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Old Apr 20, 2006, 10:02 AM   #1
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Hey guys,

I'm a beginning photographer, and while I've been researching lenses to no end, I find myself a little overwhelmed by the variety of tripods and heads out there. I know I need a quality tripod, but I certainly can't go the route Thom suggests on his webpage and spending $1000.

I'm looking to spend ~$400 on a good tripod system. My current legs of choice are the Slik Pro 813's. Now I'm looking at ballheads.

I don't ever imagine my camera going over 7 pounds.

My question is - while a quick release system sure seems like it would be handy, do they compromise a tripods stability any? I would imagine cheap ones would, but are there manufacturers out there with a proven quick release? Or should I avoid them all together?

Thanks for any input. Feel free to give any advice about tripods in general.
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 1:55 PM   #2
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PoweredBySoy wrote:
Quote:
Hey guys,

I'm a beginning photographer, and while I've been researching lenses to no end, I find myself a little overwhelmed by the variety of tripods and heads out there. I know I need a quality tripod, but I certainly can't go the route Thom suggests on his webpage and spending $1000.

I'm looking to spend ~$400 on a good tripod system. My current legs of choice are the Slik Pro 813's. Now I'm looking at ballheads.

I don't ever imagine my camera going over 7 pounds.

My question is - while a quick release system sure seems like it would be handy, do they compromise a tripods stability any? I would imagine cheap ones would, but are there manufacturers out there with a proven quick release? Or should I avoid them all together?

Thanks for any input. Feel free to give any advice about tripods in general.
Quote:
The quick answer is yes, they are worth it to ME, but maybe not you, I can go from tripod to handheld and back very smoothly and safely ( no fumbling around ), Try not to buy too cheap else you will go down the road that Thom did.
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Old Apr 22, 2006, 1:38 PM   #3
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The Slik Pro 813 is a nice tripod or check out a

Bogen 3021BN $145.00
Bogen / Manfrotto 486RC2 w/quick release Supports 13.2 lb @ $61.95
or
Bogen / Manfrotto 488RC2 w/quick release Supports 17.6 lb @ $95.95

I'd suggest looking into the Arca-style style quick release system its the best of all systems.

If you want to get a different quick release system you get the ball head with out its quick release.and a Quick Release System from Really Right Stuff, Kirk or Acratech for $75.00 - $100.00

Bogen / Manfrotto 486 @ $53.95
or
Bogen / Manfrotto 488R @ $78.95

Camera Plates for about $55.00 each.


So for about $400.00 you can get a nice setup to carry up to 13lbs on the legs and up to 17lbs on the ball head. Spend a little more on the tripod legs for lighter or stronger but that depends on your needs. The ball head and quick release should be enough for quite a load.

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Old Apr 23, 2006, 3:45 PM   #4
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I've just completed extensive research on tripods for myself, and for $400 you can get Manfrotto 3021 pro legs and a Kirk BH3 ball head with quick release which includes a generic plate for your camera. That setup would pretty much satisfy Thom's recomendations, anything less and you'll almost certainly replace it eventually. With the Kirk and Manfrotto your really well set.

I have a cheapie tripod (which is miserable, wasted money) with a quick release. I wouldnt give it up, I really like it. Your best bet for several reasons is the arca-swiss style quick release. The Kirk is the only head to include a plate, with all others its an extra $50.

Kirk BH-3 with plate $255
Manfrotto 3021 Pro legs $150

Est. S&H $20

Total $425
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Old Apr 23, 2006, 4:01 PM   #5
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A couple extra notes, the 3021 legs are roughly equivilent in stability to 12xx series gitzo's. The Feisol 3301 should be similar too, and is very cheap and light carbon fiber. Owners seem pretty happy with them, but if weight (or price) isnt a big concern I'd still stick with manfrotto.

The Kirk BH3 is about the bottom end of the really good last-a-lifetime ball heads, then you step up to the Markins M-10 and finally Really Right Stuff BH40. These are all the compact versions, full size versions of all three are availible too for super telephoto setups if you'll ever go that route.

My cheap tripod has taught me all kinds of things about tripods, it has a lever style quick release thats wonderful to use but the plate rotates on the camera which is a real pain. It has flip locks on the legs, which I find very fast to use. I used it to determin that my "real" tripod must be at least 53" tall, preferably without using a center column. This tripod is VERY unstable, the legs slide in a little during use, the geared column is useless and very wobbly, the 3-way pan-tilt head is frustrating me to no end, leveling the tripod using the legs is tedious....

I cant wait to undo this stupidity, and I hate the thought of spending hundreds of dollars and STILL not doing it right. If money were no object I'd buy the RRS BH40 LR and Gitzo 1228 legs to have a sturdy light 4.4lb setup for $885. If more sturdyness was needed Id get the Gitzo 1325 and RRS BH55 head for just over $1,000. Thats not an option, so I'm going to get the 3021 and one of the heads listed above.

The problems I hear with the mid-range heads are that while they lock down stury they are a pain to use and will shift as you lock them down. For me, doing macro work, that would be totally unacceptable. My noodle leg jalopy cant hold the camera in the same place while I focus my macro lens, as I take my hand off the focus ring the whole setup shifts and throws off focus, and thats with everything cinched down as tight as it will go.

Sorry to rant, just thought you might find some of that useful.
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Old Jun 20, 2006, 5:32 PM   #6
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I love my Gitzo and you can't beat a novoflex Magic ball then get a quick release system you like, I use the manfrotto 323 type. I would not be caught without a quick release.
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Old Jun 20, 2006, 8:59 PM   #7
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Personally, I think that Arca Swiss, Kirk, and RRS QR plates at around $45-50 each are exhorbitantly priced. I have a hard time rationalizing any of these systems that charge more than $20 or so each for extra QR plates. It's a mass-produced slug of metal, with a bolt that's worth 50 cents, for gosh sakes.

I have found that the various Manfrotto QR plates, and a couple of other proprietary ones are plenty solid. I use an Amvona ATH-H96 (proprietary, extra plates cost $15+ shipping) and an Amvona ATH-H93 ball head, which uses plates that are compatible with Calumet's small pan/tilt head, and Calumet sells the plates for $8.50 each. They work fine, and are solid. I can't see why an Arca Swiss plate costs over 5X as much.

IMHO, a good, reasonably priced QR system is well worth it. But as for what is reasonably priced, you need to decide.
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