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Photography Question 
Paul Newton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/23/2008

Buying a new tripod

I've begun my hunt for a new tripod. I'm willing to spend $3-400 for one that I hope will fit my needs. Those needs include: travel worthy, packing into a backpack, lightweight, yet sturdy, and easily maneuverable and interchangeable. There seems to be a wide selection out there of competent tripods. What is your experience (good or bad)? Aluminum vs. carbon fiber? Head adaptability? Thanks for your input!

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11/7/2012 8:25:50 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Hi Paul,
I have 2 Manfrotto's. One is a aluminum model 3021 with a 322RC2 pistol grip head. This I use for more portrait/sudio shoots. The one I carry everywhere is the 190CXPRO4 with a 468MGRC2 hydraulic head. The 190CX is carbon fiber and has 4 sectioned legs that collapse down small enough to be carried on my Lowepro Flipside 300 backpack. I sometimes use the center column hook to hang my bag on if I need more weight on the tripod for stability but it is usually sturdy enough as it is.
Really Right Stuff & Gitzo are very well made but a tad pricey. A friend bought a carbon fiber no-name brand online for $100 and I was very impressed with it.
I suggest going to the camera store and handling them and try different combinations of heads/tripods and see what clicks with you. The Gitzo's have twist lock legs while my Manfrotto's are a flip lock (which I prefer).
Good Luck,

Here is a pic from last weeks "Portland Zombie Walk "

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11/7/2012 9:41:03 PM

Paul Newton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/23/2008
  Thanks for the input. I live in a rural setting but will try to get to a camera store to try them out. I have a Manfrotto monopod that I really like but it is a very simple design. I guess the head arrangement is really going to be the hard part.
Thanks again!

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11/7/2012 10:32:48 PM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  I've been pretty happy with my Induro carbon fiber---except that in hindsight, I wish it had flip-locks instead of twist-locks on the leg extensions. Each leg has 4 segments, so there are 3 locks to adjust---9 total locks, and all being twist-type, I feel I spend a LOT of time locking the legs!

I got it several years ago, and it was a markedly less expensive (then) carbon fiber option than the other big names I compared to. (If I recall, it came in just under $300?) I'm 6'2" tall, and so I wanted a tripod that was as tall as possible when fully extended (not counting center column extension), and as small as possible when collapsed, with a low weight. (They had 3-segment legs on some models, but collapsed, they were too big for carry-on bags.) If I remove the center column, then the collapsed legs, and the removed column, fit in my carryon size luggage for flights (without having to take off the somewhat bulky Manfrotto "squeeze grip" head I use.) If I am checking a larger bag on a trip, I'll put the full tripod in there, usually.

At the time I bought it, Induro offered an identical model, but with a center column that you could pull out, and remount to be a horizontal column... It was a tad more money, so I skipped it---now I wish I had a "flippable" center column sometimes (useful for shooting directly down over something on the ground); they no longer offer that model.

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11/9/2012 7:44:56 AM

Nancy Marie Ricketts
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/27/2010
  Paul, if haven't yet bought a tripod and head, check out a company called Really Right Stuff. They have helped me with tripod head problems and if I didn't already have a great Manfrotto tripod, I would have purchased one from them. They know what customer service is all about. They have a physical store in CA, but you can find them online and you can find someone to speak to you, who will take your wants and needs into consideration, and give you good advice whether or not you purchase from them.

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12/14/2012 1:59:35 PM

Nicholas Semo
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2008
  Paul, You won't find anything in your price range from Really Right Stuff. They start at 800 and go up from there. Their top of the line ball head is around 500, and I highly recommend it. I am a firm beliver in splurging on a tripod. Personally I would get their TVC 33L for the extra height. I own a Gitzo 3530 LS carbon fiber which is really nice but a little short when working on slopes. I may be moving up to the RRS tripod.

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12/30/2012 4:24:39 AM

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