BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
 

Tripod and Tripod Head


I need to get a good tripod and tripod head and don't really know what's best and what I should be looking for. I have a Canon Digital Rebel (300D) SLR. The two lenses I use most are my Canon EF24-70mm F2.8L USM (a fairly heavy lens) and Canon EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM.

I want to be able to use the tripod for outdoor shots (uneven terrain, etc), but I am also going to need it to do some studio portrait shots (I'm setting up a mobile studio). Is there a single tripod that would be good to use for both situations?

Thanks,
Wendy


To love this question, log in above
3/4/2005 12:42:53 PM

 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Oh - also - which would be better for these situations: a 3-way pan head or ball head, etc? Thanks!


To love this comment, log in above
3/4/2005 12:45:13 PM

 
Michael H. Cothran   Wendy,
I firmly believe in buying quality once, and not having to replace it. As with your meter inquiry, the same holds true for a tripod. Buy the very best quality you can afford. Nothing is as bad as a cheap tripod.
For me, Gitzo is the only brand I would buy. I currently own two of them - a heavy weight for the studio, and a light weight for field use. Your equipment, including the 24-70/2.8 are all pretty lightweight when it comes to support, so any Gitzo will easily support them. Manfrotto (Bogen) is very popular too, but they are cheaply made, and break easily (I speak from experience!). Just as in hand meters, Gitzo makes a large variety of tripods, and any are as good as they get. Their most recent line is their Mountaineer tripod - a carbon fiber tripod which will hold a lot of weight, but is extremely lightweight itself.
I'd opt for no more than 3 legs whatever you buy, and one that will raise at least a few inches higher than your eyes. Legs that will spread flat is also a good option in the field.
As far as heads go, I have both ball heads and pan heads. My favorite all time head is the smaller of two Kirk ballheads - very smooooooth and solid. Pan heads have an advantage if you intend to "pan" during exposure. Otherwise, ball heads are much easier to operate since they have only one lever to tighten and loosen for operation. Pan heads have 3 levers to tighten - you'll spend your life away just trying to set up the bloody thing for each shot! By all means, start with a ball head, and you can always add a pan head later if you are so inclined. If you can afford it, I'd get a lightweight Gitzo with the smaller Kirk ball head. Again, you won't be sorry - you'll never have to replace either, and you'll make a lot of good impressions with other photographers - they'll automatically think you're a "pro" just because you know your equipment so well! Ha.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 11:19:52 AM

 
  Manfrotto by bogen with a 3030 head. I use my tripod for weddings and surf photography. Very strong and lite. I like the ball, but wouldn't trust it with a heavy camera and lens. I leave my leavers just a tad loose and manuever my camera like a machine gun. And when I shoot the shot I hold my breath. Never have a blurry pic

Spent $260, priceless


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 11:41:27 AM

 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Thanks for the advice, guys. The Manfrotto by bogen with the 3030 head is one that I had looked at because I saw it listed in the reviews here. Michael, I was looking at the Gitzo's today - what is the difference between a rapid column and a geared column and what should be considered for each?


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 3:22:13 PM

 
Michael H. Cothran   A geared column has gears on it, and a crank to wind it up and down. I don't like these personally. The rapid column does not have gears. It is smooth. You loosen it with a twist of your hand, then simply slide it up or down, then lock in place.
I don't want to sound like a Gitzo salesman here, but in reference to the column, one of the nice things about Gitzo is that you can custom design your tripod when buying it, whereas the Bogen only comes with the geared column. If you plan to do much shooting close to the ground, as in flower photography, small children, etc., the geared column or even the rapid column may get in the way of lowering your tripod sufficiently. The Bogen will not allow you to get too close to the ground.
As a result, I purchased the rapid column AND a SHORT column for both my Gitzos. The short column allows the tripod legs to spread out all the way, so I can literally be at ground level if necessary. But this is only important if you ever plan to be at ground level with your tripod.
I'd go somewhere where you can see the tripods. I know the Manfrotto line is the most popular tripod on the market, and I don't want to "sell" you on something you don't want or need. Test them out at a camera store, and make a wise decision. My two Gitzo's have a lifetime warranty, and I presume that new Gitzo's still do.
Also, go to Kirk Enterprises website, and read about their ball heads. There is real quality in these heads.
I believe if you could compare the tripods and heads side by side, you would have no doubt which is the better built, but even with that, you may decide that the Bogen will suit your needs just fine.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 6:51:09 PM

 
Bob Cournoyer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2003
Contact Bob
Bob's Gallery
bobslens.com
  Okay, I'll put in a plug for a tripod from Dutchhill.com (in a pinch you could even joust with it or jack up your car) and a ballhead from Reallyrightstuff.com

Bob


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 6:55:17 PM

 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  This is really useful information, Michael. I'm glad you told me about the short column - I will definitely want that. I will be shooting mostly babies and children in my studio. Right now I have to lie on my stomach and hand-hold my camera. With wiggly infants sometimes that will be what is necessary for tight close-ups where I sometimes have to recompose several times. But I can definitely see a use for having a tripod that can get that close to the ground for those not-so-tight shots.

You've been wonderful - thank you so much!

Wendy


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 6:59:26 PM

 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Thanks, Bob! I'll check those out too!


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 7:01:19 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  hey Wendy, with the Bogen your about kneehigh form the ground. If you wanted to get close to the ground you could dig a hole for the middle column


To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 9:14:08 PM

 
Wendy Ellis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Heehee. Thanks, Slick!


To love this comment, log in above
3/16/2005 12:50:28 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.