Sponsor Message:
Aviation Photography Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Best Tripod For $$$  
User currently offlineevall95 From Australia, joined Aug 2011, 306 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3961 times:

Hey guys,

just staring to get really into night time photography and love it. I have gotten some good results but it is very difficult to get sharp shots and low ISO. I am looking into buying a new tripod to help me. I just want a tripod which is quite sturdy and which can support my body + 70-200 2.8 and which is worth the $$$. My price range would be around $200 AU but if someone recommends something more than that I will consider it.


8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3924 times:

Its a while since I bought a tripod, so I'm not up-to-date with latest models and prices, but I would seriously consider looking at this as two purchases - a set of legs and a separate head. If you intend to pan at all, the sturdiest tripod is worthless unless you can get a very smooth action from the head, and one which can be precisely adjusted to give the amount of tension which suits you.

Given your budget, I'd have a look at the 2nd hand market. Lots of people have traded in their aluminium tripods for carbon fibre, so if you can put up with a little extra weight, you can get some good bargains. Just make sure that the leg locking mechanism is still sound.

Although not the most exciting bit of kit, many people skimp on tripods which I think is a big mistake. Personally I don't like using them, but when I have to, I want to be sure it will do the job - I've tried 'budget' models in the past and all these do is give a false sense of security.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineevall95 From Australia, joined Aug 2011, 306 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3920 times:

I've been looking around and have come across this one. http://www.camerasdirect.com.au/manfrotto-055xb-tripod-legs
has anyone had any experience with it? will it hold my body + 70-200 f2.8?

User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3905 times:

This is a model that's been round forever, and with good reason. I bought a 2nd hand example 15 years ago which is still going strong. Only criticism is that it is a bit heavy compared to newer carbon fibre designs.

Since I use mine with a 500 f4 on a gimbal mount (pretty much at the limit of its load carrying capacity!) I'm certain it will work very well with your 70-200mm.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineevall95 From Australia, joined Aug 2011, 306 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3904 times:

ok thanks for the advice. Do you have any advice on good heads?

User currently offlinecobra27 From Slovenia, joined May 2001, 1009 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3892 times:

Gorilla pod? Its not a regular tripod, but works like a charm

I got mine for 15 €

User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3889 times:

Sorry, no. I mostly use the tripod with a 500mm and Sidekick which is not really suitable for a 70-200

For smaller lenses I use a ballhead - which isn't particularly good, so i can't recommend it - but as I don't tend to pan on the tripod with small lenses, it's good enough for keeping the camera in a fixed position.

The type of head will very much depend on the type of photography you're doing, and how important tilt and pan are. Some people prefer a ball head, others a pan and tilt head (as used with video cameras).

In either case the thing to look out for is
1 - smoothness of action - cheaper ones tend to start moving with a bit of a jerk.
2- degree of control over the tension/tightness - mine tends to go from locked solid to completely loose with what seems a millimeter of movement on the adjustment screw!

I think with heads, you pretty much get what you pay for. The materials which will ensure consistent performance for years are not cheap.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlinemzungo From Canada, joined Feb 2013, 1 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 3776 times:

I have a Manfrotto 294a3 with the qr ball head


it is very sturdy, tall, and will easily hold my D7000 with the 70-200 2.8 stuck on the top of it

User currently offlineGeezer From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 1479 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (1 year 4 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3748 times:

Quoting ckw (Reply 3):
Since I use mine with a 500 f4 on a gimbal mount (pretty much at the limit of its load carrying capacity!) I'm certain it will work very well with your 70-200mm.
Quoting ckw (Reply 6):
think with heads, you pretty much get what you pay for. The materials which will ensure consistent performance for years are not cheap.

I couldn't have said it better !

evall95; Listen carefully to everything CKW is telling you; it's the best advice you'll ever get on this forum; DO NOT buy a tripod /with pan-tilt head as a unit; buy a set of legs FIRST; you can find an aluminum Gitzo on eBay for $200 or there a bouts; and you'll have a MUCH better tripod. there are all sorts of things to consider about tripods; mainly, what kind of thing you're going to be putting on them; you already have the el primo lens ! I have an aluminum Gitzo 340 that was probably 20 years old when I bought the thing 12 years ago; and if you saw it now, you would assume that I bought it new last week; there are a lot of reasons why Gitzo tripods cost "more"; but you don't necessarily have to "pay"; it all depends on where you buy it at.

When it come to ball heads; there are a BUNCH of them out there, and everyone tends to thing their's is the "BEST";
a whole bunch of things determine "how good" a ball head is; how much weight it's rated to hold is only about 30% of it, even though it is VERY important; the really "critical" thing is....... what does it take to "set" the thing ? ( make the camera with big lens go from "moving freely" to feeling like it's in a vise, with the vise "real tight".) I have only owned one such ball head; and I'm not going to bother you with my opinion; you can form your own opinion; all you need is some experienced advice on what to look at before buying anything.

Having said that.......I use an Arca Swiss B2; I bought it from probably the nicest man in the U.K. about 12 or 13 years ago;
the B-2 is rated to hold a load of 45 pounds; (at the time, more than any other head of it's size) I seriously doubt if that's changed much since then. The absolute best thing about the Arca B2 is, the big (possibly 30mm) round knob that "sets" it......you DON"T "tighten" it........you merely "move it", ever so slightly ..........and you can hang a 20 pound sand bag from the front of your 70-200, and it's like hanging it from a big iron pipe ! You can not explain with words how smoothly a B2 "sets"; you just have to "feel" one to understand it; But that's just the first half; ball heads are PERFECT for panorama work; B 2's were made with and without a pano function; mine has pano; it has a 360 degree scale around the base, and a small knob which locks the pano movement;

For anyone seriously interested in doing a lot of panoramas, there is one (rather pricey, naturally) "gadget" that makes pano's a breeze; when you sit a tripod with a ball head down on anything other than perfectly flat, level ground/ floor, it tends to take a lot of diddling around with the legs to get the ball head perfectly level; and for panos, it NEEDS to be perfectly level; Gitzo makes what they call a "leveling base"; it mounts in/on the "spider" ( the more or less triangular "thing" that the three legs attach to); then the center column (if you're using it) is free to move on it's own spherical "upside down" surface, and you merely watch the spirit levels, tighten a knob, and in 1/10 the time it took me to type it....the head is dead level, (regardless of what angle the three legs are at. ( yet another reason why the top landscape guys have been using Gitzos forever, and will continue to do so. ) quite apart from being built incredibly well, they are also just so "adaptable" to different kinds of shooting.

OK......only one more thing to look at; the material the tripod is made out of; you have about 3 own 4 to choose fro,; but only two that really make much difference.

CF.........can't be beat; the BEST material on the planet for tripods; however.....CF is VERY expensive to buy, even for people who make tripods; and it's MUCH harder to work with than aluminum. so CF pods ALWAYS cost more; (all but the cheap ones); but avoid those; the reasons being far beyond the scope of this post; I've never really weighed my Gitzo 340, but I can't think it plus the Arca B2 are more the 5 or 6 pounds; but I'm just guessing. If I had a set of CF legs, I know I could leave at least 2, maybe 3 pounds at home; (but I'd also have to cough up another $600 for the legs), (and I already have a great tripod), so you can see why I'm still doing what I've been doing; still lugging around that extra few pounds!

At the end of the day, there's only one way you will ever know why guys like me, and guys like Colin say what we say about tripods and heads; if you ever attach your D-4 (with 70-200/f2.8 attached) to a B-2 sitting on a decent tripod, you'll see in 2 minutes why we tell everyone it's the way to go. ( I forgot to mention, but I gave Tony 180 "pounds" for my "like new" B2; I've been supper glad ever since I tried my sons B2, and realized I needed one too! ) There are many more great ball heads out there someplace; none that will hold as much, and weigh as little though. (And I hate to talk about things I haven't used a lot.)

I would be remiss if I didn 't add......for anything longer than a full sized D SLR and 70-200/ f2.8........I'd forget about a Ball head and get a gimble head; I have a very good friend who shoots with an D-4 and a huge 400 mm/ f 4 AF, VR, and she swears by her new Induro gimbal head; there's a bunch of really good gimbals available now, but none of therm are cheap.

I'll say just one more thing; if you're like a lot of people who are currently shooting with, say, a D 7000, and are having fits waiting for Nikon to"come out" with a D 400...........it will probably be a great camera........assuming it doesn't have oil all over the sensor, and assuming everything else "works"; but if I was in that position, I would buy a great tripod and ball head FIRST, because I think it will have a better chance of improving you pictures much quicker than a new camera body will; (and Nikon will probably "put a contract on me" for saying so ! )

To me, photography isn't about the "latest and greatest" equipment; it's more about making great pictures, that make people go "wowee"; believe me, very few people are "impressed" by what camera you have hanging from your neck; ( more expensive one WILL attract a lot more thieves though.)

Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein
Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
Best Head On Tripod For Tracking posted Tue Oct 15 2002 14:18:41 by Wirraway
Best Places For Views At CLT posted Tue Feb 19 2013 10:03:03 by MrCazzy
Best Months For Visiting LAX / LAS? posted Tue Feb 12 2013 07:49:10 by JakTrax
Best Equipment For Orly Airport? posted Sat Feb 2 2013 15:40:01 by korpenko
Best Hotels For Spotting posted Sun Aug 19 2012 08:02:32 by flywrite
Best Places For Skyline Shots In Various Cities. posted Thu Aug 2 2012 06:31:20 by bingo296
Best Camera For Nighttime Shots? posted Sat Jul 21 2012 20:51:14 by PHX787
Best Time For Heavies And Cargo - MIA posted Mon May 21 2012 09:03:18 by jcoz
Best Lenses For Spotting Aircraft At 35,000ft posted Sun Apr 15 2012 17:17:17 by xms3200
Best Camera For Taking Images posted Thu Apr 12 2012 00:39:35 by avfan