Tracking Down the Right Tripod

by | Jan 27, 2011 | Recommendations | 1 comment

The principles of finding the right tripod is not much different than finding anything else relating to photography, such as a compact camera. Therefore, having just finished going through the process of researching and purchasing a new tripod, I will expound more on why I chose the tripod that I did.

After several years of observation, a trip to a local photography shop for hands on examination, and 5 hours of research one night, I arrived at these prerequisites:

ball headBall Head

  • Socket vs. Joystick. This was a difficult decision to make, but I didn’t want to be restricted to having only one hand on the camera while the the ball was in the released position.
  • One knob to release the ball. I knew this didn’t make for absolutely accurate panoramas, but I didn’t want to untighten more knobs than I had to.
  • Around 1lb. The less weight the better, for the most part.

tripodTripod

  • Carbon Fiber construction. I had heard much about the benefits of  this expensive material. Yes, it costs twice as much as aluminum, but knowing that I will be traveling often, I decided the lightweight, durable, scratch-proof, jitter-absorbent material was worth the investment.
  • Over 10lb load capacity. Adding the weight of the camera, battery-pack, flash, tripod head and the largest lens I envisioned me using in the next 5 years, I concluded that, to be safe, the total amount of weight the tripod could hold should be over 10lbs.
  • Standing height of 51in (with the center column down). I added the height of the camera and ball head to determine what the height of the tripod should be for the most comfortable usage. I kept in mind that you can always slightly raise the camera using a tripod’s vertical column, but that you can never quickly make it lower.
  • Total weight of less than 4lbs. The tripod I had been using recently was almost 7lbs. It was heavy, bulky, and a drag to carry around; I only used it in absolutely necessary situations.
    • Lever leg locks (vs. twist). Though it makes for a slightly bulkier tripod, levers speed up set-up and tear-down time.
  • Q90 mechanism. I really wanted  the quick vertical/horizontal repositioning feature of the vertical column after having seen it work in action.
  • 3-number of leg sections. Though 4 leg sections makes for a smaller tripod, they are often heavier and take a lot more time to set up and tear down.
  • Multiple leg angles. Almost all tripods these days allow for this, but I wanted to make sure.
  • Less than $400. I don’t buy camera equipment often, but when I do, I want the best quality I can get within a reasonable budget.

So with all this in mind, I went online to see if I could find something! At first I thought nothing would meet all these requirements, but to my amazement, I found exactly what I wanted: a Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod with 496RC2 ball head. Praise the Lord!

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is contemplating the purchase of a tripod!

1 Comment

  1. Benjamin Cahill

    Nice research. At this point, the tripod I currently have (Velbon VGB-3) does what I want, and I doubt I will ever exceed it’s capabilities (I would not hesitate putting 15+ pounds on it any day). Even though it is solid metal as far as I can tell (except for the camera contact surface and feet covers), it only weighs 5.0 lbs (with a quick measurement from the bathroom scale).

    I may be looking for another tripod in the future, however, for travelling, especially since the Velbon is quite large :).

    I do, however, prefer a solid camera plate rather than a removable one. I have heard many say that they prefer the latter because of the speed of access, although in my case, I can remove the camera in well under three seconds, and it only takes around five seconds to put it back on. Also, there’s nothing to lose or forget, especially when using another’s camera :), and one less point of failure.

    I will definitely bookmark this if/when I look for a tripod in future.

    God bless!

    Reply

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