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Old Jul 6, 2009, 8:58 AM   #1
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Default Compact Tripod

I am looking to get a good compact Tripod. I would like to stay under the $150 dollar range if possible. I would appreciate any recommendations. I plan use this with my K20.

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Old Jul 6, 2009, 2:13 PM   #2
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There's a million different answers to your question. Compact, sturdy, cheap - you can only get 2 out of three when it comes to tripods. First question, what lenses are you going to be using? That will influence which tripod will work. Is weight an issue? That will seriously affect the price. The other question you need to answer is the question of a head - do you want a ball head (which I prefer) or a pan/tilt head (which many others prefer). Does your $150 range include the head?
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Old Jul 6, 2009, 6:58 PM   #3
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I plan to use a 70-300 at least no more than 300mm at most. I do plan however a long time down the road to add the Bigma however it will be some time before that happens. I plan to use the tripod for hiking and night shots. I am open to either head would like a quick release. Would like something sturdy as well. Hope this helps some

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Old Jul 6, 2009, 10:58 PM   #4
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You'll need a sturdier tripod than someone who's shooting with a shorter lens, the longer the lens the steadier your tripod needs to be. You can probably get away with a lighter-weight tripod and head with something that's 300mm than you will be able to with the Bigma.

If price is more important than weight, look at the aluminum legs. Or check out Adorama's Flashpoint CF tripod - its lighter than most equivalent aluminum tripods and much cheaper than Gitzo (which is top-of-the-line and very expensive).

One thing to consider is the leg locks. It's a personal thing - I prefer Gitzo's twist locks but others prefer clip locks like Manfrotto's tripods have. Best thing to do is go to a camera store and play with the various types of locks to see which you prefer. I chose the twist locks for two reasons - I hike with my tripod and the one time I tried to "hike" with an old Velbon video tripod, I kept catching the clip locks on the camera bag, my phone, branches, etc. Manfrotto's locks don't protrude as much, but I kept pinching my fingers in them.

Pan-tilt heads are fussier, with more knobs for all of the various adjustments. Ball heads are faster to adjust. Don't scrimp on the head - it's horrible to have a head that's not really capable of handling the weight of the camera and lens. You get everything lined up right, tighten the knobs and the camera sags as soon as you let go - not fun. If you have to scrimp somewhere, buy a slightly lighter leg and add a weight to keep it steady. Not the best solution but better than getting a head that won't hold your camera steady.

QR plates are a great idea. I ended up going with the RRS plate and an L bracket (this would be more than your entire budget, by the way) because I've had trouble getting the generic plates to hold the camera steady, especially if the camera is in portrait mode (I have a lightweight Giotto head on my monopod and I can't get the camera plate tight enough not to sag when I use the camera vertically). You can find less expensive, well designed plates but try to avoid the small, cheap ones if you can.

In your shoes I guess I'd probably try to get the lightest weight tripod I could afford that would still work for the 300mm lens, with the idea that I'd get a bigger, heavier tripod later when I got Bigma. Then you have the option of going light with the older tripod when you weren't carrying it, rather than always having to carry the heavy-weight lens.

Another thing - 3 section legs are supposed to be steadier than 4 section legs. I have a 4 section leg because I wanted one that was smaller collapsed, so that I could carry it easier. Because I'm short, I don't mind not using the smallest 4th section. However, if you are 6 foot, you wouldn't have that luxury.

Anyway, there's some things to think about.
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