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Photography Question 
Jake Trexel


I am 6 ft 6, and I am looking for a Complete Tripod with Head that will work with my height. What do you recommend ?
Thanks again for your help

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1/8/2006 1:14:24 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  A search on adorama or B&H for a tripod with that fully extended height.

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1/8/2006 1:31:34 PM

William Dl Barentine   I too am tall, and had to have a decent tripod for work. I found that what works for me is the Bogen-Manfrotto, 3047 head on the 3021 legs...It is heavy though! Not so god for field work! Beware of the "knock-off's" on Ebay! The ball head types are sadly: "dangerous"! If you have any respect for your cameras or lenses, stay away from them, I know! I bought one, with the legs identical to the 3021. The legs were ok, but the ball head has NO friction at all, and even having been a machinist for years, there was NO way to make it work better! It is junk! Buy the Bogen head and legs! It was worth the extra $100.00!!! Believe me!

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1/9/2006 1:22:50 AM

Bob Fately   Jake, may I point out some things to consider?

First, if you follow Gregory's advise and look at specifications for maximum height, remember to add a few inches to accommodate the distance from the bottom of the camera (top of ball head) to the viewfinder.

Second, while a tripod tall enough for you to use without stooping over sounds comfortable, remember that there may be times (perhaps many times) when for asthetic reasons you will want to have the tripod closer to the ground (perhaps to capture some more foreground in the shot). ALso, remember that if "max height" includes extending the center column, the entire unit becomes more vibration-prone.

You mention neither budget nor capacity requirements - are you using a point & shoot camera or a 500mm f5.6 monster lens? Do you expect to pay $100 or $1000 (or more)? As WIlliam alludes, the weight of the tripod might bear on how willing you are to carry it around, especially if you plan to take nature shots and will hike a bit with it.

In terms of brands, Manfrotto and Gitzo are both excellent (they're both now owned by the same holding company; the former is made in Italy and the latter in France). You could also consider buying the tripod legs separate from the ball head - companies like Acratech, ReallyRightStuff, Arca-Swiss and others make outstanding ball heads that can be expensive, but are rock solid - you don't want to carefully set up a shot, tighten the head, and have the camera droop a quarter inch.

Besides the above brands, there are still some makers of wooden tripods (Ries is one of them) - again, these can get costly, but wood has some advantageous properties of its own. It absorbs vibrations well and won't freeze to your shoulder if you carry it through the fields on a cold day.

One caution - like most things, you get what you pay for - if you buy a cl=heap unit (less than about $100) AND you have heavy gear to hold on it, you may well be disappointed.

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1/9/2006 2:14:46 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  And like Bob mentioned, max height is usually with center column extended, and doing this makes a very nice tripod into a monopod (or so to speak). things do get wobbly up there. also if you're going to do portraits, a good starting point to shoot is eye level with the subject so you'll probably be stooping anyways. I have the manfrotto 3011N legs and 3030 head and they are both highly recommended by me, though they don't reach the 78" you want.

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1/9/2006 2:40:33 PM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Jake, I'll second William's recommendation for the Bogan-Manfroyyt combination of the 3021 tripod and the 3047 head. I'm not quite as tall as you, but at 6'2", I can look through the viewfinder of my Nikon D70 without extending the center column at all and without bending down. You may have to extend the column a minimal amount to accomodate your additional 4", but that shouldn't affect the stability of the tripod.


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1/9/2006 3:47:37 PM

William Dl Barentine   Very valid points here!
I know, I have a 1600mm lens that is nearly 26 inches long and 4 1/2 inches in diameter. You need a "good quality" ball head to support it, as it weighs in just over 14 lbs!
I chose the "pan" type head over a ball head for it, as I need the additional support, and a ball head can get "wobbly" and hard to control when you have that much hanging over it! Especially when you want to move it just a fraction of an inch in only one direction! Mine seems to drigt terribly with it, but works great when I'm using my wide angle lenes!
I think it greatly depends on what you need the tripod to do, and if you are like me, you may need 2 different models, so you have a light weight one for out-of-doors in the field, and a heavier one for studio type usage.
I recently made a mistake by taking my heavier one with me into the field for some scenic photos. It was a monster to carry and badly bruised my shoulder, even though it was in a carrying bag and had a padded strap.
But,...when it came time to shoot the necessary "time" exposures in the Antelope "slot" Canyons, it was a life saver!
It's a trade-off at times!
Buy the best you can afford!!!
If need be, they actually have a "wheel kit" you can get for the heavier models!

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1/9/2006 9:28:06 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005

All the info here is good.
I can only add this..The higher you go, less stability sets in..The "shakes" etc...

I know when I shoot products, I collapse the tripod fully and even hang weight from the lower mid support.
I'd rather raise my table than raise my tripod.

Now if you're shooting fast, then it makes little difference.
I never cease to be amazed how "mirror slap" can ruin a photo.
A good tripod should have the ability to absorb this "slap."


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1/10/2006 3:17:10 AM

Jake Trexel   I thank all of you for your help. Please let me tell you a little more. I am using a FM3a, 100-300 lens with a 2x teleconverter. I am hoping that the above setup will allow me to get the pictures I want, since I just purshased it. I am taking pictures of bugs and flowers. I am severely disabled and cannot hold the camera steady any more, nor can I get down on the ground like I did 30 years ago. I found and B&H a 74.8" Silk Pro 700 dx, for $130 so far. Thanks you, and I would appreacite any other comments since you know more about me. PS: I will only be shooting in my back yard.

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1/10/2006 10:54:11 AM

Bob Fately   Hey, Jake - a question on the lens you're using - does it have a tripod "foot" built into it? Often those big zooms don't - and without one I don't know how well any tripod will be able to hold your gear if you must attach it to the base of the camera body. That is, if you put the body on the tripod and have a long lens sticking out front, the entire assembly may not be all that stable.

Also, as for the close up shots you say you want to take - if the lens you have does not have a macro feature built it you can still add the so-called close-up lenses. These look like and attach like filters to the front of the lens, but allow you to focus much closer so you can fill the frame with the flower or whatever. They are also less distorting than teleconverters, and they don't cause any loss of light transmission so your f4 lens is still an f4 lens. Just a thought.

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1/10/2006 1:43:29 PM

Jake Trexel   Thanks again. I did not know the teleconverter caused distortion. Do you know what type of lens I can put on my FM3a so that I can still stand up, and take a picture of a pansy. I tried it with my 100 to 300 Nikon lens and it comes out way to small. There is no way that I can bend down to get the picture. I need to take the pictture standing up. I tought of a spotting scope, 15 to 60 power, but it was an over kill.
I really appreaciate all of your help.

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1/10/2006 1:56:51 PM

Bob Fately   Well, Jake, the reality is that there are not any photographic lenses designed to bring a 2" pansy up to 1:2 ratio (so it fills the frame on the camera) from a distance of more than a couple of feet.

In the world of macro lenses, the longest are the 180-200MM macros (Nikon and Sigma as well as others make these) - they allow for about 18" of working room when shooting for a 1:1 reproduction ratio (that is, a 1/2" diameter subject will be projected as a 1/2" diameter image on the film or chip itself - you can then enlarge as you wish thereafter).

If you use a close-up filter (as I described above) on a telephoto lens, you still don't get a lot of "magnification" in the sense you describe. You can see a shot I took with an 80-200 f2.8 lens plus Canon 500D close-up filter on my site - the one called paperwhites was taken with that combination from a distance of about 30 inches. The site is

But a lens that's 4-5 feet away from the subject being able to bring in that level of closeness - nothing out there is made for this per se. One possible alternative could be to use a long telephoto (like a 300MM or longer) along with a suitable extension tube - this is basically a light-tight tube (no lenses inside it) that mere puts the actual lens some distance out from the camera. The effect is to allow for closer focus, though it does cause some light loss. You might need a 400MM lens with 200MM of extension to allow you to focus as close as you want, though.

I'm sorry - I cannot think of any other alternatives. Perhaps someone else will have a thought.

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1/10/2006 4:54:24 PM

Jake Trexel   How do you think this lens would work for me. Tamron Telephoto SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus Lens for Nikon AF
Mfr# AFB01N700 B&H# TA18035NAF

and how close would I have to be to get a nice size picture of a pansy.
thanks again

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1/11/2006 2:04:35 PM

Bob Fately   Jake, I'm sorry for the delay in responding...

I have the Sigma 180 macro, which I'm assuming is about the same as the Tamron. On my film camera, to get two US quarters side-by-side to fill the frame the front of the lens needs to be about 1 foot from them, meaning that my eye at the eyepiece of the camera is about 18-20 inches away from the subject.

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1/15/2006 5:22:48 PM

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