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Seeking basic tripod and head advice
  
 
tshore
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


I have been taking bird pictures for the last several years with a Canon 500mm f/4 IS, with either a 1D mk IV or a 7D. I have been doing so handheld, but I am seeing the advantages of a tripod in certain situations.

I am a complete tripod newbie...the equipment all seems very confusing, and it's not always clear to me what certain equipment does, or if it is needed. For instance a lens plate...what does that do? So yeah, a newbie.

For my gear, the lens is 7.5 lbs, the camera another 2.5, the head maybe 3 or 4. Add a tc or whatever, looking at maybe 15 lbs. of load on the tripod I would think I would want the tripod to be high enough to hold the camera at or even above eye level. I am 5'10''.

From what I have read, a gimbal-type head seems to offer the most flexibility long lenses.

I would appreciate both specific recommendations (brand, model) and also more general recommendations on important features, what equipment I need, etc.

Thanks in advance!

Tim



Aug 07, 2017 at 09:06 PM
rw11
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


buy an RRS tripod and ballhead - sized so your eye is at the right Ht. w/o needing a center column

BH-40 or BH-55 ballhead

go look at their web site for more... maybe you can visit as they ar not too far from you

if too expensive buy a used CF Gitzo tripod; you can even find RRS tripods and ballheads used sometimes but Gitzo is more commonly available

Markins also makes a good ballhead

you may also need a Wimberly

Lots of info on here if you search but I boiled it down for you



Aug 07, 2017 at 09:19 PM
tshore
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


Thanks. You recommend a ballhead over a gimbal?

And I may need a Wimberly...what?



Aug 07, 2017 at 09:46 PM
Two23
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


For birds, I would think a gimbal is preferable. With your set up you need something pretty solid.


Kent in SD



Aug 07, 2017 at 11:44 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


It's nice to have a decent ball head, to use with the Wimberley Sidekick for your 500, and without the Sidekick for smaller lenses.

I rarely use my 500/4L IS on a tripod, most often for astro shots, I suppose. Otherwise, I use a monopod for most stationary targets; Manfrotto Neo-Tec (heavy, long, great one-handed operation) or Feisol CM-1471 Rapid, with a RRS MH-01 monopod head that I share between the monopods.

Edited on Aug 07, 2017 at 11:54 PM · View previous versions



Aug 07, 2017 at 11:51 PM
 

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chez
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


If you don't mind carrying a few extra pounds to your location, there are deals on used aluminum tripods that are extremely stable, like the older Manfroto tripods that are rock solid.

Today you can spend upwards of over $1,000 for a named brand and I highly doubt they would provide more stability than a used aluminum Manfroto that can be had for $150.



Aug 07, 2017 at 11:53 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


chez wrote:
If you don't mind carrying a few extra pounds to your location, there are deals on used aluminum tripods that are extremely stable, like the older Manfroto tripods that are rock solid.


That's what I use (most often) with my 500/4L IS; a big, old Manfrotto 055GS tripod with Monfrotto 468MG head, and Wimberley Sidekick.




Aug 07, 2017 at 11:56 PM
elkhornsun
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


Best tripod for the lens that I have found is the Feisol CT-3472 which is also short enough when collapsed to hand carry on board a small plane. Super sturdy and I use it with my 11 lb. 600mm f/4 lens with no issues. I also have a Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod that cost twice as much and is 8 inches taller when fully extended but otherwise no better in build quality or performance.

The absolute best gimbal head is the one from Custom Brackets. If cost is no object it is the one to get. It is unique in having multiple tool-less adjustments that can be made and also in having a special stop lever. The stop lever makes it so if you accidentally remove the camera from the lens and offset the balance having forgotten to lock down the gimbal pivot, the lens drops by 10 degrees and is stopped by the lever. The lever can be moved out of the way completely when shooting up or down at an extreme angle.

When it comes to tripod height I ignore any height gain from a center column as I am not going to use it with a heavy lens. I also consider the height I need when shooting up into trees as this requires about 8 inches more height than if I am photographing subjects at my level. So 54" tripod height is OK for general shooting with a ball head and Sidekick or a gimball head attached, but when I want height the CT-3472 goes up to 59 inches and for extreme situations the RRS TVC-34L goes to a height of 69 inches. Problem with the RRS tripod is that fully collapsed it is 24.4 inches long and so I do not take it when flying to a destination.

I love the Wimberely Sidekick as I can convert a ball head into a gimbal head in seconds. It works with the weight of my 500mm f/4 lens if I use the Kirk BH-1 ball head. A RRS "55" would also be OK but with lesser ball heads the leveraged loading with the Sidekick will cause the ball to move if a heavy lens is attached.

The Wimberley Sidekick requires attaching the lens on one side and not the bottom. Not a problem with my Nikon lenses but I could not mount a Sigma 150-600mm S lens to the Sidekick for this reason.



Aug 09, 2017 at 11:15 PM
castlekeeper01
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Seeking basic tripod and head advice


As both a home builder and photographer I'm a believer in using the right tool for the job, without compromises. While some may "make do" with adapted versions of tools, I've never found "cheaper" or "more versatile" to actually produce better outcomes. Price and convenience always come at a performance cost.

So it is for me with full gimbals and sturdy tripods versus side mounts on ball heads. Even in my mid sixties, with bad knees and cranky back I still prefer to set up my long lens on a stable platform that provides full range of motion and rock solid security for it's $$ payload.

I have used both Wimberley's WH-200 and Sidekick, as well as Induro's GHB2. I've used the Sidekick with Kirk, RRS, Gitzo and Acratech ball heads. Depending on the camera body & lens, the various heads with the Sidekick had minor differences. All handled my 100-400 and Tamron 150-600 fairly well. But with a 600 and 200-400 none were as solid, balanced or smooth as the either of the full gimbals. I noticed the difference most when tracking targets moving erratically. Relatively flat panning isn't as demanding.

I tried the Sidekick to lower weight and simplify gear for travel and outdoor shoots with significant hiking, mud, etc. such as big game stalks and waterfowl hunting. In the end I found the extra fiddling with the ballhead and Sidekick just not worth the weight and bulk saving. Plus the full gimbal knobs were easier with cold hands/gloves. The Sidekick was most useful for horse and car racing, and birds of prey - pretty simple traverse and panning. I didn't like it as much at the Dayton Air Show.

As to tripods - I've never had an issue with a good, sufficiently stout tripod as far as stability goes. I use Gitzo and RRS and Benro and Manfrotto ... they are all fine if they are rated about 2X the weight of my gear.

.






Aug 11, 2017 at 07:15 PM







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