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Photography Question 
Kimberly J. Whipps
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/10/2005

Tripod Overload

I need to buy a tripod, but there are so many I don't even know where to start. I am shooting with a Canon EOS 20D, (that my husband just bought for me!) with a 28-135mm lens. Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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2/15/2005 8:13:37 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  Basically you look for a tripod head that can support the total weight of the camera, lens and possibly the flash (with batteries, of course) and the leg that can support the total weight of the equipment plus the weight of the head. Also you have to decide to get a ball head or a 3-way pan head (and there are gear heads, which are very expensive). Some of the tripods come with the head (which cannot be separated) and some you can mix and match. Some of the tripods are heavy and some are lighter but more expensive (carbon fiber). Also you have to consider if you will get a bigger/longer/heavier lens in the future. Etc, etc.

The Gitzo, Manfrotto, SLIK, and Tiltall are some of the big names and you can't go wrong. You can go to their respective sites and check out their products. If there is a (real) camera store around you, go and check out the tripods too. So you can have a feel of how to operate, the weight and sturdiness.

After lots of research and actually handle the tripods in a camera store, I decided to purchase the Manfrotto 719B Digi series. It is light weight (about 3 lb.) and can support up to 8 lb. of gear, with the price just under US $100. It is quite sturdy and came with a carrying bag. It can support the similar gear as yours (I have a Elan instead of the 20D and I always have an external flash on my camera). Although the 719B is discontinued, it is replaced by a newer 724B (ball head version; also just under US $100) and the 728B (3-way pan head WITH quick release plate; less than a pound heavier and US $15 more than the 724B). Hopefully other pros will recommend their choices to you.

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2/16/2005 7:25:20 AM

Michael H. Cothran   You are absolutely correct in your assessment that there is an overload of tripods available. However, if you narrow your choice to "quality" tripods, you will eliminate 95% of the offerings. You now have a really nice camera and lens combo. Do yourself a favor and buy a good quality tripod, that you will not have to replace anytime soon. I would avoid ANY tripod that you can get from a department store.
Personally, I use Gitzo. They are guaranteed for life, and are arguably the best built tripods available. They make a carbon fiber unit that is super light weight, and very durable. Other firms have also joined the bandwagon of carbon fiber tripods.
I bought a Bogen/Manfrotto once, and tripped over it in the field, snapping one of its legs in two. Really cheap materials.
In tripod terms, your camera outfit is super light, and does not require anything heavy duty.
However, just as important as the tripod is the HEAD you put on it. I would recommend a good quality BALL head for general shooting. Again Gitzo heads are unbeatable, but I recently bought a small ballhead from Kirk Enterprises that is the best head I've ever owned.
My only real recommendation is to not scimp on buying a good tripod. And like most quality things in life, you buy it once, and you won't have to again. Then, budget in a good quality ball head (check out Kirk Enterprises online).
If you buy a cheaply built tripod, I can guarantee you'll be sorry.
One other thing - be sure to TURN OFF the image stabilizer in your 28-135 lens when mounted to a tripod!
Michael H. Cothran

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2/16/2005 7:48:00 AM

Kimberly J. Whipps
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/10/2005
  Thank you Andy and Michael. I appreciate your time and answers. I think I will be going to Pro Photo Supply in Portland so I can touch. That is always a plus. They also have used equipment which might be nice for the cost. Thanks again

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2/16/2005 8:36:48 AM

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