Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: TZano on August 03, 2006, 11:35:31 pm

Title: First Tripod Purchase
Post by: TZano on August 03, 2006, 11:35:31 pm

I'm looking into buying first tripod for an upcoming hiking trip to Utah and I wanted to get some feedback and comments on recommended tripods.  

First the specs: I have a Nikon D70 with a 18-80 mm lens, in the future looking for a 80-200mm.  I will be hiking with the tripod.   I haven't gotten into landscape photography and my tripod will be used a lot in the future for macro photography.

My current research: I know that price and quality go hand and hand, and that I recognize that my price range won't get me a top of the line tripod but I'm hoping I can find a decent tripod for that value.  It seems like the center column can be disruptive to the camera as it leads to instablity.  I think I want the ballhead support versus the 3-way pan tilt because the mobility of the ballhead and the quick easy adjustments.  However, it seems you would need a bubble level somewhere on your camera or mount to make sure things are good.  

I say my range is 100-150 but if there is a solid recommendation a little higher than that, then that'll probably be an option as well.  I currently was looking at the Bogen:

Bogen / Manfrotto 3001BN Tripod (Black) with 484RC2 Mini Ballhead (Quick Release) - Supports 8.8 lb (4 kg) $134

or the

Bogen / Manfrotto 725B Digi Black Tripod with Ballhead (Quick Release) - Supports 7.7 lb (3.5 kg) $110  

Although the first selection looks as if the legs are seperate from the supporting mount which leads to think if I wanted to upgrade the mounting system I could.  However, one post had critized this model because of the camera instability of the center column.  If one removes the center column do you need to purchase an additional mount to go connec tthe legs to the ballhead?

Like I said, I'm new to this game so if there is another receommendation or a different brand in that range, I'd love to hear it, thanks.
Title: First Tripod Purchase
Post by: Sheldon N on August 04, 2006, 08:51:30 pm
I'd say go with option #1 but choose the 486RC2 instead of the 484.

Then all you need to do is repeat "I don't need or want a better tripod" over and over again for 6 months. Once you've done that, you are ready for an upgrade.

Title: First Tripod Purchase
Post by: Geoff Wittig on August 04, 2006, 09:46:46 pm
There is no such thing as too much stability, especially for macro shots. The Manfrotto 3001 series is well made, but not quite up to the job of supporting something like a heavy D-SLR with a long macro lens or heavy f:2.8 zoom. The gold standard for affordable nature photography tripods has long been Manfrotto's 3021 series; these legs are strong and steady enough to support lenses up to perhaps 400 mm. I have one that is 18 years old and still works fine. The lower half of the center column can be removed (and discarded!), permitting you to get closer to the ground and eliminating the temptation to use an unstable elevated center column to get more height. I now use an expensive carbon fiber tripod most of the time, but the old reliable 3021 still lives in the trunk of my car for grabshots.
The Manfrotto 488 series is the smallest ballhead I would consider.
Buying too light or flimsy a tripod is false economy. It compromises image quality from the start, and eventually you'll have to spring for something better if you care about your work.
Title: First Tripod Purchase
Post by: erusan on August 05, 2006, 04:51:53 am

I am currently using a Velbon carbon tripod called G5300 in Japan (you'd have to google it or check it out at this page ( I think it has a shorter brother called G5400 which has shorter legs.
It is pretty light but quite sturdy, and the 5300 goes up pretty much to eye level. A cam with allround lens should do fine in reasonable weather, but do not underestimate the sheer weight of something like that 80-200 (2.8 I assume). I got one recently and it takes a lot of tripod to support that well, although it may be the head which is a bit weak.

Pretty sure there is an equivalent outside Japan, check it out. Of course saving up a bit more and going for a good Gitzo or something might be best, lest you end up like Thom Hogan says in his Tripod 101 article ( I would suggest looking around well before really dropping the dough :-)

Good luck on your quest, I fear to look at the other replies and perhaps find out I chose wrongly...
Title: First Tripod Purchase
Post by: TZano on August 05, 2006, 10:40:29 am
Heh, yeah I read that article about making the mistake of a cheap tripod purchase and then just slowly each year make small upgrades that just compound your initial mistake.  

Looks like I'm hearing the
Manfrotto 3201 Series with the Manfrotto 488 Ballhead.  

I'm gonna keep doing some research, although my trip's in September so I have to hurry it up.