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Old Apr 26, 2009, 6:42 PM   #1
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Watch out for those little, impulsive purchases. They can lead on to other things, things that aren't so inexpensive.

How do I know this? Because several months ago I had an extra $20 in my pocket and I was feeling frustrated with my pictures. I had been reading an article about using a reflector, so one lunch-time I wandered over to the camera store near my office and bought a small reflector. It's 12" diameter and folds up in a case small enough to fit in the pocket of my camera bag.

I quickly found how difficult it is to hold the reflector in one hand and the K20 in the other. I felt I needed third hand. I thought if I got the remote, I could hold the camera steadier while using the remote in the hand with the reflector to trigger the camera. So I ended up buying both the wired and wireless remotes, cool little devices.

But then I discovered this didn't work much better than what I had been doing, I really needed a tripod. My personal experience was that tripods are fiddly things and seemed to be way too much hassle. The Velbon video tripod I owned has clips on the legs which kept getting caught on twigs etc. if I used it outside. It was heavy and awkward to set up. The pan tilt head took far too much time to get right and it didn't seem to hold very steady, lots of creep. The plate that attaches to the camera was flat and it seemed impossible to get it tight enough to keep the camera from sagging when I tried to shoot portrait.

I had bought an inexpensive ball head for the monopod and had the same sagging problem. So I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea of buying a tripod.

So I ended up with a tripod:

And because Gitzo is offering a $100 rebate for buying both a tripod and a head, I compromised on the head and bought:

Because I like quick access and ease of use, I got these:

The quick release plate's lever fits close to the plate, so it doesn't catch on anything. It has three positions - open, which allows the bracket to just drop down onto the plate, half-closed, which keeps the camera from falling off, but allows you to slide the bracket to align the center lines if you want, and fully closed, which locks the bracket in place.

The L-bracket is custom designed for the camera body. There's a bit of a lip on the front and back to keep it in place (no camera droop!). And why does it wrap around one side of the camera? So you can mount the camera like:

Notice that the side part of the bracket is open - that allows access to the controls on the side, so you can use a wired remote. The plate locks into the grooves machined into the front and back of the bracket. There's two center-line indicators on the bottom of the bracket - you can slide it over so that there's a gap on side between the bracket and the camera - big enough so you can use the wired remote even with the camera mounted in portrait mode.

I was very glad today when I was walking around shooting macros. I would check the viewfinder and decide the picture would look better vertical instead of landscape. Instead of flopping the camera on it's side with the ball head, then having to adjust the height of the center column and moving the tripod over a bit, I just remounted the camera in portrait mode - almost no adjusting the tripod.

I now understand why many consider a tripod an essential piece of equipment. It works great, the set-up is easy, the twist locks don't catch on things, the camera is steady. I would have preferred the RRS head for a couple of reasons, but the Gitzo head is simple and easy to use and significantly less expensive, with the rebate.

Now I just need to figure out how to conveniently carry the tripod with the Slingshot 200. I have a couple of ideas but haven't tried them yet. If they don't work, then I may have to look for another camera bag - Kata makes a tripod carrier that fits on the 3N1 bags, and the Tenba sling bag has tripod straps (but it didn't have as good accessibility). So I might end up buying something else, too.

As you can imagine, this little reflector has ended up costing significantly more than $14!
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 8:05 PM   #2
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I'm sorry but this is so funny;-) Next time might I suggest you spend your $14 on a nice spinach salad with a raspberry vinegarette.
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 8:40 PM   #3
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I have no doubt that we will be out of this recession soon:lol:!!!

I've been interested in the RRS L plate, but it does not look like it will work with the battery grip?

Enjoy your new toys!

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Old Apr 26, 2009, 8:48 PM   #4
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Well Harriet...
all I can say is, it never ends!

Congrats on the new tripod. Now, lets see some of those macro's :lol:
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 9:19 PM   #5
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Ira - My husband's comment when I read your post, was that a nice salad would lead to a larger house, several acres of land and a tractor. That's because that nice salad would lead to a small vegetable garden, which would lead to more equipment and a need for a garage and tool shed and then more land to grow a variety of vegetables. I once wanted a horse - that led to a couple of brood mares, a show horse, breeding fees, vet bills and training fees. Photography is cheaper.

jelpee - you are correct, the L-bracket I bought would not work with a grip. I don't think they make one for the K20 and grip. It doesn't bother me since I can't comfortably use one so don't have one. They do make more traditional, generic types of plates, along with lens plates, but you would lose the ability to mount the camera on it's side on the top of the tripod.

GW - yes, it never seems to end. My "wish" list keeps getting longer. Every time I try something new, I discover something else that will make things easier or better.

Like anything else, using a tripod takes practice. I tried reversing the center post (easily done), but I found finding the controls upside down strange and rather confusing. I haven't figured out how to use the tripod without the center post yet - there's something that I'm missing about removing the platform from the center post. I think that would be more useful - putting the camera upside down puts the viewfinder too low, and if you are in bright sunlight it's too hard to see the LCD so Live View doesn't help. I may try to come up with some type of shade that I can use, but first I have to figure out the carrying problem.
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 11:42 PM   #6
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I just love this story, because I can relate. I've been there; I'm sure we all have. I still haven't jumped at a K20, but I think that will come before too long. (Unless, of course, the new camera that will be unveiled in a few weeks completely takes my breath away.....)

So, now that you're fully set up with a tripod and remote shutter release, what do you think of the reflector?
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Old Apr 27, 2009, 12:00 AM   #7
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Watch out for those little, impulsive purchases. They can lead on to other things, things that aren't so inexpensive.
Uh - Harriet - you have been into photography for how many years? And you are just finding this out?

Just be glad there are not so many camera stores around any more (your store in Westwood X10) - they used to have those good sale bins full of surplus and discontinued items - after years of scavenging my cabinets were filled long ago, and stuff both old and new that I have no room for is lying around all over the place, much to my wife's displeasure! :-?
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Old Apr 27, 2009, 10:34 AM   #8
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Great story, Harriet! Next time start with a new vacuum cleaner. You could end up with a summer home in Hawaii!! (If you do, I can't wait to see the pictures!)

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Old Apr 27, 2009, 2:23 PM   #9
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$600 for a tripod????

give me a break..
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Old Apr 27, 2009, 3:55 PM   #10
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I knew you were going to say that, Roy. In fact, I almost didn't post this here because I knew many would think what I bought absolutely crazy. I did think long and hard about it before I pulled the trigger. I thought about how I hated the heads I had, how the RRS L-bracket would solvesome of theproblems. I thought about how I never carried the Velbon I have, because of it's weight as well as the pan-tilt head it has, which I hate. I thought of so many people who list a number of tripods they've gone through. And the ones who say "such and such works really well, it's just heavy." And I thought of the people who have tripods they've ended up modifying, something I'm lousy with. I'm OK for cutting up a milk carton to fashion a way to carry the tripod on the Slingshot, but that's about it. I decided that there was no point in buying something cheap that would get left home or that would get bent/jam/creep, pinch my fingers,or not be stable enough to work well was a waste of money for me - I might as well not bother. That's why I've actively avoided getting a tripod in the first place.

So bearing in mind that I've bought my last tripod - the cost makes some sense - buying one tripod for $600 that lasts30 years makes more sense than buying6 tripods for $150 - 200each, spread out over those same30 years. Or buying the $200 one, finding out that it doesn't work the wayone wants it to, then buying a $350 one several months/a year later, then replacing that one 2 or 3 times. It's all in how you look at things.
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