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Author Topic: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?  (Read 11791 times)

texshooter

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Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« on: July 02, 2012, 09:46:29 pm »

the new generation 3-5 lb. carbon tripods look so lightweight i worry they'll fall over with the slightest bump.  does anyone prefer the heavier aluminum brands, or am i out of touch?
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David Sutton

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 10:27:30 pm »

Their weight and rigidity makes them perfect for travel, but wind can be a problem. My solution is to fix a hook under the head and loop a bungee chord from it to around my foot. The tripod absolutely won't move, but of course you can't go wandering off. :)
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texshooter

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 10:41:32 pm »

this seems like an interesting solution. you can throw rocks in it.

http://www.adorama.com/FPTBS.html
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Tony Jay

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 10:52:22 pm »

Nearly every tripod has a hook underneath the centre column.

When in the bush I carry a light but sturdy bag.
If my tripod requires more stabilization I fill the bag with rocks and hang it off the tripod hook with the bottom of the bag just touching the ground.
Draping a beanbag over the camera and lens completes the picture (pun intended).
Exposures of up to hours are possible with a completely stable platform.
When finished one justs empties out the rocks and moves on.

I guarantee you that my carbon fibre tripod is not too "lightweight".

Regards

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 11:05:49 pm by Tony Jay »
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Sareesh Sudhakaran

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 12:36:57 am »

Having used both, and being used to heavy filmmaking tripods (which can securely support huge rigs and humans!) - I prefer Aluminium tripods over carbon fiber, even for carrying around. I have a Benro tripod.

Both carbon fiber and aluminium perform similarly in a solid triangular formation. I hate carbon fiber tripods for those instances where I don't have a perfect solid foundation but still need a rigid support - a heavier tripod gives me that slight leeway.

As for the weight, an average human who is reasonably fit can easily carry an aluminium tripod. Your muscles will get used to it in no time. Here's a perspective:

Weight of my 4-section Benro Al tripod (18kg capacity) = 2.38 kg
Weight of a 4-section Gitzo carbon fiber (18kg capacity) = 2.1 kg

Weight of a 5kg capacity Al tripod 190XPRO Manfrotto = 1.8kg
Weight of a 5kg capacity carbon fiber Gitzo = 0.8kg
Weight of a Manfrotto 4-section carbon fiber tripod (5kg capacity)  190CXPRO4 = 1.34 kg

How much is the difference? As you can see, it is about 0.5 to 1 kg or 1 to 2 lbs.

Can your body handle the additional burden of 1 kg or 2lbs for a 6 to 12-hour trek? Here's a perspective on some of the things some professionals carry all day:

Weight of the new ipad = 1.4lb or 0.65kg
Weight of 1L water = 1 kg
A saxophone weighs about 5lbs
A violin weighs about 1lb
A baseball bat weighs about 1 kg or 2.2 lbs
An M16 gun is about 3.5 kg

Obviously, some photographers already carry heavy gear. For them, that additional pound might be too much. For frequent fliers, the additional cost of a carbon fiber might be preferable to paying extra all the time. It's not an easy choice.

The question is, are you comfortable carrying that additional 1kg or 2 lbs? If yes, I believe, based on my personal experience, that the aluminium tripod is more helpful in a wide variety of situations when compared with a carbon fiber tripod.




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Rob C

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 04:28:38 am »

It's really all about mass. The more of it, in the most aerodynamic form, the better a support it makes. Additionally, rigidity is also affected by the way that the material handles transmitted vibrations, which is why ancient wooden 'pods are respected.

You can't win; that's why you ultimately die. Photography is but another demonstration of that immutable law. The best you can hope for is a period of imaginary victory and success followed by inevitable decline and fall. Don't worry about it; ramp up the ISO and have fun - nobody else cares anyway.

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 09:40:26 am by Rob C »
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Tony Jay

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 04:34:28 am »

...It's really all about mass...

Ditto...

As alluded to in my previous post - make the tripod as heavy as you need to and drape a beanbag over the camera to dampen vibration.

Regards

Tony Jay
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texshooter

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 04:40:19 am »

which is better

1.  drape beanbag over camera
2.  anchor tripod with weight
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David Sutton

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 04:47:30 am »

 I always anchor the tripod. I'll add the beanbag if I need to dampen shutter vibration or if using a long lens in the wind.
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Tony Jay

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 07:28:25 am »

which is better

1.  drape beanbag over camera
2.  anchor tripod with weight

This is not really an either-or type scenario.
If one weighs down the tripod and stabilizes it very well then vibration even from the shutter becomes more pronounced then making the beanbag an essential accompaniment.

Interestingly when hand-holding the vibration from the shutter is rather well damped by the hands.

Regards

Tony Jay
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250swb

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 08:11:45 am »

I have a carbon tripod and use a variation of an old technique to steady a camera. The thing is that when its windy whatever you hang from the tripod can also swing around, probably making things worse. So I have a webbing strap with a quickly adjustable buckle and that is hooked on the centre column hook and the strap adjusted to be just short of the ground. I can then put my foot through it and press down. Its similar to the string monopod idea when you use a cord in tension from the camera to your foot.

Steve

Tony Jay

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 09:12:43 am »

Yes, David Sutton uses a similar method.

My concern is that this technique is captive to changes in the way one distributes weight through the foot in question.
Much less of an issue for really fast shutter speeds but problematic in the range of 1/60s and slower, and not an option at all when doing very long exposures (obviously). Also, as already alluded to, the more rigid the tripod as a result of this stabilization the more prone the system is to high frequency vibration, as from the shutter..

I would try this method as a last resort but my other solutions work really well.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Sheldon N

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 11:23:36 am »

I'd go for a heavier carbon pod with a maximum of three sections.

That's part of why I still use a carbon fiber Gitzo 1325. It's not light (about 4.5 lbs for the legs) but it's sturdy and stronger than a comparable weight aluminum tripod. Enough mass to keep itself solid in place, but not so heavy that it's a bother to pack around.
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Sheldon Nalos
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250swb

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2012, 04:53:29 pm »

But thats why you should adjust the strap to be 'just' short of the ground Tony, so you tread on it full force and keep it planted. Anything higher and you are going to wobble about. And a carbon tripod is better at dampening vibrations than an aluminium tripod whatever the method of stabilising it.


Steve

simonstucki

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 06:36:06 pm »

I think what is very important is the quality of the carbon fiber tubes used. A good tube has the right mixture of carbon fiber and matrix (resin) a cheap tube on the other hand contains less carbon fiber (maybe only on the outside, so that it looks good) and is basically a resin tube with a carbon look, of course that is not going to beat an simple aluminum tube.

A high quality carbon fiber tube is much more complex than even a very good aluminum tube and thus much more costly to produce and design, so a good carbon fiber tripod will always be more expensive than a comparable aluminum tripod but lighter. If you look at the prices of some carbon tripods it becomes clear that there must be something wrong with those tripods.
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ripgriffith

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2012, 02:10:03 pm »

I'd go for a heavier carbon pod with a maximum of three sections.

Oh...and use leaf shutter lenses.

Or a Sony SLT with an electronic front shutter... no shutter vibration and no mirror slap!
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texshooter

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Re: Are carbon fiber tripods too lightweight?
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2012, 05:48:56 pm »

for those tech heads, here's a study on tripod vibration

http://markins.com/charlie/report4e6.pdf
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