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Photography Question 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
 

Tripod/monopod


I'm fairly new to the DSLR world. I have a Sony alpha 100k. I've enjoyed it for about a year and 1/2 now. My problem is I bought a cheap tripod from target. I now feel like I'm driving around a Ferrari with tires that I swiped off my brothers moped. I know very little about tripods except what I read in the photo magazines and that the carbon fiber ones are obviously lighter. Can anyone recommend a good inexpensive route to take in choosing a decent tripod or monopod? Thanks in advance for any help!

Jim


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10/26/2007 12:34:05 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  How come Ferraris aren't cheap?

Cheapest is a broom stick with a standard 1/4 inch stud drilled into one end.
Try a Slik, Manfrotto, Gitzo, or Giottos made out of aluminum. Or chromaloy.


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10/26/2007 12:57:31 PM

 
W.   
Stability is the first, and absolute requirement.
Weight is second to that.


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10/26/2007 3:11:08 PM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  John Siskin, another instructor here on better photo, turned me on to chainpods where you take a proper sized thumb screw and chain and connect to the camera, then just drop the chain, step on it, and pull up. In credibly quick and flexible.

I've gotten a few items from amvona.com/Dynatram including heads, tripod and monopod off ebay for extremely cheap. Similar to their 1016 and 828, but all equipped with the trigger action ball heads with quick-release to make moving from one to the other easy.

Richard


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10/27/2007 5:58:51 AM

 
W.   
It would be interesting to see some carefully executed comparative tests between tripods, monopods, 'chainpods', and what have you not. So that we get to really KNOW which does what, how well, and is it worth it, instead of merely guessing, wishful thinking, and blindly parrotting others on the subject, as we do now.

This is a free editorial suggestion for the photo mags...


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10/27/2007 8:18:52 AM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  I think the idea is that different items will work well for different people. A chainpod might be good for a photographer shooting sports with a short-ish lens that doesn't need its own support, where it would likely not be a good thing for a lot of studio work or, say, f64 photography.

As far as comparing one tripod to the next, that seems like a really impossible task. The junky ones vibrate and fall down with your camera on them.


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10/27/2007 8:56:41 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  I have the Manfrotto 3021 Tripod & Manfrotto 322RC2 Pistol Grip head and got them together for about $250. I haul it with me everywhere especially on my hikes. It is a pain to lug around sometimes but when you hike 4 miles uphill to a waterfall, having the tripod gives you so many more options like using longer shutter speeds to get the silky flowing water effect and being able to use as much DOF as you want. The tripod is light enough and sturdy enough (including a hook to hang your camera bag onto if you need more stability/weight) and the pistol grip head makes for quick & easy positioning although its not quite strong enough for my 100-400mm lens. The tripod is also very easy to position with a latch at the top of each leg so you can move them out further for odd terrain or to get closer to the ground. I am still trying to save my $$ to get the Wimberly/Gimbal type head for my long lenses (which is in the $500 range). Hope this helps.


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10/27/2007 9:00:22 AM

 
W.   
Might the Gorillapod SLR-zoom be interesting for you, Carlton?

http://www.joby.com/products/gorillapod/slrzoom/


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10/27/2007 9:21:23 AM

 
W.   
Rich, I meant a comparison between tripods, monopods, and chainpods, as in "which general concept provides how much stability compared to the other concepts?". And "what are the pro's and cons of using either concept, compared to the other concepts?".
I didn't mean comparative testing between different tripods, or between different monopods.


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10/27/2007 9:30:00 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Actually - the gorillapod does look like something I should try. Thanks W.


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10/27/2007 10:44:47 AM

 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
  Thanks to all of you for the advice. Richard I really thought you were "pulling my chain" with the chainpod idea. I had never heard of such a thing but then googled it and sure enough it is feesible. It's not exactly what I was looking for but a cool idea none the less.

My issue is I've been summoned by a friend who thinks because I have an expensive camera I should do her wedding photos. I'm sure none of you have ever heard this story eh? OK, It's a super super small wedding and in her backyard gazebo and there will only be about 5-10 guests. Yes, very small. I agreed to help her out with the understanding that I'm not a pro but will do my best. I was a bit nervous but thought a nice sunny day in a backyard a few shots....no real big deal. Then she decided to have the wedding in the evening with candles. Uh, no sun light you say? Ugggh! So my first concern is a big need for a decent tripod. After that I'll need to invest in a strobe flash. (That's what I'm being advised anyway) I may need to rent one for this event due to a very tight budget.

Anyway, if there is anymore advice in regards to this predicament I've put myself into please feel free.

Thanks again for all the advice!!

Jim


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10/27/2007 10:53:27 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I don't think you need to wait on a magazine to know that it will go tripod, monopod, and chain-pod in order of descending stability.
That camera support thing that has the arm resting against your body from the bottom of the camera is more stable than a chain-pod.


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10/27/2007 11:33:05 AM

 
W.   
Yes, you will need extra light. And lots of it. If the wedding is still a small affair with 5 to 10 guests, I would try to set up 2 really powerful flashguns, off-camera, and at least 2 biiig (D-I-Y) reflectors opposite them to reflect spill-over light back into the scene and open up shadows.
If triggered by your pop-up flash you have relative freedom of movement for different angles.
To get the candles/ambient light into the images you will need longer shutter speeds, so a tripod is in order then.

Do a 'testdrive' at the location to prevent nasty surprises!

Have fun!


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10/27/2007 11:39:47 AM

 
W.   
Greg, you can 'fake' that "camera support thing that has the arm resting against your body" by placing your elbows in your stomach breating out, and pulling tight when you expose.


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10/27/2007 11:42:43 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I know.


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10/27/2007 12:26:38 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  quite the classic question there slick.
amateurs don't rent strobes,the learning curve would just....
no mention of lens speed,higher iso,just all of a sudden,candles....
extra light with candles?strobes?reflectors?
the oh,fairly new..and ws chimes in?
I did like the f64 post?what does one do?we might next hear it's being shot by moonlight with strobes?
just pay attention.


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10/27/2007 7:50:42 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hey Sam, it may not be the best soap opera but its OUR soap opera.
Take it easy - I'm taking it cheesy....


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10/27/2007 8:01:16 PM

 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
  OK, maybe it's just me as a newbie to the discussion list thing, but is something flying over my head here? I'm assuming Sam doesn't think I should rent a strobe. I understand a bit about the higher ISO and speed. I know that's pretty much a given in these kinds of situations. I was told to avoid the grainy dirty look to get a strobe flash and to be sure to try it out before the wedding to learn to use it. Is there another option other than I'm screwed and do the best with the the extra digital flash unit I purchased?

Again, thanks for any advice. Sorry if I don't have the correct lingo down but I'm trying to learn. I enjoy this a lot. I understand newbies in anything can seem a bit cumbersome. Sorry if I'm a nuisance. I hope if nothing else my ignorance of photography is amusing.


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10/27/2007 9:58:45 PM

 
W.    With an external flash on top you will get sufficiently (in too many cases too much) lit foreground snapshots with harsh shadows and dark backgrounds. A good rendition of bridal whites and festive blacks Ė with subtle tonalities and textures Ė together in the same image may remain an unattainable goal.

Good luck!


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10/28/2007 12:16:51 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  James, sam thinks you're somebody else making up a fake scenario.
You're bridal friend doesn't know that the number of candles to see by is very small compared to the number of candles to photo by.
Try using the flash and an iso of 400 or 800 so you can keep the flash power towards the low end and get some of the candle light.
Use a sync speed around 1/30 and balance the flash power to get the exposures of the people. The slower sync speed with iso of 400 or 800 will let the candle show better in the photo.
But you'll need to flash to light the people.


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10/28/2007 1:30:50 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Your, not you're.


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10/28/2007 1:57:19 PM

 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
  Thanks for the clarification Gregory and for the advice too. I'm trying to set a date with her to take some practice shots. I'll try and post a few out here when I get a chance.

Thanks again to all of you for the advice!!

Jim


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10/28/2007 5:51:09 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  ok,
you'll just have to ask them to stop,kinda freeze,in their procession and all ops.
I did like gregs suggestion of a low powered flash,off camera and where to position it,to reduce shadows and not drown out the candlelight,ambience,might be tricky.
I kinda disagree with the light the people aspect.it seems a gothic approach and the results should be shown as such?
since we can't judge your ability by your gallery,ain't got one,i,meaning me,question all your questions.
still a candlelight wedding at noon,time of day?ya paint me in a corner and try to make me assume it's at night?
a NOT to.
info is not important??as are the days of our lives.
well jimmy?


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10/28/2007 6:49:55 PM

 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
  OK, Sam...just for you, I have updated my profile and addded some more recent pictures.

I signed on to BP a while back when I had my old Sony Cyber-shot H-1 and didn't really start discussing until about a year ago when I finally took the step up to the SLR world. What I really need to do is take a basic course to learn all the lingo and how to operate the camera I have better than I do now. I know a few things about how to shoot but not enough. I need to take more time to learn.

At any rate. I am a newbie for all intents and purposes.

I'm thinking the stop and freeze technique might not be the best option here, but that's just me. I don't really like the candle lighting thing either but it's the brides day..er evening and if she wants candles then she's going to do candles. I'll have to find a way to shoot it the best I can.

I appreciate all the advice here!! Feel free to critique any and all of my photos in my gallery. I could certainly use it. Don't feel the need to sugar coat it either.

Thanks again!!

Jim


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10/28/2007 7:56:49 PM

 
W.   
Testdrive, testdrive, testdrive!


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10/28/2007 9:01:02 PM

 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
  I'm assuming by that you mean practice...practice...practice?


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10/29/2007 7:04:12 PM

 
W.   
Call it what you like, Jim. Point is that actually DOING it teaches you much more than just reading about it. Even if a lot.
And with digital, running costs are not an issue anymore like it was with film and developing and printing.
If you can do a dress rehearsal, DO it! You will prevent nasty surprises on D-Day that you really can't afford.

And have fun doing it!


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10/29/2007 7:44:16 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  bs ws.so no printing with digital?developing is photoshop?and the reason the wind picked up here today was because you were talking.
the whole 6 photos.and again a freakin cat.

all my best.


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10/29/2007 8:17:58 PM

 
W.   
But I bow to you, Sam: the master nitpicker!

Or did you have Contraries for breakfast again today?


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10/29/2007 8:39:35 PM

 
James E. Narron, Jr.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2006
  W.S. - Thanks for all the advice. I really appreciate it! I'm definitely planning on doing a dress rehearsal and I'll post a few pics out here when I do so. Take care!

Sam - I wish you the best in photography. It appears you are quite talented with your camera after looking through your gallery. Your grammar and conversational skills are certainly debatable though. Best wishes!

Jim


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10/30/2007 8:17:50 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  actually james,you're quite right.i guess my verbalisation is lacking.i will keep that in mind.
I thought talent only came with rewards,ribbons,the ol slap on the back at work!editors picks?
the compliment is noted,thank you.
so it bothers some ,to be wrong?hmmm.
happy halloweeeeeen.


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10/31/2007 8:49:11 PM

 
George L. Sinos Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/23/2007
  James -

Here's a link to great advice for someone that's never shot a wedding before.

Several pages of advice are posted there, but this quote is probably the most important:

"When all is said and done, you are not going to be as good at this as an experienced wedding photographer. You need to think twice about how your relationship with the couple may be affected if (God forbid) you screw up and do a poor job. It is a lot easier to say no now, and help them choose a professional photographer, than it is to try to recover from a situation where you cost them the record of their most important day. Think twice before accepting, and if you do, acknowledge to yourself that you have an obligation to get them the best results you can, and prepare accordingly."

Good luck, GS


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11/2/2007 3:53:32 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi James,
The great thing about the chain pod is that it fits into a film can. So I can keep it with my camera all the time. Also it costs less than $5. It doesnít replace a tripod, but itís quicker and itís more portable.

From another posting: Another alternative to strobe, although I like strobes, is to use a tripod or a chain pod. You can make a chain pod by putting a hole in a small 1/4X20 thumbscrew, available at home depot. Then attach about 6 feet of chain, also from home depot, to the hole in the thumb screw. Then you can put the thumb screw into the tripod socket on the bottom of the camera. Step on the chain and pull up. This will steady the camera. You can see a picture at the end of my gallery here at BetterPhoto.

Weddings are work, and worth a lot of money. I have done friends weddings. When I got married they didnít volunteer to cater the wedding for me. No $1000 gifts from them either. Would you ask someone for a thousand dollars for a wedding gift?
Thanks, John Siskin


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11/3/2007 11:22:50 AM

 
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