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:
- 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.
- 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!