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Photography Question 
Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006

Tripod Buying Tips

Someone told me I shouldn't be attaching my camera directly to the tripod - that I should buy a piece to attach to the top so I don't wear out the top of my tripod. What is this piece called, and is it really necessary? How often would the tripod wear out without using the special piece.

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1/2/2010 5:18:41 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
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  Hi Kathy,
I have tripods that are well over fifty years old. Made of wood, an early form of carbon fiber. The tripod doesn't wear out, if it is good to begin with. Cheap ones do wear out. The tripod head can break, as tripods do get some rough treatment, and the heads can't always take it. Tripod heads are especially fragile on cheap tripods. I do like to have quick release plates for connecting the camera to the tripod. These can be attached to some tripod heads, or are built-in to other heads. These make it easier and faster to put the camera on and off the tripod. I don't think they affect how long the tripod will last. Buy a good tripod, the money you spend in front will pay off in the years you own it.

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1/2/2010 10:10:54 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2005
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  Kathy, to piggy back on John's response... If you do get another tripod, get the kind that allows you to attach a ballhead. Manfrotto is a good manufacturer. You purchase the base (the three legs), then purchase the ball head and there are different options. I have the 322RC2 ballhead.
I then have the attaching gizmo already screwed into my camera body so when I want to pop the camera on the ballhead, it's a very quick thing to do. And the ball head is so easy to use. You don't need multiple levers. You just grip the handle and rotate to whatever position you like.

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1/2/2010 10:49:48 AM

Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
  Thanks John and Ken for your info, that is very helpful. I don't know what I would do without all the help I have received from BP over the years I have been a member!

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1/2/2010 12:18:28 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Those quick-disconnect plates John mentioned can save valuable time during a shoot. If you get several of the plates, one can be affixed to each of your camera bodies and your telephoto lenses with tripod collars. And if you have a bellows or a macro focusing rail, a plate can be attached to it as well. This makes it easy to switch things around in a hurry.

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1/2/2010 10:16:57 PM

Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
  Thanks Bob, I guess there is a real advantage to having one. Kathy in NH

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1/3/2010 5:01:32 AM

Gina Plant   Hope you don't mind me chipping in with a question for Ken, Kathy.

I have a Manfrotto Neotec tripod which is excellent. I also use a 322RC2 ballhead Ken, but am having trouble with it at the moment. It's very sticky to move around which makes positioning the camera a very jerky and frustrating process. Also, once I've positioned and focused, I can't seem to tighten it enough to stop the camera from drifting so I am getting shots that are not tack sharp even when using a remote shutter release. This hasn't always been so. I've always thought it a great piece of equipment, so perhaps it's because dust has accumulated over the 3 years of use. I can't seem to find any reliable advice on how to clean it. Do you have any suggestions Ken?

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1/5/2010 4:33:50 AM

Bill Boswell   If you decide to go the ball head route which I strongly recommend, consider the ball head and camera plate which are the "arca-swiss" style. This is an industry standard way of attaching the camera to the ball head and found in products from several top manufacturers.

If you start with the arca-swiss system you will grow into it and not have to replace your ball head or plates in a few years. It is the only system that advanced amatuers and pros use.

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1/5/2010 5:31:52 AM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
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  Kathy, avoid flip lock legs if possible. I have a Manfrotto and use it out in the cold a lot. I've had 3 of the flip locks break completely on me. Replacement parts are fairly cheap but it's tiresome having to extend the legs and lock them with masking and electric tape until I can get new parts.

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1/5/2010 5:59:46 AM

Gina Plant   I agree with Sharon, Kathy. The legs on the Neotec are really easy to use - they just pull out and push back in.

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1/5/2010 6:49:41 AM

Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
  Thanks Gina, Bill and Sharon for the info. Sharon my tripod has the pull outg legs and I love it.
Kathy in NH

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1/6/2010 3:05:02 AM

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