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Old Jun 17, 2005, 11:37 AM   #1
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I'm looking to buy a reasnoably good tripod - but I don't know much about them - can anyone help? My budget isn't spectacular but I think with a wise choice €200 ($250US) should be ok.

The tripod I have at the moment is a fairly cheap Soligor €50 thing. It's adequate if I want to take a relatively short exposure shot with the camera 4 feet off the ground. Anything other then that and it is quite useless. Too wobbly to use extended higher, not capable of going much lower and it's really awkward to get the thing level.

I have a Canon EOS 10d and my heaviest lens is a Sigma 135-400 so between those two the tripod would have to carry between 2-3kg of load comfortably. I do a fair amount of cycling, hiking and general all-day trips with camera gear. However weight is not a huge issue for me, I have a nice Lowepro backpack with a tripod holder and it's comfortable to carry around all day.

What I have been looking at is a Manfrotto 3021. I have heard good recommendations of this as a good quality entry level. What I am not so sure about is the type of head mount. Should I go for pan/tilt head or a ball head? The tripod might get used for wildlife shots but more likely it will be used for general landscape, night and panorama type shots.

So basically - in your more experienced opinions -
Is the Manfrotto 3021 enough for the needs I mentioned?
Should I go for a pan/tilt head or a ball head?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 17, 2005, 4:47 PM   #2
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What I am not so sure about is the type of head mount. Should I go for pan/tilt head or a ball head? The tripod might get used for wildlife shots but more likely it will be used for general landscape, night and panorama type shots.

A pan/tilt head is meant for video - you will not be happy with that for a digicam. I like a three axis head, most folks seem to like ball heads. Panoramas will be easier if you get a set of legs that have a level independent of the head.
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Old Jun 18, 2005, 7:49 AM   #3
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Thanks Bill,

The Video/camcorder mounts are just confusing the issue completely for me now!
:lol:

So is this a 3-axis camera head or is it a video pan/tilt head?


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Old Jun 18, 2005, 1:54 PM   #4
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Ok still been looking around and have now come up with this combo......

The Manfrotto 3001Pro (190CL for non-Yanks!) legs and still thinking about the head to match with it. Any suggestions on what would make a good combination?


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Old Jun 18, 2005, 7:55 PM   #5
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redundo wrote:
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Thanks Bill,

The Video/camcorder mounts are just confusing the issue completely for me now!
:lol:

So is this a 3-axis camera head or is it a video pan/tilt head?

That is what I would call a three axis head. Interesting that B&H does not distinguish between that and a video head like this one:

It does not have a decent adjustment to put the camera horizontal. That can be real annoying.
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Old Jun 19, 2005, 4:16 AM   #6
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Thanks again Bill,

I was getting confused with the BH site calling them pan/tilt heads when the Manfrotto website called them 3D heads - or something along those lines.
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Old Jun 21, 2005, 11:10 AM   #7
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Redundo,

Since your budget is around $250 USD I would suggest the combo I work with - 3021 legs with 488RC# ball head. The legs have a bit more capacity than the 3001 plus the ability to mount the center post horizontally (can't remember if the 3001 had that) for not much more $$.

The 488RC# ball head for several reasons:

1. It has an independent panning lock - VERY useful

2. It has a pretty high weight bearing capacity - to get more capacity you really need to jump up to pro-grade heads at double the cost.

3. I chose the RC4 head because of the level on the mount plate. What this allows me to do if I just want to quick-set my legs for a couple shots I can use the ball head to set my level - I don't have to fumble with the legs to achieve level. Now, of course this doesn't work if you are going to pan at all. But I've found it useful.

Whatever you decide - since you are not going the Carbon Fiber route (and trying to minimize weight) I strongly suggest getting whatever legs/head combo will support the most weight. Even if your gear doesn't approach that weight now you may get a heavier lens in the future. And, even now, you will appreciate how much more solidly your gear is held. A good tripod/head should easily last you decades.
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Old Jun 22, 2005, 8:07 AM   #8
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Thanks for your recommendation JohnG - I took your advice!

There were fireworks in town for the summer solstice last night and of course that meant using the tripod. I was fighting the thing the whole night to try and get the framing the way I wanted. Either the head was slipping or something because I waas contiinually trying to re-set the camera.
Even though I had been thinking of buying a good tripod I was having doubts as to whether I needed.... until last night. There was another camera club member there who had a Manfrotto pod with ball-head. I asked to have a look at it and was amazed at how easy it was to have control over it and make adjustments.

So I compared the set-up I had been looking at with the one you recommended. There were advantages to each tripod but I went for the 3021 legs + 488RC4 head in the end. It can take a heavier load and extend both lower and higher then the 3001 and while it is physically bigger n(and a little more expensive) it should still be ok for cycling/hiking daytrips.

Thanks for your help in explaining the tripod. I'll let you know how I get on with it when it arrives!
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