How to measure tripod shake? (windy beach with long exposures)

Started Dec 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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SPW1981 New Member • Posts: 3
How to measure tripod shake? (windy beach with long exposures)

I want to buy a new tripod. Currently I have a Velbon Sherpa 450R. It's quite sturdy, inexpensive, but it is not flexible at all (doesn't have a ballhead, so the movements of the head are quite limited, and the minimum using height is 64,5cm). It's also quite heavy and since it fell into the sea on my last trip to Iceland, sand has gotten into it and it does not operate smoothly anymore.

So what do I want? I want the lightest possible tripod that enables me to have perfectly sharp landscape photos. Currently I am using a Canon EOS 7D with a 10-22mm lens, but I want a tripod that will also do fine with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (or a future DSLR in that category) with the 16-35mm L lens.

Maximum height of the tripod is not important to me (although I agree that it can be very useful for some applications: shooting over a fence, etc.). Also I don't believe that tripod height should be related to one's personal height. I usually prefer lower viewpoints.

After a few days of research I wanted to get the Gitzo Systematic Series 3 (3542). Before clicking "Buy" I wanted to know if I could have any issues. As I like seascapes I had some fears that saltwater and sand could ruin this beautiful and expensive tripod. I found out that they also produce an "Ocean" version of the Systematic. But before committing I wanted to sort out the 2 problems I still saw. First, the Gitzo Systematic Ocean Series 3 is ridiculously expensive. Is there any alternative? (In order to qualify as an alternative it has to be as light or lighter and be as effective in salt water and sand. I didn't find an alternative.) The second problem I saw was that (if used with a sturdy ballhead), the tripod would weigh even more than my current tripod which is already quite bulky for travel and hiking.

So I thought: Do I really need a 2kg+ tripod that can carry a 400mm lens if I'm at focal lengths of 16-35 all the time? So my journey continued to the Gitzo Ocean Traveler which seems pretty nice and very lightweight. Maximum load numbers are pretty useless. They do not tell me if my 7D+10-22mm will give me tack sharp shots. I also should mention that I like long exposure times (often 10-30sec, sometimes even 2-3 minutes). Is there any way to know what sharpness to expect from a Traveler tripod in windy conditions on the beach with long shutter speeds? The bottom-line is that even after doing extensive research, I don't have the answer to that all-decisive question. Asking experts will give answers like "buy the systematic, you'll be on the safe side". That's not good for me. I want objective results from actual tests. I did some research and found that some companies are working on ways to measure camera shake:

Although I'm writing mainly about the Gitzos, I also did quite a lot of research on Really Right Stuff, Feisol, Manfrotto and Giottos, but in the end I always end up with Gitzo again. Build quality is REALLY nice. I visited a shop where I took virtually all the tripods in my hands and Gitzo really feels great.

I also did not talk about ballheads in this post, but I'm aware that a very good ballhead is needed. I have not yet done enough research to have clear ideas about ballheads yet.
Many thanks for your ideas!


Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS 7D
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