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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Help Buying a Tripod
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09/20/2006 11:28:19 AM · #1
I've finally decided that my $20 surplus tripod with the stripped gears is just no long going to cut it. I'm looking for a new one now, but am overwhelmed by the choices, and am not even sure what some of the features are. I'm looking for one that I can use now, and continue to use at least a while into the future. I have a 300D and within a year will have a 30D. At some point I may have a 70-200, but that will be the largest lens. I usuall shoot with the 18-55 or 28-75.

These are the features I'm most concerned with:
*Three-way head or ball head? I do some portrait work with it, some landscape, some astro.
*Material? I like to hike with it, so lighter is better, but also needs to be somewhat rugged. But carbon fiber? Aluminum?
*I like the feature that has variable leg spread, so the tripod can spread it's legs really wide and get down very low to the ground.
*Price range: $100 to $150, give or take a little in either direction.

Can someone please help direct me, or offer some suggestions?
09/20/2006 12:00:08 PM · #2
Add to bump, and say me too. I've done research, but it's all pretty daunting.

I'd like to hear some opinions if the tripod/head get above $200.
09/20/2006 12:23:14 PM · #3
Sorry but I can't help you with an under $200 option. I was in the same boat as you and finally decided to get a decent tripod that I could hike with. I found that I had to spend over $300 to get something decent. finally went with a Bogen / Manfrotto 190MF3 Magfiber Carbon Fiber 3-Section and a Bogen / Manfrotto 486RC2 Compact Ball Head with Rapid Connect System 2 (Quick Release). This combo was light and adjusts to almost any position. It is a little short but that is the tradeoff for both price and weight. If you need the same combo with a little more height you can get the same combo with the 055MF3 tripod instead. Anyway - I paid $260 for the tripod and $60 or so for the ballhead.

Hope that at least helps a little.

In case your interested:
Tripod
Ballhead

Message edited by author 2006-09-20 12:34:52.
09/20/2006 12:34:40 PM · #4
I know that most tripods mentioned here are over your price range, but it might help in giving you an idea of what you should be looking for and why. I found it very helpful, so...here ya go:
//www.bythom.com/support.htm
09/20/2006 12:43:59 PM · #5
With your price range, a carbon fiber tripod is out of the question.

I have a Manfrotto 3001PRO tripod (no head) that I was going to put on ebay. It's a great small tripod and all you'd need is the tripod head of your choice. The legs spread wide to get low, you can take out the center column and mount it horizontally, you can also invert the center column and put the camera literally at ground level.

If you're interested, PM me and we'll try to make a deal that'll help you hit your budget.

I'm selliing it because I bought a 3021PRO and I don't use the smaller one anymore.
09/20/2006 02:57:18 PM · #6
I like ball heads personally. You can get a decent complete for that, it might not have a removable head though. I have the Manfrotto 724B complete which is about $100, but I have my eye on the Manfrotto Neotec and an Arca-Swiss B1 QR... although that setup costs almost as much as my camera did.
09/21/2006 08:46:31 AM · #7
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

With your price range, a carbon fiber tripod is out of the question.

I have a Manfrotto 3001PRO tripod (no head) that I was going to put on ebay. It's a great small tripod and all you'd need is the tripod head of your choice. The legs spread wide to get low, you can take out the center column and mount it horizontally, you can also invert the center column and put the camera literally at ground level.

If you're interested, PM me and we'll try to make a deal that'll help you hit your budget.

I'm selliing it because I bought a 3021PRO and I don't use the smaller one anymore.


I've been hovering over some of the auctions on ebay by amvona.com. Do a search on here for some reviews of their tripods (I think they're manfrotto knock-offs, but all of the reviews i've read seem favorable, given the cost. They have some carbon fiber sets, or they sell items separately (legs + head). Biggest complaint seems to be high shipping costs, but the low cost of the item makes the total purchase cheaper than some of your other options out there. Just be sure to buy via auction and not via amvona's online store. The price differential is huge.

check it out

Spaz: If OdysseyF22 decides to pass on your manfrotto, let me know. I might be interested.

Thanks,
Mike

Message edited by author 2006-09-21 08:51:26.
09/21/2006 09:08:49 AM · #8
Spazmo - send you a PM

Thanks all for the advice. I'm still feeling clueless about heads, however. Can anyone provide some insight? I've heard that ball heads are great, let you get any angle you want, and are really smooth in operation.
On the other hand, I've also read that they aren't necessary for the kinds of photography I do, and even that they are troublesom in some cases, where as three-way heads are more common and generally useful.

Anyone?

-PSUlion01 - thanks for the sites, I'll take a look there too!
09/21/2006 09:21:10 AM · #9
No problem. I'm also interested in hearing what others have to say about the tripod heads. I don't have much experience shooting with tripods, but I feel like the grip heads (seen on many of those amvona auctions) and the ball head tripods would make it tough if trying to do a panarama where you pan from left to right. Maybe I just don't understand how the tripods function, but it seems like as soon as you loosen the knob, the camera will be free to move on every axis, right?

I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide to go with!
09/21/2006 09:43:04 AM · #10
Manfrotto 302 1B PRO is a nice tripod.
09/21/2006 01:05:14 PM · #11
Anyone have experience w/ a Gitzo Explorer?
Would probably go w/ the aluminum b/c of cost.
Gitzo Explorer G2220 G2227 G2228 G2258 (new)
09/21/2006 01:11:02 PM · #12
Originally posted by PSUlion01:

No problem. I'm also interested in hearing what others have to say about the tripod heads. I don't have much experience shooting with tripods, but I feel like the grip heads (seen on many of those amvona auctions) and the ball head tripods would make it tough if trying to do a panarama where you pan from left to right. Maybe I just don't understand how the tripods function, but it seems like as soon as you loosen the knob, the camera will be free to move on every axis, right?

I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide to go with!


I've always been a confirmed 3-way user; back in my heyday the ballheads were kind of sloppy. But I've been looking at some lately, and the good ones are very, very good. For your purposes, it's worth noting that decent ballheads now come with a separate pan adjustment; the ballhead part sets the camera in a universal joint, but the whole head can also rotate around the tripod column independently of that.

R.
09/21/2006 01:13:14 PM · #13
I'll be looking for tripod advice and possibly demos when I come visit, Robert. I suspect my K-Mart tripod probably needs to be upgraded at some point... :-)
09/21/2006 01:17:02 PM · #14
I have the Manfrotto 322 RC2 grip head and it is, IMO the best bang for the buck. It can be set up with the handle on either side, or vertically.

A 3 way head will be cheaper and has some advantages, but for what I do, the grip head is the way to go.
09/21/2006 01:21:25 PM · #15
Originally posted by Melethia:

I'll be looking for tripod advice and possibly demos when I come visit, Robert. I suspect my K-Mart tripod probably needs to be upgraded at some point... :-)


No kidding, kiddo :-)

R.
09/21/2006 01:23:02 PM · #16
I got a tripod that amvona sells on ebay but I got mine fredmiranda someone had a new one that they were selling, got a great deal on it too 75 bucks.

The tripod I have is DynaTran AT 877BL Professional Tripod, its an awesome tripod extremely well built and really sturdy no shaking at all. PLus it can go very low to the ground. I love it came with a bag/case also.

Message edited by author 2006-09-21 13:23:33.
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