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Old Aug 21, 2002, 12:40 AM   #1
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Default How do I choose a tripod?

It has come to that point of time I buy myself a tripod. Never used one in my life and my camera is a Nikon 5700. Saw one which was pretty cheap but the legs were a bit flimsy? or should I say that if I were to take a few swing at an intruder etc I wont do much damage, but heaps of damage to my tripod. What would you recommend?
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Old Aug 21, 2002, 8:20 AM   #2
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Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a tripod that has all desirable features, i.e.,:
  • cheap
  • light
  • sturdy
  • tall
Don't get a flimsy tripod. Even though your camera is light, you don't want the tripod to fall apart under it.

I'd suggest first thinking about how heavy a tripod you can use. Except for the problem of hauling it about, heavy is good in a tripod since the weight adds stability. This is where the price can go up - if you want really light, it will cost a lot more.

Tall is really nice in a tripod. You don't have to bend over to use it, and being tall offers more options. This is also the area that you can save the most - short is cheaper.
Next think about what kind of head you want. I like a three axis head, other folks like ball heads. Almost no one likes a two axis pan head (meant for video) with a digicam. The two axis head is what you will find on cheap tripods.

If you are going to shoot many macros, an "articulated" center post is really nice to have. Both Gitzo and Bogen/Manfroto make models with that feature.

To use a tripod at its most effective, you will want a remote shutter release so you don't disturb the camera when you take a picture. Wired or wireless both work. The self timer will do the same thing, but not as nicely.

Keep in mind that a good tripod will outlast many cameras. A cheap tripod will probably only add to the clutter at the back of your closet.

[Edited on 8-21-2002 by BillDrew]
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Old Aug 21, 2002, 9:37 AM   #3
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bill drew is correct.

most people treat a tripod as an afterthought. everybody hates carrying them around until that 1 shot that makes it necessary. MACRO! or low light or you want to be in the shot too! or too much of the night before.

a tripod is an extension of your camera. for most of us here are the important factors:
1 light
2 compact
4 versatility
5 durable

each of those 5 properties seem to contradict each other in the read world.

light- ok, we have to carry it. so how light is light. it's all a measure of how much your willing to carry or spend. there are 3 major materials used today
a-aluminum (lots of em)
b-magnesium (not to many except for component parts)
c-carbon (expensive)
if it is real light the wind is more apt to tip it. i have this wonderful daypack i carry full of many varying poundage of lightweight gear. it maks a great stabilizer(sandbag) when hung fron the ctr post or strapped to the crown. or when the legs are in low mode just draped over one leg.

compact- 3 section or 4. 3 sections make for a stiffer leg in most cases but also longer when collapsed. 4 makes for a nice tidy package but then in most cases less stiff due to the extra joint.

STIFF- when a tripod is being put up the legs should not just flop out on their own. there should be some resistance to the outward pull until it hits max extension. this allows you to pick it up and reposition with out issues. legs should be reasonably stiff when the tripod is set up. place your hands on the crown where the legs all attach with a downward pressure on the setup tripod twist or torque the crown. if the downward pressure causes a leg to start to slide in at a joint that is not a good thing. while doing the push and turn watch the legs and see if they attempt to spread a lot further or feel flexy. that is also not good. wobbly legs stink.

versatility- what are your needs. there are tripods out there that will do some impressive contortional manuvers. check them all out before you buy. most people here study and discuss the camera for months before they buy. give the same effort for you legs.

durable- that factor is a combination of all of the above. most good legs allow you to adjust them when they start loosening up wth use/age. parts are even available when the level of damage sustained is non repairable for some. extending useful lifespan.

the head is a seperate issue

2 types
1-pan & tilt
2-ball (ball& socket)

pan & tilt- basic multi axis platform today. some are quite sophistcated. most are fairly simple.
pan- sits on top of the legs and allows 360 deg rotation around the vertical axis.
tilt- depending on the way you mount the camera and or lens length allows a rolling foward/backward tilt limited by the mounted camera. fwd can usually put the lens parallel to the vertical axis backward its limited by the handle.

ball-(ball & socket) the best discription i can give is your wrist joint only with more range and strength (not all balls are created equal). many makes. many opinions. lots of reading. certain makes have attachements for greater versitility
i prefer quick release models using the arca swiss type plate assy. all heads can be adapted to qr systems.

gitzo, manfrotto, velbon, slik these are but a few in legs
arca-swiss, acratech, manfrotto, foba, lots more too for heads.

hit the websites and hit the stores and play with them. a good set of legs is not cheap, heads also. you have to decide your level of price to payback tolerance.

NOTE: this will be modified or updated for content accuracy upon feedback.
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Old Sep 22, 2002, 7:50 PM   #4
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Ahhh... I see the same problem exists with tripods as there existed with digital cameras. It took me a year to choose a digicam... now I guess the same for a tripod. My problem is that there's just one place locally that I can get a tripod and they carry only 1 brand. So I'm going to be buying blind. I've got an Olympus C-2100UZ and I travel on foot. I'd like something small and sturdy. What brands (and models) should I start reading up. Or are there tripod review sections of websites out there? If I order off the Internet by the time I pay taxes and duty etc... sending it back will cost me the price of the tripod, so I'm looking for something good.

On that note, what's a tabletop tripod used for?
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Old Sep 22, 2002, 8:27 PM   #5
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sort of self explanitory. it is a shorty small tripod that you can put on a tabletop car hood or any other "thing" that it can stand on. usually easy to put in a pocket.
usually only about 12-20 inches tall.

as to buying blind no you can hit such websites as bogen, slik, velbon and others. there are many options and there are many people who will help you here. it seems that bogen/manfrotto is a popular brand here. it is a good ratio of value to the $ spent.
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