first tripod

Started 6 months ago | Questions thread
Craig Gillette Veteran Member • Posts: 9,600
Re: first tripod

Spent some time way back when on a thread going into some detail behind some of the usual suggestions on choosing a tripod.  Not as extensive as the ByThom but to try to help understand what the various choices/compromises might mean.

Aluminum is often somewhat heavier and a a whole lot cheaper.  What you will find in some lines is the tripods are the same except for the two leg section materials.  so reliability is pretty similar, quality similar, and performance similar.  The advantage to the cf is in weight and damping and the disadvantage, cost.  You can readily find competent aluminum tripods. For an example, look at the Sirui N-3004x at $189.95 and 5.1 lbs and N-3204x at $339.95 or so and 4.1 lbs.  Then compare to the Slik Pro 700 dx.  Alloy at $100 and 5.7 lbs.  Not as modern, uses flip leg locks, won't reverse fold the legs, 3 sections as well, so not as compact.

As others have pointed out, comparing  weight capacity is probably possible between items from the same manufacturer but there is no standard so a conservative (I think - Manfrotto, for example, will not seem competitive to some of the other brands which might suggest 30, 40 or even more lbs capacity.  Yet in use, probably pretty comparable to similarly specc'd models when it comes to dimensions, etc.

The more leg sections, the more compact when collapsed.  Yet more fuss when extending/collapsing.  Note also that as you add sections, the inner sections become narrower and perhaps more prone to weakness or vibration.  Choosing collapsed lengths is important when needing to carry in tight quarters, considering packing for travel, etc.  If you look back to the Siruis and Slik mentioned above, many newer designs allow the legs to be folded fully back against the spider, saving several inches in overall length.

Overall weight can suggest sturdiness yet becomes very important when you need to carry the tripod any significant distance. 100 feet across the parking lot is not the same as 1-2 miles along a trail or even just walking all day for your sight seeing. Inertia, absorbing vibration, etc., are to some extent covered by weight.  That little, teeny tripod is no trouble to carry and pack but won't handle the weight of the camera and lens.

Which gets to some of the questions about what kind of gear you are dealing with.  Are you looking for longer exposures, like extended exposures during golden or blue hours?  Out in the weather where wind is often a factor?  heavy ff gear?  Unbalanced gear?  Like a 24-70/2.8 or 70-300 type lens and body which wont be balanced via a lens collar?

You really do need to match quality of legs and head, one or the other being weak or springy, well, you've got a weak springy support.  OTOH, technique, use of remote, mirror lock-up, ballasting the tripod, etc., can help reduce some of the problems.

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