Tripod height question

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
River Birch New Member • Posts: 5
Tripod height question

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens.  He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get.  He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead.  Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much?  Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

Hamiltionian Senior Member • Posts: 1,025
Re: Tripod height question
1

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

Will he be using a gimbal head with the tripod?

No fully extending the legs increases stability when compared to the same tripod at full extension.

-- hide signature --

Stay Calm and Carry Cameras
https://thecentercolumn.com/

crowley213
crowley213 Contributing Member • Posts: 995
Re: Tripod height question
1

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

How tall is your father? What camera is he using? How much does he “want” to spend?

Herbert

 crowley213's gear list:crowley213's gear list
Fujifilm X100T Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR +1 more
The Grumpy Snapper Contributing Member • Posts: 573
Re: Tripod height question

A real 600mm or some third party 150-600mm zoom?

-- hide signature --
OP River Birch New Member • Posts: 5
Re: Tripod height question

Hamiltionian wrote:

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

Will he be using a gimbal head with the tripod?

Yes, a Wimberly gimbal head.

No fully extending the legs increases stability when compared to the same tripod at full extension.

Thank you.

OP River Birch New Member • Posts: 5
Re: Tripod height question

crowley213 wrote:

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

How tall is your father? What camera is he using? How much does he “want” to spend?

Herbert

5’10.5”

70D Mark 2.

He will be using a Wimberly gimbal head,

$1,000.

OP River Birch New Member • Posts: 5
Re: Tripod height question

The Grumpy Snapper wrote:

A real 600mm or some third party 150-600mm zoom?

A real 600 mm F4 Canon.

BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,625
Re: Tripod height question
1

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

I'd add about 3 or 4 inches over the eye-level measurement to account for upward tilt. You can lose a few inches on natural surfaces just getting level.

PerTulip Senior Member • Posts: 1,589
Re: Tripod height question
2

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

You can always shorten a long tripod by not extending the legs, but you can't add length. Also consider: on uneven ground, you need longer legs to get the same height as on even ground.

My take: when tripod+head barely reach eye level, it's too short.

 PerTulip's gear list:PerTulip's gear list
Nikon D5 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G +5 more
The Grumpy Snapper Contributing Member • Posts: 573
Re: Tripod height question

River Birch wrote:

The Grumpy Snapper wrote:

A real 600mm or some third party 150-600mm zoom?

A real 600 mm F4 Canon.

Then you'll need a tripod bigger than most people want to pay for and carry.

-- hide signature --
FRGorga Contributing Member • Posts: 973
Re: Tripod height question
1

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

He should buy the tallest, sturdiest tripod that he can afford and that he is willing to carry (in terms of weight).

For super telephoto work one needs a really sturdy tripod. A tall tripod is useful for pointing the lens up as you suggest. However, it is more useful for adapting the tripod to uneven ground. One can also always shorten the legs if needed.

Tall and sturdy have two down sides... the weight and the cost. The stronger and sturdier the tripod the more it will weigh and the more it will cost.

Of course, having an outfit (including a tripod) that is too heavy to carry the distances you want to walk to find subjects is essentially useless.

Carbon fiber helps with the weight but costs more.

Thus, there are decisions involved that only he can make. After decisions are made look at any of the brand names, they are all good.

Hope this response is useful,

-- hide signature --
Snap Happy Senior Member • Posts: 1,601
The Usual Suspects
2

$1000 is a little low for the requirement. No pointing skimping on legs if you have that lens and Wimberley. So.....

  • Gitzo 5 series (GT5543XLS) $1400
  • RRS equivalent (don't know what model, not easily available in UK)
  • 'bargain' ($500) option, Benro TMA48CXL

I have the Gitzo and a Wimberley Sidemount, it's superb.

 Snap Happy's gear list:Snap Happy's gear list
Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm GFX 100S Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS +26 more
PerTulip Senior Member • Posts: 1,589
Re: Tripod height question
5

FRGorga wrote:

....the more it will cost.

....

Carbon fiber helps with the weight but costs more.

.....

One thing I will never get: people with the newest cameras and 600mm superteles trying to save money by going cheap on the tripod. A good, sturdy and light (as possible) tripod is not cheap, but will outlast your next 3 DSLRs.

 PerTulip's gear list:PerTulip's gear list
Nikon D5 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G +5 more
Snap Happy Senior Member • Posts: 1,601
Re: Tripod height question

PerTulip wrote:

FRGorga wrote:

....the more it will cost.

....

Carbon fiber helps with the weight but costs more.

.....

One thing I will never get: people with the newest cameras and 600mm superteles trying to save money by going cheap on the tripod. A good, sturdy and light (as possible) tripod is not cheap, but will outlast your next 3 DSLRs.

100% agree

 Snap Happy's gear list:Snap Happy's gear list
Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm GFX 100S Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS +26 more
The Grumpy Snapper Contributing Member • Posts: 573
Re: Tripod height question

PerTulip wrote:

FRGorga wrote:

....the more it will cost.

....

Carbon fiber helps with the weight but costs more.

.....

One thing I will never get: people with the newest cameras and 600mm superteles trying to save money by going cheap on the tripod. A good, sturdy and light (as possible) tripod is not cheap, but will outlast your next 3 DSLRs.

In the early 1990s I got a deal on my second 600mm lens from a hobbyist trying to use it with a crappy Manfrotto tripod. He couldn't get consistently sharp results and was convinced that there was an issue with the lens.

-- hide signature --
FRGorga Contributing Member • Posts: 973
Re: Tripod height question
1

PerTulip wrote:

FRGorga wrote:

....the more it will cost.

....

Carbon fiber helps with the weight but costs more.

.....

One thing I will never get: people with the newest cameras and 600mm superteles trying to save money by going cheap on the tripod. A good, sturdy and light (as possible) tripod is not cheap, but will outlast your next 3 DSLRs.

I agree and use an early set of carbon fiber legs from Giotto with a Wimberly and a 600 mm f/4 myself.

That said, I used an set of aluminum legs for many years before carbon fiber legs were available and they work just fine. Furthermore, if you actually look at the weight savings of carbon vs aluminum for the whole rig (camera, lens head and legs) the weight saving with carbon is quite modest.

Anyway, I was just laying out the options for the OP so that they (not you or I) can make an informed decision. Everyone has different priorities and limits.

-- hide signature --
FRGorga Contributing Member • Posts: 973
Re: Tripod height question
1

The Grumpy Snapper wrote:

PerTulip wrote:

FRGorga wrote:

....the more it will cost.

....

Carbon fiber helps with the weight but costs more.

.....

One thing I will never get: people with the newest cameras and 600mm superteles trying to save money by going cheap on the tripod. A good, sturdy and light (as possible) tripod is not cheap, but will outlast your next 3 DSLRs.

In the early 1990s I got a deal on my second 600mm lens from a hobbyist trying to use it with a crappy Manfrotto tripod. He couldn't get consistently sharp results and was convinced that there was an issue with the lens.

I have heard similar stories a number of times over the years.

Personally, I think that all super telephotos should come with a bright red warning label stating that one will need to also purchase a new tripod and a gimbal head in order to use the lens.

-- hide signature --
crowley213
crowley213 Contributing Member • Posts: 995
Re: Tripod height question
1

River Birch wrote:

crowley213 wrote:

River Birch wrote:

My father is purchasing a tripod to use with a 600 mm lens. He needs help figuring out how high of a tripod he should get. He figured out how high it should be based on his eye level looking straight ahead. Should he purchase a tripod to adjusts taller so that he can tilt the tripod up without leaning over too much? Will the camera and lens be stable enough on not fully extended legs?

How tall is your father? What camera is he using? How much does he “want” to spend?

Herbert

5’10.5”

70D Mark 2.

He will be using a Wimberly gimbal head,

$1,000.

Okay, in metric dimensions this means your father is around 1.80 meters tall, correct?

I am 1.85 meters tall and I use a FLM CP38-L4II tripod which states a max. height of 1.735 meters. When using the tripod legs it on normal ground with a ball head I reach around eye level with the last leg section not extended at all.

So my recommendation would be to get tripod legs

- which reach at least a max height of 1.70 meters w/o any center column, that way your father would still have a reserve for uneven ground or overhead shots

- have a max tube diameter of at least 34mm to 38mm, means really stable tripod legs

- potentially look for a four section model, as the folded size is simply smaller than with a three section model and stability is not that much reduced when going for good tripod legs while mobility is better

PMG, Gitzo and RRS are for sure top brands and recommendations. Personally I can recommend the FLM tripod legs, they are really good and still a little more cost effective than the other mentioned brands.

Herbert

 crowley213's gear list:crowley213's gear list
Fujifilm X100T Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR +1 more
calson Forum Pro • Posts: 10,575
Re: Tripod height question

It depends in part on if he plans on air travel and does not mind having the tripod in his checked baggage. If photographing animals in trees (cats, birds, reptiles) or high up on a slope (bison, elk, sheep, etc.) then he will want an additional 4-6 inches of "working height".

The gimbal head adds 3 inches to the height of the lens from the top of the tripod. I had a RRS TVC-34L tripod with a working height of 68 inches but when collapsed it was 24.4 inches in length and too long to fit in the overhead compartment on a plane. I replaced it with the Feisol CT-3472 that has a working height of 58" until the Feisol center column kit for it is added. The center column provides an additional 3 inches of height with no column extended and I can raise it by 4 inches for 7  inches in total gain with a rock solid support for a 600mm f/4 lens and pro camera mounted on a gimbal head. The lens can be supported up to 68 inches above the ground.

The Feisol CT-3472 collapses down to 20.5 inches and so it easily fits inside the overhead compartment placed perpendicular to the aisle and so only takes 4 inches of space (room on top for a second tripod and jackets). I have had to much checked baggage lost or badly damaged over the years.

With our last trip to the Pantanal in 2019 the airline lost the checked Pelican case for 24 hours and fortunately I had allowed an extra day before the guide was to pick us up at the hotel for our trip. At least 100% of our photo equipment was taken onto the plane and so only clothes, toiletries, and other less essential items were lost for a day.

-- hide signature --

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." Ansel Adams

 calson's gear list:calson's gear list
Nikon D5 Nikon D850
swalkeratvail Junior Member • Posts: 38
Re: Tripod height question

I have shot a 600mm f4 for the last 10 years.

I use a Gitzo 5 series tripd with a Wimberley WH200 head.

Fully extended, the tripod can put the lens well above eye level.

Yet, if I had to do it over again, I would get an even taller Gitzo 5 series tripod.

When shooting on a slope, I would like the downhill leg(s) to be able to be extended more so the tripod could put the camera at eye level.

Also, with a gimbal head like the Wimberley WH200 I have, the lens is supported in the middle.  When shooting subjects above (like birds) The camera ends drops down quite a bit.  That is OK if I am sitting, but when standing I cannot look through the camera's viewfinder when the lens is pointed up unless I bend over or squat down.

So, for me, I would look at something like the Gitzo GT5543 XLS.  That is enough taller than the GT5541LS I have that it is worth the extra about 1 pound of weight and about $180 of cost.

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads