Yet another tripod question...

Started Jan 16, 2013 | Discussions
technophile
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Yet another tripod question...
Jan 16, 2013

My inexpensive tripod has lasted longer than I expected and I see the need to upgrade.  My question is related to the inherent stability (or instability) of tripods with the variable angle center columns (055xprob, Alta Pro 284ct, etc.).  While the feature looks useful, as I've read reviews, I keep seeing comments like "wanted the miutli-angle feature, but haven't used it".  If you have one of these type tripods, please let me know your experience with using the multi-angle feature and how it affects overall stability/sturdiness of the tripod.  I'm looking for stability first and additional features (weight, size) next, since I do a fair amount of hiking and want something reasonably portable to support a 60D with 100-400 or similar weight lens.  I've read the article about buying the expensive tripod first to save money (by skipping over all of the intermediate pruchases) and while I don't have a fortune to spend, I hope to get a tripod to last many years.  So what do you say, is the multi-angle center column a "must have" feature, or a gimmick?  Opinions, advice appreciated.  Thanks.

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ESfishdoc
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

I've never had  a variable angle or felt a need for one.  I'd say that most users have never used one or will need one.  From a mechanical point of view they will decrease stability.

However, I can see where certain special uses might beg for one offering a convenience that only they could provide... and if the resulting instability is not an issue... it could be a wondrous tool to have.

The couple of times I wanted a camera secure in an odd position that a standard tripod could not achieve, I've found this tool to be the answer:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/252211-REG/Manfrotto_635_Quick_Action_Super.html

Richard

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BAK
BAK
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Semi-useful answer below
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Brand_Benbo&ci=2636&N=4075788741+4291589599

I have a huge Benbo 2 tripod. It extends to eight feet, and has an extraordinary leg system that lets it fit almost anywhere that's big enough.

The center column can be on all sorts of angles, and I've found it handy for putting the tripod over a table and pointign the camera straight down. Works great at copying flat things.

A company clled Uni-Loc makes similar tripods.

The B&H page will show you several other Benbo models, all smaller.

The physics involved in a horizontal bar that's extended a considerable distance with a camera hanging on the end mans vibration is likely unless things are really solid. My big tripod is.

But if you do not extend the column too far from the center, even the small Trekkers are very good.

For many people, the importance of a tripod is in holding the camera in position, for control over framing. I does not have to be really solid; just hold the camera where you want it.

Solid matters in the dark, of course, but is less important taking a flower shot at 1/60.

BAK

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Suave
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

I have a 190xb and I do miss variable angle - mostly because I sometimes need to put camera directly over objects.

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tonyjr
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

I have about 6 different 'pods . The vari-angle one is OK  , but unless I know I will need it , I don't take it . It is good for out the window , table , big rocks , etc , but a PAIN when opened to different angles . It just takes up too much space and easier to hit .

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technophile
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to ESfishdoc, Jan 16, 2013

Interesting.  Thanks for the reply.

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technophile
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Re: Semi-useful answer below
In reply to BAK, Jan 16, 2013

Wow, that Benbo is huge.  Looks very appealing except for the weight.  Had not heard of them before. Thanks for the link.  As for stability, I'm looking for something good for outdoor long exposures,  placing the tripod in water, etc, not so much for shooting flowers or macros.

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technophile
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to Suave, Jan 16, 2013

Suave wrote:

I have a 190xb and I do miss variable angle - mostly because I sometimes need to put camera directly over objects.

Thanks for the input.  Did you have an 055xprob or similar prior to the 190xb?

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technophile
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to tonyjr, Jan 16, 2013

tonyjr wrote:

I have about 6 different 'pods . The vari-angle one is OK , but unless I know I will need it , I don't take it . It is good for out the window , table , big rocks , etc , but a PAIN when opened to different angles . It just takes up too much space and easier to hit .

If you don't mind my asking, what is your "go to" pod for landscape or long exposure type shooting?

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Hank3152
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

technophile wrote:

I've read the article about buying the expensive tripod first to save money (by skipping over all of the intermediate pruchases) and while I don't have a fortune to spend, I hope to get a tripod to last many years. So what do you say, is the multi-angle center column a "must have" feature, or a gimmick? Opinions, advice appreciated. Thanks.

I've never owned the XPROB version but I've played with it at a store and didn't think it was stable enough for the rare time I might even use it. I've since sold my Manfrotto gear and bought a Gitzo GT2531 CF tripod being lighter, better designed/engineered and having anti-rotational twist leg locks. Yes, it's pricey but it'll be the last tripod I'd ever need to buy..........

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Suave
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

No, but I'm dead set on getting either 150xporb or 099xprob.   The only reason I got an xb, was an incredibly good deal - could not resist even though I knew it was not exactly what I wanted.

technophile wrote:

Suave wrote:

I have a 190xb and I do miss variable angle - mostly because I sometimes need to put camera directly over objects.

Thanks for the input. Did you have an 055xprob or similar prior to the 190xb?

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BAK
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Re: Semi-useful answer below
In reply to technophile, Jan 16, 2013

The way the legs on a Benbo are designed, you can safely put the bottom sections into. The Trekker is pretty convenient.

BAK

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AvyMan
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60D, 100-400, multi-angle tripod, pics
In reply to technophile, Jan 17, 2013

I was in the same situation a few years ago. For a compromise in weight, stability, versatility and price I bought the Manfrotto 190XPROB with the 486RC2 ball head.

I've found the multi-angle tripod quite handy and have made good use of it in certain circumstances. For shooting low or straight down over something it works well.

Used this setup to get the camera low on sloped terrain...

...to get this shot.

No problem with balance or sagging (ball head creep) if the ring mount is used, even aiming up or down. If it's real windy I leave the extension column down or set up a little lower and/or take the hood off for less wind resistance. I also use a tethered release when tripod mounted...sometimes MLU.

With good balance and no wind it works well as a bi-pod too.  (Didn't realize the shot angle till later, lol.)

For any lower setups the system is rock solid. I get lazy sometimes

It just comes down to a personal decision of what you want/need for where you go and what you like to shoot. This has worked out for me. Hope this helps.

Nick

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elfroggio
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to ESfishdoc, Jan 17, 2013

ESfishdoc wrote:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/252211-REG/Manfrotto_635_Quick_Action_Super.html

I wish that dpreview would go back to automatically create links with http addresses, but until then: Would you please make a "real" link, thank you.

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Semi-useful answer below
In reply to BAK, Jan 17, 2013

BAK wrote:

The way the legs on a Benbo are designed, you can safely put the bottom sections into. The Trekker is pretty convenient.

The absolute original Benbo (as made by its inventor, Mr. Mills, 1960s) had leg sections that slid right off the upper leg tube, allowing them to be dried off after immersion, even if used in water above the first joint.

Indeed, I have used my Benbo immersed to its neck, that is, with only the ball head and the camera above the water of a flowing river. I was operating wearing chest high waders, with a film load of a single 5x4" dark slide gripped in my teeth! Note: After 10 minutes this makes you start to dribble quite a lot,

..... but then, it's a dull day goes by without learning something, eh?

I've still got my Benbo tripod, although after 40 years the holes in the circular leg plates have been worn oval by the phosphor bronze curved bolt that is intrinsic to the design. However, I nice engineer chap I know put stainless steel bushes into the leg plates... which he now declares good for another 40 years...

... my son is delighted, as he considers that tripod part of his inheritance.

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technophile
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Re: 60D, 100-400, multi-angle tripod, pics
In reply to AvyMan, Jan 17, 2013

Thanks for the detailed post and the nice photos Nick.  Looks like the xprob is working well for you.  I wasn't aware of the secret bipod mode.    Decisions, decisions...

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technophile
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to Hank3152, Jan 17, 2013

Those Gitzo GTs seem like terrific tripods.  Too bad I don't have a bhphoto, adorama or such nearby, so I could handle a lot of the well reviewed tripods in person.  That would help me make a decision much quicker.

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WilbaW
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 17, 2013

technophile wrote:

is the multi-angle center column a "must have" feature, or a gimmick? Opinions, advice appreciated.

It might be a must have for some, nice to have for me (055XPROB). I have used it various ways but only in a small percentage of tripod shots. I'm not aware of any overt instability with the column locked down, but I'm not exactly pushing the boundary of long lenses or exposure, and I've not compared with an equivalent pod without a column.

There is a time when flexibility is desirable. When I'm doing serious macro in the studio, moving the camera to focus on a static subject, I set up the tripod with the column extended and MF in Live View, then sweep the plane of focus across the subject by flexing the tripod. That makes it very easy to judge where the optimal focus is when you see it changing in real-time like that. Flash takes care of any motion I cause by holding the camera and pressing the shutter button. A tripod without a column is a PITA for that unless you have some other way of easily adjusting the relative height between the camera and the subject.

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AvyMan
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Re: 60D, 100-400, multi-angle tripod, pics
In reply to technophile, Jan 17, 2013

technophile wrote:

Thanks for the detailed post and the nice photos Nick. Looks like the xprob is working well for you. I wasn't aware of the secret bipod mode. Decisions, decisions...

You're welcome. I wasn't trying to necessarily steer you toward this tripod, just showing you how this style can possibly benefit some shots.

I tend to get way too wordy at times. Thought some pics would save several thousand words, your time, and typer's cramp

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Nick

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happysnapper64
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Re: Yet another tripod question...
In reply to technophile, Jan 17, 2013

There are several tests & reviews of the 055 series on you tube. I have just bought a 055CXPRO3 but not used the centre column as you describe yet. As for the stability, I find the head equaly important as lens droop can be a problem with long zooms like your 100-400. I was talked into a 3 way head by the guy in the shop where I bought the tripod from, & have to say that although it is a bit more bulky than a ballhead, it is as solid as a rock, even when left for a long time with my Sigma 120-400 attatched,it did not move 1mm. It's the first good tripod I have ever had, & so far I am glad I went for a good, but more expensive one.

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