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Archive 2013 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography
  
 
JakeB17
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


I'm looking to getting a more solid tripod setup for landscape shooting. I've never been much of a tripod user since most of what I shoot professionally is unit stills on film sets or portraits, where VR typically does the job just fine.

I want something sturdy (even heavy), able to support heavy gear, and able to take a beating in tough conditions. I want something stable that can handle 30 second exposures in the middle of the day without blowing over. I'm getting into shooting with lots of ND (10+ stops), so this for those longer exposure shots.

My current tripod is old and very flimsy, so I'm looking for new legs and a new head. I'm open to ball heads, pan/tilt and geared heads.

For the most part I'll be putting either D4 or D800 bodies on it with f/2.8 zooms or f/1.4 primes, but occasionally it needs to be able to handle a super tele, like a 500 or 600 f/4 (though with the ball head swapped for a gimbal head).

I really haven't had an opportunity to do much research yet, but here are some legs that caught my eye:

http://www.adorama.com/GZGT3330LS.html

http://www.adorama.com/FPTPF1328N.html

http://www.adorama.com/BG055XPROB.html

I'm open to other suggestions as well. In terms of budget I don't want to spend more than $500 on the legs, but I'd rather not overspend for minimal gains either, hence some of the less expensive ones linked above.

In terms of heads I'm totally out of the loop in terms of what is good these days. I'm thinking a ball head plus a RRS L-bracket is the way to go, but open to the idea of a good pan/tilt head or otherwise. I mostly shoot horizontals, but I'd like the option for a good vertical setup too, hence leaning toward something arca-swiss compatible for an L-bracket.

I saw this one in Samys camera a few days ago and I liked the precise nature of it. I don't like the fact I can't put an L-bracket on it because of the weird quick release. And I don't really like the idea of the center of gravity being off center for long exposure vertical shots.

http://www.adorama.com/BG3039.html

I'd love suggestions for good ball heads, ideally under $500. $250 would be better, but I'd prefer quality over going cheap if need be.



Jun 08, 2013 at 01:24 AM
runamuck
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


feisol 3x71 or 3x72


Jun 08, 2013 at 01:39 AM
pburke
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


JakeB17 wrote:

For the most part I'll be putting either D4 or D800 bodies on it with f/2.8 zooms or f/1.4 primes, but occasionally it needs to be able to handle a super tele, like a 500 or 600 f/4 (though with the ball head swapped for a gimbal head).


if you want this to be solid with a big lens, look for legs rated around 40-50 pounds load, not just around the expected 20-something you're actually putting on it.




Jun 08, 2013 at 05:19 AM
JakeB17
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


The Feisol classic series seems nice, but for $115 over the Gitzos I posted I'm not really sure what the advantage is. Seems like it is only rated for 27lbs vs 39lbs on the Gitzo.

http://www.adorama.com/FECT3371.html

Good point on the leg weight rating, I hadn't really been paying too much attention to that figure yet. Are there any companies that are known to exaggerate those numbers?

How about the feisol ball heads, like this one: http://www.adorama.com/FECB70D.html

Are they any good?



Jun 08, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


If you don't mind the weight of the Alu tripod, then the Gitzo tripod in your link will be excellent


Jun 08, 2013 at 08:43 AM
jimmy462
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


Hi Jake,

I'm going to put in a plug for the Velbon Carbon Fiber lineup for you to add to your considerations, in particular, this one...

Velbon GEO N630 3-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod GEO N630 B&H Photo:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/795784-REG/Velbon_GEO_N630_GEO_N630_3_Section_Carbon.html

(I have no affiliation with this reseller.)

...I own two of this tripod's bigger siblings, the older Neo-Carmagne 730 and N830, and just love 'em. They function much like the Gitzo G-Lock CF tripods, support comparative weight, and are built tough. If you've got a robustly-stocked camera shop out there in L.A. then I'd suggest heading on over to get some hands-on comparison time.

Also, as for heads, take a look at Manfrotto's geared head offerings...the 405 and 410. They're currently available with substantial rebates until June 15th. I bring these two up as they are on my short list for what to put under my newly-acquired TS-E lenses. I've read about these heads over at the POTN forums from folks doing architecture, landscape and, yes, long-exposre ND work. I'll be heading down to NYC sometime this week to compare these two to see which way I'm going.

Anyhoo, my two-bits...keep us posted on which way you decide!

Good luck in your search,
Jimmy G



Jun 08, 2013 at 02:57 PM
JakeB17
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


That Velbon seems nice, however it doesn't seem like it extends very high. Only 52.6" without the center column extended. A fully extended center column seems completely counter intuitive if stability is the goal. Unless it is an especially sturdy center column perhaps?

I'm right on 6', so 60" to the base, plus the 6-10 inches from the base to the viewfinder is probably ideal.

Those Manfrotto geared heads look really nice. I think I would like a more precise geared head like those over a ball head in general. The only issue I have is for vertical shooting. It looks like I would have to go with one of Manfrotto's L-brackets (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/859641-REG/Manfrotto_MS050M4_RC4_RC4_L_Bracket.html) instead of a RRS L-Bracket, and the Manfrotto's don't seem as well designed. Especially since the battery door and connections on the cameras left side can not be accessed with it on.

Is there any way to get an arca-swiss compatible QR plate system going on one of those geared heads?

Unfortunately none of the camera shops around here have that great a stock of tripods, ironically enough. They mostly seem to carry the low end cheap stuff, and the ultra high end with nothing in between. Perhaps I need to try some of the smaller shops instead of the larger ones (Samys and Calumet).


Lars, I think I would actually prefer the extra weight of the aluminum tripod vs the CF. It seems like it would be better for high winds and not falling over if a wave hits it. I'm used to lugging around heavy Oconnor fluid heads (2575, 2060s, etc) and steel sticks, so anything less than that won't bother me much, ha.



Jun 08, 2013 at 04:20 PM
SSISteve
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


I have been very happy with the Induro tripods. I own 2 of them and the CT314 might be one for you to look at. It is very solid but lightweight and has the hook off the center post where you can hang some weight to make it even sturdier. I also bought an Induro travel tripod that works just as well.


Steve



Jun 10, 2013 at 03:29 AM
jimmy462
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


Hi Jake,

Well, I'd have suggested the N730 tripod for you instead, but it seems Velbon has some sort of supply issues here in the U.S. as I haven't seen that model listed at B&H or Adorama for some time. If I'm recalling correctly, it runs somewheres in the $400 range new...I found both my 730 and 830 used, both for much less than that... At 64" without column extension I find it quite usable with a gimbal head for my 300-800mm...

GEO N 700 Series of Velbon:
http://www.velbon.biz/product/geo/goe-n700.html

...both of those outlets have the 800-line currently in stock, but the price is way out of where you're looking to spend.

As for alternate mounting plates for the 405 & 410, I stumbled across this in my research. Thought you might be interested in looking into something like this...

Sold: Manfrotto 410 Geared Head w/ Hejnar adapter plate and Arca style clamp - FM Forums:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1189410/0?keyword=manfrotto#11342361

The plates for that mod (along with a free down-loadable PDF on how to do it, click Detailed Instruction link) can be found here...

Plate for Monfrotto 405 Gear Head [M405 Plate only] - $65.00 : Hejnar Photo Store, Serving Your Professional Photography Needs:
http://www.hejnarphotostore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=22

Hope this is helpful in your search for solutions!


Jimmy G

(I am not affiliated with any of the linked sites. Links provided for informational purposes only.)



Jun 10, 2013 at 03:51 AM
Strobo
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


JakeB17 wrote:
That Velbon seems nice, however it doesn't seem like it extends very high. Only 52.6" without the center column extended. A fully extended center column seems completely counter intuitive if stability is the goal. Unless it is an especially sturdy center column perhaps?

I'm right on 6', so 60" to the base, plus the 6-10 inches from the base to the viewfinder is probably ideal.

Those Manfrotto geared heads look really nice. I think I would like a more precise geared head like those over a ball head in general. The only issue I have is for vertical shooting. It looks
...Show more

I second the recommendation for the Hejnar Photo conversion kit for the Manfrotto geared heads. The adapter plate and clamp are sturdy and well-made.

You might want to reconsider going with aluminum tripods over CF. The weight advantage of the aluminum is over-ridden by the much superior damping of CF. I was surprised to see how much better a CF Gitzo was compared to it's equivalent aluminum tripod. The difference is quite noticeable when you're shooting with long lenses in windy conditions. Having half the weight to carry over your shoulder doesn't hurt either.



Jun 10, 2013 at 05:18 PM
 

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Mike K
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


Strobo wrote:
You might want to reconsider going with aluminum tripods over CF. The weight advantage of the aluminum is over-ridden by the much superior damping of CF. I was surprised to see how much better a CF Gitzo was compared to it's equivalent aluminum tripod. The difference is quite noticeable when you're shooting with long lenses in windy conditions.


I strongly endorse reconsideration of CF over aluminum construction. The difference in vibration reduction is pretty dramatic. This really shows up as better image quality in longer focal length lenses, where any vibration is amplified by the longer focal length. Do a test in a store with a long (400mm with 1,4x TC) lens testing the vibration of a CF Vs Alu tripod. Put the camera on Live View 10x and the LCD will really be jumpy. Tap the tripod gently with a pencil and watch how long it takes for vibrations to die down. Do the same with the Alu tripod. The difference is HUGE! As the previous poster suggested, vibration from wind is not recognized as a major problem in getting sharp telephoto shots
Mike K.



Jun 10, 2013 at 08:02 PM
KFG1
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


The Gitzo you linked would by my choice and as for a ball head I highly recommend the RRS BH-55. I've been using two of those ball heads for years with zero issues.


Jun 11, 2013 at 03:01 PM
JakeB17
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


I really haven't considered vibrations a big issue until now. I was really more concerned with general stability and not falling over, hence the extra weight of aluminum. Perhaps I should re-think my approach though. I can certainly see where vibrations might come into play if the tripod is in a moving stream or something, which is certainly a potential place I might setup.

This certainly complicates my choice. I like the weight, build, and price of aluminum, but a heavy CF set of sticks would be ideal, price permitting. Something without a center column for sure. Perhaps these which I linked to earlier would make sense: http://www.adorama.com/FECT3371.html

That is slightly more than I was hoping to spend on sticks, but not necessarily out of my price range.

Maybe go with a real wildcard and choose wooden sticks instead of any type of metal. Like these perhaps: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/302815-REG/Berlebach_BE3032_3032_Wood_Tripod_Legs.html

They technically meet both of my requirements. Heavy for general stability, and good at dampening vibrations. I'm actually having trouble finding any fault or downside to going with wood here. I don't necessarily like the fact they are still long when folded up though (35" plus another 4" or 5" with head attached vs 27" + 4" of competing tripods). For the price it seems like a great deal. I guess I would be a little worried the legs might snap in transit in a checked bag on a plane as well.

So to break it down, here are my top three legs, in no specific order:
http://www.adorama.com/FECT3371.html

http://www.adorama.com/GZGT3330LS.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/302815-REG/Berlebach_BE3032_3032_Wood_Tripod_Legs.html

Still open to other suggestions of course. Just nothing with a center column.

The Manfrotto 410 with the Hejnar conversion looks like my favorite option thus far. I just read that it can only tilt up 30 degrees though. That kind of bothers me because I'm into the occasional bit of night sky photography as well. Is it simple enough to just mount the camera in reverse?

I see there is a 410 in stock in a store near me. I'll have to check it out in person.

I'm still kind of on the fence about ball head vs geared head though. I'd much prefer the geared head for landscape shooting, but it would be nice to have a good ball head for the rare occasion I have to break out a tripod for portrait work, because the current ball head I have is awful.

I've heard nothing but praise for the Bh-55, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much on a ball head. If I was using it for work I could easily justify that cost, but in reality I almost never use a tripod for work. This is more of a purchase for fun. But maybe it is worth looking into...

In terms of ball heads not much has caught my eye in my price range except the Feisol I linked earlier (http://www.adorama.com/FECB70D.html). I like the crazy weight rating. Might be nice if I had to pop a 500 f/4 on there in a pinch instead of a gimbal for some reason.

I see the rebates on Gitzo and Manfrotto end on the 15th. Not a lot of time to make a decision if I want to go with either brand.





Jun 12, 2013 at 03:46 PM
pmiller228
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


Buying a tripod can drive you nuts right? I was sick of myself by the time I settled on something when I bought mine. It's hard when you don't have many decent camera shops around to go see stuff in person.


Jun 12, 2013 at 06:26 PM
JakeB17
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


pmiller228 wrote:
Buying a tripod can drive you nuts right? I was sick of myself by the time I settled on something when I bought mine. It's hard when you don't have many decent camera shops around to go see stuff in person.


Ha, yeah, indeed. I've spent way too much time researching and going back and forth. It's driving me crazy. If I could only bill someone my regular hourly rate for all the time I've put into researching tripods, lol.

The most annoying part is that the camera stores around here are awesome for testing the latest camera bodies, lenses, strobes, and accessories, but the tripod selection is mediocre at best.




Jun 12, 2013 at 09:32 PM
GWMT
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


Search buy and sell here, I have three or four for sell, but only one listed right now, and could lower price if interested. Gary


Jun 12, 2013 at 09:56 PM
jimmy462
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


JakeB17 wrote:
The Manfrotto 410 with the Hejnar conversion looks like my favorite option thus far. I just read that it can only tilt up 30 degrees though. That kind of bothers me because I'm into the occasional bit of night sky photography as well. Is it simple enough to just mount the camera in reverse?

I see there is a 410 in stock in a store near me. I'll have to check it out in person.



Hi Jake,

The Manfrotto page for that head says...

Front Tilt -30 / +90
Lateral Tilt -90 / +30

Looking at the QR Plate I don't see why one couldn't mount the camera in any position they chose. Not sure how things would work with the Hejnar mod I linked to earlier...perhaps someone familiar with the Arca-Swiss style QR setup can chime in here? FWIW, I'll be ordering both the 405 and 410 tomorrow, I'm sure the 410 will be robust enough for TS-E work, but I've also got a spotting scope which the 405 should handle nicely. Also, it'll be nice having backup capabilities, too...the rebates make this possible for my budget.

Best of luck on your tripod decision!


JG



Jun 13, 2013 at 02:43 AM
44lefty
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


I use a Tiltall, but you can't get them other than used. You might take a look at some of the Davis and Sanford. (You'll find them on the Bogen website).

Larry



Jun 17, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Gochugogi
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


I don't use the Hydrostatic ball head but I converted my 054 with a Hejnar Arca clamp and it is a truly excellent product. Unlike other clamp designs, he makes to to specifically fit the odd ball stems on Manfrotto and thus fit is as perfect as it gets. I can't say the clamp is better made than my Kirk or RRS clamps but it is very close. I'd buy another one but I ran out of heads to convert to Arca. You can even call him up for custom changes (hate black knobs? switch to sliver, etc.).


Jun 17, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Aloicious
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Tripod suggestions for landscape photography


I have that Gitzo aluminum tripod (3330LS) and I love it. its excellent, very very sturdy, I have used it with many different setups including wide long exposures (up to 25mins single exposures with the 14-24 2.8 + D800) as well as my 600f4+gimbal without any issue. I did recently upgrade to a high end CF gitzo mainly for the 600+gimbal to live on, but I keep the 3330LS around with a 410 geared head on it.

while I agree that CF does have some benefits like doing a better job at controlling vibrations vs aluminum, personally for your price range and the fact that you're planning to use some heavy gear, I'd get a higher end aluminum tripod like the 3330LS over a medium duty CF pod in the same $3-400 price range...though if you can save up some more to the 800-1k range, a higher end (used or new) CF pod (like a gitzo 3 or 5 series or RRS 3 or 4 series) would be ideal all around.



Jun 21, 2013 at 02:41 AM
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