bit less costly to get into a quality model. I would go with the Bogen/Manfrotto 679 with either the Bogen/Manfrotto 482 Micro Ball Head, or the Bogen/Manfrotto 484 Mini Ballhead.

kenbalbari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2006, 8:07 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 822

I think I may end up getting the Bogen/Manfrotto 676B Digi Monopod myself, and I'll probably add a Giottos MH-1004 Mini Ballhead for only another $10. If I decide it needs a better head I can try something else later. That's only $10 less than the 679 which I like, but it's also smaller. The 679 wighs 600 g and is 64 cm when folded; the 676 is only 400g and 48 cm. I think I'll use it more if it's a bit more convenient. Not bad for about $45 after shipping.

Also I didn't see it yesterday, but this morning I found the Slik Able 300DX that Bernabeu mentioned. Looks nice. Looks like it's mainly a nice set of legs with a fairly cheap pan & tilt head; but that's good. The head would serve fine for now, and you could always update it later with a good ballhead if needed.

But I also like the Bogen /Manfrotto 3011N. I think that might end up being my tripod.

And, amongst the cheapie tripods, I noticed the Sunpack Fieldmaster , which looks like it is about what Lindinblade is looking for: good height, lightweight, designed for field use (with the retractable spike feet), and has both a pan/tilt head and a ballhead included.

kenbalbari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2006, 2:53 PM   #6
Senior Member
tmoreau's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 477

Now if you were to go out and spend $450 on a top notch setup right now, that might be overkill. But ask some experieced photographers whether you'd be better of with a $400 camera on a $450 tripod/head combo or an $800 camera on a $50 tripod.
If you lived close, and I hated you, I'd give you one of my attempts at being cheap. Cheap tripods suck. What a waste of time, money, and effort. Makes using a tripod a real chore, and sometimes dosent even give the benefit of a tripod. Also nearly broke my camera on one of my cheap tripods once. Stupid.

If your convinced you have to do it (ok since you have a small camera), stay under $50 buy a SHORT one and kneel down. It will generally get the job done. Short/cheap/light is not as bad as tall/cheap/light.

If you want a good/proper tripod that will really do what its supposed to do, reach to eye level, and be easy/flexible to use, budget $400-$1200. Maybe budget $250-300 with a cheap head and plan to upgrade that part later, another $250-450. Cheaper to do it right, but at least getting part of it right (ie, the legs) will save you some trouble.
tmoreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 11, 2006, 3:14 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 822

If your convinced you have to do it (ok since you have a small camera), stay under $50 buy a SHORT one and kneel down. It will generally get the job done. Short/cheap/light is not as bad as tall/cheap/light.
But, I suppose there's a right way to do short and light as well:

Berlebach 50031 Wood Tabletop Tripod Legs $129.95. 35.0 cm, supports 8.0 kg.

As for the budget models, there seem to be a few nice tabletop tripods in the $30 range, which are under a foot tall, but beyond that I see mostly the lightweight travel models which are generally designed to be full height. I think I might be better off with a well made 2ft - 3ft model.

The Slik Sprint Mini might be an example, which includes a ball head for about $60.00 total.

But I also wonder might I be better off spending a bit more for a Benbo Mini Trekker? Is that a model I would at least be happy with for field use for a long time?

Also, I was going to apologize to Lindinblade for hijacking his thread about tall, cheap, and lightweight tripods to talk about short, expensive and heavy ones; but after finally taking the (very minor) trouble to convert centimeters and Euros I realized he was probably actually looking for models similar to the Sprint Mini and the Mini Trekker anyway. I think I had it in my head earlier that he had said 60 inches. So maybe I need to read a bit more carefully.

It seems the <2 pound, 60", <$50.00 travel tripods are very popular for field use, backpacking, travel, etc., despite their limitations. But I wonder why I don't see more models which are just a bit smaller and better built. Anyone have any other suggestions or recomendations about shorter models like the above 2 (but not quite as small as the Berlebach above)?

kenbalbari is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 8:14 AM.