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Author Topic: Tripod on a China vacation  (Read 9644 times)

trainzman

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Tripod on a China vacation
« on: March 23, 2008, 01:49:04 am »

I will soon be joining a group on a three week trip to China, visiting major sites like the Forbidden City, Xian, the Yellow Mountains, Guilin etc. In country travel will be by bus and plane. Since I will have to stay with the group most of the time except for short times when we are free to wander, I was wondering if a tripod is really a good idea given the type of transportation and shooting conditions?

At home I mainly use a Manfrotto 190MF3 magfiber with a 322RC2 griphead so weight is not an issue. I'm more concerned with the practicality of being able to use it.
Do major tourist sites allow tripods? Even if they do, would crowds make it inconvenient?
I've heard that the almost constant haze makes distant pictures a matter of luck so most pictures will probably be medium to close range.
Although difficult to blend-in when I look like a western tourist, would walking around with a tripod make me standout even more?

I also plan on bringing a small tabletop tripod, a Manfrotto 482 as well as a beanbag called the Pod so as long as there is a convenient surface nearby I can get the stability I need if not the height. Otherwise I will discover some interesting low shooting angles.

Did anyone bring a tripod and find they didn't use it or not bring it and miss it terribly?

On a recent trip to the Utah canyons I brought and used my tripod so I know how useful it can be but then I was traveling in a private car and not part of a larger group.
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Anders_HK

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2008, 04:20:11 am »

Quote
I will soon be joining a group on a three week trip to China, visiting major sites like the Forbidden City, Xian, the Yellow Mountains, Guilin etc. In country travel will be by bus and plane. Since I will have to stay with the group most of the time except for short times when we are free to wander, I was wondering if a tripod is really a good idea given the type of transportation and shooting conditions?

At home I mainly use a Manfrotto 190MF3 magfiber with a 322RC2 griphead so weight is not an issue. I'm more concerned with the practicality of being able to use it.
Do major tourist sites allow tripods? Even if they do, would crowds make it inconvenient?
I've heard that the almost constant haze makes distant pictures a matter of luck so most pictures will probably be medium to close range.
Although difficult to blend-in when I look like a western tourist, would walking around with a tripod make me standout even more?

I also plan on bringing a small tabletop tripod, a Manfrotto 482 as well as a beanbag called the Pod so as long as there is a convenient surface nearby I can get the stability I need if not the height. Otherwise I will discover some interesting low shooting angles.

Did anyone bring a tripod and find they didn't use it or not bring it and miss it terribly?

On a recent trip to the Utah canyons I brought and used my tripod so I know how useful it can be but then I was traveling in a private car and not part of a larger group.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=183660\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi

I have made frequent travels across China. Do bring the tripod if you plan on landscapes, but I personally do not see much use of a pod since camera can be supported on any surface you find with a likewise steady hand and gentle finger for trigger.

The only issues I have had with photography was in Juizhaigou National Park, but that was rather due to restrictions of time for being in the park. With first bus into park I only managed one scenic spot for good light, a tad late for the very earliest light. Management also scoufed people towards roads and buses about 40min before closing, saying hurry now was last bus and complete ignoring people with serious photography. There were obvious many "last buses". This was during China October holiday 2006, and I feel they should be ashamed! Last day it made me say tomyself f*** them and ignore it because I still wanted some photos along the road. Before closing I stopped a mini bus to hitch a ride. It was with the police! They were friendly and made some space for me to sit and dropped me at the gate.

In Huangshan Mountains it is good to bring a flashlight if you photograph at sunset, because will be dark walking back to hotel. The hotel have those to lend. No problem walking off in dark very early before sunset either.

No problem to take tripods on flights in China, none ever.

People in China can be very friendly, just be friendly and use common caution as in most places.

Regards
Anders
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 04:25:43 am by Anders_HK »
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ChrisJR

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2008, 05:44:30 am »

Chinese people can seem to be friendly (if you don't mind the constant staring) but do be very careful about what you carry, especially in Xi'an. I travelled around China last July for a month and when I was in Xi'an the locals tried to pick-pocket me three times in 1 day alone. Xi'an is relatively ok for pollution though so longer shots are possible. Forget about long shots in Beijing though as the pollution is truly horrendous.

Do take your tripod by all means though and do use it if you get the opportunity. Even in places where they say don't use a tripod (such as at the terracotta warriors site) people still do use them and the officials don't bat an eyelid.

I took my Gitzo with me but unfortunately I went during the chinese holiday season so barely got a chance to use it as there were too many people around.
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stever

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2008, 11:39:54 am »

the only time i used a tripod in China was for panorama of Great Wall

particularly with a group, i'd recommend a monopod instead (or in addition) - i've had reasonable luck with pans from the monopod (i use an RRS L-bracket to get the camera vertical and generally mount the clamp directly to the monopod without any kind of head - just tilt the monopod if necessary)
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trainzman

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2008, 07:55:10 pm »

Thanks for all of your ideas.

I've used a monopod in the past. Mine is a telescopic hiking pole with a 1/4" bolt at the top to which I've attached a ballhead with quick release plate. Since I use it as a hiking stick between shoots, nobody pays it any attention. Great when I need that extra bit of support and all other support aids are frowned upon.

That, my mini tripod and beanbag Pod should provide enough support during the trip without being too cumbersome and unwieldy.  
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NicoChina

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2008, 08:19:43 pm »

If weight isn't an issue, just take it !

don't worry about "blending" among local people if you are in a group of tourists in a touristic site.

planes aren't an issue either, nor is security (there are plenty of pickpockets and some of them cutting through pockets and bags but not much risk to be attacked -except maybe in guangdong- so your wallet and mobilephone are much more at risk than your big camera gear).
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BernardLanguillier

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2008, 09:58:08 pm »

Quote
I will soon be joining a group on a three week trip to China, visiting major sites like the Forbidden City, Xian, the Yellow Mountains, Guilin etc. In country travel will be by bus and plane. Since I will have to stay with the group most of the time except for short times when we are free to wander, I was wondering if a tripod is really a good idea given the type of transportation and shooting conditions?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=183660\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Frankly speaking, I haven't noticed anything in China that differs from other geos as far as tripod usage is concerned.

Regards,
Bernard

Mark Amy

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2008, 09:59:13 pm »

Hello,
Not sure how soon you're leaving on your trip, but I live in Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) so I thought I'd reply.  I haven't been to the other places, but you certainly won't be alone with your tripod in Huangshan. Chinese people love photography and you'll see them all up there with the latest equipment and tripods.

Just try and get to the major scenic spots early so you can get setup before everyone else does. At this time of year it's pretty quiet so you should be OK. With the weather at the moment, you should also be able to see the "cloud sea" which is spectacular. I hope you visit Huangshan after April 1st because a lot of the best scenic areas are closed until then for safety reasons.  There are still a lot of great spots open before then though.

I travel around with my tripod quite a lot on buses etc and it's never a problem. Mine just collapses down and fits into a little rucksack.

I hope you'll post when you return to tell us about your trip. Have a great time!!

Mark
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Plekto

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Tripod on a China vacation
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2008, 03:00:32 pm »

A previous poster beat me to it  

The hiking stick/monopod is excellent because it's light, collapses easily, especially if it's made of aluminum or carbon fiber, and gives you *just* enough stability to get that shot.   It's not great, but it's infinitely better than no 'pod at all.  And you'll not notice it 90% of the time.  And if you're getting older like many of us are, a hiking/walking stick is a fantastic thing in and of itself.

I prefer to travel light and low-tech as possible, so on trips I often bring an old rangefinder and a few rolls of film with a monopod.  The whole thing fits in a jacket pocket and clips to my belt.  If you have a SLR type setup, then you can easily put the pod in the bag, but I really recommend the light and simple approach as well, because you can get shots in seconds and still not look like a "mug me now" tourist who's carrying two bags full of gear.
(don't laugh - I've seen people like this more often that you'd think)

Also bring a small tabletop/travel tripod.  Some are slip in your pocket tiny and there are usually tons of places to prop a camera on or against on a trip.  Obviously a quick-release on both pods would be ideal - then you can move from one to the other without having to mess with changing back and forth manually.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2008, 03:01:20 pm by Plekto »
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