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Photography Question 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004

film scanner or tripod

Well, I'm looking for some opinions here on which of these two things I should buy.

Either the Canoscan 8400F flatbed scanner (mostly for scanning medium format film and just getting film digitized for display online and to show about how I would like a final print to look from a lab if I needed a big print.

Some kind of Manfrotto tripod. I saw some a few months ago for sale at B&H for around $100. They said that they could hold around 5lbs, give or take. I have to pretty good tripods and I can get some great photos with them even with the 20D with a 200mm f/2.8L lens at around 1/100 second.

I have a normal flatbed scanner in my Dell printer but it doesn't scan very well. It's got a lot of noise in the form of horizontal lines and other artifacts. I also need something to scan some of my 35mm and medium format film, if not to print, to be able to get an idea of what I want to have done or to display online.

As I said, my tripods work very well and I rarely have shaky photos from my 35mm rebel, 20D with any lens, or my new twin lens reflex. The only thing I'm concerned about is when I get my Mamiya 645 manual camera that I'm looking at. It looks like it's balanced very well and would sit well on the tripods I have, however, I'm not sure about the mirror slap.

I really need the scanner but I would really like a new tripod that could probably hold a lot better than the ones I have now. Also, the ones I have now don't work well vertically. It usually tilts a little past vertical and makes for wasted time.

Thanks for any helpful opinions you can contribute!

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3/31/2006 8:02:46 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004

I have $150.

The tripods I was referring to were the:


714B with ball head and case

718B with 3way pan/tilt head

Both support 5.5lbs.

Also, I would like to have more money left over but for just over $150 I see, by the same manufacturer, the:

3001BN with 3030 3-way pan/tilt head (quick release)

oh, haha, and I see they have the same thing with a free camera case included for the same price.

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3/31/2006 8:09:09 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Andrew,
This is an interesting inquiry. Most would ask for "which" scanner to buy, or "which" tripod to buy. not WHETHER to buy a scanner OR a tripod.'s my two cents worth in a nutshell -

Short version - $150 will go a lot further on a tripod than it will a scanner. Period.

Long version - After reading your inquiry thoroughly, it sounds like you have a lot of unrelated camera equipment, and more than one tripod already. And with more unrelated equipment coming on the horizon.
Now it certainly is nice to be able to experiment with different kinds of equipment, especially different format cameras, etc. But...if you're on a tight budget, you might be just spreading yourself a little thin here. I'd take a deep breath, and assess where you are, and where you want to be (photographically speaking). I see myself 30 years ago where you are now - looking lovingly at medium format. My first medium format camera was a Yashica twin lens, and once I developed my first roll of 120 film, I was hooked. And remain hooked to this day. And believe me, I have squandered a small fortune on camera equipment, trying this and that. So I speak with authority.
And that said, on the issue of tripods, I believe you have already wasted too much money. Especially if you own more than one now, and plan to buy another. This indicates to me that you are not spending wisely, but cheaply - which always ends up NOT being cheap in the long run. Instead of owning several inexpensive, possibly cheaply made tripods, perhaps if you could save a little more money, and purchase ONE quality tripod that would last the rest of your life, and support your equipment better. I went through a couple of inexpensive tripods early in my career, including a Bogen/Manfrotto, which broke a leg after a couple of months. In 1985 I decided to buy a quality Gitzo tripod. I still own and use it today. Quality lasts, my friend. And if it doesn't, it also has a lifetime warranty!!
With medium format in your future, I'd strongly recommend a tripod that can support AT LEAST 10 pounds. 20 lbs would even be better.

Buying something inexpensive just because it's all you can afford is not necessarily a wise decision. In many cases, it's simply better NOT to buy, and wait until you can afford better quality. In my opinion, the tripod fits this scenario.
As far as the scanner goes, I don't think you'll be too happy with a $150 scanner. It would suffice for scanning text documents and photographs, but not so much for 35mm and 120 film. Which means, that just like the tripod, you'll be buying another in the near future, and possibly another and another.
Good luck.
Michael H. Cothran

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3/31/2006 9:08:06 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Thanks for the help! Yeah, I have "in my possesion" three tripods. One was $20 that I got when I first got my camera which worked great for around a year for what I needed it for. Then last summer I was at a garage sale and got a pretty decent one that was used to hold up one of the older video cameras that would take a full size VHS tape but the stuff for vertical was lost, the pin that held it steady. I actually got that for around $3. Then a close friend of mine who's possibly around your age or older (am I flattering too much? lol) is letting me use a decent quantaray which is a little better than the garage sale one in terms of vertical shooting. So I'm borrowing that for an undetermined amount of time. So, luckily I haven't spent that much money on it all. Around $25 at the most. I'm not sure about what to do with my film that I need scanned. There's no way that I could pay for a real medium format film scanner but I can't make prints of all of my slides and negatives. It's vicous at this point since I don't have a job during the school year. I will be getting the medium format for school though and I haven't bought anything new for my 35mm for quite a while. Though, I do have my digital haha. I feel pretty good with what I have for the 35mm film and digital department, so I guess I wouldn't be using it for 35mm but I saw somebody wrote that 120 could sometimes get away with flatbed scanners.

Do you think the heavier tripod would be the best?

I just dont' know what to do because I dont' want to shoot any CN film or slide film until I have some way of digitizing it. Just black and white since I can print it myself.

I'm definitly not going to by something in the next week so I dont buy on impulse.


I always like you're responses, they always help.

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3/31/2006 10:40:38 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Andrew: I'm inclined to agree with Michael in all respects here. A tripod is essentially an investment in the quality of your work. What you purchase now, should meet your needs years from now in terms of capacity, weight, versatility, etc. Gitzo? Absolutely great. I've only needed two in the course of a career spanning over (yikes) 30 years. Oh, and a gitzo monopod which is also great.

A Gitzo Reporter or Studex with a reasonably priced (well, mid-level) priced ball head and quick release plate is a handy, worthwhile investment. That'll handle your 35mm and MF and probably a 4x5 view camera if you get into that at some point. Besides, you need to make room for equipment bags in your closet, NOT more tripods.

As far as the scanner goes, if your images aren't as sharp as they can be, i.e., using a sturdy tripod when necessary, then what's the point of scanning them?? Like you need the practice right? Wrong. Save your dough, get what you can really use, what will last, and will serve your future needs as far as you can see for the time being.

Look: If you've got $150 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, I think Michael and I would be glad to put out the flames. Just chop off the top of your neighborhood photojournalist and send that with your $150 bucks and two Kodacolor Gold end flaps to Mark Feldstein, Post Office Box......

LOL !!!
Take it light Andrew.

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4/1/2006 11:12:49 AM

Michael H. Cothran   Mark - thank you for your support. Sounds like you and I are from the same era.

And Andrew - I am getting the feeling that you are younger than what I first perceived. Perhaps not a bonafide member of the workforce. Could be you are still in school? And if so, I can understand your plight for finding equipment as cheaply as possible.

In reference to your statement -
"I just dont' know what to do because I dont' want to shoot any CN film or slide film until I have some way of digitizing it."
My response would be - "Phooey!!" Go ahead and shoot all the color neg and transparency film you want to, even though you can't digitize it yet. When the day comes when you CAN digitize, you'll have the images on film, ready to go. Don't NOT shoot just because you don't have a scanner. You'll own one someday, if this is your goal. But what good will the scanner be if you don't have any film to scan.
Just keep shooting as you can afford it. Study your film images, and figure out how to improve, and then shoot more, and then more again. Then when you finally own a decent scanner, you should have something worth scanning - and if you've been shooting from a quality, rock-steady tripod, you should have lots of winners in your port folio ready to be scanned and shared with the world!!!
Michael H. Cothran

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4/1/2006 5:38:00 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Yeah Michael, my guess is that you're right, we are. The only other thing I wanted to add for Andrew is this:

As Michael said, you can always digitize. BUT unfortunately, once you let the opportunity to photograph something pass, chances are, that particular shot you saw is lost forever. Kinda like allowing life to pass you by in some ways, you know?

And as far as the dough issue, look man, we've all been there at one time or another, some of us longer than others but the feeling is always the same. But when you've got the passion for doing this particular type of work, nothing and I mean NOTHING should get in your road to achieve what you want to achieve. Over a career that's spanned over 30 years, I've thought that on more than one occasion. Is it worth it? For me, yeah. Sounds like it's likely going to be worh it for you too. Get a good tripod, shoot as much as you can, be your own best and worst critic, and persevere. You'll get there.

Be well guys.
"Great spirits often encounter violent opposition from mediocre minds." A. Einstein. ;>)

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4/2/2006 5:48:49 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Thanks a lot guys. I'm thinking that if I feel like I REALLY NEED some kind of a scanner, I might be able to pull one off later in the year but I am probably going to go with a tripod right now. The one that I'm looking at is supposed to hold abour 9 lbs.

How do they measure the holding capacity of a tripod? Obviously, most tripods can actually hold a lot but they're not stable. Is it the point where they can hold the weight steadily? Plus, do either of you have any idea where I could get a tripod collar for the Canon 200mm f/2.8L for less than $70 or so? It's rediculous that it doesn't come with one already, plus it costs so much.

By the way, yeah, I'm younger. 21 and a junior in college for flute and photo.


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4/2/2006 6:14:32 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Welllllll, a collar for that 200 might be available from Canon. Have you checked with them yet? If not, I'll bet Really Right Stuff has one, but the price probably ain't pretty.
Now, what you MIGHT do, is call those guys and see if they can look around in their parts bins for something that would work but may not be as pretty as something else. Knowhatimean?

Maximum Tripod support weight? You know, that's a great question. I thought it used to be the amount of weight, including the head that the legs would support without shaking or collapsing. I honestly don't know. But from my own experience, what I did was went to B&H in New York, (before the new digs) and got a sales guy to pull a Bogen and a couple of Gitzos. I set them up and leaned on the head as best I could, rocking the thing back and forth to see if the Bogen would start popping rivets or the Gitzo would bust a lock ring. As it turned out, the Gitzos won (ahem) hands down. Later, I scored a Gitzo monopod. Another good investment.

Take a look over at Bogen's web site on the Gitzo page, look at the leg sets available and print out the catalog. Then go to and find their tripod selection and see what kind of gitzo leg sets they've got. E-bay might have some, B&H although probably kinda pricey.

I think I mentioned Andrew, I prefer using a ball head and quick release set up on my tripods. Soooooooooooo, if you decide on a Gitzo, lemme know and I'll dig around in MY parts bin for an older Gitzo pan/tilt head that came on my reporter umpteen years ago. If it fits, and I think it should on most tripods besides Gitzos. So if it'll work and you need a head for it, it's yours. Lemme know and I'll just send it to ya.

Then, you may want to get my book, "How to Make Used Photo Equipment Look Even MORE seasoned (Hence professional) using 60 grit sandpaper. LOL !!!
Later gang.

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4/2/2006 6:57:01 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Well, I ended up getting that manfrotto/bogen tripod and head. I've got a thread on it somewhere around here though the section on using film based equipment. It's the 3001BN and 3030 3way pantilt head. It's worked GREAT so far. I got out last night and took some photos at night after it stopped raining and think I got some great shots using it. I feel like I can mess around with buttons and stuff on the camera without moving around and almost as if I could push buttons during long exposures. It's awesome :)

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4/7/2006 3:01:38 PM

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