BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005

What Tripod should I buy?

I currently own a Fuji FinePix S2 Pro, I also purchased a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO HSM lens to do some wedding photography with on a recommendation. I would like to also purchase a good tripod with my tax refund. What would you suggest & why? The Sigma lens has a tripod mount on it.

To love this question, log in above
3/22/2007 2:50:13 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I would suggest that you assemble your heaviest possible camera, lens combination and weigh it.
Use this information to pick a tripod and head that will handle that weight comfortably. There are many reputable brands from which to choose.
The head should sport quick-release case you need to go mobile in a hurry.

The Slik Pro 700DX is light, strong and relatively inexpensive. The 3 way pan/tilt head included with the pod has a reliable quick-release mechanism and will handle medium-weight combos nicely.
The leg adjustments have tension levers instead of those pesky rings you have to unscrew. (...I hate those.)

Whichever model you decide upon, it's wise to get a few extra quick-release plates. You can attach one to your Sigma lens and one to each of your camera bodies.
(Organized ammo will save valuable time on the battlefield.)


To love this comment, log in above
3/22/2007 4:09:37 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Make sure you get one that is tall enough for you to use without stooping. Best if this height can be set without extending the center column.

To love this comment, log in above
3/23/2007 4:25:29 AM

Bob Fately   Julie, tripod selection becomes a matter of personal taste, once you get by the minimum quality and weight-handling requirements. And, like everything else in life, it's a matter of compromise: we're all seeking that tall tripod that collapses down to 2 feet tall that is not heavy yet supports 6 pounds of camera gear(or more!) sturdily and without vibrating in the wind. Oh, and want to pay $100 for it.

Brands to look at are Gitzo, Manfrotto as well as Slik. The fancier 'pods (basalt, carbon fiber) can run upwards of $500 or more without the head, but at a minimum plan to spend at least $100.

Tripod heads come in two basic flavors - ball heads and pan-tilt types. It's really a matter of personal preference as to which one a shooter uses - so go to a store and play with both types to get a sense if one is easier for you to use.

And QR (quick release) plates (that Bob C mentioned) are a virtual necessity. While there are some more proprietary versions, the so-called Arca-Swiss type is considered a standard. You can check out Kirk Photographic or Really Right Stuff to see the variety of plates offered for camera bodies as well as lenses.

Hope that helps...

To love this comment, log in above
3/25/2007 5:29:11 PM

Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Thank you for your wisdom on this, I always hated going out and buying something and 3 months later figuring out that it wasn't a good deal, or it wasn't everything I thought it should be. What would the difference between ball head and pan tilt would be?

To love this comment, log in above
3/25/2007 6:38:30 PM

Bob Fately   Basically, a pan-tilt head has two pivot points, each with individual control. There are typically two handles that can be tightened or loosened independantly - one that allows you to turn the platform left-right (pan) and the other that allows up-down movement (tilt).

Ball heads,, in contrast, are basically ball-and-socket devices. There is a single knob to tighten or loosen the mechanism, and when loose you can turn and twist the platform in any direction. The better heads have a fricktion control as well, meaning you can set a certain amount of resistance so the head doesn't flop around freely when you loosen the control knob. Acratech, Linhof and Arca-Swiss are among the better brands of ball heads.

Again, it's a matter of personal preference - some folk like the independant control of pan-tilt, others find them too cumbersome. You might want to look at the RRS website - - as they have some interesting articles about tripods and heads. In fact, they've started to sell a b&s head of their own, which is purportedly quite excellent (and as pricey as the Arca-Swiss).

To love this comment, log in above
3/26/2007 5:16:21 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.