Tripod research is testing my sanity, advice please

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Questions thread
BackroadsTraveler Contributing Member • Posts: 670
Re: Tripod research is testing my sanity, advice please

nuschu wrote:

I'm heading out to the pacific northwest in late May and I'd like to get my tripod purchase squared away.  Right now I have a Canon 60D and I don't have any equipment with a lot of weight to it... I'm looking at the Canon 300mm F4 or the Canon 100-400mm as a future purchase, so 4.5-5lbs of weight for the camera body+lens max when accounting for possible, near future purchases.  I'm looking to use it mainly for shooting macro, landscape, outdoor randomness, and some long exposure ND filter experimentation.

From what I've read it seems like most people push to spend as much money as possible since this is a purchase that will stick around for awhile and to avoid having to spend more when the initial purchase doesn't work out.  I've actually come around on this a bit and raised my initial spending expectation, but I don't see myself going much past the $600 mark.

I'd like to go carbon fiber and since I'll be carrying this thing around a lot and I'm looking for something light enough and quick enough to setup that I won't make excuses not to use it.

A friend of mine has the following setup and is pretty happy with it, and the weight/size is about where I want to be.

Manfrotto 055cxpro3

Manfrotto 054 Magnesium Ball Head with Q5 Quick Release

I've also seen a lot threads cite this article, but I don't have $1000+ to put into this.  I've read stuff from people who don't seem to care for the Manfrotto stuff and lean more towards Gitzo legs with a ball head from Arca-Swiss, Markins or Really Right Stuff.  Any advice or recommendations in the $500-$600 range for both legs and ball head would be great.  Same goes for any help on why I should or shouldn't go the Manfrotto route, lever release legs vs twist lock, basically any feedback would be great to help me narrow this thing down.

You will likely get as many suggestions here on tripod brands and heads as you get responses, which will likely continue to test your sanity!

I went through a similar dilemma recently, and a similar long and frustrating research. I'm pleased with my selection (I went Manfrotto, but that isn't important here.)

The suggestion I want to make here is that you select heads and tripods which allow you to standardize your quick release system. For instance, I think RSS stuff is not easily interchanged with any other system, so if you go that route, count on spending enough money to have all matching heads and brackets of the same brand.

I now have a primary and secondary tripod, depending upon expected use and how far I've traveled, plus a monopod. All have the same QR system, so I can keep matching plates mounted on my camera body and big lenses.  This is so fast and easy that I use my tripod and monopod more frequently than if I needed to mount the camera via the threaded screw each time.

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