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Archive 2011 · Tripod Load Capacity
  
 
wifi
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Tripod Load Capacity


Hello,
I'm searching for a new travel tripod, and was wondering if there was some sort of common standard that is used for the rated load capacity specified by the various manufacturers. Otherwise, it seems I would only be able to compare the load ratings across models from the same vendor (assuming they used the same proprietary technique for all their models), as comparing across vendors would not be an apples to apples comparison.

I searched to see if there was an international standard for such a rating, and the closest I could find was:

http://www.astm.org/Standards/F2124.htm

which appears to apply to only tree stands (tree stands?)

Anyway, I just wanted to know if I can safely compare the load capacities of a Gitzo, Feisol, Manfrotto, Benro, etc., or if these are really more guidelines.

I would also like to know what exactly is being measured - obviously this is not the weight at which the legs collapse. I assume the unit is loaded, a vibration is induced, and then the time is measured until the vibrations at the camera stop. If there is no standard specifying these parameters, then what would one expect to be a reasonable value - 2 seconds?

Thanks



Dec 14, 2011 at 06:14 AM
RoyC
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Tripod Load Capacity


My Gitzo 3531LS with 300mm lens and D700 body you can tap on the legs with your finger and not see any movement through the eye piece, when properly setup.

Roy



Dec 14, 2011 at 01:22 PM
brubenstein
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Tripod Load Capacity


wifi wrote:
I would also like to know what exactly is being measured - obviously this is not the weight at which the legs collapse. I assume the unit is loaded, a vibration is induced, and then the time is measured until the vibrations at the camera stop. If there is no standard specifying these parameters, then what would one expect to be a reasonable value - 2 seconds?


For fun I checked the Gitzo site and there is no explanation of what the load rating means. I've never seen any other maker define load rating either. Although I wouldn't make any assumptions, It would make the most sense for the ratings to be static load. Failure load? Deflection amount? Who knows.

Vibration dampening may correlate to load rating, but it's an independent characteristic that's highly dependent on the characteristics of the materials used. Even if there was a standardized test method, it would generally have a well defined input impulse (waveform, frequency, acceleration, etc.), but one would not be able to what vibration dampening figure they needed for their specific gear.

We're pretty much stuck with "this camera, with this lens works well on this tripod".



Dec 14, 2011 at 03:02 PM
sjms
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Tripod Load Capacity


there is no consistant measureable standard out. you take the word of the manufacturer. some are conservitive some are somewhat pushing the limits of reality.


Dec 14, 2011 at 03:18 PM
gardenvalley
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Tripod Load Capacity


http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/921420/0?keyword=x#8696121

Update; A quick search reveals the weight of the average housebrick to be 5lb, that`s a total of 45 lbs. Got gear that heavy? A more important factor is the tripod`s ability to dampen vibrations and in this repect the alloy Manfrotto would ring like a bell when tapped (w/o all the bricks, of course). You won`t go far wrong with any of the makes you mention as they all have their pros and cons, it comes down to how much of an investment you`re prepared to make. As others have intimated, the load ratings are arbitrary and only a vague guide to suitability with particular equipment.



Dec 14, 2011 at 04:11 PM
wifi
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Tripod Load Capacity


Thanks for the comments and insight, but I find if very strange that there is not some well established or accepted method for measuring this rating. Otherwise, this number becomes nothing more than a marketing tool since the legs can certainly physically support many times the specified load capacity, as gardenvalley showed in his post.

So the question is, if a tripod is rated at 26 lbs, what starts to happen beyond that weight that makes is unsuitable? Lack of vibration dampening, flex, breakage, all of the above? My concern is that without a standard, what may be considered suitable to one vendor, may not be to another, which makes it very difficult to analyze the differences between vendors by specs alone. And I don't have the luxury of being able to try out each of them before deciding which to purchase.



Dec 14, 2011 at 05:04 PM
HerbChong
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Tripod Load Capacity


you are relying on what the manufacturer thinks they can get away with. Gitzo is one of the most conservative but again it's their perception of what is acceptable level of support. the major manufacturers at least are willing to state that it's "usable" weight supported but they don't actually qualify what that means. all of the rating numbers are well below failure load. as to why there isn't a standard, that's likely because a given weight is meaningless unless you know at least shutter speed, focal length, sensor size, and sensor resolution. don't expect a standard any time soon. what you can sort of count on is that a manufacturer rates their tripods consistently across a given line of their tripods.

Herb....

wifi wrote:
Thanks for the comments and insight, but I find if very strange that there is not some well established or accepted method for measuring this rating. Otherwise, this number becomes nothing more than a marketing tool since the legs can certainly physically support many times the specified load capacity, as gardenvalley showed in his post.

So the question is, if a tripod is rated at 26 lbs, what starts to happen beyond that weight that makes is unsuitable? Lack of vibration dampening, flex, breakage, all of the above? My concern is that without a standard, what may be considered suitable
...Show more



Dec 14, 2011 at 05:50 PM
gardenvalley
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Tripod Load Capacity


There will never be a standard, who would set the test parameters and who would administer the tests? It`s not like any safety or quality standards have to be met such as those defined by DIN, ASA, ENCAP etc. The tripod manufacturers do not want such a thing as their products may be shown to be inferior to cheaper ones and they would probably contest the results they didn`t like. This is one for Mythbusters. Can you imagine that foxy chick fondling an RRS?


Dec 14, 2011 at 05:54 PM
wifi
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Tripod Load Capacity


HerbChong wrote:
as to why there isn't a standard, that's likely because a given weight is meaningless unless you know at least shutter speed, focal length, sensor size, and sensor resolution.


These are exactly the types of parameters that would be specified in any such standardized testing method.

I participate in various wireless protocol standards bodies (3GPP, 802.11, WFA). Both 3GPP and the Wi-Fi Alliance produce test plans for wireless products (cell phones, WiFi). In the case of WiFi, the vendors of this equipment are not required to submit their products for testing (unlike cell phones), but they do so voluntarily so that they can display the WiFi logo - a marketing plus for them as the WiFi logo has a lot of brand equity.

It would be nice if such a model existed for the tripod industry as well, but I suspect that industry is simply not large enough. Any such test/compliance organization would have to be funded by the vendors themselves (as members). And in order to make membership attractive, the logo a vendor would be allowed to display for complying with the test method would have to have some clout. But the logo will only have clout if membership reaches critical mass, so it is a catch 22.

Anyway, I still am curious to know in general what method the vendors currently use. Without such knowledge, my only rule of thumb now is to take the maximum weight of my equipment, double or triple it, and use that number as the minimum load capacity as stated by the manufacturer.



Dec 14, 2011 at 07:03 PM
HerbChong
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Tripod Load Capacity


and never will be because there isn't anything meaningful to choose from. a standard that no-one wants to use is just as useless as no standard. take a higher end superzoom camera with 10mp and 40:1 zoom. what rating is appropriate? the answer is "it depends" occur far more often than something that means something to the average buyer. someone who knows enough to know doesn't need a standard. not only that, what is acceptable for one person may not be for another. a standard that doesn't measure anything usable to the average person is also useless.

Herb...

wifi wrote:
These are exactly the types of parameters that would be specified in any such standardized testing method.




Dec 14, 2011 at 09:11 PM
 

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wifi
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Tripod Load Capacity


Herb,

I agree that there must be a compelling (read financial) reason or mandate in order for a manufacturer to submit products for independent testing - that I do not question and is not a topic I wish to cover in this thread.

As far as the many variables involved in testing something as simple as a tripod - believe me, far more complex devices with orders of magnitude more variables are tested every day. The key is to define categories of devices with a fixed set of parameters under which to test them. Unfortunately the by-product of this is a document over a 1000 pages in length .

But at the end of the day, I really just want to know what method the various manufacturers are currently using to come up with these numbers.

Cheers,
Frank



Dec 14, 2011 at 11:24 PM
wifi
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Tripod Load Capacity


I submitted a question to Gitzo on the method they use to determine their load ratings - it will be interesting to see what type of response I receive (if any).

If their response contains something useful, I will post it here.



Dec 15, 2011 at 06:14 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Tripod Load Capacity


I can't see any real gain of having some kind of "international standard for the load rating". About every "normal tripod" have a load rating that is much higher than the weight of my 800/5,6 lens. So if there was such a rating, it would just tell me that about every tripod could handle the weight of my big lens.
Load rating is not a thing to pay much attending to when selecting a tripod. And just like the load rating of heads, most of them are just a joke. The focal length is probably more important than weight of the lens+body when selecting a tripod/head



Dec 15, 2011 at 07:02 AM
EB-1
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Tripod Load Capacity


An 800 and pro SLR is not very heavy compared to a video camera and lens.

EBH



Dec 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM
gardenvalley
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Tripod Load Capacity


I may repeat this little experiment with another tripod/head as I no longer have those used in the original test and it was only a bit of fun at the time when I was bored. The devil finds work for idle hands, eh? I would be interested to see if overloading the tripod has any effect on it`s ability to resist/absorb vibration. I would also like to see anyone else`s opinion should they find themselves with nothing better to do.


Dec 15, 2011 at 12:03 PM
HerbChong
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Tripod Load Capacity


the benefit to the manufacturer or any organization to create such a document is none. that is why it won't be done. it'll benefit you but not them. i doubt you will get an answer from any manufacturer that makes any sense.

Herb...

wifi wrote:
As far as the many variables involved in testing something as simple as a tripod - believe me, far more complex devices with orders of magnitude more variables are tested every day. The key is to define categories of devices with a fixed set of parameters under which to test them. Unfortunately the by-product of this is a document over a 1000 pages in length .




Dec 15, 2011 at 03:32 PM
gardenvalley
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Tripod Load Capacity


http://www.flickr.com/photos/tangomike1/6516227543/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tangomike1/6516226991/

I really must find a way to spend my time more wisely.

Manfrotto 055CX Pro3 with spiked feet.

Photoclam PC 36

Hejnar 5" rail

The tripod was levelled by eye as I don`t use the original centre column with the built-in level. The head was levelled in 1 plane using the built-in bubble and in the other plane by eye. The rail was used to provide better balance.

That`s 12 housebricks, approximate weight 60lbs. I stopped at 12 because the stack was getting too high and unbalanced for me to reach safely without standing on a stepladder. Neither the tripod nor the head were showing any signs of distress. None. In fact I tried panning the head and it was fine. A simple tap with the ball of my thumb on the top leg section provoked a slight vibration, about the same as with no load, maybe slightly better.

While this is not a scientific test, which took me only 10 minutes, it does confirm what we already knew about load ratings.



Dec 15, 2011 at 04:08 PM
wifi
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Tripod Load Capacity


Gardenvalley,

Thanks again for performing these intriguing tests. This does provide some interesting empirical data to compare against the manufacturer's claimed capacity of 17.6 lbs for the Manfrotto 055CX Pro3. Just where do they come up with that value And is there a rule-of-thumb that most people use when selecting a camera support (actual load vs. advertised capacity) since the advertised numbers apparently don't mean all that much?



Dec 15, 2011 at 05:11 PM
plubbry
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Tripod Load Capacity


Load ratings almost always seem to be bizzarly conservative. However, it makes me wonder what leg extension and leg angle the load capacities are specified for. If I extend my tripod's legs all the way and then spread them such that the center of the tripod is only a foot off the ground I'd certainly bet that the maximum load capacity is going to be much less.

I'd be willing to bet that the maximum load capacity specified is the max load that can be safely supported when the tripod legs fully extended and at maximum possible leg angle/spread. Even at that I'd bet the rating is somewhat conservative. Perhaps by a factor of 1.5-2?



Dec 15, 2011 at 05:35 PM





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