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Chicagogirlie Dec 21, 2008 1:47 PM

I need a tripod for backpacking through the Amazon and the Inca trail in Peru. It has to be light weight and compact, I'd like to stay under 2lbs. I'll be using it primarily for landscape shots. I would rather have a quick release as well, but it's not necessary. I'm not looking to spend over $200. It will be used with my Sony Alpha 700 and I'll be taking a wide angle lens, my Tamron 17-50, and possibly my 70-210 beercan, haven't decided on the latter as it would cost me much weight. I'm also pretty short at 5'4", not sure if that makes a difference.

I'm considering these but they don't have a quick releases:

This one has a quick release but I'm skeptical as it's also a trekking pole and if used as such, could make the tripod legs not as sturdy:

Any other recommendations or picks between the above would be greatly appreciated :)

StevieDgpt Dec 21, 2008 9:39 PM

strength, size, weight, price.

Pick any two and only two.

Actually price and strengthdo not go well together and neither do price and weight.

Ok, time to be serious.

Yes, you need a quick release, otherwise your camera is semi-fixed to the tripod. Not good. More so because the weight of the entire set up will be held to a single threaded connection in the bottom of your camera.... and you are going to carry the tripod with the camera attached like a weapon... and will break your camera if it doesn't first fall off.

Quick release plates are easy enough to take on and off if they block the battery compartment.... so if somebody suggest no quick release plate PLEASE question their logic. Personally I like the Manfrotto QR as it double locks in place when the camera is installed on the tripod and requires two movements to remove the camera from the tripod. Some of the lessor QR do the same. Some do not.

Weight. Aluminum is good. AL is heavier than carbon fiber, about double the weight for the same size, shape etc. Carbon Fiber can cost 2,3 even 5 times as much as AL. For$200 total budget you can forget CF.

Heads. Two way or three way pan heads are, pound for pound, the best, most durable, best weight bearing capacity heads on the market. And pan heads can be found fairly cheaply. Two way or three way heads are great for the studio, but in the field... especially for quick movements... the two way and three way pan heads really sux. Which means you might want a ball head. Oops, there is that $ and weight bearing issue. Ball heads become a major drain on your budget because the entire weight of your set up must be held by a single screw binding to a round ball. That kind of setup means the typical $50 or even some $100 ball heads arejust about worthless for professional work (and even serious amateur work).

Height of the tripod. You are short. You can get by with shorter legs. Not way shorter. The extension (middle) arm of the tripod should only be used if absolutely neccesary.

What would I get?

Basic Pan and Tilt head capable of handling your camera. $164

Pretty basic ball head, again capable of handling your camera. $194

Both tripods are going to blow through your weight desires, but the 190 is tall enough for you to use while standing up and capable of reducing down in size for ease of carrying and for some ground macro type shots.

There are some alternatives from Giotto that I might consider. Same with Slik or Velbron. BUT the G,S or V heads are not always as good as the Manfrotto heads and the price differences are not that great.

Of your suggestions. The Benro is far too short (and a suspect Chinese made product as well)

The Head of the Slik is rated for 3lbs and even some of the reviewers question whether the head could hold their basic dSLR. Don't worry, it won't. And the tripod is too short.

The Cullmann only extends 21" above ground level. Far too small for your needs.

The Trek design is about as unstable and generally unusable design of tripod that exists. Your camera (all 2.5 lbs of camera, QR plate, battery and lens) is sitting on a 1.5lb head suspend two feet above the leg support point.Weight stability isalmost not existant and the amount of vibrations make the thing just about unusable.

Chicagogirlie Jan 17, 2009 3:08 PM

Thanks for the recommendations. Those are very nice tripods, but as a light backpacker traveling for miles on end with many pounds on my back, I can't go those routes.

I think I may go with:

Manfrotto 725B Digi Tripod with Integrated Ball Head with Dove Tail Plate and Carrying Bag (see link below) E6&v=glance

Any objections??

StevieDgpt Jan 18, 2009 3:03 AM

The Manfrotto 725 has been discontinued according to B&H.

Nothing wrong per se, but you need to know that bit of information. Might come in handy for future price negotiations.

The link you posted is for purchasing from an Amazon 3rd party named Adorama.

If you want to purchase the unit, I would purchase the unit directly from Adorama. You will generally find there are fewer problems with the direct purchases and Adorama is generally quite decent to work with (Oh, and you might wiggleout a few bucks of savingswith the direct buy as well.... just mention you will buy it through Amazon.... they must pay Amazon a commission which they might just go ahead and split with you.... better yet, mention the discontinued part and see if they will adjust the price accordingly).

That tripod is only 52" tall without the center column extended. 52" is just 4" over 4'.

But add the height of the head (let's say 2.5") and the height of your camera (about 3.5"). This means the top of your camera is now about 58" above the ground height. Means this tripod is about 4" shorter than my idea of the best height without the center column extended.

To use this tripod you can stoop a couple inches (not bad) or raise the center column if you must. Don't raise the center column too far as it causes vibrations at the camera lens.

I would say the height is OK for your needs. Not perfect, but more than acceptable.

The ball head is integrated. Integrated is a bad thing. Means you can never change out the head. And the head is the absoluted weakest link on this tripod.

Folded length is 20". Not the smallest size, but acceptable. Total Weight is 4lbs. You can get lighter, but the price would absolutely skyrocket.

Would I buy this tripod if my budget so dictated? Yea. Most likely. You are not going to find anything "better" at this price point, I have seen a lot worse and some of them areactually more expensive.

Is theManfrotto_190XB_486RC2a better product. Absolutely.

Would a carbon fiber version of the 190 plus a magnesium head be better? For sure. and 4x your max budget.

Bottom line? Grab the 725, but firstsee if you can work the price down a couple bucks.

StevieDgpt Jan 18, 2009 3:08 AM

Also take a fast lens (50mm f/1.7 or f/1.4) and your flash.

The lighting is not as strong on the forest floor as you might think. The fast lens will help and the flash is good for fill.

Chicagogirlie Feb 8, 2009 8:16 PM

Well I finally pulled the trigger after your great advice and additional research. I've just bought the 190XB at B&H for 20% off. I'll be carrying a little over an extra pound than I wanted to, but it'll be worth it in the long run.

It should be here on Thursday the 12th!

Thanks again!

evillagenyc Jun 13, 2010 3:36 PM

hey chicagogirlie,

i know i'm a year and a half late, but i'm about to head to the andes and trek for 15 days and i want to know how your tripod treated you. i'm trying to remain on a serious budget, but how can i not go with a tripod, and if i do, can i still pay less than $100? sounds like stevie doesn't think so. hmmm....


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